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'[EE] Soldering iron questions - repost to correct '
2006\03\15@151920 by Jason

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I recently lost my soldering station in a move, and I've tried using a borrowed cheap model that plugs directly into the wall.  The difference is amazing.  The cheap one is pretty much unusable. solder doesn't flow where I want it, it sticks more to the tip than the connection, etc.  I'm starting to suspect the cheap irons only exist to convince people soldering is hard so it will be left to the professionals.

I'm going to have to buy a new station very soon, so I thought I'd ask a few questions first.  I'm looking at getting a Weller WTCPT which seems the most similar to my old 40 year old unit.  In looking for it, I noticed there's a very similar model (WESD51) with a digital temperature readout, and it's 50% more expensive.  Is there any reason I'd want to consider this model?  I can't see why that's a useful feature.  There's also a WES51 which is identical to the digital readout one but without a display for around the same price as the WTCPT.  Is there much difference?  They seem to be almost identical irons at almost the same price.

Also, what am I getting for my $100+?  The tip for a nice station is still only $5, why can't this tip be used on a cheap iron?  The high wattage and regulated output is nice, but doesn't really seem worth the price; a low wattage unregulated should be fine.  It seems like all that really matters is the tip.

Thanks

2006\03\15@161547 by Paul James E.

picon face

Jason,

I use the WESD51 here at work.  I build a lot of different circuits and
fixtures. I change temperatures often in the course of a day.  So the
digital readout is a definite benefit.  It's so easy to just glance up at
the display, and read the temp right away without squinting or getting
closer.   Plus there is no conversion time involved.  I mean I don't have
to read a dial, then convert that from F to C, or C to F.  The WESD51 can
read either degrees farenheit or degrees celcius.  

The WESD51 also has a lockout feature (I imagine the other models do as
well) to prevent someone from changing your tip temp. Whether accidently
or on purpose.

Do I believe the digital readout, the switchable format (F or C), and the
lockout feature is worth the extra bucks.   Yes I do.  It's a little more
expensive and a little harder to justify the extra cost initially, but
believe me when I say that once you have those features, you'll be glad
you went the extra mile and got them.  At least from a factory lab point
of view.

Now from a home technician / experimenter point of view.  I still say yes.
Again, it's a little more difficult to spend the money, and a little
harder to justify the cost, especially if there is a Mrs. and/or kids in
the house.   But again, once you have them, you'll be glad you went for
them.

If you absolutely don't have the money to get the WESD51, then you won't
go wrong with the lesser units.   But if you can swing it at all, go for
the WESD51.

And just an FYI in case you didn't know, the WESD51 is ESD safe.
This could be important depending on the construction of your lab or
workspace.  But, ESD safe is good to have anyway.

So, I hope this long winded dissertation helps you out in your decision.

Good luck and happy soldering.


                                              Regards,

                                                Jim





{Quote hidden}

> --

2006\03\15@162707 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> Also, what am I getting for my $100+?  The tip for a nice
> station is still only $5, why can't this tip be used on a
> cheap iron?  The high wattage and regulated output is nice,
> but doesn't really seem worth the price; a low wattage
> unregulated should be fine.  It seems like all that really
> matters is the tip.

If you only ever solder small pins a low-wattage unregulated iron might
do, but I solder both tiny SMD pins and large slabs, so I much prefer a
high-watt (for the large slabs) regulated (so it does not fry the SMDs)
iron.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


2006\03\15@162907 by rosoftwarecontrol

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build a your own, is better.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Jason" <spam_OUTpicTakeThisOuTspamcanadaspeaks.com>
To: "Microcontroller discussion list - Public." <.....piclistKILLspamspam@spam@mit.edu>
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 3:19 PM
Subject: [EE] Soldering iron questions - repost to correct tag (sorry)


