Author Topic: Soldering iron for a newbie?  (Read 1963 times)

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Offline YurkshireLad

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Soldering iron for a newbie?
« on: April 15, 2021, 11:45:13 pm »
I try to read as many posts and reviews as possible but my brain gets twisted in knots with all the options.

I'm looking for my first soldering iron (or kit?), and I noticed that the TS-100 (Is this the genuine brand? https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01MDTO6X7) is mentioned a lot.

I don't want a USB soldering iron as my laptop's USB ports are already full, so that rules out the TS-80. Nor do I want one that needs maintenance to make it 100% - I'd like to unpack it, plug it in and go.

I need something to do the usual small items, such as AHT10 sensors, prototype boards to try out small, basic circuits and soldering header pins to microcontrollers (e.g. ESP8266 etc). So my needs are fairly basic.

But which is the best option? Should I get the TS-100, or is there a soldering station or kit I should look at instead? Obviously I need to buy solder, something to clean the tip and so forth.

Many thanks
 

Offline WattsThat

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2021, 12:36:16 am »
Soldering irons are like programming languages, there is no one best one. That said, there is zero chance I would spend money on the units mentioned. I really dislike the combined element/tip units, it’s a bad idea. IMO, usb irons are even worse, possibly the worst idea ever since you’ll never get any real heat out of them, they’re a joke since most USB ports are current limiting.

If you think you’re going to stay in the hobby, buy the best iron you can comfortably afford. It also depends on your use cases as well. Not that I use them any more but I have two much older Weller irons with the tips you buy for the desired soldering temperatures, you can still get those tips and those irons are forty years old.

Buy wisely, buy it once, use it for a long time.

Set a budget. Then can you decide.
 
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Online beanflying

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2021, 01:46:21 am »
..

But which is the best option? Should I get the TS-100, or is there a soldering station or kit I should look at instead? Obviously I need to buy solder, something to clean the tip and so forth.

Many thanks

You can do way worse than the TS-100  :-+ Look up Marco Reps on youtube and see what he was using his for. Mine lives in the site bag with a DC-DC (more volts more power) converter and gets run of LiPo's or 12V car batteries in most spots and on the bench I have a 12V supply on the bench so the same converter was used there too before my JBC splurge. Like all soldering irons watch the grounding of the tip in particular if you are running from mains with junk supplies.
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Online ledtester

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2021, 02:30:57 am »
The TS-100 is a fine iron. I was fortunate to get it and a bunch of tips for about $80 -- but that was a couple of years ago.

There's a cheaper version of the TS-100 which claims to be compatible with the tips here:

https://pine64.com/product/pinecil-smart-mini-portable-soldering-iron/?v=0446c16e2e66

I use my TS-100 with a Dell laptop power brick which outputs 19V. Being able to use it with a battery pack makes it useful for repairs in the field where you don't have access to power.

Quote
I don't want a USB soldering iron as my laptop's USB ports are already full, so that rules out the TS-80.

Usually you plug the TS-80 into a USB-C power adaptor that implements the latest power delivery modes.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2021, 02:35:13 am by ledtester »
 
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Offline YurkshireLad

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2021, 12:42:28 pm »
I was watching some reviews last night and the Hakko and Weller seem to get good comments. Are they worth looking at?
 

