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Soldering irons? #5427719 05/12/20 08:46 PM
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buck91 Offline OP
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So I've been using the same pencil style 40 watt iron for many years now (and that was an upgrade over my previous 25 watt pencil soldering iron). Is it worth getting a higher wattage style? Any suggetions for a good soldering iron for electronics without getting too crazy on costs?


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Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5427729 05/12/20 09:00 PM
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For circuit boards I'd get a cheap temperature controlled Hakko station, fixed mains irons are great for burning pads off of boards.

Last edited by blufeb95; 05/12/20 09:01 PM.
Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5427730 05/12/20 09:02 PM
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Reddy45 Offline
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Doesn't the wattage depend on what you are soldering? In other words if you're soldering chunky connections or doing "assembly line work" then you want higher wattage to keep up with the pace.

But if you are just doing occasional fixes then a 40W should be more than adequate.

Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5427743 05/12/20 09:15 PM
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Have an ancient Wen that does most of my work.


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Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5427764 05/12/20 10:28 PM
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JimPghPA Offline
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My best soldering iron for small and or fragile work is a 12 Watt Weller that I use on any circuit I build from scratch, or repair of a component on a circuit board. You need extra thin solder for the small irons. Where I use to work I had a temperature regulated iron that you could change the temperature from a low that was safe for circuit boards to a high that would tackle thick connections of wires.

Last edited by JimPghPA; 05/12/20 10:34 PM.

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Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5427797 05/12/20 11:55 PM
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spackard Offline
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40W should be plenty for most work.
I have a few cartridges. One for maybe 12ga wire thicker, I think it's a 45W or 50W, is pretty hard to work with.
It'll put the heat into the wire+lug, but really smokes the flux instantly.

Check out page 5 of https://www.mouser.com/datasheet/2/27/apex_wellersoldertip-706529.pdf
Under: STANDARD LINE SOLDERING HANDLES AND HEATERS

You might want to go down to 33W if you work with 16ga and smaller wire, and not in a wind.
That's the iron I reach for most often.

Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5427805 05/13/20 12:45 AM
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joegreen Online Content
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One of the best general use soldering irons you can buy. Don't mind that it looks like a toy. You can adjust the temperature of the tip which is very important for different solders and circuits. https://www.amazon.com/Hakko-FX888D-23BY-Digital-Soldering-Station/dp/B00ANZRT4M

Last edited by joegreen; 05/13/20 12:48 AM.

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Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5427817 05/13/20 02:19 AM
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I use my Router speed controller to tame down my 40 watt Weller to as low a wattage as the delicate work asks for, and will also use my AC/DC Clampmeter to measure actual amperage as often the sweet spot is between 8 and 9 on the dial, and a few degrees of dial rotation can make a big difference when i am using the iron for wood burning.

I use a file to shape the tips to whatever shape is best for any particular task.

Keeping the mating surface of solder tips to solder body clean, has a huge effect on how hot and hot fast the tips get hot.

My 100/140 watt weller gun, If I don't remove the tip and sand it with 400 or wirebrush the mating surfaces, I regret it 95% of the time. If it can't melt the solder in 7 seconds of pulling the trigger to the 140 watt setting, I know its not worth trying to use it until I clean the mating surfaces. The 60/

I can't say the weller 40 watt iron or 140/100 gun are especially impressive, but don't have a basis for comparison to other brands. The 140 gun, I stripped a grub screw from having to remove and wirebrush and retighten the tip so often. Some drill bit stop collars have been effective replacements.



Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5427850 05/13/20 04:24 AM
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Lubener Offline
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If your 40W pencil iron is working, why replace it? You do not want anything over 40w for circuit board work. An upgrade from a pencil iron would be a Weller or Ungar adjustable solder station. If you do not want to spend the money, keep what you have. If you do any heavier duty work, consider a Weller soldering gun which will give you a lot more heat.
As suggested prior, DO NOT file and shape your tips. Good ones are cladded over copper and that is a good way to ruin them, exposing the copper and they will not last long after that.

Last edited by Lubener; 05/13/20 04:25 AM.

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Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5427954 05/13/20 07:50 AM
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supton Offline
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There used to be a "Circuit Specialist" soldering iron that was the hot ticket among cheapskates. It was a Hakko knockoff with analog temperature control. I've found it works well enough. Get a couple of tips, a fine pencil and some flat ones for larger thro-hole.

But keep around a 100W iron for big work. A small iron just won't do large wires, and a large iron won't do small circuit work. Keep the 40W iron around, and find a smaller temperature controlled setup for circuit boards. It'll be worth the investment. Last thing you want to do is start lifting traces...


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Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5427957 05/13/20 07:55 AM
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ARCOgraphite Offline
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I've been spoiled with the Metcal RF system. You just pick the appropriate tip for the task, it will deliver the wattage needed to flow the solder. They do tend to blow up if you hot switch the tips.

Other then that, for lower dollars, I chose 3 -wand PACE for most of my repair benches. Good top selection, though a bulkier wand.

I had a 12M budget for setting up multiple repair stations across AT&T/ Lucent manufacturing in the Northeast.

For Home A basic Weller or Hakko should do OK. Look at tip prices though.
At home you shouldn't be "burning" though them though.

These days a hot air pencil and solder paste is required for 0603 and smaller formfactors.
- Ken


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Re: Soldering irons? [Re: ARCOgraphite] #5427964 05/13/20 07:58 AM
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supton Offline
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Originally Posted by ARCOgraphite
These days a hot air pencil and solder paste is required for 0603 and smaller formfactors.
- Ken


I haven't had to solder in a while but as age is creeping up on me I'm realizing that i need to get one of those backlit magnifying setups to see the work.


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Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5428015 05/13/20 08:47 AM
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CT8 Offline
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Like a wrench there are different. wattages for different jobs.


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Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5428017 05/13/20 08:52 AM
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ARCOgraphite Offline
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3 diopter Mag Light for sure. That's standard for anybody young or old doing board work.

I'm so bad, I need a Nikon SMZ-2B with a fluorescent ring light to do through-hole!


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Re: Soldering irons? [Re: buck91] #5428107 05/13/20 10:14 AM
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rekit Offline
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I haven't seen it mentioned, but REAL solder is important. Not that lead-free eco stuff.

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