Author Topic: Need some advice about soldering station & solder please (Noob in Melbourne!)  (Read 4234 times)

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Offline maggotronix

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Hi! Noob here embarking on my DIY guitar fuzz pedal odyssey!  :P

I want to upgrade my cheap Atten 937b soldering station, and best bang-for-buck seems to be the Hakko 888D, this is still correct yes? Mektronics sell the "genuine article", so I will probably go through them? (I am in Melbourne, Australia).

Their Hakko comes with a T18-B B-shaped tip... I will be dealing pretty much solely with through-hole components, would I be better served getting an additional T18-D16 tip (chisel tip, 1.6mm)?

Would you suggest any additional tips I should get?

It also comes with a spool of Multicore solder - I think this is pretty useless to me, so I will want an additional spool of solder wire. Is this MG Chemicals 63/37 0.025" (0.635mm) the way to go for basic through-hole stuff? Is this the appropriate size? Is there something better I should be looking at?

All up I'm looking at roughly ~AU$200. Is there anything else I should be looking at instead of the Hakko & the MG Chemicals solder?

Thanks, sorry for noob qu's...



 

Online wraper

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best bang-for-buck seems to be the Hakko 888D
Only in USA, 230V stations are much more expensive, although recently became not nearly as bad as it was (someone finally switched on the brains at hakko). AU$200 is a lot for what it is though.
 

Offline maggotronix

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The Atten station has been ok but the tips have started becoming loose & wobbly, I started thinking of an upgrade to the Hakko. Or, I guess I could jump onto eBay & buy another Atten for ~$40?

The Hakko 888D is ~$160 at Mektronics. I see it for upwards of ~$240 at other places, so I figure Mektronics, or Oritech, will get my hard-earned bucks.

The solder is ~$40 for a half-kilo spool, is MG Chemicals 63/37 0.6mm ok? There is also Multicore 63/37 "no clean" bit cheaper but should I stay away from that as it doesn't wet/flow as well or something thanks.
 

Offline crazyguy

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Offline maggotronix

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Nah I want something good lol.
 

Offline R005T3r

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You probably never use half a kg of solder, unless you solder on a daily basis. I suggest you to consider 250g spools, and, better if you stay under 0,5 mm: it's more controllable. If you need to double the rate twist the wire in two pairs and solder it.

"No clean" solder means that they use a proprietary flux as you don't have  to brush/clean it after you finished soldering. (you should do it anyway, but it's not a must)
There's a type of solder you need to know what you are doing? Water-based flux and lead-free stuff. The first one it's compulsory to clean it and it's a very aggressive kind of flux (even more than RA ones!): it would eat your pcb traces in hours unless you clean it (it works very well for restoring ancient electronics and old boards ) , the second one, well, you have to go very high on temperature to get a good joint, and without proper knowledge, tools and skill is a really annoying experience. Not to mention that fine lead free solder costs a lot more than lead based ones. Cheap ones are not a great choice unless you have a very thigh budget.

My advice for the soldering station is: buy a decent station, hakko is fine. Don't fall into the trap of temperature adjustable wall soldering irons: it's a waste of money and time. And also, another thing that people trend to forget: a fume extractor! Use a fume extractor to protect yourself from soldering fumes especially if you solder in closed areas.
Another important thing is the tip: choose a chisel type tip over a conical one...
 

Offline nanofrog

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For general purpose thru-hole soldering, a 2.4mm chisel tip is used far more often than a 1.6mm IME (you want the tip size to ~= the hole size). A larger size or two would be useful as well (i.e. solder tabs & such).

As per solder, the Multicore that comes with it is fine (366 flux is RA), including the larger diameter for thru-hole work (.91mm is ~.035"). I find .031" or .032" offers the best balance for general purpose thru-hole work as it's large enough you're not on the joint too long, yet still allows sufficient control when feeding it so you don't apply too much solder.

If you're dead set on the MG Chemicals you linked, the alloy & flux are fine. Just be aware you'll have to feed more of it into the joint due to the smaller diameter, which means you'll be on the joint longer.
 

Offline maggotronix

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Ah thank you for that information!

The MG Chemical solder comes in other sizes too.

