Soldering stations for beginners?
I don't have room on my table (no bench for me!) for a soldering iron, but I thought I would ask anyway. It might be a useful question for any other beginners who reside these forums.
What is a good, reasonably cheap soldering station for a beginner?
For example, I watched some reviews and the KSGER T12 soldering station got decent reviews, but it also got many comments that it needed some modifications, to offset poor build quality. Its price isn't too bad, but I wouldn't want something that I would need to "fix" to use.
P.S. I share the dining room table with my wife's home office. That's why I have no space for any more kit. 😀
If you have room to build things to experiment with, then you have room for soldering. It doesn't have to remain on the dining room table. Remove it and store it away after using it. Sort of like using the jack on your car to change a flat tire. You pack the jack up after changing the flat and roll on down the road.
Try this one on for size: Soldering Iron
This particular one has a US style plug so may not be appropriate for you, but I'm sure there is a model that has the plug you might need. I haven't personally used this iron, but can't see how it could be totally unacceptable. Plus it comes with a good assortment of useful accessories.
I use a Weller soldering station that I've been using for well over 35 years and even though it was well over $100.00 at the time I bought it, it has been worth every penny. And if I'm not actively using it I move it to another location so that it doesn't take up room on my 'dining room' table. And yes your are free to ask my wife if I have ever used the dining room table or kitchen counter as a place to solder items over the last 50 or so years. I'm sure you will get a resounding YES! Even ask her have I ever had a piece of Teletype gear sitting on the dining room table and how long was it there (over a year maybe!). 🤣 🤣 🤣
@yurkshirelad, I would recommend what I use, if it was still made..... Anyway, whatever you end up getting, make sure you can change the temperature, and the tips. Tips should last a very long time, but there are different shapes and sizes for different soldering tasks. Temperature control is nice for those surface mount chips that can overheat too quickly as they have no real mass to dissipate heat.
If you're going to stay with the hobby, you will need a decent soldering iron. That does not mean expensive, but make sure what you get will do what you need and that you're comfortable with it. If you're handy with wood, you can make a solder station box, that holds the iron, solder, solder paste, etc. which you can lift off the table and stow when it's not in use.
Solder. Get good solder. 60/40 rosin core is 'standard'. That's 60% tin, 40% lead. You can go lead free, but it's harder to work with. I use 63/37 as it will freeze quicker once the iron is removed. Naturally, don't snort the fumes. I started at age 17, and am now 61. I've noticed no indication of being daime bramaged.
(yes, that last sentence was humor) 😆
Get thin (small wire gauge) solder to start with if you're only getting one roll. It's easier to feed a lot into a large joint, than it is to feed a little from a large solder wire into a small joint.
This is just my opinion. Hope it's of some help.
Like Steve, I also use my dining room table for my "workbench" and since the table is new (and wasn't inexpensive), I bought a silicone soldering mat to protect the surface while I solder. No, it's not convenient because in the interest of roommate harmony, I have to unpack and then pack up my kit when I'm done, but it does get the job done and as long as I keep the area tidy, there is no strife. At least, not yet.
Steve posted a link to a soldering iron kit and I can say that it is quite good for the price. The iron itself works as it should. I haven't had any problems with it overheating or losing heat too quickly when wiping on the sponge. The stand is sturdy, but I did have to be a bit careful not to shove the iron in too much so the hot tip protrudes and touches the table. Another reason for the silicone mat.
(◕(' 人 ') ◕)
Today was Mad Scientist day (crazy hair from confinement, smoke from soldering etc.).
I struggled to get a decent joint with the simple connections.
My wife sent me on an errand, lucky me as I had to pass by the electronics shop. I picked up a couple of new tips. Today's soldering tip: make sure you have a decent, clean and well maintained tip! It was like I had a new soldering iron! I also grabbed a tip cleaner while I was there and some extra solder (because you can't buy 1 thing at the electronics shop).
I use a silicon mat from the kitchen section of Canadian Tire.
"Hardware eventually fails. Software eventually works." - Michael Hartung
I had a different question though, but very much related to this topic.
