|Product Performed to Expectations:||9|
|Specifications were sufficient to design with:||8|
|Demo Software was of good quality:||10|
|Product was easy to use:||8|
|Support materials were available:||10|
|The price to performance ratio was good:||10|
|TotalScore:||55 / 60|
Soldering is a process of bonding two or more metal surfaces by melting a filler metal. The filler metal has a lower melting point than the joining metals. Heating the metal surface with a soldering iron and melting solder on the joint creates an electrical bond between the surfaces.
According to Wikipedia soldering is thought to have originated very early in the history of metal-smithing around 4000BC. Soldering has historically been used to create jewellery, cookware and tools. Today, the ability to solder is necessary is a skill required to fix electronics or build circuit boards.
A soldering iron and the skills to use the tool are essential for a professional and just as important for a hobbyists. While all soldering irons are designed to accomplish the same task, they’re not all built the same. If you are looking to achieve high-quality results and have an enjoyable user experience, purchasing a good soldering iron is a must.
This RoadTest (RT) is going to review the WT1 solder solution. The application that awarded this RT proposed using a test group of individuals with varying levels of soldering experience to use the unit and provide their feedback..
The goal of the RT was to solicit user feedback on the Weller WT1 soldering solution. This was accomplished by having the test group complete soldering tasks using the Weller tool and two other soldering tools.
The testing group was made up of a retired Banker, retired Emergency Measures Coordinator (EMC) and two retired Electronic Technologist (EL). The former banker and EMC have minimal soldering experience through their involvement with model railroading. The EL’s had careers in broadcast electronic systems and ground based electronic systems for the communication and navigation of aircraft. Soldering experience was highest with the EL’s.
A paid lunch at the local diner was the compensation provided to the test subjects. In addition one member (i.e. EMC guy) got to keep the unit in his model railroading workshop.
The test group were provided instructions to complete four soldering tasks. Circuit board soldering, soldering wire assemblies, adding and removing components and making configuration changes to a stations were some of the tasks.
Three Solder Stations for User Exposure
Each test subject completed the same tasks using three different soldering work place solutions, the Weller WT1012N, a Power Fist ZD-99 and a Mustool® MT223. After completing the series of tasks with one soldering tool, the test subjects responded to a survey before moving on to complete the same tasks on the remaining tools. A post project review (Scrum Session) with all members discussing their findings wrapped up the exercise.
Bench Setup for Task Completion
The intent of using the three soldering tools was to create an environment that exposed the test subjects to a variety of user experiences when soldering. For example, if a user has never experienced a stiff cord attached to a soldering iron, then a flexible cord may go unnoticed. If a user has only used a short pencil iron, they may find some difficultly if the pencil tip is longer.
This RT was initiated to garner commentary on the Weller product. For that reason, the feedback that is being published from the test subjects is Weller product centric feedback.
The tool survey was broken into three areas, comfort, construction and controls. In the Comfort section, test subjects were asked to provide feedback on their user experience with the tool. The Construction section was to provide feedback on the physical aspects of the unit. The feedback in the Controls section had the test subjects describe their experience making changes using the controls provided. (*)-indicates multiple responses from test subjects.
-nice thin & light pencil handle (*)
-comfortable to hold (*)
-more usable compared to a thicker pencil handle
-handle cool to the touch
-nice flexible cord on the pencil (*)
-pencil stand and support seems complicated
-wet and dry cleaning on opposite sides of safety rest not convenient (*)
-needed conical solder tip and not wedge tip for printed circuit board work (*)
-solid construction good quality
-convenient spots for wet and dry, being able to reverse the pencil iron holder was of benefit
-pencil slides in and out of safety rest easily
-tip removal to make substitution would be easy to do using the Safety Rest
-menus easy to move through (*)
-comprehensive controls (*)
-not immediately understandable (*)
-need to some time to become comfortable with controls
Post Project Review Feedback
-Manual not helpful. It is an impressive thick book with nothing in it. Why not include the website manual details for controls to replace the minimal three pages in the manual that are less than helpful.
-The safety rest seems underdeveloped. Went to production before design fully flushed out.
-Completing the multiple tasks using three tools provided insight a user wouldn’t normally get.
Post Project Review Question
Looking at three price points low (<$15 CAD), medium ($50CAD and high ($495CAD) would you purchase the unit?
Tool is designed for individuals that have high expectations with soldering. The casual user wouldn’t have the experience to appreciate the design features provided in the tool. It is a tool for a professional or the high end hobbyist.
RoadTester Coordinator Final Comments
Some Assemble Required
Solid packaging that would protect the unit well in shipping. Both power unit and Safety Rest have considerable weight so good sturdy packaging will ensure the components are not damaged during shipping.
The Safety Rest WSR200 provided was for a WTP90 pencil. The pencil provided in the package was a WSP80. The pencil didn’t sit well in the rest because of this mismatch. In addition the tip holder wasn’t compatible with the long WSP80 tips causing it to touch the sponge. These short comings were identified to the RoadTest coordinator before proceeding.
I was surprised some assembly was required to put the unit together. The front and back dry and wet tip cleaning safety rest is not a good design in my opinion. Providing the option to switch the pencil holder placement is a poor alternative at best to having both one one side of the stand.
The manual that comes with the unit has a pictorial that spans two pages to guide the user into using the controls. The supplement manual provided on the website provided detailed descriptions of each control selection. The manual included in the box would be useful if it contained the supplement material.
There was a plan to do a tip temperature evaluation. The test procedure would monitor the tip temperature during the warm-up cycle while recording the time and then establish the final tip temperature and time. Two different temperature probes were used for the test in addition to purchasing a temperature gun. All the temperature tests failed.
The temperature probe from the electric oven kept shutting down because the oven considered the probe in error. The second probe for measuring meat temperature didn’t have a high enough temperature range.
Why doesn't this gun provide temperature reading? Hope I can get a refund.
A temperature gun was purchased from a local store with the intent of measuring tip temperatures. It would only read a maximum of 35 Celsius. The same result was obtained using a friend temperature gun. I would be interested to know why the temperature guns failed to provide a reading.
The tip temperature test conducted that was successful was to record the time it took for the soldering irons, from a cold tip start, to reach a temperature to melt 60/40 solder.
Common solder formulations based on tin and lead are listed below. The fraction represent percentage of tin first, then lead, totalling 100%:
63/37: melts at 183 °C (361 °F)
60/40: melts between 183–190 °C (361–374 °F)
50/50: melts between 183–215 °C (361–419 °F)
The Weller WT1012N melted the solder in 10 secs
The Power Fist ZD-99 melted the solder in 148secs
The Mustool® MT223 melted the solder in 52 secs.
I didn’t believe the Weller results of 10 secs from a cold start to melting solder. In my forty year career I had never seen performance like that. I ran the test a number of times and yes it was consistently in the ten second range. Impressive Weller.