Cheers for that!  :)
 

Offline RobertHolcombe

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The other option in that price range is the Weller WES51 or WESD51. They have analog dial control instead of the button UI of the Hakko, tip selection is roughly the same, and the Weller stations are physically larger.

Mektronics and Oritech are both great to deal with btw
 

Offline maggotronix

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Thanks Robert I did look at the Weller but it's quite a bit more expensive than the Hakko (~$250 upwards vs ~$160). I do prefer the analog knob however...
 

Offline maggotronix

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I notice everyone has their personal preferences (not surprising)... eg 0.8/0.9mm solder wire vs >0.5mm etc. I figure the MG Chem 0.635mm is a nice midway?  ???

This "no clean" stuff, should I be thinking about that? I was told by someone there can be some issues with its wetting properties... or something...

Also the MG Chemicals 63/37 I'm looking at has 2.2% RA flux. Most recommends 3.3% flux? I don't want to have to mess around with a flux pencil on every solder joint I do...?
 

Offline RobertHolcombe

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Sorry I hadn't recently looked at prices, they are in the rough ballpark though.

I'd say solder diameter choice has less to do with preference and more to do with the size of the joints you are working and wanting to minimise dwell time (as mentioned by nanofrog). For general purpose through-hole work somewhere between 1.0mm and 0.5mm is a pretty good choice.

I understand that in a hobbyist environment that it isn't necessarily practical to invest in multiple rolls of solder as they can be prohibitively expensive, if you're interested I can mail you a few meters of Multicore C511 C5 in 0.71mm, 0.56mm and 0.35mm diameter so you can get a feel for different sizes. PM me a postal address and I'll make it happen.

As for no-clean flux I haven't noticed any difference in wetting action but certainly have noticed cheaper/generic brands definitely do suffer from inconsistent or just plain bad flux.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2016, 03:36:35 am by RobertHolcombe »
 

Offline R005T3r

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Multiple rollers? Definitely not. If you are restoring old gears you may consider it as an option, but if you are going to solder and making projects and stuff like that, stick with one spool of solder... Also, if you want to go with SMD stuff keep in mind that it's better if you have a thin one instead of a larger one.

Stay away from $1 solder It's not worth it. Good solder would come in the range between $ 20-30.

Also, another tip: 2.2% flux is fine. Remember that you can add more flux to your board by a marker or by a syringe: it will improve your solder wetting and also your results. You should consider a flux marker: it's a great way of boosting your performance and also, when it's time to solder on high pitched pads and stuff like that, well it will make a difference.
 

Offline nanofrog

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I notice everyone has their personal preferences (not surprising)... eg 0.8/0.9mm solder wire vs >0.5mm etc. I figure the MG Chem 0.635mm is a nice midway?  ???

This "no clean" stuff, should I be thinking about that? I was told by someone there can be some issues with its wetting properties... or something...

Also the MG Chemicals 63/37 I'm looking at has 2.2% RA flux. Most recommends 3.3% flux? I don't want to have to mess around with a flux pencil on every solder joint I do...?
As RobertHolcombe stated, diameter choice is primarily determined by the joints to be made in order to complete the joint. The dwell time/time on the joint should be kept to ~2 seconds max as a general rule (for both PTH & SMD); you can get away with 3s on PTH with large lead diameters or solder tabs for example. This is to prevent damage to both the components as well as the PCB itself (lifted pads or scorched FR4 material). Personal preference can be a factor to some extent, but it's certainly not the primary determinant.

Now for a couple of examples as to appropriate diameters. You wouldn't want to use .032" on say 0102 passive components (.010" would be appropriate), as the solder diameter is larger than the component. Conversely, you wouldn't want to use .010" to tin large gauge wire either (i.e. .062" would be more appropriate). You can of course wrap a couple or three turns on your fingers, then twist it up to produce a larger diameter solder wire for joints that require it, but you wouldn't want to do this with .010". FWIW, I find both .025" & .032" good solutions for working with both PTH & SMD; but as you mentioned you plan to stick to PTH, .032" is better suited to your needs (or the .035" Multicore that comes with the Hakko). .032" also works well for larger SMD stuff as well as drag soldering. If you were going to do a lot of smaller SMD however, then the .025" or even .020" would be more appropriate.

