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Weller Soldering Station WT Series - Review

Scoring

Product Performed to Expectations: 10
Specifications were sufficient to design with: 10
Demo Software was of good quality: 10
Product was easy to use: 9
Support materials were available: 7
The price to performance ratio was good: 8
TotalScore: 54 / 60
  • RoadTest: Weller Soldering Station WT Series
  • Buy Now
  • Evaluation Type: Workshop Tools
  • Was everything in the box required?: Yes - (Although there was a misunderstanding about which iron would actually be included in testing. Expected the WTP-90 but received the WSP-80.)
  • Comparable Products/Other parts you considered: Hakko FX-888D
  • What were the biggest problems encountered?: Finding operating details/ manual information on website and in documentation. Not realizing standby was not usable with soldering iron included.

  • Detailed Review:

    Box Arrived 11 Feb. 2020  and I ran through unboxing the next day. However I was derailed in initial testing as I spent 3 weeks in February on jury duty. Frustrating to have a new piece of gear just sitting there waiting!

     

    Unboxing

    boxes

     

    Equipment arrived with only one issue that I found. One of the two plastic pins designed to hold the tip holder on the safety rest was broken. The tip holder is clipped in place with the two pins but with only one it still held together ok. I plan to simply replace the plastic pin with a small bolt eventually.

     

    Notice the broken pin on the left.

    tip rest with broken pin

    There was not a lot of padding around the iron in its box but it seemed undamaged. The safety rest also did not seem very well packed although it was undamaged. It seems those items are boxed to be shipped with more padding.

     

    safety rest as packaged

     

     

    The items sent make up the WT 1012 set which includes:

      • WT 1 power unit
      • WSP 80 soldering iron (80W / 24V)
      • soldering tip LT B
      • WSR 201 safety rest

     

    Initial impressions were that the unit was well built and solid. Other than the plastic pin it appeared to be well thought out and the build quality looked good.

     

    WT1 Power Unit

     

    Power unit with preset temperature off and on, and the silicon pad on top.

    Power Unitsilicon pad

    The Power unit is a 90 W single channel unit and is designed to be stackable.  It has a silicon pad on top that could be used to place parts although I cannot really see that as a use case. The documentation claims that it is backwards compatible with older tools. It has a nice clean design and good display.

     

     

    WSP80 Soldering Iron & LTB Tip

    WSP 80 Soldering iron

     

    This iron has a temperature sensor in the tip and takes LT tips. It does not have an acceleration sensor needed for the WT1 standby mode. Only the WTP90 has the acceleration sensor.

    My first impression is that it is comfortable to hold right or left handed and seems to be easily positioned.

     

    WSR 201 Safety rest

    safety rest

     

    The Safety rest is designed to allow the soldering iron holder to be easily turned around so you can use either the wet sponge or brass sponge. In my early soldering I had always used a wet sponge to clean tips. Recently I learned more about caring for tips and switched to brass sponge. I like the way it removes excess grunge without wetting down the tip.

    flipping safety restdetail view safety rest

     

    The tip holder would be fine for extra tips but there is not enough room between it and the sponge for the storage of a sleeve and tip which is how they recommend using it.  You would need to remove the sponge if storing sleeve holder. With the holder turned the other direction (sponge forward)to the bronze sponge

     

    tip holder with spongetip holder with no sponge

     

    Setup

    Manuals? We don’t need no sticking Manuals!

    Once unboxed I immediately bypassed any attempt to RTFM and plugged in and turned on the unit. Which is where I started to go down a bit of a blind alley. At first glance the unit is pretty self explanatory but reading through the menu steps would definitely speed things up. A few items like pushing the menu for 3 seconds to get at the 2nd menu are not intuitively obvious.

     

    Upon power-on the station began to heat up to a pre-programmed temperature, a temp is shown on screen in degrees F. I immediately decided that I should check the temperature requirements of solder on hand and while doing that the unit went into standby mode, cooling down to the preset standby temp. I did not realize that was what was happening first so was a bit frustrated by its behavior.

     

    The Power unit has switched to standby mode and  is cooling down to a preset standby temp. The L shape on the left bottom shows that no heat is being applied.

    standby mode

     

    After fussing around a bit I decided that in all fairness I really should take at least a look at whatever quick start guide and / or manual was available.

