Which soldering iron?

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Lardo Boffin
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Which soldering iron?

Postby Lardo Boffin » Tue Nov 21, 2017 10:57 pm

My very cheap soldering iron (which came as part of a kit and probably cost about £2) has finally decided to stay cold. To be fair it has had quite a lot of use over the last year or so! 10 caps into a 40 cap megadrive refurb and it is now pushing up the daisies.
Anyone have any recommendations for one for about £20 to £30? Will one at this price point be significantly better than a cheapo or would I be better buying cheap ones and replacing them? I notice that at this price you start to get variable heat control.
Any suggestions appreciated!

Lardo
BBC model B 32k issue 4, 16k sideways RAM, Watford 12 ROM board, Retroclinic Datacentre + HDD, matchbox co-proc, Viglen twin 40/80 5.25" discs, acorn cassette
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Prime
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby Prime » Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:56 am

Not at your stated price point, but I thorourgly recommend the Hako 888D, get one of those and you'll probably never have to replace anything other than maybe the occasional tip.

They can even be bought from Maplin now, though there price is about £30 more expensive than other places. Please beware of the cheap immitation units that are available on ebay etc.

Cheers.

Phill.

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danielj
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby danielj » Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:28 am

+1 for the hakko! I got mine from dancap.

d.

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sirmorris
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby sirmorris » Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:21 am

+1 for Dancap!

Before Hakko I always bought Antex. The XS25 is a cracker, and you can get them with ultra-flexible (and heatproof!!) silicone cable for a few quid more. Loads of heat in the tip because of the design where the tip surrounds the element. Nice to hold.

Worth every penny. Sits nicely within your price range.
Last edited by sirmorris on Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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vanpeebles
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby vanpeebles » Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:03 am

I bought a Hakko from Dancap after recommendations on threads here, and it's bloody brilliant. I was always a reluctant solderer, and a bit scared of it to be honest, but with the Hakko it's a pleasure!

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1024MAK
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby 1024MAK » Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:03 am

Me on about my soldering irons...

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=9459#p110119

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3981&start=150#p35495

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=5238&p=48375#p48375

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10370&p=125039#p125039

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10719&p=130925#p130925

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12150&p=176919#p176919

The Antex iron featured in the above posts is still going. I used it at ABUG at the weekend (well, in between Daniel borrowing it!). A while ago, I bought a second one, just in case... (this came from Rapid).
This analogue TCS model has been discontinued, but a digital replacement model is available.

Note that Antex irons, spares and accessories are normally cheaper at Rapid, CPC, Farnell etc rather than at the Antex web site.

If looking to buy a cheap soldering iron that is made in China (e.g. via eBay, Amazon etc.), beware of poor or incorrect earthing, cheap (as in what copper) cables, fake mains fuses and death-adapters. Also note that with the cheaper soldering stations that have a display, the temperature display can be misleading. Either the display shows the set value (and not the actual tip temperature), or the value is 'aligned' to the set temperature if the actual temperature is near to the set temperature (so once near to the set temperature, the display will show a stready value rather than the actual tip temperature (which will oscillate slowly as the heating element switches on and off).

One important thing to note with soldering irons, use the correct solder iron bit for the job. So buy some suitable tips at the same time as you buy the iron.

Mark
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Lardo Boffin
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby Lardo Boffin » Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:22 am

Thanks all. I’m trying to avoid cheap / dangerous Chinese soldering irons! [-X

The Antex looks like a prime contender - over £100 for a Hakko is too much for this time of year with three immediate family birthdays and Xmas for two small kids...
Maybe next year! :D
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dp11
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby dp11 » Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:43 am

Soldering is all about getting heat into the joint. When you touch the soldering iron bit on the joint the bit temperature drops. Either you need a big enough bit that the thermal drop is low or an iron that can respond very fast to the thermal load. If the bit temperature is too low the soldering doesn't flow correctly or it takes a long time to heat the joint. If the bit is too hot for too long all the fluxes in the solder burn off too quickly and you get a pour joint. With modern lead free solder the typically bit temperature is higher and also causes deposits to build up on the bit much quicker. You will need a good bit cleaner. If you are going to use lead free solder find a good brand at work we had a reasonable brand of solder which was rubbish it went in the bin the £70 quid real of solder was really worth it.

For surface mount work I typically use a bit that is 2mm wide. I can drag solder TQFPs very quickly and get some really nice joints.


Make sure you have some nice solder wick, solder and fluxes.

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danielj
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby danielj » Wed Nov 22, 2017 10:46 am

1024MAK wrote:The Antex iron featured in the above posts is still going. I used it at ABUG at the weekend (well, in between Daniel borrowing it!).

And a very nice iron it is too :)

d.