> I recently lost my soldering station in a move, and I've tried using a
borrowed cheap model that plugs directly into the wall.  The difference is
amazing.  The cheap one is pretty much unusable. solder doesn't flow where I
want it, it sticks more to the tip than the connection, etc.  I'm starting
to suspect the cheap irons only exist to convince people soldering is hard
so it will be left to the professionals.
>
> I'm going to have to buy a new station very soon, so I thought I'd ask a
few questions first.  I'm looking at getting a Weller WTCPT which seems the
most similar to my old 40 year old unit.  In looking for it, I noticed
there's a very similar model (WESD51) with a digital temperature readout,
and it's 50% more expensive.  Is there any reason I'd want to consider this
model?  I can't see why that's a useful feature.  There's also a WES51 which
is identical to the digital readout one but without a display for around the
same price as the WTCPT.  Is there much difference?  They seem to be almost
identical irons at almost the same price.
>
> Also, what am I getting for my $100+?  The tip for a nice station is still
only $5, why can't this tip be used on a cheap iron?  The high wattage and
regulated output is nice, but doesn't really seem worth the price; a low
wattage unregulated should be fine.  It seems like all that really matters
is the tip.
>
> Thanks
> -

2006\03\15@163948 by Dave Tweed

face
flavicon
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"Paul James E." <jamespspamKILLspamintertex.net> wrote:
> Do I believe the digital readout, the switchable format (F or C), and the
> lockout feature is worth the extra bucks.   Yes I do.  It's a little more
> expensive and a little harder to justify the extra cost initially, but
> believe me when I say that once you have those features, you'll be glad
> you went the extra mile and got them.  At least from a factory lab point
> of view.
>
> Now from a home technician / experimenter point of view.  I still say yes.
> Again, it's a little more difficult to spend the money, and a little
> harder to justify the cost, especially if there is a Mrs. and/or kids in
> the house.   But again, once you have them, you'll be glad you went for
> them.
>
> And just an FYI in case you didn't know, the WESD51 is ESD safe.
> This could be important depending on the construction of your lab or
> workspace.  But, ESD safe is good to have anyway.

I agree with everything that Jim said. It really is significantly more
convenient than the Curie-temperature-control-tip-based irons.

Plus, the thing that really puts this on-topic, the WESD51 uses a PIC
internally for the temperature control! How can you go wrong?

-- Dave Tweed

2006\03\15@171142 by Jason

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From: "Dave Tweed" <.....picKILLspamspam.....dtweed.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 1:39 PM


> I agree with everything that Jim said. It really is significantly more
> convenient than the Curie-temperature-control-tip-based irons.
>
> Plus, the thing that really puts this on-topic, the WESD51 uses a PIC
> internally for the temperature control! How can you go wrong?

Thanks for all the great replies, now it's pretty much a no brainer to rule
out the CPT.  I'd only been considering it because it's basically what I'd
been using for decades and I'm used to the temperature specific tips.

That narrows my choice to the WESD51 or WES51, I guess I'll decide in the
store if I feel like paying the extra money for the display.  At this time
all my soldering is through hole components though I've given some thought
to playing with SMD.  I expect this iron to last a lifetime, so unlike with
computer gear, it pays to think about the future here.

It won't effect my decision, but I'm still left wondering how it would work
to weld a tip from the WES51 to a cheap unregulated iron.  Or better yet
have a cheap iron designed to take a good tip.  Also is anyone familiar with
the Weller WLC100?  It's supposed to be a hobbiest model station and is
quite cheap, but takes yet another tip that looks more like the crappy irons
than the good stations.

Jason


2006\03\15@173005 by Robert Young

picon face

> At this time
> all my soldering is through hole components though I've given
> some thought
> to playing with SMD.  I expect this iron to last a lifetime,
> so unlike with


Don't expect any soldering iron to last your lifetime.  Eventually you
need to consider replacing heating elements, tips, temperature sensors,
tip grounding (wire or components), etc.

Get something modular.  If it lasts 10 years you got a good one.  In my
experience, for light duty use, anything over 5 years is a gift.

Rob

2006\03\15@184349 by dr. Imre Bartfai

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Hi,

a very good deal is by the option of my wife (soldering tens even hundreds
of PCBs) is a WHS 40. Pretty cheap, but has a real temperature controller
and a good visual feedback. Not to forget the iron itself is lightweight
so does not tire even for longer hours. The station itself is small enough
to be put in a normal file case (Aktenkoffer). We always smile when
reading this product is recommended for hobbyists. Comparing with
Magnastat, the difference is horrible.

Regards,
Imre


2006\03\15@193435 by Tomas Larsson

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{Quote hidden}

The only drawback with WHS40 is the lack of avaible tips. Or do temptronic
tips fit into the WHS40?

