Author Topic: First Soldering Iron Advice  (Read 1065 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline jbrookley

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 6
  • Country: us
First Soldering Iron Advice
« on: May 23, 2018, 06:06:47 am »
Hello, everyone!

I'm working on a startup with a friend of mine and need to get a decent soldering iron in the near future.  Our first round of soldering is for prototypes so I don't need the surface mount capabilities but I know we'll be moving that direction not too much further down the line (though we might have additional funding at that point). 

These were the main two I was looking at:

Manufacturer   Station      Station Cost   Iron         Iron Cost   Tweezer      Tweezer Cost   Total Cost
Hakko      FX888D-23BY    $107.47       FX8801-02       $78.77    FX8804-CK    $215.37        $401.61
Metcal      MX-500SPT    $875.00       Included       $-         Included       $-             $875.00

At first look, the Hakko seems to be the way to go as it's significantly cheaper than the Metcal (I'm assuming this is the Ricon to the Tektronix equivalent, but maybe I'm wrong).  People seem to have pretty high opinions on Hakko so it sounds like that might be a good way to go. 

I did look at JBC (which seemed a bit pricier than even the Metcal, when you start looking at adding the tweezers), ERSA (which had a lot of options but I couldn't find prices anywhere, maybe I missed it), and PACE (which someone recommended against in another section). 

I started looking up several of the recommended threads but most of them didn't take tweezers into consideration (either that or I was looking at the wrong threads, which is entirely possible).  One of the problems I had is not knowing exactly what I'm looking for power/temperature wise so I did my best to look into the cost.  What I don't want to do is look ONLY at cost so that's why I'm coming in here, to see if I can fill in any knowledge gaps.

Does the Hakko selections above seem like a reasonable starting point if I'm looking to save money?
Are there some features on other irons that are worth spending the extra money on?
Is there another system you'd recommend instead of the Hakko?
How do I determine what power/temperature I should use?
Any tip types you'd recommend or is that a harder question to answer without more specifics about what I'm soldering?

Basically, any information you can provide (or even links you'd recommend me checking out) to select an iron would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!
 

Offline Seph.b

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 78
  • Country: us
Re: First Soldering Iron Advice
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2018, 06:29:01 am »
I use a cheap 853D solder station from Aliexpress and it works great for me. It has both an iron and hot air gun, along with other features. I am super uncoordinated and can solder 0604 without any problems with it.

I have the Hakko FX888D at home and honestly I prefer using the 853D. Maybe it just because I use it more though.

I think the best upgrade to SMD work I have done is to actually get a good desk magnifier. I have really good vision so I didn't think I needed one until I got it and now I don't think I could live without it.
 
The following users thanked this post: jbrookley

Offline TJ232

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 302
  • Country: 00
  • www.esp8266-projects.com
    • ESP8266 Projects
Re: First Soldering Iron Advice
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2018, 01:08:15 pm »

I am very happy with a 2 channels ERSA i-CON2V ESD that replaced few years ago an older version ERSA station that I have used for about 20 years. Is the 0IC2200VC model, including i-TOOL (150W) & CHIP-TOOL Vario (2x40W).

I am very happy with, nice, compact and stable, tips are cheap (and plenty of models), with proper care will last forever, enough power to solder from small SMD's to PCB's with big power planes and bulky power transistors. The i-TOOL is light with a good solder point tip distance and stay cool even after 8 hours of usage.

More details about here: https://www.ersa-shop.com/ersa-icon2v-kanall%C3%B6tstation-sdslot-itool-150w-chiptool-vario-2x40w-autostandby-p-12172.html
, including price.
 
The following users thanked this post: jbrookley

Offline JohnnyMalaria

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 469
  • Country: us
    • Enlighten Scientific LLC
Re: First Soldering Iron Advice
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2018, 01:24:29 pm »
Manufacturer   Station      Station Cost   Iron         Iron Cost   Tweezer      Tweezer Cost   Total Cost
Hakko      FX888D-23BY    $107.47       FX8801-02       $78.77    FX8804-CK    $215.37        $401.61

I'm confused by this. The FX888D-23BY includes the FX8801-02. Are you planning on getting two?