Is it mandatory for a beginner to learn soldering by using a soldering station? Can't I use a normal soldering iron with some solder, flux and wet sponge for cooling? After gaining a bit experience in this way, then I can use a soldering station. Would this be a good idea?
I was using the term "station" rather loosely and while that link I provided had a soldering kit that I was referring to as a station it is not a "station" in the true sense of the word.
If you already have a soldering iron, as long as it is of reasonable wattage and has a relative small tip, some solder, and a sponge for cleaning the tip, that becomes your "soldering station." Notice I said a sponge for cleaning the tip. That is the purpose of the sponge, cleaning the tip, not cooling. Using the wet sponge does slightly cool the tip, so you might want to wait a second or two, depending on how much wiping on the wet sponge you did, for the iron to regain the heat it lost wiping on the sponge. Do try to keep the tip clean and wipe often enough to clean as it accumulates debris. How often you do this comes with practice. If i solder one component lead then pause for a short bit before soldering the next I might wipe the tip before proceeding. But if I'm soldering a row of pins on a header like those on a Raspberry Pi Pico I might solder a good many before wiping the tip. You'll see the resin building up on the tip as you go and that is what you want to clean off periodically.
Happy soldering! 😀
Okay. Thanks for the rectification. These information are really useful. 😀
I just want to caution you on the term you used for a "normal" soldering iron. What's "normal" for one hobby isn't normal for another. If the soldering "station" I have been using for the last 35 or so years was to suddenly die on me I might replace it with this one: Weller 5pc Soldering Station
Notice this is a 70 Watt iron. Don't stray too far from that wattage and you should be fine,
I use only 60/40 (Silver/Lead) resin (flux) core solder of the smallest diameter solder I can find. I bought a large spool of very small diameter solder years ago. And even though I do a fair amount of soldering I'm still on that same roll, but it is getting close to running out. I put the date on the spool when I started using it and that date is in May of 1983! If I buy another roll just like that one, I'll be long gone before that spool will give up its last bit of solder!! 🤣 😎
Edited: I just checked the date on that roll of solder --- 5/14/1981
Nearly 40 years!!
Thanks for the advice, @codecage . I usually wait until my skill surpasses my tools to upgrade. Always a difficult process to clearly identify if the limitation is man or machine!
Presently I have a 60w and 20/40w irons. May be time for an upgrade.
"Hardware eventually fails. Software eventually works." - Michael Hartung
6o Watts is fine! 40 may work, it just takes longer to heat up. the 20 Watt iron would be questionable to me anyway. Temperature control is the most important thing to consider. The stations with the variable temp control are the best, but my 35 or so year old Weller station doesn't have a dialable temp control, just a tip that has a temp control built into the tip.
Thanks for recommending me that product. But I didn't understand much from the last paragraph of your reply.😅
If you already have a soldering iron, as long as it is of reasonable wattage and has a relative small tip, some solder, and a sponge for cleaning the tip, that becomes your "soldering station."
@codecage I think I shall start off this way. Then I shall think about a real soldering station.
Hi. New here but thought I'd share my thoughts about the TS100 and a decent alternative.
The concern over the TS100 was about the tip being grounded.... There are a number of videos that will show you step by step how to correct the issue. A number of well known content creators use it for it's excellent ability to heat quickly 8-11s ( given the right power source) and it's programmability. With a little tinkering, it's one of the best values around. As a builder, for me, tinkering is why I'm here so I don't mind making the modifications for the benefits I will receive.
A simple iron as mention above, will certainly do the job. But it cannot accurately hold a specific temp. And those irons, with their 2 prong plugs are definitely not grounded either. Their benefit, I think, is their price so you can decide if soldering is something you want to do.
If you're looking for a name you can trust, then the Hakko Fx-888D is excellent also. It can be found at robotshop for about $160 cdn plus shipping. But no mods are required.
Hope I'm not stepping on anyone's toes... I just researched all this myself not too long ago so thought I'd chime in.
We bought a new table so I don't have to share with two other people. 😎
Any comments on the HAKKO FX-888D?