A solid and trusty soldering iron - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 7 Old 03-23-10, 11:32 PM Thread Starter
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A solid and trusty soldering iron

Often in forums we see people complaining about the soldering not working/not fusing and often it is merely the iron they are using. The basic tool needed for soldering is the iron - how frustrating it is to work with a inferior tool here - and I have been there!

Weller WLC-100 Soldering Iron
• Lighted Power Switch
• Variable Power Controls Produce 5-40 Watts
• Quality Lightweight Pencil Iron
• Cushioned Foam Grip with Replaceable Heating Elements
• Safety Guard Iron Holder
• Natural Sponge Tip Cleaning Pad
• Comes with ST3 Iron Plated Copper Tip

price is $48.51 at amazon

I'm not sure it is worth the money saved and frustration caused by buying anything else.

Last edited by pix; 03-23-10 at 11:34 PM. Reason: picture did not display
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-24-10, 04:27 AM
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Re: A solid and trusty soldering iron

Most problems soldering have more to do with not getting the heat to the work due to an oxidized tip, work that is not clean, too small of a tip, or an iron that does not get hot enough for the type of solder used. The specific iron is not really that important. The product presented here is ok for much work, but there are many other good options as well.

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post #3 of 7 Old 03-24-10, 07:49 AM
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Re: A solid and trusty soldering iron

Radio shack sells a soldering iron tip cleaner that looks like a large button or mini-hockey-puck. It comes with double stick tape, so you just mount it atop your solder workstation.

To use, simply stab the hot iron into the cleaner (it's like a bit pot of solder on the inside -- mostly rosin cleaner) and then wipe on the sponge. We keep our tips looking like new at work (we use the next step up Weller station) and I have that exact solder station (above) at home. My only gripe is that you can't dial in a temperature on it, just a relative number range. The blue/gray Weller station actually lets you dial in a specific temperature, which makes using silver solder or soldering large gauge wire easier.
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-24-10, 11:03 AM
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Re: A solid and trusty soldering iron

MPJA sells a number of low cost soldering stations and has the equivalent of the aforementioned for around $15US. Note that some low cost stations don't have grounded tips and can be risky when used with ESD sensitive equipment. For most utility soldering (speakers, terminals, etc.) non-grounded stations work fine and the added expense (for a grounded tip) is unnecessary. Temperature control is also handy, since some soldering requires limited temperature to prevent frying components while other applications require more heat to get good solder flow (larger terminals for example). Go here
to look at the MPJA options, one of which includes a temperature readout in a unit for about $47.
Lastly, when you solder, the solder is all important. Some solders will behave absolutely badly. Stick to a good name brand solder for best results. A eutectic solder is a good (though more expensive) choice. These solders give a lot less "wiggle room" to joints (movement while the solder is setting will result in a bad joint) since they go directly from a liquid to solid state quickly. They are getting harder to find but can be recognized having a 63/37 (63% tin - not lead) alloy label.

For more soldering info, go here: http://www.toolingu.com/definition-6...ic-solder.html

Good luck in your soldering adventures!
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-25-10, 12:24 AM Thread Starter
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Re: A solid and trusty soldering iron

Icaillo, I know it is bulky, but it is robust.

Can you name a few good irons that are well priced?
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post #6 of 7 Old 03-25-10, 12:55 AM
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Re: A solid and trusty soldering iron

I worked as an electronic technician assembling prototype computer motherboards and have made 10's of thousands of solder joints with my Weller TC201 solder station. Weller makes a great product.
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post #7 of 7 Old 03-25-10, 08:27 AM
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Re: A solid and trusty soldering iron

RBTO wrote: View Post
Note that some low cost stations don't have grounded tips and can be risky when used with ESD sensitive equipment.
This is an excellent point. Where I work we've actually gone through great lengths to ground some of our irons that weren't for just this reason.

I also agree with Leonard that the top issues with most soldering ops is either clean surfaces (including the tip) or inappropriate temperature (that temp can be due to a number of different factors including the power of the iron and the size and cleanliness of the tip/work).

I've used those cleaning "pots" and frankly I'm not impressed. I've found that tips are usually at one of 3 states:
1) becomes squeaky clean just by wiping on a damp sponge. No need for the cleaner
2) Doesn't become clean just by wiping on a damp sponge. Cleaner doesn't really work. Can be cleaned when hot by gently scraping with an exacto blade, then coated in fresh solder and wiped on sponge.
3) Time to replace.

I was taught to solder at a very early age, and grew up thinking I was lousy at it. Until I got into my college lab and worked with a clean tip. Since then I've realized I can solder just about anything. We have nice sophisticated stations from Weller here at work that are great. I do most of my work at home with a $30 nonadjustbale from RS. Although I do plan on making a nice station from here part of my severance package. At least until I saw the prices being quoted here. Maybe I'll just buy a good one.

Like many things, take good care of the tip and it will reward you. Mine gets cleaned when it gets picked up and again when it gets put down. That might mean 50 times a day if I'm in the middle of something. Most times if it needs more than a wipe on a sponge, it's because I left it on too long without wiping it clean and something got caked on.


Don't worry... nothing new here, I've already made that mistake. Trust me.
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