I bought the same station/iron about a month ago. After years of using simple Weller and RadioShack irons, I was astounded at how quickly the thing heated up. It's so much nicer to use - less errors, nicer looking results.
Tell me it can't be done and I'll do it. Or die trying.
 
The following users thanked this post: jbrookley

Offline jbrookley

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 6
  • Country: us
Re: First Soldering Iron Advice
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2018, 03:43:38 am »

I am very happy with a 2 channels ERSA i-CON2V ESD that replaced few years ago an older version ERSA station that I have used for about 20 years. Is the 0IC2200VC model, including i-TOOL (150W) & CHIP-TOOL Vario (2x40W).

I am very happy with, nice, compact and stable, tips are cheap (and plenty of models), with proper care will last forever, enough power to solder from small SMD's to PCB's with big power planes and bulky power transistors. The i-TOOL is light with a good solder point tip distance and stay cool even after 8 hours of usage.

More details about here: https://www.ersa-shop.com/ersa-icon2v-kanall%C3%B6tstation-sdslot-itool-150w-chiptool-vario-2x40w-autostandby-p-12172.html
, including price.

Thanks for the recommendations!  After looking at their website, it looks like their US store website doesn't work but, after going to the site you recommended, what you recommended appears to be exactly what I was looking for:

ERSA i-CON2V ESD 2 Kanal-Lötstation mit SD-Slot, i-TOOL 150W & CHIP-TOOL Vario 2x40W, Auto-Standby
https://www.ersa-shop.com/ersa-icon2v-kanall%C3%B6tstation-sdslot-itool-150w-chiptool-vario-2x40w-autostandby-p-12172.html

Unfortunately, prices are in euros so I'm assuming this is only orderable in Europe (and it appears Amazon is the preferred vendor in the US and they don't have that station or the tweezer tool on the website.  It looks like the cost is in the same ballpark as the Metcal tool, maybe a bit cheaper (about 684 euros, which is about $800 vs Metcal's $850). 

I'm confused by this. The FX888D-23BY includes the FX8801-02. Are you planning on getting two?

I bought the same station/iron about a month ago. After years of using simple Weller and RadioShack irons, I was astounded at how quickly the thing heated up. It's so much nicer to use - less errors, nicer looking results.

I'm glad you mentioned this, it does look like it includes the iron, making it even cheaper, which is nice (leaves more money for tips). 

Quick question, what temperature are most solder jobs done at?  Is this a concern when considering an iron?  or is it mainly about how long it takes to heat up and cool down, life of the product, etc?  What did you guys consider when you were looking at an iron?

Thanks for all the help!
 

Offline helius

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2516
  • Country: us
Re: First Soldering Iron Advice
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2018, 03:54:24 am »
Temperature to some extent depends on the type of work, especially whether heavy traces to a ground plane are present as they are in power electronics. Making proper joints is a multi-factor equation involving time, temperature, and heat capacity. The time should be limited to less than two seconds, which forces either the temperature or heat capacity to be increased for heavier jobs. If you cannot use a higher-capacity tool, you must increase the working temperature, even though that increases potential component damage.

For light jobs like non-power SMD or thru-hole assembly 500°F is sufficient, although up to 650°F would also be fine and gives you more margin to be able to quickly do joints with heavier ground traces. Temperature choice will also depend on how sensitive the components are. Things like tantalum caps or quartz oscillators are more delicate.
 

Offline jbrookley

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 6
  • Country: us
Re: First Soldering Iron Advice
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2018, 07:31:04 am »
Temperature to some extent depends on the type of work, especially whether heavy traces to a ground plane are present as they are in power electronics. Making proper joints is a multi-factor equation involving time, temperature, and heat capacity. The time should be limited to less than two seconds, which forces either the temperature or heat capacity to be increased for heavier jobs. If you cannot use a higher-capacity tool, you must increase the working temperature, even though that increases potential component damage.

For light jobs like non-power SMD or thru-hole assembly 500°F is sufficient, although up to 650°F would also be fine and gives you more margin to be able to quickly do joints with heavier ground traces. Temperature choice will also depend on how sensitive the components are. Things like tantalum caps or quartz oscillators are more delicate.

