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Old 12th September 2014, 04:37 PM   #1
Jeffs is offline Jeffs  United States
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Default Most basic of tools for beginner: iron, solder, wick

This has been covered, but in a conversation with the local amp repair man with a 2 month backlog of work added something new. I was trying to get him to build something and he was interested in the design, but he told me to learn myself and quit messing around with crappy $40 soldering irons - that $100 was probably what I would be looking at online.

He mentioned Hakko and Weller and stated that in recent years Weller realized it was falling behind and had come out with new irons which didn't just heat the tip at one point but had a larger contact surface into the tip. Is this the case with the WES-51 and iron as sold by Amazon for about $95? - Or a reference to a specific type of iron?
Next question is if I should be buying extra tips, and if so what type? I have never been able to solder but know I wasn't cleaning surfaces properly in addition to using cheap irons.

Additional products he recommended were Kester 44 in .030" and Chemwick for desoldering.

Basically told me he would be happy to check my work, a quick inspection of "this is good - this is bad".

First project probably an ob2, then amp camp, and see if I have what it takes for bigger projects. There is a lot I need to learn and figure these two projects should be better for learning than spending another couple hundred hours reading what is over my head.
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Old 12th September 2014, 04:54 PM   #2
AndrewT is offline AndrewT  Scotland
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clean surfaces are very important.
correct solder is very important.
correct temperature is very important.

Cleaning
you must clean down to bare copper, no grease/oil and no paint enamel.
Except when the lead or surface is pretinned. (pretinned = covered with solder)
Pretinned sometimes benefits f#from retinning with fresh flux and solder to remove old oxides and other contamination.

Solder
use leaded solder. use eutectic solder
The easiest and cheapest eutectic, leaded solder is 63% tin (Sn) with 37% lead (Pb) (63/37 SnPb)
Do not use 60/40 nor 40/60.
Flux cored is best since you don't have to add flux, it's in the solder.

Temperature
A non adjustable soldering iron is usually good enough. It should be made to be hot enough for joints that suit it's bit size and for ordinary solders.
If you want to invest in an adjustable temperature iron, then you will need to learn how to set the temperature to suit the solder and the flux and the joint. Usually around 280C to 300C is about right for small electronics jobs & 63/37.

I have been soldering for nearly 50years and I got my first solder wick a couple of weeks ago.
But, I made a solder stand from a bent wire coat hanger AFTER I burnt my bedroom carpet !
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Last edited by AndrewT; 12th September 2014 at 04:56 PM.
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Old 12th September 2014, 08:47 PM   #3
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These are hard days for a beginner regarding tools selection.

The requirements have change dramatically in the last 10 years.
Any modern soldering station must be capable to rabidly control it temperature and also to be capable for soldering of tiny surface mount components.

For 30$ you get a useless axe in size soldering iron, when the appropriate soldering stations hoovering at 500$.
I wanted to have the advantages of the high priced ones at a reasonable cost and the solution become available in 2014, ATTEN AT-90DH. ( 140 EUR)
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Old 12th September 2014, 09:24 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiriakos View Post
These are hard days for a beginner regarding tools selection.

The requirements have change dramatically in the last 10 years.
Any modern soldering station must be capable to rabidly control it temperature and also to be capable for soldering of tiny surface mount components.

For 30$ you get a useless axe in size soldering iron, when the appropriate soldering stations hoovering at 500$.
I wanted to have the advantages of the high priced ones at a reasonable cost and the solution become available in 2014, ATTEN AT-90DH. ( 140 EUR)
If you aren't in EUROPE, you are much better off with the Hakko FX888D. Cheaper (less than $100) and better quality than the atten. I have this one and its a great station very very high quality.

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Old 12th September 2014, 09:41 PM   #5
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I am afraid that I will displease you.
If you have the chance to test one AT-90DH you will sold your Hakko on eBay in 15 minutes and you will never look back.
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Old 12th September 2014, 09:51 PM   #6
Einric is online now Einric  United States
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I would second the Hakko FX888 either the analog or digital one.
I have the digital and my buddy has the analog, I have used both and I like both.
I prefer the Hakko over my Weller WES51 that I have at work.

