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Soldering Station Advice
Soldering Station Advice
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View Poll Results: Which budget hobby soldering station?
Circuit Specialists CSI-STATION1A 40w 1 5.88%
Madell QK936A 60w 1 5.88%
ATTEN AT937b 50w 1 5.88%
Sparkfun AT936B 50w 0 0%
MPJA Model 301A 40w 1 5.88%
AOYUE 936 35w 2 11.76%
Other 11 64.71%
Voters: 17. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 20th November 2011, 03:37 AM   #1
roadlesstraveled is offline roadlesstraveled  United States
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Default Soldering Station Advice

I am looking to purchase a soldering station for hobby use. The station will get used only a few times a month which is why I'm not going with a pricier station. From my research thus far the below stations seem to offer the best bang for your buck.

At first I was leaning towards the CSI station because they also have the solder, desoldering braid, helping hand, etc... that I need to purchase and it's at a great price. I would also be able to get a free digital multimeter through them. Take into consideration that while I would still have to pay shipping there I'd be ordering quite a few small items that would cost more elsewhere so it evens out.

After doing a little more research I found that Aoyue also seems to get mentioned quite a bit. It seems like the tips between all of these soldering irons are interchangeable. Also the SMD Tweaser should also be interchangeable as long as you make sure to choose the one with the correct number of pins (the CSI model costs ~$30 more than the others).

I'm not sure which model to go with since their all basically a clone of the same Hakko 936. What do you guys recommend?

Circuit Specialists CSI-STATION1A 40w - $29.95 before shipping
Madell QK936A 60w - $43 shipped
ATTEN AT937b 50w - $39.98 shipped
Sparkfun AT936B 50w - $29.95 before shipping
MPJA Model 301A 40w - $39.95 before shipping
AOYUE 936 35w - $39.00 shipped
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Old 20th November 2011, 03:54 AM   #2
Lavcat is offline Lavcat  United States
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I use a Weller WES51 and I recommend it.
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Old 20th November 2011, 07:10 AM   #3
Francec is offline Francec  Australia
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Your profile doesn't say where you are so it is hard to give proper advice. Not everyone lives in the US of A (happily).
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Old 20th November 2011, 02:58 PM   #4
roadlesstraveled is offline roadlesstraveled  United States
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Sorry about that, I live in the US. Profile has been updated.
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Old 20th November 2011, 03:40 PM   #5
thaumaturge is offline thaumaturge  United States
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Originally Posted by roadlesstraveled View Post
I am looking to purchase a soldering station for hobby use. .... What do you guys recommend?
I use a Wellwe W60 for kick around use and a WCTN station on the bench. Both are magnetic controlled.

Of those you listed I'd go with the 60W for faster heating and recovery time. Looks like tips are available, I'd get a couple of spares.

I like a hot 800 F tip so I can get in and out fast. You do less board damage by being quick than using a lower temp iron that has to heat a trace a long time to make a proper joint. Whatever you get, get some junk circuit boards to practice on first before you attempt an expensive project board. Use a damp tip cleaning sponge, clean just before you solder then put tip back in stand dirty. Always have some solder on the tip when it is just sitting in stand. This will help with tip oxidation. Use a small fan to keep solder fumes away from your face. Lay tip on trace and touch solder to point of contact to get things started then move solder to other side of lead you are soldering to finish joint.

Best of luck to you.
Noli timere problematum affigit
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Old 20th November 2011, 04:18 PM   #6
PbAg is offline PbAg  United States
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This is my first post on DIYA and given my nickname, an appropriate topic? -

I am also a "few times a month hobbyist" and have owned the MPJA Model 301A for a number of years. It has performed very well - heats quickly, maintains temperature accurately, tip lasts a long time. An optional SMD "tong" is also available. I would definitely recommend this type of station for hobby use.
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Old 20th November 2011, 04:27 PM   #7
Zero Cool is offline Zero Cool  United States
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I have to 2nd the weller route. even a used weller! besides the initial purchase of the iron system, you have to consider the maintenance of the unit as well. replacement tips, handles etc. Weller has a long reputation and is well supported.
It's not about what you can BUY...It's about what you can BUILD!
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Old 28th November 2011, 06:01 AM   #8
nezbleu is offline nezbleu  Canada
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Soldering Station Advice
I have a station I bought from Circuit Specialists, branded "Black Jack Solderwerks". I think it is about identical to the CSI unit. I am very happy with it; it heats fast, is easy to handle, has a good tip and a nice stand. No complaints. When I bought it, like you, I ordered a few extras, some spare tips in a couple of sizes, some solder, desoldering braid, and a couple of other things, including a decent DMM. Everything arrived as ordered, no surprises, no disappointments.
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Old 1st December 2011, 06:41 AM   #9
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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For only occasional use, I might just go with a butane soldering iron. The only one I've used is the Weller Pyropen, but I've seen visually similar if not identical irons from other brands (Master Ultratorch). Portability, hot air for heatshrinking, and a flame torch for heavy duty soldering. For convenient ignition, I cut the top off an old disposable lighter.

I still have a 40 watt Weller iron well; one of those might be usable if you use a light dimmer to reduce the power. It tends to run too hot (glows in the dark!).

But, I'd strongly recommend a Weller temperature-controlled station. You may find one at a real surplus outlet (industrial, government, school) or ham radio swap meet.

Last edited by dangus; 1st December 2011 at 06:50 AM.
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Old 1st December 2011, 01:10 PM   #10
jcb72 is offline jcb72
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The WES51 and at937b both have pretty decent reviews on Amazon. I cant comment on either of the personally because I don't own them though. I know it is not a budget station but I have a Hakko-951 and it is the greatest thing since sliced bread! If you ever want a top end station and have the money to spend the 951 is the way to go.
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