Author Topic: picking a soldering station  (Read 25534 times)

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Offline un4tural

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picking a soldering station
« on: January 10, 2016, 05:11:07 am »
Hello everyone,

i haven't got a big budget for a hakko, so I've been eyeing various clones etc. for a while, however it's hard to find reviews for them. Seiko looks cheap and attractive, aoyue is a fair bit more, but still quite good supposedly, there are a ton of no brand (w.e.p. ?) stations which i rather not.

now i don't mind them having lower quality components i can replace later (caps etc.) but i don't really want one that is empty inside which goes through a resistor straight to mains without a fuse... with a wobbly tip... which is what I'm working with now.

Saike 952D looks nice,
Aoyue 937 looks good, but OOS it seems everywhere.
W.E.P. seems bottom of the barrel so probably rather bad quality wise? which seems the main stuff they're shoveling on ebay... (ok"Hug Flight" sounds even cheaper)
are Scotle/YIHUA worth looking at?

i was looking to spend around 40£ but there's really nothing that looks like it's much better than plugging my finger in mains and using that at the price point, other than aoyue which is OOS. I love the little mini heat gun, but i could live without it if its a worth while sacrifice. looking at 60-80 range now, hopefully with the heatgun. it's not for big joints, mostly small stuff, computer/phone pcb stuff.

watched dave's videos on the difference between good/bad soldering iron, not sure how to identify one at a good price point though. what i currently have is basically worse.

So, any tips/recommendations? would the saike work well enough for hobby stuff? i really don't need much more than it having good heat and the baby heat gun looks like a super fun thing to play with from watching Louis Rossmann videos and i want one. Cause I'm 5. (24 really but yeah)
 

Offline crispy_tofu

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2016, 10:24:32 am »
I have this soldering station:

It's a WEP station and doesn't have a heatgun, but he quality doesn't seem too bad, IIRC it even has a fuse (albeit a small glass one).  :-+ Related link: http://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/yihuastandigyum-cha-937d-soldering-station-got-one/
(The price has gone up since I bought it a few months ago, it was AU$60 = ~29GBP - probably cheaper and more local deals out there)
« Last Edit: January 10, 2016, 10:28:30 am by crispy_tofu »
 

Offline Shock

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2016, 10:35:15 am »
In my opinion they are all inferior Chinese models and at that price all your doing feeding the Chinese companies behind them. Aoyue is emerging as popular but keep in mind a few years ago all these brands were obscure and now people are importing them and they are doubling the cost to the consumer.

When I purchased my Yihua 936 stations from Hobby King they came to about £6 each now they are about £12. I also kept an eye out and picked up the Yihua 858D hot air station for about £22.

Regarding safety, I would not use any model without checking the wiring inside, they just throw them together and bad connections and incorrectly wired mains are a real risk.

What I recommend is if you cannot find a cheap station to get a genuine cheap Hakko FX 888D at batterfly.com or if you must buy a clone get the Tenma from Farnell (which I think is just a rebadged Aoyue). Make sure the iron takes standard Hakko T18 tips as this is another gotcha.

If you want to see real soldering check out the paceworldwide videos, Marc Siegel and John Gammel. Rossmann pretends to be a subject matter expert on everything.

Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Offline rob77

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2016, 10:44:07 am »
look at CFH - it's cheap good and reliable. manufactured to price but compliant with EU standards...

http://www.cfh-gmbh.de/en/products/electric-soldering-appliances/soldering-station/

that one is retailed over here for approx 50 Euro (brick-and-mortar shop), probably someone sells them in UK as well. ;)

in fact it's a cheaper clone/(or version?) of solomon SL-30 , i have that CFH as a second station (primary is a solomon) - works well - good thermal mass, holds the temperature well... can't tell the difference from the solomon and it was half the price  ;)

many guys here will say  it's ancient technology.... probably... but it does the job well ;)

EDIT:

amazon uk selling them as well:  41£

http://www.amazon.co.uk/CFH-52216-48W-Soldering-Station/dp/B00835UQMG

« Last Edit: January 10, 2016, 10:52:18 am by rob77 »
 

Offline DimitriP

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2016, 10:52:21 am »
I like and use these:  http://www.antex.co.uk/soldering/precision-range-soldering-irons/

But if I were out to buy a "soldering station",
I'd get this: http://www.circuitspecialists.com/csi-premier-75w-Soldering-Station.html
Mostly for the three preset temperatures, and the auto shut off.

