Author Topic: Best soldering iron???  (Read 1040 times)

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soo

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Best soldering iron???
« on: December 29, 2018, 02:11:36 PM »
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Hey y’all,
     Since the plan this year is to increase my decoder install game, what would be the best soldering iron/station to use?.
     My current set up is weller variable output base station along with a WP25 25w iron and a WM120 12w iron. Both are the Weller professional series. I like these irons because the tips are easy to change. I use the 25w for general work and my hand laid track. Then the 12w for decoder and smd work.
     I thought about going with a Hakko. Yay or nay?. Any others that I do not know about? I am looking in the 100-150$ range.
     Thanks,
Wyatt

peteski

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2018, 02:41:53 PM »
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For general track and DCC installs soldering irons you already have should be perfectly fine.  The temperature adjustability is the most important thing (regardless of the wattage). Actually as long as the temperature can be adjusted then it is actually ok use higher wattage irons.  But then lower wattage irons are usually smaller physically (which is beneficial for precision soldering). I assume that the temperature on your unit can be actually adjusted in degrees (instead of just low -> high).  If you also have a wide selection of long-life tips available, then that is all that's needed.

Is there a reason you want to get another soldering station?  If you were to do some really precise work (like unsoldering SMD components on the decoders) then there are soldering stations designed for SMD work, but they are in a higher price ranges.  And I wouldn't use one of those for track soldering.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2018, 02:55:17 PM by peteski »
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David K. Smith

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2018, 02:47:08 PM »
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My personal favorite is XYtronic; I have a 937D, which I've been using for many years. However... I'm quite certain there are likely many competitive units that are every bit as good. Thermostatic control is arguably the most valuable feature of any iron for modeling use. I agree with Peteski that what you have is likely fine.
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jdcolombo

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2018, 02:49:42 PM »
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Well, it's not in the $150 range, but on the advice of Peteski, I bought a Pace ST50 digital soldering station with the TD100 iron and a 1/32" tip (0001).  About $275 total, and worth every penny.  The biggest advantage of this over the 15w soldering iron I had been using is that the TD100 is small enough to be held like a pencil in your fingers, and with the 1/32" tip (you can get them even smaller - down to 1/128" I think), I can solder wires on the tiny pads of ESU decoders with no problem at all.  Plus, it takes literally 10 seconds to heat the tip to 700 degrees.  Not having to wait 10 minutes for the tip to reach proper temperature has been a revelation.  Decoder installs are now a breeze with this thing.

Maybe you can replicate the Pace's precision and quick heating with something substantially cheaper.  I don't know.  But they'll have to pry the Pace out of my cold, dead hands.

John C.


peteski

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2018, 02:59:36 PM »
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Well, it's not in the $150 range, but on the advice of Peteski, I bought a Pace ST50 digital soldering station with the TD100 iron and a 1/32" tip (0001).  About $275 total, and worth every penny. 
Maybe you can replicate the Pace's precision and quick heating with something substantially cheaper.  I don't know.  But they'll have to pry the Pace out of my cold, dead hands.

John C.

Yeah, that thing is good, ain't it?  As addictive as crack cocaine!  And as expensive too. :D

There might be similar units out there, but I suspect the price will be similar. And Pace is a well-established manufacturer of industrial quality PC board rework equipment.  Back in the '80s I was actually certified in SMD rework by Pace. Still have the certificate.  :)
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narrowminded

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2018, 03:58:54 PM »
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@mmagliaro  While this topic is up, I seem to recall Max mentioning nickel plating his solder tips to rejuvenate them when they need replaced otherwise.  I'm not interested in this as a money saving thing for all but once you have the plating setup, if it's viable and actually works well, why not?  I'm sure you would clean and dress the tip shape to bright metal but curious how well it holds up in use, if I'm even remembering this accurately. :|
« Last Edit: December 30, 2018, 03:02:50 AM by narrowminded »
Mark G.

Doug G.

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2018, 04:05:40 PM »
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I have an ISO-TIP "60" Pro Charge (formerly Wahl ISO-TIP) cordless iron I first used at work in 1979 and it's great. With a #7566 micro tip, it's perfect for SMD. And, perhaps best, you're not tethered. Look it up.