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Lardo Boffin
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby Lardo Boffin » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:55 am

I have ordered an XS25. Errmm. It is suitable for lead solder? [-o<
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jonb
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby jonb » Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:56 am

+1 for the Hakko FX-888.

It's the best iron I have ever used.

I do have a small Antec that is about a million years old and just had a new tip, but it's banished to the garage now I have the Hakko. Well out of your price range, but you will find yourself doing a lot more soldering of a much better quality if you take the plunge. It also heats up very, very quickly. Mine does 0-350 degrees C in 35 seconds dead, and this means it has very rapid thermal recovery after soldering a big joint. Unbeatable.

[edit: posted just before you said you'd got one.. but the point still stands!]

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sirmorris
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby sirmorris » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:58 pm

Lardo Boffin wrote:I have ordered an XS25.


Yaay! With the silicone lead I hope!

Lardo Boffin wrote:It is suitable for lead solder? [-o<


Hahaha is there any other sort??! :D

You probably won't regret buying something like this if you haven't already got one. This one isn't necessarily a recommendation, just the first one that popped up.

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Lardo Boffin
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby Lardo Boffin » Wed Nov 22, 2017 1:14 pm

sirmorris wrote:
Lardo Boffin wrote:I have ordered an XS25.


Yaay! With the silicone lead I hope!

Lardo Boffin wrote:It is suitable for lead solder? [-o<


Hahaha is there any other sort??! :D

You probably won't regret buying something like this if you haven't already got one. This one isn't necessarily a recommendation, just the first one that popped up.


Yes it has the silicone lead! Easier to work with and heat proof. What is not to love?

I have a similar tip cleaner. Way better than a sponge!
BBC model B 32k issue 4, 16k sideways RAM, Watford 12 ROM board, Retroclinic Datacentre + HDD, matchbox co-proc, Viglen twin 40/80 5.25" discs, acorn cassette
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Prime
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby Prime » Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:26 pm

dp11 wrote:For surface mount work I typically use a bit that is 2mm wide. I can drag solder TQFPs very quickly and get some really nice joints.


Wish I could get the hang of that I've tried several times and can't get it to work correctly, so end up using the flood it and wick it method.

And yeah I am using leaded solder, perhaps I need a bigger flat on my bit.

Cheers.

Phill.

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1024MAK
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby 1024MAK » Wed Nov 22, 2017 3:31 pm

sirmorris wrote:You probably won't regret buying something like this if you haven't already got one. This one isn't necessarily a recommendation, just the first one that popped up.

Nah, that's no fun. You can't beat having to improvise when you don't remember to bring all your tools and accessories, so have to nick a napkin (or five). Or some kitchen paper towels. Then make them suitablely moist. :mrgreen:

I must admit, I use a combination of the following, depending on what I am doing, which bit is in use and how much muck is on the bit (in no particular order): damp sponge, metal scrape, brass wool, tinning paste.

Mark
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sirmorris
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby sirmorris » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:01 pm

For drag soldering (in fact all soldering these days) I find a nice ellipsoid tip works a charm. Hakko T18-C3 is my go-to choice. The flat area allows you to create some surface tension which pulls the bead of solder along behind it. (Antex #50 ;))

crj
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby crj » Thu Nov 23, 2017 2:02 am

The recommendation for the Hakko is interesting and useful. A shade over £100, alas, but I definitely need an upgrade from my venerable Antex. It coped fine with 0.1" pitch connectors back in the day, but the world has moved on.

A couple of you have now mentioned drag soldering, and it's something I've previously watched a video tutorial for. I'm wondering how easy it is, really, for someone who's practiced at soldering and neither ridiculously dextrous nor a klutz? I'm guessing I should pick up a few cheap components to test with before I try anything important...

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jonb
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby jonb » Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:59 am

Regarding drag soldering - I did it once with the Hakko and managed OK. Trick is not too much solder and if you get a bridge, clean excess solder from the tip and try dragging in the direction of the bridged pins (away from the component). If all else fails use a bit of desoldering braid to get rid of the excess.

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vanpeebles
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby vanpeebles » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:31 am

Can anyone recommend a good no clean flux, or what is best? I also need a 4.7k ohm resistor but not sure if I have got the right thing?

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danielj
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby danielj » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:40 am

I've been using this:
http://cpc.farnell.com/warton/315-0-5l- ... dp/SD00085

In one of these:
http://cpc.farnell.com/proskit-industri ... dp/SD01628

It will last forever.

Re. resistor - measure what you think is correct with a multimeter?

d.