   If three 100  Ohm resistors are connected in parallel, and in series with a 200 Ohm resistor, how many resistors do you have? 
 

Offline Audioguru

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2016, 11:31:26 am »
You cannot solder electronic circuits properly with a blow torch or a heat gun. instead you use a soldering iron that needs to have temperature control. Most cheapo soldering irons get too hot and vaporize the rosin that is supposed to be there to clean the junction and the cheapo soldering irons cause the tip to oxidize and turn black so it cannot solder anything. Then they get too cold if you continue soldering many things because they do not have enough controlled power. Some medium priced soldering irons have a "light dimmer circuit" that allows you to adjust the power, not the temperature, and they have an expensive display of some meaningless power numbers. My Weller soldering iron has temperature control so its tip is always at the correct temperature then it needs no display. Why should you adjust the power anyway? A temperature controlled soldering iron adjusts to the correct temperature by itself.
 

Offline Deus

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2016, 12:23:26 pm »
Cheap solderting statoins mostly use short type solder tips, like you'll see on the W.E.P. photo posted above.
They slide over a ceramic element that heats up the tip.
The thermocouple is (I suppose) in that ceramic element = long distance from the wetting area (the actual solder tip).
Often resulting in overshoot and/or slow response.
Probably be ok for soldering 2 layer diy projects.

If you look at JBC and higher end Hakko models you'll notice they use cartridge based type instead of the short tips like many cheap ones.
In those, the solder tip is in fact a cartridge where the TC is located as close as possible to the wetting area.
This means much faster response = much better control.

If I would go for a cheap soldering station, I would at least go for a CARTRIDGE BASED one.
Only linking as example, there are many brands selling the same:

http://aoyue.com/en/products/?bID=33&sort_id=118

Using this type of solder cartridges, again, sold under different brands:
http://aoyue.com/en/products/?bID=133&sort_id=167

People using the Jovy iSolder, also using cartridges, are very pleased with it too.
http://jovysystems.com/en/products/solder-stations/isolder-40.html

Why cartridge based type?
Well, like I said, for 2 layer diy soldering/repairs, the short type tips might be usable.
But repairing or soldering multilayer boards is another thing. The cartridge types perform much better due the faster response.
At least the JBC and Hakko do.
The chinese ones might not tip on those professional ones, but everyone I know switching from a short tip type to a cartridge based one, even cheap Chinese, said it made a lot of difference.

New version iSolder V2 letting you connect to pc to set temps (v1 no temp setting)


« Last Edit: January 10, 2016, 12:27:26 pm by Deus »
 

Offline DimitriP

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2016, 12:33:32 pm »
A soldering iron with firmware updates and a USB connection to a PC   ...I guess I might have to wait when there is an app for it. Paaaass

   If three 100  Ohm resistors are connected in parallel, and in series with a 200 Ohm resistor, how many resistors do you have? 
 

Offline daybyter

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2016, 03:43:32 pm »
 

Offline bxh

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2016, 08:04:45 pm »
I bought myself a cheap Chinese soldering and hot air rework station (Yihua) a few years back, and it has always performed as expected (I don't actually remember checking the internal wiring quality which I sometimes do). I've also worked with several other soldering stations like Weller and Hakko, and I never felt they were superior in terms of performance.

One thing I found to make a bigger difference is the quality of the soldering tips!
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2016, 08:40:17 pm »
I picked up a cheap 2 in 1 unit - which is in line with Dave's exercise and pretty much what I expected.  I checked the wiring inside and it all looked ok, but there was one little issue with the (really cheap) connector for the soldering iron.  Here's the video clip I sent the seller:



You get what you pay for, eh?

It all works, just not secured.  The seller did go through the process of confirming the problem, requesting a quote for repair, etc. before a partial refund was offered and accepted.  A couple of dollars at Jaycar and I have a new plug, which fits snugly.

Now that the warranty period is over, I suppose I should dig it out and fit it.
 

Offline picandmix

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2016, 08:54:46 pm »
Got one of these, from this company,  over a year ago, still working well, far better than the Mains irons/sticks or the similar priced unit you can buy from Maplins.

It takes the all 936 standard tips , though the one it comes with suits me for most work;  internally the build quality is good, a modern smd board and good wiring around the transformer.
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/312086-936-Electronic-Soldering-Rework-Station-400-Degrees-Temperature-Control-/291045808647?hash=item43c3ae9a07:g:fpUAAOxyZzlTehPk

 

Offline un4tural

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2016, 11:13:51 pm »
@crispy_tofu I've been looking at these as well,but might go for something a bit pricier. picking soldering iron is way harder than screw drivers. iFixit and I'm set...

