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Soldering Irons And Solder Stations


JTech
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Hello everyone, I have been looking to get a new soldering iron station. I know what some of you might say "just buy a cheap one they will do the job". Well, I have owned one of those regular radioshack soldering irons with the holder and my experience with it is not so great. First off, the holder would sometimes tip over (don't ask it has happened). Then, when the tip wore out and replaced it, the new tip would not screw in completely. I thought it was the tip so I got it replaced. When I got home and screwed it in, same story. So what I decided to do was get some pliers and screw it in the hard way. I ruined the tip. So now I'm done with the soldering irons from radioshack. I want to buy a soldering station from ebay. There's this one for a good price. soldering iron station . But I'm not sure if there is a difference with the ceramic tips. I want to know if there is someone out there with some experience with this solder station or can recommend me another solder station like this with the same price more or less. I really don't want to spend over a hundred. Thanks.

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I would suggest you shell out fot either a Weller Station or an Antex.

My antex lasted over thirty years before I had to replace the tip and element and then at a fraction of the cost of a complete iron.

Weller I have used professionally and they really are superb.

Keith

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I'll second that. I've used a lot of Weller stuff professionally and it is great stuff.

All of the soldering irons sold by RadioShack are absolute crap! I've been there before. But you may not need to jump all the way up to a full station. You might just go get a 25 or 40 watt Weller iron (from any Home Depot, Lowes, or most hardware stores) and you can do just as well for guitar work. That will only cost you $20-$40 and last a lifetime. The soldering stations don't really add much value until you get into the professional electronic work with dense circuit boards.

I can't comment on the ceramic tips since I haven't used them. My reaction is that they may work, but surely aren't necessary. Not sure how you tin a ceramic tip. You certainly don't need precise temperature regulation for guitar work. Stick with a brand name you can trust.

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Weller makes good, reliable irons, and you can't really go wrong with one, but I feel compelled to mention the Xytronic stations. I bought one about four years ago and it's performed flawlessly ever since. I don't think you can do better for under $100. I use mine for a lot more than guitar work, and it will cover a ton of ground if you know how to set the temperature and which tip to use.

GFS, of all places, is selling them now at a very good price: http://store.guitarfetish.com/soirandac.html

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Ah yes. How could I forget the Xytronic solder station from guitar fetish. Its good to know that your experience went well with it fookgub. I was thinking about buying it a while back when I started soldering. But my prof. said just buy one from radioshack and now I'm here. I was searching around for other solder stations and found more than I expected. I read somewhere that the ceramic tips heat up in minute or so. Not sure if thats true, but sounds better than waiting 12 minutes. Also, I think the price went up on the xytronic at guitar fetish. Not really sure but if it has worked for you fookgub then its worth the 85 bucks. Anyone else out there with a solder station similar to the one in guitar fetish, that can give me there opinion on what should I buy. If not, I'll just buy the xytronic. Thanks everyone

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Ah yes. How could I forget the Xytronic solder station from guitar fetish. Its good to know that your experience went well with it fookgub. I was thinking about buying it a while back when I started soldering. But my prof. said just buy one from radioshack and now I'm here. I was searching around for other solder stations and found more than I expected. I read somewhere that the ceramic tips heat up in minute or so. Not sure if thats true, but sounds better than waiting 12 minutes. Also, I think the price went up on the xytronic at guitar fetish. Not really sure but if it has worked for you fookgub then its worth the 85 bucks. Anyone else out there with a solder station similar to the one in guitar fetish, that can give me there opinion on what should I buy. If not, I'll just buy the xytronic. Thanks everyone

I don't know anything about ceramic tips, but a minute doesn't really seem that impressive to me. Any soldering iron should heat up in a minute, and if it takes 12 minutes, it belongs in the trash. If you want super fast warm up, buy a Metcal. Mine heats up in seconds. They're intended for production work, way overkill for hobbyists, but beautiful irons nonetheless. I've been there before with the Radioshack irons... I owned three before I finally stepped up to a decent soldering station. Any quality temperature controlled station will be light years ahead of an unregulated iron.

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Ok I am probably going to get blasted for paying $14.95 (model 15860 TL) for an adjustable soldering station (you know, you get what you pay for), but I got this iron over a year ago and it has performed flawlessly. Of course it does not see a lot of use (have wired 4 guitars with it so far). Not intended for production soldering but fit the bill perfectly for my use. My 2cents

MPJA soldering iron

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Weller makes a full line of soldering stations. One thing about instrument work is you really don't need to have the most expensive soldering tools. As long as you are able to adjust the temperature that is what you get buying a station. I have the cheapest Weller where the iron actually plugs into the station. I think it runs $49 wlc100. It really is garbage but I don't really need anything better. If you are assembling pre amps and doing board work you need a good station. I had lots of practice soldering from a previous service career unrelated to guitars so my soldering skills are very good. Note a better station will not make your work look any better that comes from experience. Also some station are not one piece so you still have a small tip holder you complained about. You may want to just buy a more stable holder as an alternative.