With best regards

Tomas Larsson
Sweden
http://www.naks.mine.nu for downloads etc.
ftp://ktl.mine.nu for uploads. Or use the free http://www.yousendit.com service.

Verus Amicus Est Tamquam Alter Idem


2006\03\15@200530 by Jason

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The WHS40 doesn't seem to be available in North America, but from what I
could tell of it it takes lower quality iron-plated-copper tips.  I'd prefer
one of the higher end units that take nickel-plated-copper tips.

From: "dr. Imre Bartfai" <@spam@profKILLspamspamprof.pmmf.hu>
Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 2:57 PM

> a very good deal is by the option of my wife (soldering tens even hundreds
> of PCBs) is a WHS 40. Pretty cheap, but has a real temperature controller
> and a good visual feedback. Not to forget the iron itself is lightweight
> so does not tire even for longer hours. The station itself is small enough
> to be put in a normal file case (Aktenkoffer). We always smile when
> reading this product is recommended for hobbyists. Comparing with
> Magnastat, the difference is horrible.


2006\03\15@234736 by Dwayne Reid

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At 03:11 PM 3/15/2006, Jason wrote:
>From: "Dave Tweed" <KILLspampicKILLspamspamdtweed.com>
>Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 1:39 PM
>
>Thanks for all the great replies, now it's pretty much a no brainer to rule
>out the CPT.  I'd only been considering it because it's basically what I'd
>been using for decades and I'm used to the temperature specific tips.
>
>That narrows my choice to the WESD51 or WES51, I guess I'll decide in the
>store if I feel like paying the extra money for the display.  At this time
>all my soldering is through hole components though I've given some thought
>to playing with SMD.  I expect this iron to last a lifetime, so unlike with
>computer gear, it pays to think about the future here.

Jason - I've got a couple of suggestions.

1) I still have several Weller WTCPT stations here at work.  They are
still darned useful.  The major reason we've moved to other soldering
systems is that the long, tiny tips used for soldering modern
components just can't deal with huge copper pours.  Most of the time,
they work just fine.

We mostly use short (stubby) 700F tips: PTA7, PTB7.  For example, the
PTB7 does a wonderful job when soldering XLR connectors.  Day in -
Day out - it just works.

On the other hand, the longer small tips: (PTK7) - are pretty
awful.  Just can't get the heat from the element out to the solder
joint.  The PTK7 tips are the main reason we went looking for
alternative soldering gear - the standard (stubby) tips just can't
get to where we need them to.


We also used to use Hakko stations (908? 950? don't remember)  They
seem to be pretty similar to the modern Weller station you are
talking about.  Work well until the inside of the tip starts to corrode.

This is a pretty insidious problem - the symptom is that the iron
behaves like the cheap un-regulated irons we all dislike.  The
problem is that the copper tip has a stainless steel liner that
actually contacts the ceramic heating rod.  We use a lot of
water-soluble flux (Kester 331) and the stuff gets inside the tip and
corrodes the copper away from the inside.  We don't use them anymore.

I suppose I should put them up on eBay . . .


We now use Metcal stations almost everywhere.  Bought them off
eBay.  They have my highest possible recommendation.


2) If you are on a tight budget, you could slap your own WTCPT
station together for not much money.  The key is to find a working
WTCPT soldering wand and cord for cheap.

Attach a 24V 2A transformer to the black and white wires, connect the
green wire to Earth ground - and you are in business.  The 24V supply
can be either AC or DC - I've done both.

eBay, again, can help.  I've seen new Weller wand/cord sets for less
than 20 bucks.

dwayne

--
Dwayne Reid   <RemoveMEdwaynerTakeThisOuTspamplanet.eon.net>
Trinity Electronics Systems Ltd    Edmonton, AB, CANADA
(780) 489-3199 voice          (780) 487-6397 fax

Celebrating 22 years of Engineering Innovation (1984 - 2006)
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commercial email nor is intended to solicit commercial email.

2006\03\16@000031 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
On Mar 15, 2006, at 1:15 AM, Paul James E. wrote:

>  I change temperatures often in the course of a day.


Ok.  Why?  When should one use different temperatures in soldering?
Since I learned to solder back before easily settable temps were
available, I seem to have missed out on certain instructions.