Offline RayRay

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2021, 08:25:22 pm »
The TS-100 is a great iron, however, it's not the most comfortable in terms of ergonomics (non-rounded shape, buttons). I'd suggest you get a T12 based soldering station from aliexpress ($30-40). You'd need to purchase a stand, extra tips and an FG-100 replica (tip theromometer, for calibiration) in separate, but even then, it still provides the best cost/value ratio on the market! I recommend you use the T12-BC3 tip for general purpose, and T12-ILS for fine pitch stuff. If you wanna get a branded station, then the Hakko FX-888D would be a far better choice than the Weller 1010 (better construction, bigger selection of tips, maintains heat better) do note though that in terms of user controls, the 888D falls short (apart from the on/off switch, it only has 2 buttons that perform multiple functions, so if you get it, be sure to REALLY read the manual!) Apart from the primary question though, I'd recommend you stick to leaded solder (preferablly 63/37) of the Mechanic or Kester brand, get 0.8/1.0 mm for general purpose and 0.5/0.3 for fine pitch stuff (also get wicks & pump for desodlering) and make sure you get good flux too (I'd recommend Mechanic UV223, 100G) it provides an excellent cost/value ratio, and is easy enough to apply with wooden tooth picks or tweezers. I'd also recommend you get a pack of "solder assist tools", a good set of tweezers, magnifier with led lights for inspection, a third hand device to make things easier, and a bottle of pure IPA alcohol (95% or higher) for cleaning flux residue post soldering (with q-tips), and some good nippers (cutters) for cutting/stripping wires, and components legs post-soldering (btw, take a pro tip, when you solder a 2 legged thru-hole component, such as a capacitor/resistor/diode, flatten the legs from the other side and flatten em to the circuit board, that way they would stay in place, then just cut the excess after you're done soldering!) and also, do NOT use a wet sponge for cleaning the tip, only a brass cleaner (it'd last longer that way, and would get oxidized less!) also be sure to apply a bit of fresh solder and quickly clean the tip before powering off the station (another thing that helps it last more). And definitely don't go over 370C (temperature) at worst. 350-360 would be ideal.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2021, 08:36:44 pm by RayRay »
 
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Online beanflying

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2021, 01:34:43 am »
Scratch the Weller nothing in this price range is convincing to buy. I loved my WCTP station for most of its 30 years and I looked at Weller again a few years ago and decided nope.

The Hakko (likely clone?) or the 'T12' mixed bag of sometimes complete garbage is a lottery but when they work they are good. There is some slightly more up market JBC knockoffs (Sugon) to consider if you are looking at the Hakko clone $ instead of the real deal.

Comfort in the hand of the TS100 is like all irons personal feel in my 250mm+ hand span I never felt it was an issue but I also don't do production soldering but for an hour or so a non issue.
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Offline Hohn

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2021, 11:11:33 am »
If the station has the tip shapes you need, 40w or more of power, and is available with reasonable cost and accessibility in your location, it will work.

I bought a real Hakko T12 station (951) and have been very pleased with the performance, so if you find a T12 station you like-- Hakko or otherwise- I think you'll have a good station that will please you for a long time.
 
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Offline YurkshireLad

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2021, 08:32:36 pm »
Thanks all, some great suggestions. Any recommendations from Canadians for the best place to buy solder, wire strippers, cutters, flux, brass cleaner (and other things that RayRay mentioned) from?
« Last Edit: April 20, 2021, 08:37:49 pm by YurkshireLad »
 

Offline Peter0304

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2021, 09:29:30 am »
Well maybe you can consider Sequre, they have multiple choice for soldering iron: https://sequremall.com/collections/soldering-irons. Price is cheaper. I knew this soldering iron from Youtube and bought one, so far so good.  cheaper than TS100.
 

Offline Microdoser

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2021, 10:00:13 am »
I was watching some reviews last night and the Hakko and Weller seem to get good comments. Are they worth looking at?

You've not mentioned the most important thing in deciding.

Your budget.

If it's roughly £50-60, get the TS-100. You can get them on Amazon with a 24V PSU for that price. Get a couple of spare tips from AliExpress and you're golden.

If your budget is more like 2-3 times that then get the Hakko T12/15.
 

Offline cigmas

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2021, 08:17:03 pm »
I got the TS100 with a BC2 tip for ~$60 CAD from Aliexpress and I really like it. I already had an old 19V laptop power adapter to use with it. I guess it depends on how often and what you solder, and how much space you have to devote to it. For me the compactness and price of the TS100 is really desirable compared to a bulkier but more professional soldering station. As already mentioned, you might also want to look into the SQ-001 or Pinecil.

Any recommendations from Canadians for the best place to buy solder, wire strippers, cutters, flux, brass cleaner (and other things that RayRay mentioned) from?
Again focusing on budget, I got a $10 self-adjusting wire stripper from CanadaComputers https://www.canadacomputers.com/product_info.php?cPath=5_1340_92_94&item_id=113061 I'm sure enthusiasts won't be ... enthusiastic... about it, but its been working great for me, and is way way better than the horrible cheap pliers-style strippers that always break strands.

If you find good places to get solder and flux in Canada, please do post. Other than the obvious Digikey and Mouser, it hasn't been an easy search.
 

