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Soldering irons


mikec
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Just wondering what people make of this soldering iron? http://www.maplin.co.uk/60w-professional-lcd-solder-station-with-esd-protection-511927

I've tried the cheap soldering iron kits, and recently bought a green gas one from screwfix, but never seem to melt the solder, is the above kit any good for the money? Googling brings up portasol as a good option too. Cheers mike

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Check the availability of replacement tips and the type available to, tips will wear out and it's a shame to bin the iron because you can't get tips. I like temperature controlled irons much more useful, also tend to have pretty rapid warm up times to :)

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I've had a few gas ones and they all started to leak after a while, tips also seemed to wear out quicker to. Maybe I was just unlucky with them....

I use my iron for everything from surface mount components up to most connectors you'll find on a car. So availability of a wide range of tips from thin and pointy to big and fat are needed by me.

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I've tried the cheap soldering iron kits, and recently bought a green gas one from screwfix, but never seem to melt the solder, is the above kit any good for the money? Googling brings up portasol as a good option too. Cheers mike

The makers of the cheap irons seem to have found an element to make tips from that doesn't transfer heat where you want it.

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depends on what it's for, apart from melting solder.....

12-15w for small pcb board work and delicate components

18-25w for small wiring and through hole pcb work

50w for outdoor and connector soldering etc ,25w doesn't seem to hold enough temp into work especially this weather.

you can get bigger irons but risk warming things up a bit too much

the station you listed is nice for indoor work but may be a bit cumbersome for outside work.

this iron is nice for outdoor work as it has a limiter simple thermocouple. http://www.maplin.co.uk/50w-temperature-controlled-iron-type-tcs-220-240v-4085

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I have two that I use regularly.

One is a gas type from RS http://in.rsdelivers.com/product/portasol/10181060/miniature-gas-soldering-iron-60w-171mm-l/0600234.aspx

and the other is a 25w Antex iron http://www.rapidonline.com/Tools-Equipment/Antex-Soldering-Iron-XS25W-30322

I use the Gas iron outdoors or on big stuff but the Antex iron makes a much neater job of things and is good for soldering PCB's & small stuff. I've had both irons since about 1990 and use them regularly. I've changed the tips a few times but can recommend both on value & reliability grounds.

Top Tip. When you get a new iron or tip, the first time it heats up, tin the surface with solder. If you don't, the next time the solder will not stick to it and it will not transfer heat effectively.

Si

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I burnt my nice Solon {SP} 60 out a few years ago by leaving it on too long.

I replaced it with a Robo 75W one and a Weller 25 W onw

Not had any problems with either but I've only had them a few years.

Still prefere proper ones though.

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Depends what you're doing with it - I have a big 'orrible ex-BT 50W cattle prod for soldering vehicle electrics in freezing draughty sheds, a PortaSol (also branded SnapOn and various others) SuperPro II gas one which is an excellent all-round thing for when you're away from electric, on the workbench at home I have an Oki/Metcal PS-900 (awesome for PCB's & fiddly work), at work we also have Metcal SP-200 which are something of an industry standard, plus a Weller for the traditionalist ;)

Before I upgraded to Metcal at home I had a Maplin 25W temperature-controlled one that was on offer for ~£20, very good for the money but tips were knocking £10 for a pack of 3, and they were assortment packs so you pay £10 for the one tip you use and end up with a load of fat ones never used. For PCB work the Metcals really are the business, 2nd hand Metcal SP-200's crop up for decent money on occasion, as long as you get a spare tip (they're knocking £15 but do last very well) you're laughing. For doing LR wiring in cold sheds you need more horsepower and less delicacy, just go for a big ugly cheap 50W+ iron.

Just for smugness I also have two Weller DS-801's which are awesome for repair work and make my workbench look far more advanced than it has any right to :D

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What FF said.

Metcals are brilliant, but expensive. We use SP-200s at work and I have an older STSS system for home. You're looking at about £100 for a second hand sp200 and about £150+ for an STSS or MX500. Any soldering on the Freelander is done with the SP-200 and it's been fine.

Outside work, or anywhere with draughts will need a bit more power. The Maplin iron you linked to is probably fine. For about £40 you should be able to pick up an old Weller TCP or similar. Parts availability is fine for the Wellers.

Another tip is to use lead solder. This makes life ten times easier as it melts at a lower temperature and flows well.

Rob.

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I used to use one of those temperature controlled irons for work and it was a fantastic bit of kit. As I started working at customer's sites more and more, I moved over to gas - the Portasol one from RS is brilliant and goes everywhere with me. It was much lighter, and didn't need to be PAT tested by each different customer in turn. For bigger stuff, I still have one of http://www.tooled-up.com/Product.asp?PID=113213 these, but it's a bit chunky for PCB work ;)

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I don't seem to have much luck with the gas ones, they seem to start leaking from the filler quite quickly for me, so I was thinking a 12v one might be more reliable ..... maybe I'll have a look at some of the gas ones being recommended in this thread and give gas one last chance!

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I have an antec 25w for small work, a weller 90w for big work and a gas one.

If your tip isn't melting the solder make sure it's clean. The 90w iron I have actually gets the tip glowing red and it quickly gets dirty, it will get wires that hot the insulation falls off but won't melt solder. Rub it with a file and its back to normal.

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I have a Portasol one as well (same as sold by snap-on, but of course the snap-on one is nearly twice the price) and i absolutely love it. I've been through a few others and they are terrible in comparison, good heat adjustment, the gas last a long time and the attachments seem to be a good quality and theres a good selection in the box with it.

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Cheers guys, it's to use making an ms loom/install.

I've heard about tin'ing the tip but not sure how you do it??

Hea the iron to temperature.

Clean the tip, I use a file, plunge the hot clean tip into the flux, or if using cored solder run the solder over the tip.

Job done. Keep the tip clean. I heat the iron to temp and wipe on a damp pad or wipe with kitcken towell.

I was ten years old when I was taught to solder. None of this modern stuff. Proper fire irons. Killed spirit whch I had to make using the zinc battery cases or empty toothpast tubes left in the acid, Can't remember what it was, when the zinc had disolleved {SP} the killed spirit was usable.

Can you imagine being allowed to do that now. Can you still buy Bakers soldering fluid ?.

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