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Old 2nd January 2011, 04:59 PM   #1
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Default Good cheap Soldering station, any votes?

I've been reading about these on this forum and google, but with so many different suggestions I just want one that will do the job. I don't mind if it breaks on me in a year or 2, I might not have a use for it then. My last station frustrated me, even with the so called temp control it had troubles soldering larger parts (May have been the tip or my lack of experience). I need an Iron that will allow me to solder delicate IC's and such (No SMD soldering yet) and those large leaded Bridge diodes like "these" as my last one didn't seem hot enough and I needed to leave it on the part longer than I should have.

Will any of the following cheapies yield good results?:

$39.99 + $9.00 ship= $48.99 - Weller WLC100

$39.99 + $13.16 ship= $53.15 - Aoyue Basic Soldering Station 936

$46.95 + 13.98 ship= $60.93 - MPJA LED DISPLAY DIGITAL SOLDER STATION ZD-929C

Lots of good prices on this page......


If any of the above just won't cut it and you think I will just get frustrated then I guess I could break down and get one of these, but only if the above won't work:

$67 + $15 Ship= $82.00 (est) - Madell Soldering Station

$95 + $10 ship= $105 - Weller WES51

$90 + 10 ship= $100 - Hakko 936-12

Please don't recommend me something over $100, I'd most like stick with something on this page unless more than 1 person recommends something else and the price is good.

Thanks for reading, perhaps this post may benefit more people looking for a solid cheap station.
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Old 2nd January 2011, 07:07 PM   #2
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Hakko 936 is the only way to go.

You can buy it on ebay for around $75.00.


Art
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Old 3rd January 2011, 04:43 AM   #3
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You won't regret buying the Hakko. Guaranteed.

Plus, the 936 is currently no longer in production, so prices are actually discounted; you're buying a genuine Made-In-Japan unit that would have cost more than $100 two or more years ago. Parts will always be available, Hakko is excellent that way, and warranty service is available in every nation on Earth with electricity. You cannot say that for the Chinese units you're looking at, and from all reports, you may need it. Even if you don't, build quality is not there. Weller was better, in my opinion, before Cooper Tools bought them. I've used Weller for years but would not buy new production in most cases (the exception is the larger soldering guns).

The 936 is currently only available in North America; everywhere else they have to pay $160+ for it's replacement which, functionally, is the same. You are getting a lot of value at current prices.
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Last edited by Johnny2Bad; 3rd January 2011 at 04:52 AM.
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Old 3rd January 2011, 06:29 PM   #4
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From my own experience - if you can afford it, get a unit that actually senses and controls the tip temperature.

For years I used one of the cheap "variable temp" units that was no more than a variable voltage applied to a "standard" iron with NO feedback for temperature control. And wondered why every time I tried to remove a component from a PC board I'd also lift the trace right off the board. Turns out that the tip temperature on these cheap units, with no feedback to stop it, shoots up really high and adds enough heat to the board to lift the trace.

Then I happened onto a good Weller temp controlled unit. Haven't lifted a trace since.

Charles
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Old 3rd January 2011, 06:58 PM   #5
AMV8 is offline AMV8  United Kingdom
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To solder delicate items on a pcb you need a low watt iron of around 20 or 30 watt. I do not use a temperature controlled iron and find the cheap 20 watt weller iron with long life tips very effective. I have been using these to build amplifiers for many years.
To solder a bridge however you need a much more powerful iron to ensure a solid joint. I do not believe any of the listed irons could give sufficient energy to solder a heavy joint such as a bridge successfully - the joint might look ok but it would not be homegenious. For heavy work such as a bridge or power amp output wiring I use a weller 100 watt solder gun.
Don
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Old 3rd January 2011, 07:24 PM   #6
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Xytronic LF-2000 $139
Click the image to open in full size.

or

Hakko


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Old 3rd January 2011, 07:31 PM   #7
tomchr is offline tomchr  United States
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The Weller WES51 or WESD51 is the way to go in my opinion. $100 spent now. It'll last the rest of your life if you don't abuse it. Those things are work horses.

The WTCPT is a solid work horse also. They last decades even with hours of daily use.

The WES51 and WESD51 allow you to set the temperature with a dial. Handy at times, but most of the time it'll remain set at 650 or 700 F. The tips are good for smaller stuff. If you do a lot of work on bigger parts (large caps, speaker terminals, components with large thermal mass) you may want a bigger tip -- or the WTCPT.
The WTCPT does not allow you to change temperature on the fly. You have to change the tip for that.

I use an old TCP that I bought in the late 1980'ies. It's rock solid. That's a predecessor to the WTCPT.

Buy a good tool. Don't waste your money on the $50 toys. Spend the $100 and have a tool for life.

~Tom
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Old 6th January 2011, 02:14 PM   #8
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Thanks for the feedback guys! I tossed a coin between the Weller and the Hakko..... well I just received my Hakko 936 and am looking forward to using it today and hopefully for quite a while.

Thanks again!!
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Old 6th January 2011, 10:45 PM   #9
ChrisA is offline ChrisA  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caxxxxxx View Post
I've been reading about these on this forum ......

$90 + 10 ship= $100 - Hakko 936-12
I just bought one of these to replace a unit that failed after 20+ years. It makes me wish my old Weller unit had broken sooner. I paid about $80 at Fry's.
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Old 6th January 2011, 10:55 PM   #10
ChrisA is offline ChrisA  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AMV8 View Post
To solder delicate items on a pcb you need a low watt iron of around 20 or 30 watt. I do not use a temperature controlled iron and find the cheap 20 watt weller iron with long life tips very effective. I have been using these to build amplifiers for many years.
To solder a bridge however you need a much more powerful iron to ensure a solid joint. I do not believe any of the listed irons could give sufficient energy to solder a heavy joint such as a bridge successfully - the joint might look ok but it would not be homegenious. For heavy work such as a bridge or power amp output wiring I use a weller 100 watt solder gun.
Don
The fault in the above logic is that with a temperature controlled iron you have the power of 100W gun always available but can still do small surface mount ports. So if I place the tip of the iron on something big, like for example, a brass #10 machine screw the unit sees the temperature of the tip drop and then applies more power. the unit will self adjust the wattage based of the size of the part you are soldering

Yes I do use #10 bras screws. I make my own terminal blocks by first attaching the screw to a PCB with a brass nut, then solding the head and nut to the PCB. I'm left witha brass threaed stud that makes a good single point ground.. I can solder this with the same iron I use to SMT components
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