I have recently switched to Cardas Quad Eutectic solder, I don't believe the audiophool mumbojumbo about it but I do know it is the finest solder I have ever used.
It flows extremely well and it melts at lower temps than the Kester 44 63/37 I use at work.

It can be found for a reasonable price from Percy Audio, they don't have a web store but ordering via E-Mail with them is very easy.
Pricing from them is a bit more than Kester 44 but I find it to be a superior solder and I won't look back.

Look for good quality desoldering braid also, TechSpray makes a fantastic desoldering wick, look for the non ROHS kind whatever you get it just seems to work better.
If you know the size of the soldering tip you have, try to find desoldering braid/wick that is about 2 times wider than the tip.

Last edited by Einric; 12th September 2014 at 09:57 PM.
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Old 12th September 2014, 10:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiriakos View Post
I am afraid that I will displease you.
If you have the chance to test one AT-90DH you will sold your Hakko on eBay in 15 minutes and you will never look back.
Nah, no displeasing. I'm not that good to any brand. While it's increased performance might be true; the Atten is double the price (if not triple the price when the sales are good). Additionally, the FX888D is more than enough for any beginner. I won't dispute the increased abilities of the Atten of you say its good. Just that for a beginner the increased abilities are not going to be noticeable.

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Old 12th September 2014, 10:45 PM   #8
tomchr is offline tomchr  United States
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I recommend Weller if you're on a budget. The WES-51 is a nice budget iron. If you're in Europe, you may find a good deal on a Weller TCP. That was the workhorse iron in many European electronics labs. They're practically indestructible. There's a newer model, the WTCP which is pretty nice as well.
For both the TCP and WTPC, the tip temperature is controlled by a magnetic gizmo in the tip itself, so to change temperature, you change the tip. This sounds inconvenient, but in reality, how many people actually ever change the temperature of their soldering iron? If you have to crank up the temperature to get the solder to flow, you're using the wrong tip or the wrong iron. The TCP and WTCP are very nice for leaded parts, but a tad big for SMD parts. If you don't plan to solder a bunch of surface mounted parts, they'll serve you well. If you do plan to solder surface mounted devices, the WES is a better choice.

If you have a larger budget, get a METCAL MX-500. I picked one up on eBay for dimes on the dollar during the recession and absolutely *LOVE* it. My trusty old (bought in 1988) Weller TCP is collecting dust.

Regardless of brand, get a temperature controlled soldering iron in the 50 W range. Get a couple of different tips for it. I'd go with a 1.0 mm chisel tip for SMDs, a 1.6 mm chisel for leaded parts, and a 6.3 mm chisel for when I just need to dump some heat into the work area.

Whatever you buy, make sure it is TEMPERATURE CONTROLLED!

~Tom
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Old 13th September 2014, 12:27 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by PedroDaGr8 View Post
Just that for a beginner the increased abilities are not going to be noticeable.
My last rambling will be that I wish to this imaginary beginner to not touch any computers parts for getting them repaired until getting a proper multifunctional soldering station at 90W as minimum.

In our times all soldering is made by robots in the modern production lines, if you have to repair modern electronics you need to follow the river flow from your very beginning.

I own two 30W common soldering irons (JBC & ANTEX), a pistol type at 200W made in USA, an hammer type at 400W with wooden handle, also an 45W controlled station since 1996, and for advanced soldering this fresh AT-90DH at 90W with 7 seconds heating time.
Therefore just one is never enough.
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Old 13th September 2014, 12:41 AM   #10
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I use a 15 Maplin 30 watt soldering iron.
It comes with various sized bits which is useful.

The most important protection you can buy is glasses.
They will stop solder splashing in your eyes.
Also snipped leads can hit you in the eye too.

I use reading glasses which magnify things a bit which is good as I am short sighted now.
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