|Product Performed to Expectations:||10|
|Specifications were sufficient to design with:||10|
|Demo Software was of good quality:||10|
|Product was easy to use:||10|
|Support materials were available:||8|
|The price to performance ratio was good:||9|
|TotalScore:||57 / 60|
This road test will focus on the Weller WT1 soldering iron station I received from Element 14.
This is the 90W version with the North American power plug rated at 120W.
The photos below shows the Weller WT1 that was given for this road test.
The WT package is comprised of the:
The soldering iron station is named the WT1N rated for 90W. The version I received uses the short LT series tips. I was surprised to actually find only a single bevel edge tip came with it.
The WSR and the WPT80 come in their own separate boxes.
The soldering iron safety rest was unboxed next.
After setting up the soldering irons station ,the unit was turned on and the first thing you'll notice is the LED display, with a well lit white background and black letters.
Unboxing the unit, shows that the soldering station is tucked well with the power cord in the bottom as well as the accompanying Weller manual.
It's a bit tough to show this on the photo but the display has options for a thermocouple, an NFC connection as well as for a fan speed. The temperature rate of change is shown by a vertical bar on the LED.
Probably this unit does not support such options and the display is shared with higher end models.
There is a rubber holder on top of the unit that allows stacking additional units on top.
This is quite useful since it saves quite a bit of space. The unit has 4 buttons on the front panel as well a high contrast LCD display.
The first button returns to the main menu. The next two buttons (up, down ) are used for adjustment while the last button is used for selecting.
The default temperature is in Fahrenheit so for those that feel challenged in converting to Celsius you need to follow the steps below.
So to convert to Celcius, press the last button, move to the offset menu and press the up button to set the degrees in Celsius scale.
The RJ11 connector at the bottom is used in conjunction with the Zero Smog extraction system.This part is procured separately . I did not get to test this since I did not receive this equipment from Weller.
As with all soldering equipment it is suggested that the user use a fume extractor when working on these projects.
The other connector is a 3.5mm jack that is used for grounding for ESD purposes.
The soldering iron has a temperature sensor embedded below the soldering iron tip.
Even though the soldering iron has a small mass, it heats up relatively fast. In less then 10 seconds it jumps by almost 100 deg.
The handle is quite comfortable to touch. When I turned on the unit for the first time I heard a humming/hissing sound coming from the bottom of the soldering iron. This stopped after a minute or so.
There are differing opinions on choosing between a brass wool and a sponge. It should be noted that the bras wool will affect the tips' life.
The stand and the station are separate pieces which allows for flexibility in how you can set it up. The soldering iron chord has a length of a bit less than 1m.
The LT series tips can be procured from the usual CM for around $12 CAD each. As was mentioned only one bevel edge tipcomes with he unit.
Quick tip: Using a high temperature shortens the life of the soldering tips so aim for a medium range temperature.
The safety rest is quite sturdy and heavy. It comes with a metallic stand used to hold the tips that can be attached via screws. . I ended up replacing the sponge with the brass sponge for cleaning the iron’s tip.
The safety rest for the soldering iron is called the WSR. (Weller Safety Rest). It comes equipped with a brass wool and a yellow rectangular sponge as well as a holder for the iron tips.
Personally I like the brass wool. The main disadvantage of the sponge is that wetting the tip imparts a thermal shock on the tip which requires a second or two for it to reheat again to the original temperature.
After unboxing and setting it up , I decided to solder some 0.1inch male headers to a couple of MEMS microphones. This scenario represents the most common situation encountered by intermediate users.
I tested the unit on:
a) 4 MEMS microphone breakout boards
b) 32 SMD components on a custom ESP32 board I build recently
The bevel edge tip worked fine for all 0603 and even 0402 components as well as the IC's with the castellated pads.
I had to use a hot-air gun for one QFN24 package. Even a fine tip would not have worked in that case.
Comparing with the low end model I have been using so far one can notice that the better temperature stability and fast setting time of the WS1 makes the soldering joints easier and better.This basically means no cold solder joints in practice.
All in all I like the fast heating time, the ergonomic design of the soldering iron and the sturdiness of the safety rest.
At this price point I would expect that Weller had also included a fine tip for use in soldering fine pitch components however all the components included are top-notch quality.
This is a product which is definitely recommended for the seasoned professional or for the hobbyist working in his home garage.