|Product Performed to Expectations:||10|
|Specifications were sufficient to design with:||10|
|Demo Software was of good quality:||8|
|Product was easy to use:||9|
|Support materials were available:||9|
|The price to performance ratio was good:||8|
|TotalScore:||54 / 60|
First, I want to thank Element 14 and Weller for making these soldering stations available for Roadtesting.
When I entered tech school in 1970, yes I am that old, they had each of us buy a Weller Model 8200N soldering gun. It costs about $40 USD, but we were told it would last a lifetime. They were correct, I still have it and it still works. That and in those days, we were still working with tubes. Transistors were those new fangled miracle devices.
When the box arrived, the packing to component ratio was about 10 to 1. I think you could have dropped the station from orbit and it would have landed safely.
I was very interested to see if Weller had maintained the quality of its devices over the last 40 years. Quick answer, Yes they did.
The Documentation was good, though brief. To cover all of the EU languages made it a little difficult to find the English version, default was German. The documents provided clear identification of danger areas and explained the basic operation. I know a lot of you are wondering what the big deal is, you just plug it in and use it, right? Yes and No.
The WX-1 controller has a lot of user options. You can preset two temperature settings, so you can adjust your tip to a specific job, or part. The controller also has USB and RS-232 connections.
The WXP=120 soldering iron and cleaning station is very well designed. You have a nice place to clean the tip and set the iron when in use. Much better than those coiled wire things you see in the cheap soldering irons. It also has places for you to set different tips. To change a tip, you just twist and pop off, and then replace with the new tip, twist it back and you are ready to go with the new tip in just a few seconds.
The built in temperature sensor is very good. The iron maintained its set temperature within 1 degree F. Very neat.
When plugged in, the controller drew about six watts. Most of that was probably used to power the User Interface. The iron goes cold if not used after about 20 seconds. Very efficient.
When you pick the iron up and touch it to the component to solder, the solder melts within seconds. Max power usage was 20 watts at the 662 F default temperature.
I could use my vacuum solder sucker almost as quickly as it took to touch the solder and trigger the vacuum. Solder gone!
My old Weller soldering gun was as fast, but it took 81 watts in low mode and 120 watts in high heat mode. So you can do the same job, but it used about 4 times the amount of power. Plus it is not ESD safe, Rohs compliant, and probably no longer legal as it only has a two prong plug with no grounding tip.
Changing tips on the old beaste required you to unplug the gun, let it fully cool, remove two threaded nuts, pull the old tip out, push the new tip in, and then tighten the nuts to make sure you had good contact. Figure a couple of minutes at least for tip changing.
To summarize, the new Weller is a major upgrade from my old one, just as well made, if not better.
Is it cost effective? Well that depends upon your needs. If you are just a hobby user, this unit is probably more than you want to spend. However, if you are a small business or work in the industry, you need this station. It will save you time, use less power and be a tremendous asset for many years of heavy use. If you throw in inflation, it costs about the same as my $40 unit bought forty years ago. It may look pricey, but you get your money's worth.
Will it last forty years? I don't know, if I am still going by then, I will give you an update.
In my early days, Weller soldering stations were considered the best. Forty years later, I think they are still the best.
Just my opinion,
PS, If I ever figure out how to upload pictures, I will show you the two units I used for this road test.
PPS, now I can solder the 32768 Hz crystal into my TI experimenters board for real time clock control. I was afraid to try it with my ungrounded soldering irons, now I feel safe doing it.