Offline DavidAlfa

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2021, 05:59:15 am »
You can get cheap T12 controllers if you don't mind a simple led segments display. Cheap tips. What else?

Definitely not USB powered, these don't make a lot of power.
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Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2021, 02:20:01 pm »

As a cheap & cheerful suggestion, look at a Hakko 936 clone which can be had for $25...   they are easy to understand, they work very well, and are surprisingly durable.

Search for "936 soldering" on eBay or wherever...

 
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Offline LeonR

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2021, 07:47:38 pm »
IMO, usb irons are even worse, possibly the worst idea ever since you’ll never get any real heat out of them, they’re a joke since most USB ports are current limiting.

Modern USB have standards like Power Delivery (PD) that allow for high power transfer. PD 3.0 allows up to 20V@5A.

The TS80P can use up to 30W and is quite a decent performer.

 

Offline mindcrime

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2021, 08:28:57 pm »
Throughout most of my life, I've thought of Weller stuff as being the "gold standard" of soldering equipment. But when I was younger I could never afford their stuff, so I used junk soldering pencils from Radio Shack or whatever. I finally bought a first "nice" soldering iron about 2 years ago. A lot of research led me to believe that Hakko gear is pretty high quality, probably roughly comparable to Weller, but less expensive, and therefore a better value. I went with a Hakko FX951 and so far I couldn't be more pleased. It does everything I need it to do. The only complaint about it I might offer up is that adjusting the temperature is a little bit annoying. But I don't change my preset temperature all that often, so it's not a big deal.

So my subjective, and purely "anecdotal, n=1" experience leads me to suggest that the Hakko is a solid choice. Is it the "best" choice? Who knows. As others have said, there may not be a "best" choice in any objective sense.

 

Online Gyro

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2021, 09:04:46 pm »
IMO, usb irons are even worse, possibly the worst idea ever since you’ll never get any real heat out of them, they’re a joke since most USB ports are current limiting.

Modern USB have standards like Power Delivery (PD) that allow for high power transfer. PD 3.0 allows up to 20V@5A.

The TS80P can use up to 30W and is quite a decent performer.

It really depends whether you have a particular need to use USB power though. The TS100 can do 40W at 19V and 65W at 24V.

Yes, the TS80P (with the right USB power source) is a decent performer though.


EDIT: One thing with all irons though, you have to be using a tip with a large enough contact patch to put that amount of power down onto the board. If you're using a fine tip then the power is mainly reflected in warm-up time.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2021, 09:22:15 pm by Gyro »
Regards, Chris

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Offline LeonR

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2021, 02:35:46 pm »
Throughout most of my life, I've thought of Weller stuff as being the "gold standard" of soldering equipment. But when I was younger I could never afford their stuff, so I used junk soldering pencils from Radio Shack or whatever. I finally bought a first "nice" soldering iron about 2 years ago. A lot of research led me to believe that Hakko gear is pretty high quality, probably roughly comparable to Weller, but less expensive, and therefore a better value. I went with a Hakko FX951 and so far I couldn't be more pleased. It does everything I need it to do. The only complaint about it I might offer up is that adjusting the temperature is a little bit annoying. But I don't change my preset temperature all that often, so it's not a big deal.

So my subjective, and purely "anecdotal, n=1" experience leads me to suggest that the Hakko is a solid choice. Is it the "best" choice? Who knows. As others have said, there may not be a "best" choice in any objective sense.

That's a problem with brand loyalty. Some people are way too attached to a brand and don't bother with alternatives, even though they might be a better bang for the buck, or offer better performance, etc.

An example, try searching this forum for other brands like Goot. Although they have a quite decent soldering lineup that's barely anything that's been discussed here in contrast to other brands like Pace, Hakko, etc. Most people may know their name from the desoldering wicks and that's it.

It really depends whether you have a particular need to use USB power though. The TS100 can do 40W at 19V and 65W at 24V.

Yes, the TS80P (with the right USB power source) is a decent performer though.

EDIT: One thing with all irons though, you have to be using a tip with a large enough contact patch to put that amount of power down onto the board. If you're using a fine tip then the power is mainly reflected in warm-up time.

I think it's more like what you can achieve with using USB as the power interface instead. There's plenty power bank models around that supply the maximum power output the TS80P uses, so you can have a very portable solution for a reasonable price.
 

Online Gyro

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2021, 11:44:14 am »
Just restoring a lost reply...

