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What's a good budget solder gun?

Old 01-06-2014, 11:31 AM
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To bring this back. I managed to kill my sparkfun unit. It wont run the heating element now unless the temp is set to max. The temp sensor in the tip seems to be reporting normally so something bit the dust inside the unit. I guess its time to buy a weller.
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Old 01-06-2014, 11:38 AM
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I got this at christmas.
I've only used it once now, but it's better than my weller unit. OTC 4472 Cordless Solder Tool Kit: Automotive OTC 4472 Cordless Solder Tool Kit: Automotive

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Old 01-06-2014, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Erat View Post
I got this at christmas.
I've only used it once now, but it's better than my weller unit. OTC 4472 Cordless Solder Tool Kit: Automotive

i love my propane iron i use at work. its way too much work to get 120v to a work area, they are great if you need the mobility. not to mention they offer lots of power.
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Old 01-11-2014, 12:59 PM
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I've got a vintage Weller WTCPN with a TC-201 iron on it. It does everything I've asked of it, though it's not ideal for hauling out into the field. The tips are what controls temperature on this model, so you have to learn to solder with what you've got, not play with the ****. I picked mine up refurbed at a Ham swap meet with a ton of tips and a Sold-A-Pult solder sucker. **** desoldering braid. You just have to get good enough to not lift traces.

For work in the field, I spent $20 at Lowe's and got a Bernzomatic Micro Butane Torch with Soldering Kit. The thing that sealed the deal is you can remove the solder tip and use it as a heat gun on heat shrink. It's far from the best soldering tool, but it gets the job done when I don't want to run an extension cord across the parking lot.
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Old 05-28-2019, 10:32 AM
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Forgiveness please for thread necromancy, but there is a good basis of info in this thread, and was the newest of the soldering iron threads I was able to find google searching MT

So, looks like the weller WES-51 has been superseded.

WLC100 is still around for a whole 34 bucks, and the next tier of weller would be this

As someone who will probably see limited PCB work, I am leaning towards the WLC100, but I like having good tools and try to subscribe to buy once, cry once; but my car is whole living example of me not following my own rules.

Any thoughts or advice?
Joe Perez seems to be the resident soldering guru - any experience with the new weller?
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Old 05-28-2019, 10:51 AM
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WLC100 is what I would suggest for bare minimum budget / is my travelling iron. There are a number of new players in the sub $100 range, but I can't comment on them directly since I primarily use a $300 hot air station these days.
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Old 05-28-2019, 11:56 AM
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we just consolidated a couple offices and acquired a few soldering stations in the process.
The ones we got were worthless, but after checking into it, our old wellers were up for grabs so I grabbed one and a bunch of tips. Pretty sweet deal. Great upgrade from my Circuit Specialists junk.

Most people here use the Pace soldering station for production work and it's pretty amazing, but it starts at $250. Hot swapping tips is pretty awesome (if you need to).
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Old 05-28-2019, 02:01 PM
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Amazon Amazon

Been using that little guy for two years. I usually have the temp a few hairs from as low it it'll go but have cranked it up for TV repairs and a few other things and it's been fine. I have a butane iron as well from Lowe's but if I'm doing more than four or five wires/joints I prefer to be plugged in... I have 120v outlets out side though.
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Old 05-28-2019, 02:59 PM
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I use the Weller WP35 and it is great. Interchangeable tips and has lasted a long time. You will need to buy a base though.
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Old 05-28-2019, 03:25 PM
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Also consider the TS-100 or the TS-80 irons, those are really good for their price.
If you buy one of those irons, please also invest in a good rubber flexible cable which does not burn.
The great thing about those irons is the active tip: both the heater and the temp sensor are right in the tip, which leads to the precision of a conventional 15W iron when working with small parts on a circuit board and the power of a conventional 100W iron when soldering big gauge wires.
Once you have soldered with an iron with an active tip, you are pretty much spoiled.

At my work (semi conductor industry) we work with JBC irons with active tips. I can recommend those irons to everyone, but too expensive for hobbyist and I am not sure about sellers in US (I am Europe based).
We also have Weller stations and they are well built and will last, but very much behind when it comes to actually soldering. Also their new irons are not much better and the video from EEVBlog linked above shows they have more interest in cost cutting rather than innovation.

My own hobbyist iron is the Hakko FX-888D. Very well built and will last a long time, but I am looking at upgrading that one to something with an active tip.
I also had a cheap Chinese iron (Aoyue), which was terribly built. The cable broke twice and the tips were pretty bad too. Go with a Weller or Hakko and skip the cheap Chinese irons.
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Old 05-28-2019, 07:50 PM
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Thanks guys, appreciate the advice; the new weller is off the table. I was tempted by the Hakko 888, but I don't see myself building anything on a PCB in the near future, and it looks overkill. The WP-35 does look good, WLC-100 could be slow to warm up allegedly and the quality is probably not as nice as the 35, will toss a coin when I finally escape from work and grab one of those 2 methinks - I doubt I'll ever be soldering anything not 60/40 so the WP-35 probably will be just fine, but need to find a stand, and my OCD shopping habits makes that a multiple hour ordeal of 47 chrome tabs and several rabbit holes. Or just easy button the 100.

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Old 05-28-2019, 08:17 PM
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A couple of things to add to your shopping list:

Flush cutters
Brass wire tip cleaner (better than the wet sponge, helps the tip last longer)
Flux (MG Chemicals 8341). I didn't learn about flux until I had soldered for years, makes everything much easier when you learn to use it right.
Desoldering braid

And the reason why I don't like the Wp35 is it doesn't have adjustable heat. It is a classic and it works, but I'll take the WLC100 over it.

also: always leave your tip covered in solder when you turn it off. It'll help the tip last longer.
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Old 05-29-2019, 02:58 PM
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We have an old Weller WES-51 at work. It's nice, but the handle gets hot. I love my Hakko 936 and bring that in when I am doing a bunchbof sokdering at work.

If you are only going to be doing occational soldering, 1-2 wires in the car kind of work, I love my Weller Portisol for that. Butane powered, so you can use it anywhere. Just mind what you are pointing the exhaust at.
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Old 05-29-2019, 06:47 PM
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I just bought a new "self adjusting" wire stripper... what have i been doing with my life? No more razor blade stripping for me!
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