     

    Here I ran into another issue. The included paperwork had several QR codes to access manuals, videos and FAQs which I used my iPhone to attempt to access.

    Covering the unneeded codes made focusing on the correct one a little easier.

     

     

    Manual QR codesSelecting QR code by covering others

     

    I eventually mastered the one handed iPhone juggle and was sent to the website which supposedly had the manual but no joy there…. I was greeted by a “Not Found - The requested URL was not found on this server.” page.

     

    My next step was to go to the website referenced: weller-tools.com. After a couple tries I selected the Weller professional area. I then tried to look for obvious document sources and selected the link for Download Center -> Operating Instructions! This page helpfully tells you:

    “You can find operating instructions for our products directly on the respective product detail page.”

    “Please use the product search on the top of our homepage to find the desired product and the associated operating instruction.”

     

    A search for WT1 leads me to the power unit line item and clicking again took me to the description with a link to the Manual and a supplement. Note that if you for some reason don’t remember the exact part number you might try to get the information by going to Home -> Application -> Soldering and end up on a page that does have a picture of the station but with no links leading anywhere helpful. It does tell you that the picture is a WT 1010 so searching that should get you close enough.

     

    A search for the WSP 80 takes you through a similar route to a short manual for the soldering iron. Wading through the languages you will find a one page manual in English. I found the most useful information at the back of the manual with tip information and an exploded diagram.

    The manual again has a non-working link:  “For more information please visit http://www.weller.de/tips"

     

    I believe the problem with the QR codes and other links is they are pointing to the German site but automatically switching to the local site, In my case the US. At that point the path is lost for some reason

     

    Am I being nit picky here? Yeah a little. But I found the paper manuals sparse at best and spent too much time trying to find online versions to fill in the gaps. In fact the online versions do not provide much more than the paper versions. Just a little verbiage to go along with the pictures.

     

    Paper ManualOnline Manual

     

    if you are going to provide a QR code then you better make sure the QR code actually works everywhere you expect to sell the unit. Same comment applies to any links. Weller has done a decent job in writing a multi language quick guide but failed on organization and ease of use on the website.

     

    I managed to find some videos on the site. They were under the Download Center -> Movies as well as on the details pages. There was a movie labeled WT which covered the WT1 Power unit but with the WTP-90, 90 watt iron not the WSP-80 which was in my kit. There was also a video about the WSR Safety rest. I found a few other useful videos in the stack there. Most were marketing videos instead of educational videos though.

     

    Menus bloody Menus

    After turning the power unit on push the menu button to enter the first set of setup items. Here you can set standby time and temp as well as off time. I would recommend setting standby time off unless you have the WTP-90 iron. This is also where you can choose to show Fahrenheit or Celsius temperatures.

     

    Pushing the menu button for 3 seconds from the main screen enters the second menu which includes PrE, the dual fixed temp setting. Once turned on you can set the two fixed temps. To do this use the back button to get out of the menu, the main screen now shows the current tool temp with two more temps in a smaller font below the current temp. These are the two preset temps. Push the up or down button below the temperature that you wish to set and then use both buttons as needed to change it.  If your timing is off in pushing the buttons you will end up selecting the temp for use instead of setting it to change it. Note also that it is very easy to push the button too long when selecting a temperature and end up changing the setting.

    Setting the temps is not well described in the manual. It just says that you can turn on the dual temps it does not describe how you set them. I had to figure it out once I realized that is was not set via the menu settings.

     

    First picture is in the menu setting before turning Preset Temps on. In the second picture you see I have pushed the back button and the temp is at the second preset temp.

    preset menupreset temps

     

    I spent way more time than needed playing with menu settings - not because it was complicated but I was looking for anomalies. Just in case you want  to do something similar the factory reset is to turn on the machine while holding down the back, up, and down buttons simultaneous for 3 seconds.

     

    factory reset

     

    Functional Testing

    While going through setting up the unit and figuring out how to use the menus and controls I practiced soldering on various parts using different solder types (leaded, lead free, silver/lead) and different temperatures. The iron in all cases (as long as it did not go into standby mode without my noticing) held whatever temperature mode I set and did a good job.

     

    test boardtest board

     

    I choose a breadboard power supply kit as a soldering test and decided to use a standard 60/40 leaded solder.  I cleaned and re-tinned my tip as I had used lead-free solder with it in preliminary testing. The kit had a variety of through mount components to place. It was also a fairly closely spaced kit and so tested my ability to get the iron tip into a variety of tight locations. I did create a bridge at one point which I was able to correct without difficulty.

    Breadboard Kittest kit partial completeCompleted Kit

     

    An annoying finding was that the unit went into standby mode several times while I was putting the kit together. At first I thought that it was just taking me that long to read directions and go through the steps. To double check I switched out the kit board for my test board and timed different soldering operations for 2 minutes several times. The unit went into standby mode every time. I tried changing the sensitivity but with no affect. I double checked the manual and eventually went to Google where I found that the standby mode only works with the WTP-90 iron not the WSP-80 iron that came in my kit. I found this in the data sheet for the WT1N Power Unit.

     

    Bottom Line:

    Construction - Good with a bit of a markdown

    Have to mark the safety rest down for using flimsy plastic pins in the safety rest tip holder. Other than that the unit looks, feels, and acts like a well built professional unit.

     

     

    Documentation - Not the best. Not the worst.

    I would like to see them doing a better job on both the documents shipped with the parts as well as the online versions.

     

    Functionality - Overall Very good.

    Power Unit

    A tick mark on the negative side for the way hitting the up down buttons can change the preset temp values while in use. It seems to me that setting the temps should be a menu setting and so separate from selecting the temos. That would fix the problem of being too heavy fingered and changing temp instead of selecting it.

     

    I did not notice any noise from the unit during use and it did not get overly hot even in my overly constrained work space.

     

    Soldering Iron & Tip

    It heats up quickly and keeps its tip heated in use.  It turns itself to standby and then to off in the defined times and cools down  to the correct set points.

    It did not get too hot and was easy to control.  The only tough bit was in a few cases I would have done better with a smaller tip simply because of the space between a few of the components. (I already ordered some tips.)

    It balances nicely in the hand and is comfortable to hold and does not get too hot during use. My old iron had a tendency to get hot and the cord always seemed to get in the way.  The cord on the Weller is more flexible than my old unit.

     

    The old Soldering Iron shown below.

    The old and new iron

     

    Safety Rest & Tip Holder

    Nicely designed for both wet sponge and brass sponge use. Iron is adequately held without being hard to remove at need.
    Cheap plastic pins hold on the tip holder.

     

     

    Is it worth it - Yes but….

    The price! You could get a Hakko or similar for much less and have a decent unit. For a non-professional user this would be quite adequate. May even be fine for a professional user. You would likely give up a number of its capabilities such as potential equalization, fume removal control, automatic standby times, etc but do you really need those capabilities? Personally I would likely spend the extra amount on the belief that a professional quality machine was worth it.

     

    I definitely found my soldering experience improved by having this unit. When comparing my test joins using my old unit versus this one I believe them to be much more consistent. Some of the problems with my older solder station was its lack of consistency in temperature control and the lack of balance and insulation in the iron itself. I found my old iron was not comfortable to hold and would heat up whereas the new unit was quite comfortable.

     

    The old Soldering Iron shown below notice the cracks on the handle of the iron.

    My old Soldering ironHeat cracks on the old iron

    Not Tested:

    The unit includes inputs and settings which I did not have a way to test.

    I did not test the floating switching outlet or the sensitivity. Also did not try the  window function and equipotential bonding. While I did partially test standby time I could not test it being triggered by the iron. I also was not able to do a good job testing temperature as I found that my IR thermometer did not actually go up high enough and was not accurate enough.

    Multifunction Interface and Potential equalization ports were not used. My only comment on these is that there is not very much information included in the manuals which explain how you would use them.

     

    Bonus Unboxing…..

    As I was finishing up editing this writeup and getting ready to post it I received a package from Newark Electronics which included the tips I had ordered. I don’t want to hold this review up while I test the new tips but thought at least including a couple pictures would be nice.

     

    More Tips than I will need!

    Shipment labeltipstips

     

    One Final Note:

    While finishing up testing and writing this review we are in the midst of the Coronavirus  pandemic. I have to admit that I am quite distracted by what is happening and I am afraid my review has suffered from all the distractions. Apologies.


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