Cheap power tool batteries make excellent portable supplies for the TS100, in the case shown, a Lidl 20V 2AH one. There are many 3D printed designs to make a more conventional connection available now. The Ralim F/W already includes the required battery monitoring and low voltage shut-off....

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/teardown-lidl-20v-2ah-lithium-battery-pack-and-charger/msg2469087/#msg2469087
Regards, Chris

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Offline redg

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2021, 12:18:30 pm »
I'm looking for my first soldering iron (or kit?), and I noticed that the TS-100 (Is this the genuine brand?) is mentioned a lot.

I don't want a USB soldering iron as my laptop's USB ports are already full, so that rules out the TS-80. Nor do I want one that needs maintenance to make it 100% - I'd like to unpack it, plug it in and go.

I need something to do the usual small items, such as AHT10 sensors, prototype boards to try out small, basic circuits and soldering header pins to microcontrollers (e.g. ESP8266 etc). So my needs are fairly basic.

But which is the best option? Should I get the TS-100, or is there a soldering station or kit I should look at instead?

It's possible that you've made a decision since starting this thread two weeks ago. If not...

A company called Miniware makes the TS100 and TS80P. Link: http://www.miniware.com.cn. These products have had very positive reviews. However, there are some things that you should be aware of.

Miniware is based in mainland China. It has no presence in North America apart from limited warehouse space. As far as I can tell, it does not offer a warranty on its soldering pencils. In any event, on a product of this value, a warranty exercisable on the other side of the Pacific Ocean is meaningless.

You mentioned Amazon Canada as a source. Note that Amazon is not the actual vendor. Also, on Amazon Canada and Amazon U.S., you aren't given a choice of tips when you purchase a Miniware. You can get your choice of tips, at least on the TS100, if you buy directly from NovelLife, which is one of the Amazon vendors. You can also get a much better price from NovelLife if you are prepared to wait 18-45 days for delivery from China. I don't know about Canada, but in the U.S. NovelLife, as with its sales via Amazon, offers free shipping. Link for NovelLife: https://www.novellife.net

Note also that there are very few tips available for Miniware's soldering pencils. This could become a significant issue, depending on your needs now and in the future.
 
The cost of a Miniware TS100, if you aren't prepared to wait 18-45 days, is about the same as the cost of a Hakko FX-888D. The reason is that the Hakko comes with necessary accessories that you'll have to buy if you purchase a Miniware. A TS80P will actually cost more than a Hakko. Also, tips for the TS100 and TS80P, especially the TS80P, cost more than Hakko tips. Hakko has an office in California and provides a one year warranty. Link to Hakko U.S.A.: https://hakkousa.com

I'm not arguing against Miniware's products, but I think that you should be aware of the foregoing.

Cheers

« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 12:44:37 pm by redg »
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Offline cleanworkbench

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #20 on: May 05, 2021, 09:11:56 am »
"Antex" UK  nice soldering irons and gear and spares and back up.
 

Offline DasDingleberg

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2021, 08:40:09 am »
Same question as OP, can anyone offer an opinion on this soldering station paired with genuine Hakko T15 tips? Would I need to buy a tip thermometer like the FG-100 to calibrate if I'm just doing sporadic hobby use?

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32994824865.html?spm=a2g0s.8937460.0.0.79232e0ejzSnE7

This old post from another thread about a station with the same handle confused me concerning compatibility with genuine Hakko tips

I ended up ordering the T12 OLED cone with the 9501 Handel  https://www.aliexpress.com/item/QUICKO-MINI-T12-STC-OLED-Digital-soldering-station-942-electronic-soder-iron-with-9501-handle-power/32857152188.html

A T12-ILS tip and a t15-JS02

Is the small extra grip you can get for some real Hakko's compatible with this?
Unfortunately, the handle is NOT compatible with Hakko's tip collars.
 

Online wickated

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Re: Soldering iron for a newbie?
« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2021, 08:57:21 pm »
depends on your needs. if you only need to solder wires twice an year go for 5$ "blue iron"
[spoiler][/spoiler]

Same question as OP, can anyone offer an opinion on this soldering station paired with genuine Hakko T15 tips?
t15 is same t12 but cost in $ instead of ¥ and €.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2021, 09:02:05 pm by wickated »
 
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