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Looking for a good soldering iron? Check out the suggestions from other Makers out there, seems like Weller is a fave’ – Link.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. rdarlington says:

    I’ve been using a 30 year old Weller but I prefer Metcal RF irons (the cord is actually a waveguide!). I rigged up a photogate in the iron holder so when the iron is pulled out it gets energised and heats up. It’s hot by the time it hits the board, and turns off when put back.

  2. Dirkus says:

    Personally, I love my hand-me-down butane powered soldering iron. The two things I really love are that there is no cord to yank it off the bench (or into your lap!) and since it is wholly self-contained, you can take it anywhere, including in the car, in the kitchen, to the entertainment center in the living room, etc. I can’t live without it.

    The iron I have is an older than dirt orange deal that apparently used to be sold at RadioShack (AKA CellphoneShack) and has long since lost any model number markings, and even the text “MADE IN IRELAND” is difficult to read on the end. It basicly looks like a very fat pen, complete with pocket clip. It is refillable via a nozzle on the bottom and a common butane lighter refiller bottle.

    Beleive me, once you’ve used a cordless iron, you’ll never go back again. Unless, of course, you get one of those wretched “cold heat” things, then you’ll find yourself thinking how much better rubbing some sticks together might be.

  3. Johthe says:

    I have a weller that looks exactly like the one in the picture – the one thing I have a problem with is keeping the tip clean… I’m a bit of a novice at soldering, so I’m sure it is my fault, but I have quite a difficulty getting the tip cleaned//Tinned//etc. Are there any basic suggestions that I need to take into account, are there any good resources on ‘how to solder’ on the internet somewhere, or am I doing something just plain old wrong?

    would appreciate any suggestions!
    -Johthe

  4. Oracle1729 says:

    I’ve been using an ancient weller with the magnetic regulation tip.

    Does anyone know how the tips compare on the one pictured here to the WES51 tips? These tips don’t look as good as the WES51 but it’s hard to tell just by looking. $50 for the one pictured vs $100 for the WES51 is a big difference if the tips are basically the same.

  5. philliptorrone says:

    rdarlington – send in a howto!

  6. Fredex says:

    Johthe,

    First thing that comes to mind is that the iron is running too hot and oxidizing the solder.

  7. rdarlington says:

    Always leave a good blob of solder on the iron tip when you put it away. This will keep the tip from oxidizing. A good iron tip has multiple layers of alloys on top of a copper core (usually). Weller uses a nickel layer over the copper and an iron layer over the nickel. These tips tend to stay tinned and are nothing at all like the cheap pencil irons you’d get at Radio Shack. If you accidentally leave your iron on overnight, it will oxidize to a point where it will need a new tip. Sometimes you can salvage tips by dipping them in flux paste and tinning. Never take a file to your tips -this ruins them for good.

    I’ll take some photos and do a writeup on the Borg Iron at work.

  8. HoppedOnPop says:

    After you make the jump to a temperature-controlled iron, the next step in soldering luxury is a brass-shavings tip cleaner. Tip cleaning becomes a totally subconscious activity and you don’t have to futz around with wet sponges anymore. I have heard claim that these cleaners are also better for your tips, but as a weekend warrior, tip wear isn’t an issue for me.

  9. UHF says:

    Antex (the yellow irons) are popular in the UK and you can’t go wrong with them. Xytronic make some good pro soldering stations for not too much, proper de-solderers and hot air irons for SMD work.

  10. SonicReducer says:

    Weller WES51. by far the BEST iron i have ever used. it’s simple, but it is quick to heat and very comfortable to hold. i just had my first expierience with the 0805 package SMD chips last night (i ordered two Amp-3′s from 41hz.com for my car) and the stock tip worked excellently. i’d still like to get a smaller tip, and since the tip is so easy to remove (there is a metal sleeve that holds it tight against the heating element, and the sleeve has a nut back by the users hand, which is the best design i have found)

    the automatic shutoff after 99 minutes is my favorite feature though, since i accidentally left my Ratshack POS one on all night and almost burnt my house down.

    go with the weller WES51 or WESD51, you’ll love it

  11. dculberson says:

    I’ll second the Metcal recommendation. I have two Metcal SP100′s for soldering and a DS100 for desoldering. The DS100 requires shop air (which I have) so may not be ideal for a newcomer to the hobby. The SP100 uses “smartheat” which is Metcal’s brand for their alloys that heat to a specific temperature. They cease to become electrically conductive when they reach that specific temperature. The upside is really, really fast recovery (on the order of 5 seconds from “off” to “soldering” and incredible heat sinking ability). The downsides are cost and the need for a different tip for different temps. In my experience though, one tip serves about 90% of your hobby soldering needs. eBay is a good source for irons, power supplies, and tips. Originally a $600+ iron with $50+ tips, you can get a good setup for under $200. And believe me, if you solder with one of these for just a little while, you’ll never want to go back. Any variable-temp iron just doesn’t compare. (IMHO, of course.)

    -David

  12. K27 says:

    I use a Radioshack iron. No problems. I also take a file to the tip when it needs sharpening. No problems (you have to tin it right away, that’s all, and don’t use too high a temp. Pure copper tip is great for pcb’s, imo I can solder 0805′s no problem.

    Perhaps because it’s a 15/30W, and I use the low setting for standby, I don’t have problems with tip life. I certainly recall pure copper tips disintegrating very quickly with my old, 30W iron.

  13. Camus71 says:

    I,ve tried them all (at work of course) and the best iron I have work with is a JBC. Very fast (2 to 4 seconds initial ramp up temp) and almost instant recovery temperature. It has an Idle down and hibernation feature that reduces tip oxidation, other cool features and a 4 year warranty. Hard to beat.
    The negative, they are expensive. Currently I find these irons the best (for professional use)
    1-JBC DI 3000
    2-Weller WD2
    3-Metcal MX 5000 (now OKi)
    4-Hakko 202

  14. Roger says:

    How about this! I’ve been using a Heathkit GH-52 since 1965! I did have a few tips on hand but I’d say since its 2008 that is pretty good lifespan! If I could find a source for that GE 6A211 6v 25W tip My old iron would still be working fine!

  15. Roger says:

    How about this! I’ve been using a Heathkit GH-52 since 1965! I did have a few tips on hand but I’d say since its 2008 that is pretty good lifespan! If I could find a source for that GE 6A211 6v 25W tip My old iron would still be working fine!

  16. Roger says:

    How about this! I’ve been using a Heathkit GH-52 since 1965! I did have a few tips on hand but I’d say since its 2008 that is pretty good lifespan! If I could find a source for that GE 6A211 6v 25W tip My old iron would still be working fine!

    1. BillC says:

      Roger -

      Contact me – I several GE 6V tips that could be sold, some NOS, some used. I did not see any 211′s, but there are 212 and 210′s.
      BillC479@aol.com