View Full Version : Looking for some advice on getting a soldering iron

03-28-2007, 01:48 AM

I think I've finally had it with my $4 soldering iron.

I'm looking for some advice on getting a better iron.

Since I don't do much soldering (I'm an amateur and mostly use solderless breadboards),
I would rather not spend a lot of money on something I won't use too often.
Of course, I know that you get what you pay for.
So, I'm looking for some middle ground where the soldering iron is inexpensive,
but not completely frustrating to use.

The problem I'm having is that the tip seems to be hot in some places and cold in other places.
So, sometimes the solder flows very nicely, and sometimes not at all.
I've tried replacing the tips, but that only helps for about a minute (if at all).

I've found some soldering irons that look promising, but I don't really know:

www.elexp.com/sdr_5202.htm (http://www.elexp.com/sdr_5202.htm)

www.elexp.com/sdr_5258.htm (http://www.elexp.com/sdr_5258.htm)

www.elexp.com/sdr_23lk.htm (http://www.elexp.com/sdr_23lk.htm)

Do any of these look good?
Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Thanks for any help.

03-28-2007, 01:57 AM
I use the weller WLC100 http://www.elexp.com/sdr_wlc1.htm
It has served me well for a $40 iron.

I use the 0.032 tips.


"Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society (http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/29139.html)"

Benjamin Franklin
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
www.hittconsulting.com (http://www.hittconsulting.com)

03-28-2007, 02:03 AM
I have mostly used Antex soldering stations - I find them very reliable with multiple bit choices and smd rework kits etc

www.antex.co.uk/ (http://www.antex.co.uk/)

they have listed a few US suppliers..

'Necessity is the mother of invention'

Post Edited (QuattroRS4) : 3/28/2007 4:53:23 AM GMT

Shawn Lowe
03-28-2007, 02:48 AM
I agree with Bean. You cannot go wrong with a Weller. Yep, it's about 4 times more than the ones your looking at, but WELL worth the investment. I myself have a radio shack soldering station and,... I....HATE...it! Haven't gotten around to buying a new one yet.

Shawn Lowe

My last words shall be - "NOT YET!!!"

Paul Baker
03-28-2007, 05:08 AM
I like Xytronic soldering stations.

Paul Baker (mailto:pbaker@parallax.com)
Propeller Applications Engineer
[/url][url=http://www.parallax.com] (http://www.parallax.com)
Parallax, Inc. (http://www.parallax.com)

03-28-2007, 06:33 AM
Hakko makes some very nice soldering irons. I have a 937, but only because I found a good deal on Ebay. They have a good one that sells new for about $80.

On the other hand, I see the Weller WLC100 (that Bean mentioned) get recommended so often on so many message boards that I have to believe it's probably a great choice.

One other place you might want to check is Circuit Specialists (http://www.circuitspecialists.com/). I see them get good recommendations frequently for their own line of soldering equipment.

- Rick

T&E Engineer
03-28-2007, 08:27 AM
I use the $8-$10 Radio Shack irons (15 and 30 W versions) and replace the tips for every other project. Convient but not practical. I here they have a new digital one that I will probably get at some point. However, Weller is probably the most well known and used.

PJ Allen
03-28-2007, 08:47 AM
Whether $8 Rat-Shack or my Weller WTCPT, I cannot over-stress the importance of "tip tinning" and having a damp sponge to clean your tip off with (frequently.)

"Tip tinning" is keeping a bit of solder on the hot tip, as well as while it's heating up and once you unplug and cool it, too.· Don't let them go "dry," the result is corrosion.

Damp sponge = saturate it and then wring all of the water out.·

Before applying the iron/tip to your connection, wipe it off (nice and shiny), touch it with the solder, then apply it to the joint, flash some more solder to the hot joint, remove the tip from the joint and park the iron.· The heating and all should be a quick operation, one shouldn't tarry there.

Update -- And don't ever touch the tip to plastic, rubber, anything like that -- the result is "organic contamination", bad news.

A Kester Ultrapure Tip Tinner helps prolong tip life greatly.

Post Edited (PJ Allen) : 3/28/2007 1:04:29 PM GMT

03-28-2007, 09:46 AM
Like Bean, I also use the WLC100. Just got a brand new one infact. Anyway, it works great, as long as you don't try to do any direct soldering or very static senitive componites. I ruined a 5_000_000 MHz crystal that way.

Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.

Microsoft: "You've got questions. We've got dancing paper clips."

03-28-2007, 11:42 PM
mprobo (http://forums.parallax.com/member.php?u=44922)

This is a very nice soldering station you can use different tips also have surface mount IC's tips
i have one of these units and i am very very happy with it

Temp controls·are the·temp set and temp read out which are the best thing about it i think

When you order it talk Shawn he is very help full also ask about th Solder Roll Holder that is also very nice
www.howardelectronics.com/xytronic/137ESD.html (http://www.howardelectronics.com/xytronic/137ESD.html).........· http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/smile.gif·http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/smile.gif·http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/smile.gif·UP.... this is three thumps·up

·This is a very nice tip 1.6mm barrel one

·You will have about··as much fun as these two are having· http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/hop.gifhttp://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/jumpin.gif

I think that you be very happy with it I know that i am

I hope this help you

··Thanks for any·http://forums.parallax.com/images/smilies/idea.gif·that you may have and all of your time finding them


03-29-2007, 12:45 AM
The best tip I got to keep my iron tip in good shape is to ALWAYS put fresh solder on the iron before putting it back in the holder. Now of course you must wipe that ball of solder off the next time you use the iron, but I'm using the same tip on my iron for many months without any problems.


"Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society (http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/29139.html)"

Benjamin Franklin
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
www.hittconsulting.com (http://www.hittconsulting.com)

03-29-2007, 03:23 AM
Thank you for all the replies.

I'll try the "tip tinning" method mentioned by PJ Allen and Bean,
to see if that will solve by problems.

If not, it sounds like the Weller WLC100 should be a safe bet.

Thanks again for the help.


03-29-2007, 08:36 AM
little late on this, but that's OK.
I got a Xytronic 379 from howard (see above) for $49. great company no matter which iron you buy. they really know their stuff AND they have an upgrade guarantee. If you dont like the iron ship it back for credit towards a new one. they also have some used stuff cheap.
just did some of my first SMD soldering with mine tonight. worked great.
and I can tell you to follow bean's & PJ's advice on tinning the tip. I forgot to do mine and the tip was black (oxidized) and would not make a nice joint. time for a tip replacement

stand back! I have a slide rule and I know how to use it!

Bill Chennault
03-29-2007, 08:55 AM
Dunnsept (http://forums.parallax.com/member.php?u=45606)--

just did some of my first SMD soldering with mine tonight

Did you do that with your bare eyes or a magnifying glass? (Serious question; I am getting to the point where I need magnification, therefore I wonder what vision issues are involved in SMD soldering.)



You are what you write.

04-07-2007, 07:31 AM
Yah lucky me i got an Metcal MX-500TS for free at my dad's old job. A very good soldering iron!

Post Edited (Logicalsifter) : 4/7/2007 1:51:41 AM GMT