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Old 01-13-2010, 12:20 AM   #21
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Until recently I always used the 30 watt Sears iron I got when I was 8 or 10 years old. Had it so long I don't even remember. The when building my COPs harness I used 12 gauge power and ground wires, and the wires sunk enough heat away from the splices that the solder just wouldn't flow. So I picked up a Weller gun with the 100/140 watt two stage trigger.
The Sears iron and I have been through a lot of projects, but I may treat myself to one of these nice adjustable soldering stations. On some small stuff it would be nice to be able to run less than 30 watts.
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:30 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by TurboTim View Post
How do you guys go through tips so often? I've been using the same ~35 year old 1/8 flat weller tip since...well forever.
Answer highlighted in bold.

I've still got the same tip on my Weller that came with it when I bought it about 15 years ago. OTOH, before I bought that rig I'd go through a tip every few months on whatever RadioShack iron I happened to be using at the moment.

The tip is really what distinguishes a good iron from a mediocre one. Which is why this is the only soldering station anybody who is just starting out needs to even consider: Amazon.com: Weller WES51 Analog Soldering Station

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Old 01-13-2010, 02:13 AM   #23
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As far as soldering experience, I don't know, maybe 100 wires and random components in total in my life, but very little circuit board soldering.

I have had nothing but bad experiences with Radio shack soldering gear. I bought a Weller 90ish watt iron a few months back to replace my shitty, broken Radioshack gun for heavier gauge projects and it is awesome. Come to think about it my dad's 30 year old Weller gun still works, same tip, from my very first Radio Controlled car soldering projects as a kid (Grasshopper 380 to 540 Mabuchi motor swap FTW). Very much leaning towards JP's suggestion.

What about removing solder? I have a suction bubble thing. Would a braid work better on circuit board?

Also wondering about brass wool as a cleaner instead of wet sponge.
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Old 01-13-2010, 10:54 AM   #24
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Seriously, for board work, you dont need more than 30-40W at most. You'll start lifting pads beyond that.

for wire to wire stuff, use whatever you want. I use crimps, but a solder gun would work.

brass wool or wet sponges both work fine. I prefer the brass wool.

Multiple gauges of solder braid WITH FLUX ON IT is most useful, though a solder sucker is nice for pulling solder out of holes / hard to reach spots.

Tips die because of oxidization. if you keep the iron hot with no solder on it, it will need a new tip. keep a blob of solder on it when you're not using it and it'll last a while.
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Old 01-13-2010, 10:58 AM   #25
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one day ill stop using my dinner table as a workspace and get a good Weller iron.
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Old 01-13-2010, 02:25 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by y8s View Post
Tips die because of oxidization. if you keep the iron hot with no solder on it, it will need a new tip. keep a blob of solder on it when you're not using it and it'll last a while.
That's one factor. Another is material quality. Cheap tips are made from recycled cheese graters plated with something out of a spray can. Good tips are made from good materials, with a durable plating of unobtanium / noncorrosium alloy.

I've seen Weller irons, and other high-quality stuff like Metcal, that were left on in the lab all night. A quick swipe over the polishing bar the next morning and they're good as new.

By comparison, I've owned many crappy irons over the years, and their tips simply disintegrate no matter what you do to them.


But never mind tip longevity for a moment. One of the biggest challenges facing the newbie is getting good heat transfer and good solder flow. The fact is that it's easier to do this with a good tip than a cheap one, even if the cheapie is brand new and was just tinned. I'm not saying that a good iron automatically makes an expert, but a bad iron will surely frustrate an amateur.
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Old 01-13-2010, 06:17 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Perez View Post
Answer highlighted in bold.

I've still got the same tip on my Weller that came with it when I bought it about 15 years ago. OTOH, before I bought that rig I'd go through a tip every few months on whatever RadioShack iron I happened to be using at the moment.

The tip is really what distinguishes a good iron from a mediocre one. Which is why this is the only soldering station anybody who is just starting out needs to even consider: Amazon.com: Weller WES51 Analog Soldering Station

What Joe said... I have a Weller WES50 (nearly identical to the WES51) and it's absolutely great, both in quality and ease of use. Good tools are quite often worth a little extra.
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Old 01-22-2010, 02:05 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by y8s View Post
This one:

Circuit Specialists Inc. - CSI Deluxe Station w/Analog Display (CSI-STATION1A)

replacement tips up the wazoo
replacable wand and heater too.
Plus one, this should be all the solder station you ever need. I had several experienced "hams" suggest this station as being the best bang for the buck. It's ESD safe and experienced users (not me!) can do medium scale SMD soldering with it.
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