BillW

2006\03\16@042615 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>The WHS40 doesn't seem to be available in North America,

That is probably the 230V model of one that is available in the US.

2006\03\16@094039 by Paul James E.

picon face

Because through hole parts take more heat than do SMT's.  And some of the
SMT's I use aren't even supposed to be hand soldered (ie 0402 parts).
But for prototyping and proof of concept circuits, soldering is just fine.
I use solder paste and then reflow it with the tip of my soldering iron.
I use just under 600 degrees to do this (560 to 580).   But for soldering
through hole parts, I'll need 650 - 680 degrees or so, depending on the
ground plane area.  

About your missing out on certain instructions, that is probably true.
I have been in the electronics business for over 30 years, and there is
rarely a week goes by when I don't learn (or relearn) something.  Either
someone suggests a method or idea I haven't thought of, or I read
something in a trade rag that either shows a new or different technique,
or else inspires me or another here to think of some new way of doing
something.  So, if you missed some instructions, don't sweat it.  Just be
open and on the lookout for new tidbits of info.  Never stop learning.


                                             Regards,

                                               Jim


> On Mar 15, 2006, at 1:15 AM, Paul James E. wrote:
>
>>  I change temperatures often in the course of a day.
>
>
> Ok.  Why?  When should one use different temperatures in soldering?
> Since I learned to solder back before easily settable temps were
> available, I seem to have missed out on certain instructions.
>
> BillW
> --

2006\03\16@094507 by Danny Sauer

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face
Jason wrote regarding 'Re: [EE] Soldering iron questions - repost to correct tag (sorry)' on Wed, Mar 15 at 16:13:
> It won't effect my decision, but I'm still left wondering how it would work
> to weld a tip from the WES51 to a cheap unregulated iron.  Or better yet
> have a cheap iron designed to take a good tip.  Also is anyone familiar with
> the Weller WLC100?  It's supposed to be a hobbiest model station and is
> quite cheap, but takes yet another tip that looks more like the crappy irons
> than the good stations.

I use a WLC100.  I've always thought it to be a fairly nice iron, but
prior to it I'd only used things like the sub-$5 pencil-style irons
you get at Radio Shack or department stores.  Compared to those
things, this station's awesome. :)  When I went to buy it, I couldn't
justify spending $100 or more, considering I only sit down to solder
things maybe once or twice a month.  I bought it about 6 or 7 years
ago (as well as a more pointy ST7 tip that I use most of the time, and
a wider flat "screwdriver" (ST4) tip - the ST3 it comes with appears
to be totally useless), and I haven't regretted it once.  For someone
more demanding, I'm not sure how it'd work out, but given my needs
(through-hole and some minor mechanical repair work that's too small
to use a torch on) I've been extremely happy with it.

Well, except for the sponge.  The new models come with a better sponge
- mine came with a weird paper-like thing that doesn't hold up well.
So anyone planning to go back in time 5+ years (or to eBay) to buy
one, expect to pay a dollar or so for a replacement sponge when you
get back to modern times. :)

--Danny

2006\03\16@162155 by rosoftwarecontrol

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face
look, this is what my pid solder DON'T.

I never change my Temperature setting 196.4 C, for small SMT
and for big heat sunk tab. Small thing, take some thing like 20% of
heat generated by pid controlled heating unit, my solder iron will
have accuracy +/- 3 C. Big heat sunk and 15 A current copper wire,
I just "inform my pid" by touching sensoring TC to a heat sunk,
for 5 sec and when I saw temperature droping 10 C, I start to using and
my solder iron knows high PWM value is needed and I just keep my iron
touching big thing. In this situation, I find my pid iron is became a high
Watt iron. With this setting, I using 30W iron is enough for both
SMT and heat sunk. I believe if I using 100W, or even 300 W iron,
I will get even better performance.

Remember, my pid iron makes my soldering never reach 200C !!
totally safe and promised quality!! I remember before, If I do repairing,
I often peer off pcb where I am repairing. With my pid iron,
it never happens! It is big different.

I suggest every one, change to pid soldering iron.