Atlas First Generation Motive Power and Treble-O-Lectric. Click on the link:
www.irwinsjournal.com/a1g/a1glocos/

David K. Smith

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2018, 04:21:15 PM »
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As addictive as crack cocaine!  And as expensive too. :D

And you know this how?  :trollface:
"Life's a piece of sh!t when you look at it."
                                       —Monty Python

Doug G.

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2018, 04:48:10 PM »
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And you know this how?  :trollface:

It was legal in Poland when Pete was a kid?

:D

Doug
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MK

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2018, 05:48:20 PM »
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Wyatt, what you have already is fine.

I have a Hakko imitation soldering station that I use for my R/C stuff.  Only costs $25 and works really really well.  Takes Hakko tips too so you have a ton of choices.  Then last year I won an online contest sponsored by Digikey and the prize was a geniune Hakko soldering station.  The build is much better but functionality wise for what I need to do, the imitation is just as good.  (I'm sure the Hakko regulates the temperature much much better.)  I use both now a days.

https://www.hakko.com/english/products/hakko_fx888d.html
https://hobbyking.com/en_us/soldering-station-with-adjustable-heat-range-us-warehouse.html

soo

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2018, 12:55:36 AM »
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Thanks for all the info guys! Looks like i will stay with what I have.

Laters,
Y-it

Billg

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2018, 10:02:25 AM »
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I have a Hakko station with digital readout that I only use for very fine work.  The kids got it for me for Christmas last year.  They all went in on it together (too much for me).  I have 3 Wellers (25W, 30W and 40W) with various tips that I use for track work and other things.  If you are serious about decoder and SMD soldering, I would suggest buying the best you can afford.  You won't be sorry in the long run....
Just my $.02....

Bill

Mark5

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2018, 01:26:13 PM »
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I have an ISO-TIP "60" Pro Charge (formerly Wahl ISO-TIP) cordless iron I first used at work in 1979 and it's great. With a #7566 micro tip, it's perfect for SMD. And, perhaps best, you're not tethered. Look it up.

I guess this is the current equivalent (?):

https://iso-tip.com/product/power-pro-soldering-iron-kit-boxed-7904

C855B

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2018, 01:55:17 PM »
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I have an ISO-TIP "60" Pro Charge (formerly Wahl ISO-TIP) cordless iron I first used at work in 1979 and it's great. With a #7566 micro tip, it's perfect for SMD. And, perhaps best, you're not tethered. Look it up.

Thank you for the ISO-TIP memory jog. I have one of roughly the same vintage rattling about in a toolbox somewhere. I don't know exactly why I abandoned it - might have been my brief foray into leaded glass, where 150W irons rule. The large iron is a smidge too big for decoder work. :scared: (I keep a 12W Weller for microelectronics.)

Doubtless the battery is toast on the ol' Wahl... heck, I have no clue where the charger might be. The Weller "has its moments" when soldering track leads, so it would behoove me to order a new ISO-TIP (thank you, @Mark5 ), and soon.
...mike

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mmagliaro

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Re: Best soldering iron???
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2018, 02:06:05 PM »
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@mmagliaro  While this topic is up, I seem to recall Max mentioning nickel plating his solder tips to rejuvenate them when they need replaced otherwise.  I'm not interested in this as a money saving thing for all but once you have the plating setup, if it's viable and actually works well, why not?  I'm sure you would clean and dress the tip shape to bright metal but curious how well it holds up in use, if I'm even remembering this accurately. :|

Yes, I did this with a Caswell brush plating kit by just attaching the negative plating lead to the solder tip, dunking the positive lead into the cup of solution, and then plunge the tip into the solution. I used the nickel plating solution they sell. It worked great. A tip I replated back in May is still very clean and tinned and is the one I'm currently using (a 1/64" conical tip in a Weller WES51 temperature controlled station (hope I have the model number right).

I always use the "long life" or "heavy duty" or whatever name a given manufacturer gives to their nickel plated tips. And replating them gets a lot of extra life out of them.