Ok, good to know!  It looks like all of these soldering irons (even the Hakko) can meet these temp requirements (the Hakko is 350 degC and the Ersa is 450 degC max temp.  Metcal doesn't seem to think stating a max temp is important for some reason . . . heh).

Thanks for the help!
 

Offline helius

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2516
  • Country: us
Re: First Soldering Iron Advice
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2018, 09:00:04 am »
Metcal uses Curie-point heating, as does Thermaltronics and the Hakko FX-100. In this design, the operating temperature is held closely at the Curie point of the tip. Metcal tips are marked with a code that reflects their Curie point: 6 for 600°F, 7 for 700°F, 8 for 800°F. Some other tip series use a T for 600°F, F for 700°F, C for 800°F. Hakko's T31 series for FX-100 are specified for 660°F, 750°F, and 840°F.
 

Offline KL27x

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2593
Re: First Soldering Iron Advice
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2018, 10:04:14 am »
Sidetrack
Quote
6 for 600°F, 7 for 700°F, 8 for 800°F.

Misleading marketing? The Metcal series 6 is described as 600F, but the set point is actually around 650. The 7 is around 750.

Thermaltronics follows this tradition. For instance they list the temp of their "600F tips" only in Celcius (lol) : 325-358C. If you do the conversion, this is 617F-676F. If you split the difference, it is 647F.

If you didn't bother to measure the temp of your tip or do a simple conversion, you might think the Metcal/Thermaltronics tips are punching beyond their weight class even if they're not.

To put it in perpective, the average set temp of Metcal's lowest temp line is not much lower than my "overdrive" setting (350C/662F) on my 888. I only use it for soldering to heavy ground planes and battery terminals. I don't remember the last time I used it; it's been a long while. Over 90% of my soldering is done at 315C, which converts to 599F. That's an actual "600F tip." :)

OP, the 888 is fine for prototypes. Plenty of power and good tips. Cartridge style irons are better for production line which has high heatsinking continuous demand. They can pump out more watts without the handle "catching on fire." If the demanding joints are not a bang-em-out, one after the other for 10-20 minutes straight, I don't think you get a lot of benefit for the $$ over a US priced 888 regarding the iron part. I have no experience with tweezers, though. I never found a reason to buy them other than as toys. I had a set for a different station. Between a good iron and hot air, I never found any purpose for the tweezers which saved any time or effort.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2018, 10:54:47 am by KL27x »
 
The following users thanked this post: helius, umbro

Offline james_s

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 6467
  • Country: us
Re: First Soldering Iron Advice
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2018, 05:23:44 am »
Metcal is the Rolls Royce, but in your case I'd say go with the Hakko, it will suit you just fine. I've seen countless startups blow through immense amounts of money early on buying unnecessary toys and then the lean times come. No matter how much money you have come in to start with don't spend any you don't have to until you have revenue coming in.
 

Offline nanofrog

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 5448
  • Country: us
Re: First Soldering Iron Advice
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2018, 07:01:33 am »
FWIW, you can get Ersa in the US from Murray Percival (i-Con 2V w/ iron & tweezers). And it is the 120V version, so no issues there.

IF you go with this, I'd suggest getting some additional tip retaining collars for faster tip changes. They even come in both black and green to differentiate between leaded and lead-free. Tips are long lasting and reasonably priced.

Another way to go about it, would be get a Hakko FX-951 (iron) and a JBC CP-1E (PA-120 micro tweezers). Comes in a bit cheaper for the stations. Hakko's cartridge tips aren't expensive either (~$11 for common profiles). JBC's tips do run on the pricey side though. Fortunately you won't need as many for the tweezers.
 

Online Old Printer

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 352
  • Country: us
Re: First Soldering Iron Advice
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2018, 09:44:49 am »
I love my Hakko 888D though I would rather have the older analog version. Just be careful where you buy it or you could wind up with a counterfeit unit without warranty just to save a few bucks.
 

Offline J Jones

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 4
  • Country: nz
Re: First Soldering Iron Advice
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2018, 01:44:22 pm »
Has anyone got some good evidence of what these irons are capable of? This is pretty good for 80 Watts:

 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf