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Old May 30, 2005, 09:18 PM
Knowledge increases life's FOV
Sled Driver's Avatar
Third Stone from the Sun
Joined Nov 2003
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Question
Soldering iron/workstation recommendation?

The soldering pencil that I've been using for 25-year is toast. So, I need a new soldering iron or workstation for servo wiring and the occasional PC board connection. I appreciate any recommendations you might have.

Jay Decker
Kennewick, WA
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Old May 31, 2005, 04:42 PM
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United States, AZ, Surprise
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Jay,
I'm satisfied with a Weller WLC100. 40 watts and adjustable heat, variety of tips available, and light.
John
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Old May 31, 2005, 07:11 PM
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Gardena, California, United States
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I have a Hakko 936, it's served me well. Good luck.
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Old Jun 01, 2005, 01:04 PM
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New Hampshire, USA
Joined Sep 2004
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METCAL. (or the Hakko recommended by RandyT)

I've bought several Metcal on Ebay for a good price. They are generally accepted industry standard due to its precise temperature regulation.

My wife and I make a living with them. Quite expensive new, but again, regularly available on EBay. Metcal has repaired a faulty unit purchased on EBay under warranty.

Doug
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Old Jun 01, 2005, 07:00 PM
Knowledge increases life's FOV
Sled Driver's Avatar
Third Stone from the Sun
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougC
METCAL.
Thanks for the recommendation. Which model would you recommend?

Jay
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Old Jun 01, 2005, 08:09 PM
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New Hampshire, USA
Joined Sep 2004
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Metcal PS2E. We've had several for 5 plus years, running everyday. Also have the MX 5000 Rework station dual tip. Much more expensive, but we use it to make money with.

You'll need the PS2E power supply, cord, wand, and you really ought to get a stand for the wand. Tips can be had on EBay for as little as $5 to $10. There is currently a power supply only (I'd assume a cord, but it doesn't say so) for $75 + $15 shipping on EBay. With some patience, I believe you'll find a complete unit, with maybe some tips, for $150 or so.

I don't believe that this model is still available from Metcal, and the repair service we received from them was for the MX rework station. Of course, EBay is a risk, but if you can obtain the serial number of the one you're looking at, contact Metcal and ask.

The PS2 is a fine unit.

Good luck.
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Old Jun 03, 2005, 07:29 PM
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United States, SC, Irmo
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Gotten to like my new Weller WS161. Two outlets for irons, a 20 and a 40 Watt iron, Either can be individually adjusted or both together, and numerous tips available for different kinds of soldering jobs. 20 Watt for board work, 40 for heavier items.
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Old Jun 06, 2005, 07:42 PM
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Purchased a Weller soldering station from Micro Mark for $59.95. Additional tips available for $6.95. Variable Temperature control along with on and off switch. Used it to solder servo wires and larger dia. wires. Works great.
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Old Jun 09, 2005, 08:21 PM
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Northford, CT
Joined Feb 2005
532 Posts
My 40 year old Weller soldering station is battered but still working.
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Old Jun 10, 2005, 06:49 AM
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Joined Jun 2002
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DougC,

My OLD Weller 100W gun finally croaked. I use it to solder pushrod connectors, and other heavy-duty stuff. I bought one of those little propane torches, but just cannot get the hang of using it; and I've got a set of bipe cabanes to wrap and solder now.

What reasonably-priced (I don't need a professional grade) 100W gun would you recommend?
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Old Jun 10, 2005, 08:48 AM
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New Hampshire, USA
Joined Sep 2004
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In simplest terms, soldering is just the application of heat to melt a material to create an electrical and mechanical bond. Sled Driver mentioned that he would occasionally be using a soldering iron for PC board work. This raised an alert to me. A soldering iron with a marginally regulated temperature control can create havoc on a PCB by lessening the life of chips, damaging/lifting PCB lands, delaminating the board, etc.

Don't quote me here but.....Metcal controls their tip temperature by coating the tip with a material that is temperature sensitive, and placing a probe within this material that generates RF. When the temperature drops, the coating allows the RF to permeate the material, and raise the temperature of the tip. Temp goes up, coating changes state, RF is isolated, and so on. Metcal products, because of their construction, will hold tip temperature to within +- 1degree C. (Side note; when we are soldering critical or expensive chips, we only have to tell the customer that we are using a Metcal, and any issue regarding damage to their componets due to uncalibrated irons is gone.)

A Weller is a resistance coil, ie toaster. Much quicker (a week of so) to go out of calibration.

...........Weller is a good product for creating an electrical/mechanical bond. However, because of the temperature variability of a Weller due to its construction and resolution of settings, can too easily damage PCB's and its' components unless proper technique is used.

Did I just type all that.............

So, I'd say that for general purpose soldering, pay your money and take your chances. You just need to apply some heat. But if going after a circuit board, the best success will come from equipment that has a quality, well regulated heat source.


I'm going fishing. Good luck.
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Old Jun 10, 2005, 09:02 AM
Mr Mootsie
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Pepperell, MA, USA
Joined Jan 2001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcyr1
Jay,
I'm satisfied with a Weller WLC100. 40 watts and adjustable heat, variety of tips available, and light.
John
ditto. great piece of gear. having said that, I'm BRUTAL at soldering and hate it immensely.
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Old Jun 10, 2005, 09:20 AM
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United States, SC, Irmo
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We have a calibrator which we use to check our tips monthly. Do it with mine, occasionally. Found that the Weller's dial calibration and readout is usually about 5 to 20 degrees F high, and our Hako and Pace units seem to have a wider variation, although the display is usually reading high, which may help to protect our boards and components when we get a fresh out or someone who hasn't had proper training. We have had a lot of problems with surface mount boards from people who use heavy fixed heat irons or who turn the temperature controls all the way up. In fact, when one of our co-ops returned to school, I found an iron he had been using turned up to almost 900, the tip burned up, and the control unit fried.

We're frequently putting notes on our solder stations trying to remind people that heat kills components, stay below a 650 degree setting. I've had to salvage prototype boards after people ignore this and damage components and lift pads and break traces with excess heat and pressing too hard on the joint, not to mention solder bridges.
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Old Jun 10, 2005, 12:43 PM
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Well, being electronically-challenged, I don't plan on any circuit board work in the forseeable future...

Thanks; guess I'll give the Home Depot generic brand a try.
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Old Jun 10, 2005, 05:00 PM
the-plumber
Joined Feb 2003
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Campbell
DougC,

My OLD Weller 100W gun finally croaked. I use it to solder pushrod connectors, and other heavy-duty stuff. I bought one of those little propane torches, but just cannot get the hang of using it; and I've got a set of bipe cabanes to wrap and solder now.

What reasonably-priced (I don't need a professional grade) 100W gun would you recommend?
For mechanical items I use MAPP gas torch.

You can silver solder with one of those if need be, although for silver work I snag the oxy rig off the work van.

Whatever you decide to use for mechanical soldered joints, learning to make good joints is done the same way one gets to Carnegie Hall : practice, practice, practice.

One cheap way to practice is to get a couple of telescoping brass tubes from the LHS. Use a tube cutter and cut 1" lengths from each tube, and practice on those short bits. When you've got brass soldering down pat, mixed metals is about the same thing except it takes a bit more heat.

Get some non-rosin (non-electrical) solder for the mechanical joints. While rosin solder will _work_ for mechanical joints, acid flux and straight wire solder works much better.

Forget about using the 'lead-free' stuff from The BORG - that stuff is APITA to use.

Get plain solid wire solder, flux, and acid brushes from a welding supply house.

Much easier for building mechanical solder joints.

One other thing : don't use the same soldering iron for rosin and acid soldering - use one iron or gun for electrical (rosin-based) solder joints, and a separate iron or gun for mechanical (acid flux) solder joints.

A good soldering iron or gun for electrical work and a MAPP torch for mechanical joints is about the least expensive way to go.

The reason for using a MAPP torch is time : you don't have to wait nearly as long for the work to get hot enough to solder as you would with a 100 watt gun or iron.

And no, I'm not a plumber. That's just a 'handle' the origin of which we don't discuss in polite company . . .
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