{Original Message removed}

2006\03\16@164049 by dr. Imre Bartfai

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face
Hi,

I guess most of tips with a diameter of 3.5mm will fit. There is no
special requirement imho. Length should be approx. 50mm. That's all.
Regards,
Imre

On Thu, 16 Mar 2006, Tomas Larsson wrote:

>
>> {Original Message removed}

2006\03\16@170009 by dr. Imre Bartfai

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Hi,

look at my previous reply. I think the 3,5x50mm size is quite common. BTW
they say the so-called S series of tips will fit.

Imre

On Wed, 15 Mar 2006, Jason wrote:

{Quote hidden}

> --

2006\03\16@180842 by Jason

flavicon
face
From: "dr. Imre Bartfai" <TakeThisOuTprofEraseMEspamspam_OUTprof.pmmf.hu>
Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2006 12:54 PM

> I guess most of tips with a diameter of 3.5mm will fit. There is no
> special requirement imho. Length should be approx. 50mm. That's all.
> Regards,
> Imre

Maybe if you mod the iron this will work, but if it's the wrong tip the iron
won't mechanically hold it in place.


2006\03\17@103137 by Mark Scoville

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face
> -----Original Message-----
> From: RemoveMEpiclist-bouncesspamTakeThisOuTmit.edu [piclist-bouncesEraseMEspam.....mit.edu]On Behalf
> Of Jason
> Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2006 5:12 PM
> To: Microcontroller discussion list - Public.
> Subject: Re: [EE] Soldering iron questions - repost to correct tag
> (sorry)
>
> have a cheap iron designed to take a good tip.  Also is anyone
> familiar with
> the Weller WLC100?  It's supposed to be a hobbiest model station and is
> quite cheap, but takes yet another tip that looks more like the
> crappy irons
> than the good stations.
>
> Jason
>

Where I work we have 5 or 6 WLC100's in engineering for R&D work. I also
have one at home. The WLC100's work fine - I don't have any problems with
them. Several of the techs in the shop have them too - haven't heard any
complaints. For the price (about $35 US) they don't seem bad at all.

FYI, There is also what appears to be a cheap knockoff (asia import maybe?)
of the WLC100 at http://www.mpja.com/productview.asp?product=15860+TL for
$15. I'll probably buy one in the next few months just to see how good (or
bad I suspect) it is. I'm not recommending this - just pointing out that
it's there.

-- Mark



2006\03\17@105014 by John Nall

picon face
Mark Scoville wrote:
> > FYI, There is also what appears to be a cheap knockoff (asia import maybe?)
> of the WLC100 at http://www.mpja.com/productview.asp?product=15860+TL for
> $15. I'll probably buy one in the next few months just to see how good (or
> bad I suspect) it is. I'm not recommending this - just pointing out that
> it's there.
>  
.
I bought one of those a couple of months back, and don't really care for
it.  The heat control is erratic -- I can fiddle with it until I get it
satisfactory, but then the next time I turn it on, with the control in
the same place, the heat is not the same.  (I'm not doing any
measurement of the temperature -- just judging by the performance).

Also, when the iron goes in the holder, the tip sits in contact with a
metal bar, which I do not like.  You have to place it only partially in
the holder to avoid that.

All in all, it is not as good as my old iron, which I bought from a
Heathkit catalog many, many years ago (when I was building a Hot Water
100, which some of  the people on here will identify with.  :-)

John

2006\03\18@123304 by Robert Ammerman

picon face
> That narrows my choice to the WESD51 or WES51, I guess I'll decide in the
> store if I feel like paying the extra money for the display.  At this time
> all my soldering is through hole components though I've given some thought
> to playing with SMD.  I expect this iron to last a lifetime, so unlike
> with
> computer gear, it pays to think about the future here.
>
> It won't effect my decision, but I'm still left wondering how it would
> work
> to weld a tip from the WES51 to a cheap unregulated iron.  Or better yet
> have a cheap iron designed to take a good tip.  Also is anyone familiar
> with
> the Weller WLC100?  It's supposed to be a hobbiest model station and is
> quite cheap, but takes yet another tip that looks more like the crappy
> irons
> than the good stations.
>
> Jason

I have a 30 year-old weller unregulated iron that takes good tips like the
stations. It is ok, but I have used the regulated irons and they are a LOT
better. If I get around to it before my eyesight and find motor skills decay
too far I am going to have to get a station!

Bob Ammerman
RAm Systems

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