@Shock yes they are chinese knock offs, some are made of decent quality though from what i understand, i don't need or want to spend as much as hakko costs though for what use i'll be giving them. I agree about Rossmann but he is entertaining. I do like the videos showing how he does the repairs too, gives some insight, especially not to reball stuff.

@rob77 looking for something more modern, these look to take those full stick tips with heating element around them too? i think i prefer the short tip seems less travel for heat, also my cheapo has same hadle, not sure how i feel about it, sometimes rather uncomfortable. Thank you for the input though, solomons do seem expensive!

@DimitriP they seem to sell (circuitspecialistsUK) same one but with a different coat of paint here for 42£ or thereabouts, does seem very reasonable if it performs well!

@Audioguru yes i want a temp. adjust one, what i have now is a KNOB which goes from low which is basically a hand warmer to HIGH which... well i removed the element and there were splatter of molten metal, i don't like knobs much anymore.

@Deus I appreciate the superiority of these but i don't think that's in my price range... Maybe sometime in the future!

@bxh my problem with my cheapo knob iron is that it doesn't heat properly, sometimes melts fine sometimes have to hold it on the joint for half an hour... its inconsistent as hell. if chinese stations don't do that it's a big part of what i want.

@Brumby that's one of the units I've been eyeing, might get it not sure yet.

@picandmix i rather invest a little more to be honest, having dealt with knob and a wobbly tip held on springs it seems learned to appreciate better quality tool quite quickly... might be good but, rather spend a little more for that little extra.

thanks for all the comments, valuable insight, gonna check local electronics shops maybe they have some hidden gem too, though i doubt it.
 

Offline Deus

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2016, 11:22:00 pm »
For hobby stuff, using lead solder all those will probably do.
For soldering/reworking lead free multilayer boards, cleaning bga pads on mobos etc, the cartridge types will be the best choice.
Also better selection of tips for all kind of jobs, should that be important.

@un4tural, as you seem UK based, maybe have a look here (btw, I don't sell or work for a resesller):
http://www.circuitspecialists.eu/soldering/

Isn't this one in your price range, analog, cartridge based?:
http://www.circuitspecialists.eu/70w-soldering-station-for-lead-free-solder-csi-2901/
Digital readout, bit more expensive:
http://www.circuitspecialists.eu/70w-digital-soldering-station-lead-free-solder-csi-2900/
Same as Aoyue 29xx.
They have some cheaper ones, short type tips, too but not that much price difference.

Hope it helps you choosing.

Btw:
especially not to reball stuff.
Why not?
Reballing/replacing chips for years.
Sometimes it's the only option, e.g. on gameconsoles where you can't find replacment chips for.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2016, 11:34:59 pm by Deus »
 

Offline un4tural

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2016, 11:55:13 pm »
after all the benefits you mentioned and these prices i think ill take the plunge then!
is there any benefit to get this one over the ones you mentioned (2900) other than looking fancier?

http://www.circuitspecialists.eu/soldering/soldering-stations/bk-3000lf-70w-blackjack-solderwerks-lf-digital-solder-station/

no combo with hot air gun, but i do have my handy dandy 2000W hairdryer not as precise but works. wish everyone made products with screws instead of glue (HTC!)

also will pick up some flux too i guess, are MG chemicals products good? http://www.circuitspecialists.eu/soldering/solder-wire-and-consumables/no-clean-flux-paste/

also i haven't really got equipment for reballing, plus it seems like a pain, maybe someday, when i have a proper workbench somewhere.
 

Offline exe

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2016, 12:19:11 am »
I've got AOYUE 2930 and some 937 hakko clone. And the clone was too bad because of the air gap. So I don't use it anymore.

 I would go for aoyue, but my station had some serious issues. First, "vibrosensor" didn't work and I don't know why. I had to disassemble the handpiece and to fix. And it seemed it was correctly assembled, the problem was somewhere in station's "brains". After some random wire shorting (emulating how the sensor works, it's just a ball touching contacts) it suddenly started to work. Quite bad sign...

Another issue -- it once fall into sleep and failed to wake up. Reboot helped, but since then I don't trust it.

