Thanks to a gift from a good friend I have for the first time in my 60 year walk with electronics a temperature controlled solder station Up until now it has always been one or two unregulated power levels As is the case with most of the things we are accustomed to we are hesitant to try something new Here is a link to the Tenma solder station from Newark Electronics which I recieved
Here is a picture of the set up on the bench
The first thing that I noticed about the iron itself was how light it was. My old faithful soldering iron clocked in at 90 grams but the new one was only 50 grams. Besides being 40% lighter it was also 4 cm shorter in over all length. This lighter weight and shorter body will result in less wrist and hand fatigue.
The unit is designed with a small ceramic heater that converts 60 Watts of power and is small enough to fit inside a 4 mm diameter cavity in the base of the tip. Since the heater is so integral with the tip the heat up time is extremely fast and the ability to respond to demands for heat from large traces and pads is very good. Warm up from room temperature to operational temperature is roughly 30 seconds. Here is a close-up picture of the handpiece.
The control itself will display the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. There are three adjustable preset temperatures that are selectable by pushing one of three buttons. The response up or down is very fast due to the relatively low mass of the tip. I have chosen my low temperature of 275 C for light jobs, 310 C for my standard jobs and 400 C for larger mass connections. Since I am still experimenting and getting used to the iron these temps may change in the future. If you adjust the temperature of a setting the display shows your target temperature and then toggles to actual temperature for normal operation. There is even a way to calibrate the temperature. I tested my unit with a thermal couple meter and found it was within 2 degrees C of actual. This is well within acceptable tolerance, particularly in my hobby shop.
Here is a closeup of the front control panel which is simple and very functional.
While I only have a week or so experience with the Tenma I am very pleased with it in all ways and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to upgrade from the challenge of using a non-regulated solder iron.
Thanks to my friend who made this possible.