15 Replies Latest reply on Nov 14, 2018 3:13 AM by davebullockmbe

    Solder station selection

    davebullockmbe

      Hi everyone,

      Having worked for many years with an ERSA  Analog 60A and then an ERSA  Digital 2000A both equipped with the TechTool iron I am spoiled when it comes to choosing a similar machine.

      My son is getting interested in electronic construction and a solder station for Christmas seems like a great present.

      However to set him up with a full ERSA kit with spare tips and maybe a replacement heating element would be well over £500.

      I love the ERSA ease of tip change and the instant availability of continuous heat when soldering large components (you can solder a washer to a battleship..LOL) but how do less expensive setups perform?

      Each alternative I follow up has both glowing praise and dire reviews in equal measure, it's so confusing!

      So what are you you all using, and can I have some recommendations/warnings of what to choose/avoid from the Farnell range please?

      Thanks in anticipation.....

      Dave

        • Re: Solder station selection
          hlipka

          I'm using a ERSA i-con pico for several years now, and I really like it. Heats up quite fast, and has no problems controlling the temperature. Only drawback: its non-antistatic (its not grounded), you would need the i-con nano for that.

          For someone starting in electronics one of the cheaper T12 soldering stations might be better, though. I have one as replacement (should the pico ever fail), and it also works quite well (though the hand-set is not as nice as the one from the ERSA).

          3 of 3 people found this helpful
          • Re: Solder station selection
            michaelkellett

            I've been using i-con picos for years (since ERSA stopped supporting the big expensive station I had.) I've found them to be pretty good. I also have an RS Pr Ds90 which is good for heavier work and has given no trouble at all.

             

            A variety of cheap Chinese temperature controlled irons have been OK until they go wrong, which has usually happened quite quickly.

             

            MK

            4 of 4 people found this helpful
            • Re: Solder station selection
              dougw

              I have several irons, but the one I use all the time is an old Hakko 936 - it has worked consistently well for many years. There seem to be other companies either cloning or licensing Hakko designs. This model does not have a digital thermometer, I set the temperature to a point where I can make a joint quickly. As with just about all irons, the temperature control setting needs to change based on thermal mass of the tip and thermal mass of the component and area of the trace. I have a "feel" for what will work for any given situation, so I pretty much set the temperature automatically without thinking. I don't even know what the temperature is, I just know how long I want to take to make a good joint. Temperature is marked on the dial, but I have never checked to see if it is accurate. Obviously it doesn't measure the temperature right at the tip and that temperature there will fluctuate depending on what it is touching. I generally use a fairly fine point tip, but might swap it for a bigger one if the job requires a lot of heat.

              3 of 3 people found this helpful
              • Re: Solder station selection
                jadew

                Hey Dave,

                 

                You seem to be facing the same situation I am. Luckily, I can defer my son's request until next year as he is too young to handle a soldering station by himself, but I think I'll get him the Hakko FX-951.

                 

                Seems like the station of choice for all the cool kids these days because it has the heater in the tip, so it has very good thermal recovery, and it has pretty colors too. I know a couple of folks in real life that got them for professional work and they're also happy with them.

                 

                Cheers,
                Razvan

                2 of 2 people found this helpful
                • Re: Solder station selection
                  Jan Cumps

                  I'd keep it very simple for a kid. It's not the gear that counts, but the pleasure of soldering.

                  4 of 4 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Solder station selection
                      davebullockmbe

                      Hi Jan,

                      No he's not a little-un he's 32! and is a software/web designer.

                      However he is now into home electronics and had been using my cast-off Weller TCP which isn't ideal for modern components.

                      So I want to get him a 'proper' soldering iron for Christmas...LOL!

                      Thanks

                      Dave

                      1 of 1 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Solder station selection
                          rsjsouza

                          At work I use a Metcal and a Hakko FX-951 and I prefer the Hakko - it is a great general purpose station but IMHO a bit expensive for hobby projects. 

                           

                          In the past I have used the Weller WES51 which is quite comparable to my current Hakko  FX-888FX-888 to me these two stations have a great price/performance for home projects especially if tied to four or five additional tips that help with both large copper areas and narrowest pads and parts

                           

                          (a stereo microscope is another great accessory to accompany the iron, which can be had for the price difference).

                          2 of 2 people found this helpful
                            • Re: Solder station selection
                              lui_gough

                              I have a Hakko  FX-888FX-888 at work along with a few Wellers of some sort. At home I have a Metcal  PS-900PS-900 and a Tenma combination hot air and soldering iron station. To be honest, for lots of basic repair work I don't find the choice of iron particularly critical as long as the tip is in decent shape and it makes a decent amount of heat. For many years I soldered with the "awful" nichrome wire direct-mains irons with no big issue aside from the tips eroding way too quickly. I shoved in a Weller tip that wasn't quite right but did the job for many many years ...

                               

                              Once you develop a feel for the iron and how "hot" it seems to be - you can get into a rhythm in regards to soldering. If you watch the solder as it melts and wets the joint, it's not hard to get a good joint even with a crappy iron that fluctuates in temperature provided it produces enough heat. It's a matter of patience though ... although some parts aren't as heat tolerant or "patient" as others.

                               

                              I'm not advocating anyone get the awful direct-mains iron for delicate electronics, but I'd have to say the difference between a basic soldering station and a high end professional one isn't that meaningful for most hobbyists.

                               

                              - Gough

                              3 of 3 people found this helpful
                              • Re: Solder station selection
                                davebullockmbe

                                Hi Thanks for your advice :-)

                                Dave

                          • Re: Solder station selection
                            davebullockmbe

                            Hi everyone

                            Thanks for all your advice.

                            I have decided to go for the ERSA Pico.

                            Thanks for all your input it was a great help

                            Dave