Also, these stations can be twice more expensive in Europe comparing to the US price.  I got mine for 120euro (incl. delivery) which is ridiculously expensive, but there were no cheaper alternatives.
Cartridges are also not that cheap -- from 10 to 20euro, the most expensive for wave soldering.
Thermal performance is okay, but I expected more.  Definitely better than my 937 clone, also heats up faster.
Considering all of these, my initial intention was to return it and buy JBC. Now I'm kind of okay with my station, but still it does not inspire confidence at all.
 

Offline Deus

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2016, 12:28:58 am »
@un4tural
Think they're basically the same knock offs. Dunno internally.
Think I would go for blackjack too, looks more sturdy.

Also, check out the tip, not sure which one is included.
If you need a larger one...

Never used that flux, should be fine I guess.

I'm sure you won't regret getting it.
Keep us posted with your findings?
« Last Edit: January 11, 2016, 12:51:57 am by Deus »
 

Offline Deus

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2016, 12:48:15 am »
@exe
If buying on a budget, surely for soldering stations it will mostly be Chinese ones.
Like my BGA rework station. Was Chinese too, knew I shouldn't expect much of the building quality.
But never imagined it would be that bad.
Sorted it all out, upgraded it with better heaters.
Very pleased with it now and still much cheaper than european industry quality.
You get what you pay for...

I've got AOYUE 2930 and some 937 hakko clone. And the clone was too bad because of the air gap. So I don't use it anymore.
Few years ago those 937 Hakko clones were mostly only 35 watt and using those short type tips, bad thermal performance on top.

Cartridges are also not that cheap -- from 10 to 20euro, the most expensive for wave soldering.
True, more expensive, but faster and better thermal performance. Very important for lead free.

Considering all of these, my initial intention was to return it and buy JBC. Now I'm kind of okay with my station, but still it does not inspire confidence at all.
Bought my JBC way back in 2004 I think, upgrading from a Weller.
Best upgrade ever, a lifetime investment.
Worth every penny!!!
 

Offline exe

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2016, 01:43:48 am »
@Deus
Cartridges are also not that cheap -- from 10 to 20euro, the most expensive for wave soldering.
True, more expensive, but faster and better thermal performance. Very important for lead free.

The point is it's not dirt cheap anymore and approaching JBC cartridges :( I had like 10 "hakko" tips for like 5 or so dollars. Now it cost over 10euro just for one Asian tip and the quality is not impressive at all: I bought three tips and they all bent. So I spent like 160-170euro in total and now I'm not sure it was worth it because hakko 888d would cost the same or less (98euro currently on batterfly.it).

However, that hakko has a weird shape and not stackable (i.e., it's hard to put another piece of equipment on top of it, a big concern for me because of limited table space). It is also unclear which one solders better, I didn't find many benchmarks for soldering stations.
 

Offline un4tural

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2016, 02:34:18 am »
honestly if they have superior performance and last a good time, as in well made, i don't mind the 15£ for 6months or so of use.

why are these stations getting so much more expensive though? I'm not an expert but it doesn't seem like component cost would be that high.
 

Offline KD0CAC John

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #20 on: January 11, 2016, 02:44:50 am »
I've worked in a number of trades and found that quality makes all the difference , it can take much more skill to make a poor tool work well , the cheap tools lend them selfs to Murphy's Law - they will break down at the worst possible time .
I have an Aoyue 850D - copy of the Hakko , I seems to remember that you could find average price of Aoyue for about $50 and $80 for Hakko , now I am watching for a Hakko upgrade [ at min. I would get better brand but too much $$$ ] .
I have been lucky at finding good deals , I have Metcal 2 power supplies , 2 pencils , tweezers & vacuum gun with about 50 - 75 tips with a total cost of less than $250 .
Then some JBC gear , 2 power supplies , pencil , vacuum pump & pencil - this was new in 2 boxs for $402 including shipping , so a total of about $650 for all JBC .
The Aoyue hot air was about $35 and now I see the original Hakko 850D price is way up ?
I do admit to having a TOOL-JONES :)
 

Offline Deus

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2016, 02:56:04 am »
why are these stations getting so much more expensive though? I'm not an expert but it doesn't seem like component cost would be that high.
$ Went up in value.
Chinese wages/prices/profits went up too? Dunno...

Notice buying stuff from China is not allways really cheaper, surely if you have to pay extra shipping for it.
Sometimes even more expensive than buying local if taxes come on top...
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2016, 08:19:36 am »
Quote
However, that hakko has a weird shape and not stackable.
But it has a really small footprint, so I don't see much of an issue. I'm not sure what you would want to stack on top of such a small and skinny station.