I think you are looking at least $100 plus for a good station, probably closer to 150 plus which you will like and use for a lifetime. Stick with brand names which will allow you to repair the unit or find additional tips easily. If mine fails I will toss it and buy something better with more heft. I may also replace it if I find myself doing more electrical work than I do now.

I think the key here is budget and that will ultimately determine the model you can afford. I would also buy from a dealer specializing in electronics.

You gotta love it when you read statements like "The best guitar Soldering Station" LOL.

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Weller, Hakko, and PACE all make great soldering stations. My personal preference would have to go to PACE, just because they're like, the Mercedes of soldering. NASA uses their equipment for just about everything and it's what I learned to solder on at vo-tech. But you'll be spending $100 just to get an analog station with PACE...

I have a cheap Weller station I picked up at Sears a few years back. It does everything I need it to do and the only thing that I'm having trouble with these days is finding decent solder and flux due to all the new regulations. Ceramic tips are great for high-temperature work where tinning isn't possible or even necessary, but are useless and too expensive to justify for hobby work on guitars and such.

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Did some checking thinking how bad my station is and found this link for a digital weller. What I especially like is the fact it goes off after 99 min if unused. I cant remember how many times I forget to turn off my unit right after I am finished and have let it sit for several hours before I remembered to turn it off. But this retail price is cheaper than any ebay buy it now prices I saw today.

http://www.all-spec.com/1/viewitem/WESD51/...info/w3path=cat

Hopefuly this helps, looks like a winner plus agood price at $122 dollars especially for a digital unit, WESD51 Weller model.

Now you got me thinking about a new station.

Edited by Woodenspoke
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Yes I mentioned that same station before. It really caught my attention. I know that in my first post I said my I wanted a soldering station around $80.

I saw that most good soldering stations start at 100 then go up from there. Well now I have decided to spend a bit more than 100. I found 2 more

solder stations that caught my attention while I was writing this reply.

Links are here

Tenma

Ameritronics

Now I have three to choose from. These 2 plus the Weller soldering station. Can't decide. :D

Another thing I heard about was lead free solder. I'm guessing its better and safer for our health and the enviorment. But do all the soldering stations work well with it?

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Yes I mentioned that same station before. It really caught my attention. I know that in my first post I said my I wanted a soldering station around $80.

I saw that most good soldering stations start at 100 then go up from there. Well now I have decided to spend a bit more than 100. I found 2 more

solder stations that caught my attention while I was writing this reply.

Links are here

Tenma

Ameritronics

Now I have three to choose from. These 2 plus the Weller soldering station. Can't decide. :D

Another thing I heard about was lead free solder. I'm guessing its better and safer for our health and the environment. But do all the soldering stations work well with it?

I have never heard of those two brands (not that I have much experience with higher end units) and the only thing I can see that I liked about the Weller right from the start is the self turn off feature, which is missing in the two models you linked too. The Weller was also the cheapest of the three at least in the link I found, generally it sells for $30 more than that. I cannot confirm that either unit you show is USA made not that I can believe anything made in the US at this point in time does not have some Chinese parts in it.

I do like the fact that the Ameritronics has an integrated holder not separate; but I am not sure at this point if that is a good or bad feature, if so many units use the separate holder there must be a reason for it. The ad makes it sound like they are trying to play up it's quality like "comfort handle" and Mil specs (who's military LOL)? To me it sounds too good to be true because they don't really provide you with any specs. This makes we wary and I would not buy this unit.

The Tenma is very close to the Weller again without the auto shutdown. The issue I see is it's temperature accuracy. They claim a 2% temperature variation. Figure at 850 Deg F the temp variation is +/-17 Deg F at 2% and the Weller is +/-9 Deg F. But then they say that the Tenma unit stays at +/-10 Deg C this would equate to (10 x 1.8) or +/-18 Deg F not close to the accuracy of the Weller. If you again do some math the +/- 10 Deg C variation does not add up to 2% at lower temps. It could be as much as 10%. But the Weller has the same issue; the lower the temp the greater the % variation. So thats why Weller only gives you the temp variation which is the correct way to spec out a unit. Also if the unit specs are in C then most likely it is made overseas.The Weller is the more accurate unit in comparison; not that this comparison would make a whole lot of difference in basic guitar work. Board work I would say it makes a big difference.

Unless someone can confirm the Tenma is a major brand then given the long time I spent checking and figuring out the math I would personally stick to the Weller. I also tend to play it safe when it comes to items like these because it's not a throw away purchase. I have also seen some upper end brands in my searchs and they provide auto shut off features; some as short as 30 min. This can help prolong the life of the heating element. FYI: the Weller was 90 min not 99 min.

I got a little **** in my reply hopefully it didn't throw you off. Really it is your decision to make and you will have to live with your choices as I would if I do buy the Weller. But again your question has made me taker a closer look at what's out there and understand a little more about the specs they throw at you. I would assume most people involved in electronics can see how bad a unit is with a quick look at the specs and their knowledge of the major brands they have used.

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