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vanpeebles
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby vanpeebles » Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:06 am

Ordered a small kit of that :) The resistor is for the little board on here:

https://nfggames.com/nfg/x68repair/

This is what I ordered

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2W-4-7K-ohm-C ... 2749.l2649

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sirmorris
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby sirmorris » Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:06 am

Re: No-clean flux. It's a misleading name. All flux needs cleaning off if you're interested in how your board looks. The no clean should really be called 'won't damage your board if you leave it on' flux, or 'it's not going to leave an amber residue but you can still see it as a glassy pool on your joints' flux.

Some fluxes are easier to remove than others. A simple rosin based flux will clean off with IPA. However be extra careful with your fume extraction. Rosin vapour condenses back into solid rosin inside your lungs, and doesn't come out. Some fluxes need stronger solvents, read the data sheet if you're unsure. I've had solder that contained a flux that just wouldn't come off unless I used an acetone/alcohol mix. Needless to say I binned that one.

I now use a Weller liquid flux and paint it on where necessary. I think it's rosin based. It's quick and reliable. Quite expensive but it's lasted a long time. I avoid the 'flux pens' like the plague. They're toxic and not as convenient as you'd hope they'd be. I have had various flux gels in syringes but they're a faff to use and I've given up on them.

Some might use flux on every joint but I don't think that's necessary. Most solder has a flux core which is quite sufficient.

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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby vanpeebles » Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:09 am

Erk, I just ordered a flux pen too. A Kester 951?

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sirmorris
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby sirmorris » Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:14 am

crj wrote:A couple of you have now mentioned drag soldering, and it's something I've previously watched a video tutorial for. I'm wondering how easy it is, really, for someone who's practiced at soldering and neither ridiculously dextrous nor a klutz? I'm guessing I should pick up a few cheap components to test with before I try anything important...


It's just a matter of practice. If I can do it anyone can. You can buy smd practice PC boards but then you need to obtain the components to try on there so it could work out quite expensive. As I hinted at before the tip makes a big difference. You're not dragging anything with a stabby point. You might with a chisel, but for me it's a flat cone every time. You need to create a surface tension and without the right tip that's hard. There are blade type tips which people say are best for drag, but you don't want to be changing tips every 5 mins. Something that works well in general is what you need.

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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby sirmorris » Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:17 am

vanpeebles wrote:Erk, I just ordered a flux pen too. A Kester 951?


/me clears throat

I'm sure it'll be fine, they're just not for me and the kind of work I do.

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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby Prime » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:22 am

sirmorris wrote:I now use a Weller liquid flux and paint it on where necessary. I think it's rosin based. It's quick and reliable. Quite expensive but it's lasted a long time. I avoid the 'flux pens' like the plague. They're toxic and not as convenient as you'd hope they'd be. I have had various flux gels in syringes but they're a faff to use and I've given up on them.


You have a link for that Charlie?

I'm currently using a flux pen but I pretty much only use it to flux the pads when doing fine pitch surface mount stuff, for most other stuff the flux in the solder is sufficient.

Cheers.

Phill.

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Lardo Boffin
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby Lardo Boffin » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:22 am

sirmorris wrote:Rosin vapour condenses back into solid rosin inside your lungs, and doesn't come out.


:shock: :shock: :shock:
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby 1024MAK » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:50 am

vanpeebles wrote:Ordered a small kit of that :) The resistor is for the little board on here:

https://nfggames.com/nfg/x68repair/

This is what I ordered

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2W-4-7K-ohm-C ... 2749.l2649

A resistor with a 0.25W/250mW (1/4W) or a 0.5W/500mW (1/2W) or a 0.6W/600mW power rating, all either carbon film or metal film would do. The tolerance can be anything between 1% and 5%.

For example, a search on the CPC web site gives these results.

Mark
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1024MAK
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby 1024MAK » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:55 am

Lardo Boffin wrote:
sirmorris wrote:Rosin vapour condenses back into solid rosin inside your lungs, and doesn't come out.


:shock: :shock: :shock:

Neither does stone dust particles, and apparently, now carbon fibre dust is thought to be a problem.
And it's been recommended for many years now, that you try not to inhale the fumes during soldering. I don't use a filter, but do use a 12V PC type fan (ran at 9V DC to keep the noise level low) in a plastic box to draw the fumes away from me. Otherwise they are drawn towards you due to your own breathing.

Mark
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Re: Which soldering iron?

Postby vanpeebles » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:57 am

1024MAK wrote:
vanpeebles wrote:Ordered a small kit of that :) The resistor is for the little board on here:

https://nfggames.com/nfg/x68repair/

This is what I ordered

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2W-4-7K-ohm-C ... 2749.l2649

A resistor with a 0.25W/250mW (1/4W) or a 0.5W/500mW (1/2W) or a 0.6W/600mW power rating, all either carbon film or metal film would do. The tolerance can be anything between 1% and 5%.

For example, a search on the CPC web site gives these results.

Mark


What about the one I ordered? :)


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