No clean formulations tend to have a shorter working time as they usually require higher temperatures before they become active & clean off the oxidation. It also tends to be harder to clean, particularly the versions that use synthetic resins (others use modified rosin, which is easier to clean IME). But it works well, and can be left on the boards. Do note it can be a bit tougher to figure out the level of activity (read the data sheet carefully). Rosin based fluxes are easier to figure out the activity (R, RMA, RA; from least to most active).

As per the flux content, 3.3% is ideal IMHO, as there's less of a chance of getting a non-wetted joint. Particularly when you may be working on something with 20+ years of oxidation vs. solder with a lower flux content or flux with an insufficient level of activity (2.2% is still quite usable). As good solder isn't exactly cheap, and is a particular issue for hobbyists, this is where the single roll of tin/lead RA flux solder wire @ 3.3% by weight originates.

But keeping additional flux on hand is still a good idea regardless, especially for drag soldering SMD IC's (so many DIP parts are disappearing). Fortunately, there's a less expensive option for this than the disposable pens; just get a bottle of MG Chemicals 835 RA flux, and dispense it however you wish. For example, you could dip a small brush in say a thimble glued to a bit of scrap PCB or wood, use a refillable pen, refillable brush pen (my favorite), needle bottle, nail polish bottle, .... You'll figure out when you do and don't need it as you gain experience.  :)

Also as mentioned, get quality supplies. The upfront costs are a bit more, but it's actually cheaper in the long run (less damage to PCB's as you're not cooking them for seconds on end trying to get the cheap crap to work), and a LOT less aggravation.  ;)
 

Offline exk

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for THT i prefer to use knife shape tip
 

Offline boffin

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My choice is leaded, rosin core, very thin.

1/2 lb (227 g)   
0.025" (0.6mm)
2.2%
Rosin core
ie; MG 4884-227G
and of course I'm going to suggest MG, they started their business a couple of km from my house.

to clean it, use either flux cleaner, or a 50/50 mix of 99% isopropyl/acetone.

 

Offline Circlotron

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The Goot iron sold by Jaycar http://www.jaycar.com.au/goot-240v-70w-240v-soldering-iron/p/TS1430 is remarkably good. I have had one for about 3 years and in the last 12 months would have a soldered about 100,000 pcb joints. It has proper temperature feedback so it heats up FAST and maintains it temp when you make it really work. The factory set temp is a little low at 315 deg C but if you undo a single screw the internals easily slide out and there is a pot on the pcb. Move it just a whisker clockwise and you are good to go. The original tip is still going fine. I think this is a great iron. 👍👍👍
 

Offline wasyoungonce

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I....Also the MG Chemicals 63/37 I'm looking at has 2.2% RA flux. Most recommends 3.3% flux? I don't want to have to mess around with a flux pencil on every solder joint I do...?

Mag...I'm in Melbourne,  just purchased some multicore 63/37, .56 for $24 AUD a few weeks back:
http://www.mektronics.com.au/solder-wire-fluxes-wick/tin-lead-solder-wire/multicore-63-37-x39-2c-0-56mm-0-25kg.html

Damn fine solder.  I'd forgotten how good 63/36 was.   This is a bargain price IMHO, although a little thin for general purpose work but slightly lite on flux.  That said it works, very little to clean and 63/37 nice bright joints and fillet flow.  The price...!... Excellent.  I'd say buy the FX888D, for $168 Mektronics...absolute bargain...best way to go for good cheap station.  Also see if you can afford some more tips, it's worth it.

Also have a look at:
Upton,
http://uptonaustralia.com.au/
Oritech,
http://www.oritech.com.au/home.php?resetbrand=1
RMS
http://rmsparts.com.au/index.ews

As well as the usual's for solder and stations:
RS
http://au.rs-online.com/web/

Element14
http://au.element14.com/
 
I'd forget my Head if it wasn't screwed on!
 

Offline maggotronix

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Thanks a lot for all your help, you guys. I'm placing my order for the FX888D tomorrow. I'll get a vouple of extra tips, I think stick with chisel for starters. I've read a few folk swear by those knife tips tho'...
 

Offline R005T3r

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I'd buy 0.5 mm instead: it's hard to use if you want to go on fine chips and stuff like that.
 


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