For the cost of the 888, about 80-120 dollars, you are getting a high quality handpiece that is made to last. The cheap knockoff handpieces have a less flexible cord and are made from plastic that is slippery to touch and many of them will eventually crack from heat stress where the plastic ring screws together and/or the heater will eventually burn out. You can effectively consider them to be consumable parts. If you do much soldering, they may not last more than a few years. At the replacement cost, you may be fine just buying new handpieces when you need to, but...

2. Consistency: The cheap knockoffs will vary in specs and construction. The heater to tip fit will vary. The life of the heater will vary. And your replacement wands will take up space. And you will never get the flexibility of the cord or the feel. The knockoffs are not effectively cloning the quality, here.

The Hakko 888 handpiece sold separately costs about $70.00, which is most of the cost of the entire kit to begin with. And in the longrun, $70.00 just for the hakko handpiece might be worth it. Add in the excellent stand/holder, and the 888 really isn't very expensive. I have used cheap soldering stations for many years. After the modest upgrade to an 888, I think $40-$50.00 clones woudln't sell at all if everyone had the opportunity to really try out a genuine Hakko. When I bought mine, I had given away my backup to someone in need, and I was kinda screwing around to see what the fuss was about. What's $100.00? It wasn't long before I was a convert.

As far as the station goes, w/e. Power supplies and the electronics are simple. Clones or DIY, easy. But I can't buy/make as nice of a handpiece. Nor the compact, ergonomic and very excellent iron holder, for that matter. It's about as small as it could be while being secure. I know because I have tried replicating and/or improving on it for another station. I'm pretty handy, but the Hakko 888 holder is pretty close to perfection, and I can't touch it with my skills and tools in the woodshop. You can practically throw the iron back into the stand with your eyes closed, and it holds very securely. It has a place for a sponge and wool. And it isn't a square centimeter larger in footprint than it needs to be, simply to hold an iron securely, even if you were to remove the sponge and the wool! The rounded Fischer Price shape to it is purely functional. The size, shape, and weight are all well thought out and the many hours of design were not wasted. Not many stations come close. If you move your iron around your bench, much, you will notice this, quite quickly. A little board and a coil of wire ala similarly priced Wellers doesn't come close. Stamped sheet metal holders of most of the Chinese irons aren't in the same league. And the quirky shapes of some of the more expensive competition seem to be made for looks first - and ergos not at all.

AFAIC, the X-tronics station I have is perfectly equal. In warm up time and power tests, I can't tell any difference. The handpiece and iron holder are why that iron is in the garbage. The plastic feels slick/oily in a similar way as plexiglass. It doesn't give a good grip. There's no ergonomic closed-cell foam grip, like on the Hakko, so this oily/slick plastic IS the entire grip. The cord itself compares well, but the strain relief is much stiffer and it rattles loosely in the end of the handle. The wand is slightly crooked where it screws together, so it's not straight. The clunky sheet metal holder bends when it falls off the bench and the sharp corners gouge the floor. And the iron rattles around and droops in the holder, which makes it more squirrelly to pick up the iron without looking.

If the Hakko handpiece was cheaper, I'd consider buying them and changing out the connector to use with cheaper or DIY stations. But with the current price structure, the 888 package is hard to beat.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2016, 09:52:01 am by KL27x »
 

Offline exe

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2016, 08:31:49 am »
For the cost of the 888, about 80-120 dollars, you are getting a high quality handpiece that is made to last.

What about the cord? Is it burn-proof? I mean, if the tip touches it will it melt? Hope not.
 

Offline rounsmith

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Re: picking a soldering station
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2016, 09:03:34 am »
Hello to all,

After purchasing a cheap hot air station (wep 858d+)and checking it;s innards and fixing it i want some good soldering iron for fixing like micro usb connectors , power jacks from laptops etc.

I would like to go for an oki/metcal one since i have heard so good things.

One choice is Oki PS-900 and go alone with some fine tips (station will go for around 200 euros and tips around 12 euros each).

It;s either that or some ersa i con nano.

What would you recommend?

I want a solid soldering station that will last for years.

Now i have some crappy 20 dollar one that i have to crank up to maximum if i want so solder anything. And i don;t have right tips for doing fine work like smd rework etc :(


Mind you i am from Greece and have limited options to hakko or so. I would like to go to microsoldering(fixing boards from phones etc) so i might need some fine tips.

After this is microscope time !
 


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