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Old 27th November 2002, 02:45 PM   #1
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Default Opinions on soldering irons/stations?

Ok, time to get some new soldering equipment and I would like
to hear your opinions/experiences. Unfortunately there seems
not to be that much to choose from here in Sweden. It is
basically a choice between Weller and Velleman, with a few
odd pieces of other brands. I find most Weller tools too
expensive for my purposes - I don't solder that much and that
often. So do any of you have experiences with the Velleman
soldering tools?

Soldering stations are nice, but how useful is temperature
control in practice? We can be sure not to overheat the
components, but if we don't use longer time than necessary
then the components will not have time to get too hot i think.

What about power? For a temperature controlled station I
guess it won't hurt to have much power, since we limit the
temperature, but what about non-TC irons? Is it better to have
low power (15 - 20W) or high power (50W)? This seems not
obvious, since a high-power iron does the job quicker with less
time for the component to get hot.

Are ceramic heaters better?



I want the ability to ocassionally solder SMT components, so I
guess I need a tool where sub-millimeter tips are available, so
some of the tools I am considering are:

- Velleman VTSS-20 soldering station 48W TC
- Velleman VTSSC-20 soldering iron 20W non-TC
- Weller SPI-16 soldering iron 15W non-TC

There are also some British-made irons called TCS which I know
very little about, but which seem interesting. One is a 50W iron
with adjustable temperature (looks like a trimpot in the handle,
so it is probably awkward), the other two are 18W and 25W.
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Old 27th November 2002, 03:55 PM   #2
JBL is offline JBL  Canada
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If it can help you decid i'm going to buy a weller WES50. It's a 50W TC and a very good price tag.
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Old 27th November 2002, 03:55 PM   #3
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What soldering Iron?

and check my posting.
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Old 27th November 2002, 04:41 PM   #4
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My guess is that the hierarchy is probably:

Metcal
Pace
Weller
The rest

I ended up with a Weller and I am extremely pleased with it -- heats in 10 seconds, really really good and ergonomic, easy to change bits while hot etc. However, I do not yet do much SMT.

Petter
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Old 27th November 2002, 04:51 PM   #5
BrianGT is offline BrianGT  United States
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I bought the Weller WTCPT soldering iron. It does very well in maintaining a constant tip temperature (you can buy 600, 700 or 800 degree tips for it). It has a closed loop method of keeping it within a couple of degrees of the maximum temperature. I got it for a little under $60 when the radioshack store here was closing.

It is also the one that my school uses for all of their labs.

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Old 27th November 2002, 04:53 PM   #6
BrianGT is offline BrianGT  United States
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picture..

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Old 27th November 2002, 04:54 PM   #7
UrSv is offline UrSv  Sweden
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Good choice. I have the old WS50 (I think that's the name) and I am quite pleased with it.

You could always have checked the Elfa sale last month where they sold the other brand they stock at less than half price. Would have made a good second iron...

/UrSv

PS. Everybody likes being told about good deals they missed, not...
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Old 27th November 2002, 04:57 PM   #8
BrianGT is offline BrianGT  United States
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I have been using it about 9 months with no problems. I actually left it on for 3 days straight by accident (left it on and left for a long weekend). I now refuse to use other irons. I had to use a radioshack one at work, and I forgot how well the wtcpt kept a good temperature, so I went home and got my wtcpt for the project that I am working on here.

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Old 27th November 2002, 04:59 PM   #9
joensd is offline joensd  Germany
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I like my Weller station as well (WTCP-S).
The only disadvantage I see at work:
When it comes to repairs (magnetic switch, heat-element) it can get really expensive.
A friend of mine has an Ersa station which works really well.
For the price of a standard Weller station you´ll get one from Ersa with adjustable temperature. Just a thought..
Ersa soldering technique

Jens
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Old 27th November 2002, 06:48 PM   #10
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Seems like an overwhelming praise of Weller. Yes, they are very
good from a quality point of view, although not everybody seems
to agree judging from earlier threads. The problem is that
Weller stations are very expensive in Sweden, from about
$200 and upwards, and then you only get mechanical TC unless
you throw in another $100. I am not willing to pay that much so
i am looking for cheaper alternatives. For around $100 I can
get even the most expensive Velleman station, I can get
swedish-made stations, Stannol stations etc. The question is
whether a soldering station is really that much better than a
decent soldering pen. If I were to use it professionally or
for really hardcore DIY, then a Weller might be worth the price,
but not for my purposes. I'd rather use the extra money on
better components for an amplifier or so.

Is there nobody who have tried the Velleman tools? They seem
to be sold everywhere nowadays and there are a lot of models
to choose from.
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