[hackspacebristol] Soldering iron recommendations?

Tim Hutt tdhutt at gmail.com
Sat Jan 9 18:42:23 UTC 2016

I have to totally contradict you - you can definitely do all soldering -
including very fine (0.5 mm) pitches with one tip (e.g. a medium chisel).

They trick is to solder without worrying about bridges, and then to suck up
the excess solder with solder wick. It will remove the bridges. Don't
bother with drag soldering - more hassle than it is worth.

And it really does help to have a good soldering iron - I thought I wasn't
very good at soldering when I had a cheap iron, but then I tried a nice one
once and realised it was definitely the tool and not me.
On 9 Jan 2016 12:27 am, "Tom Gardner" <tggzzz+hs at gmail.com> wrote:

> I’d like to buy a decent soldering iron for soldering components onto circuit boards and other bits and pieces. Does anyone have any recommendations?
> That will depend on what components you want to solder, and how much you
> have to spend, and how long you are prepared to wait to get a bargain.
> If you are not soldering professionally, then the requirements are far
> less stringent that people would have you believe. The quality of your work
> will be almost certainly limited by your skill, not by the tool.
> OTOH, if you are soldering professionally, then familiarity with using
> your tools is the most important factor, followed by an iron that allows
> you to have repeatable results. What's your budget :)
> Different classes of components:
>    - through hole semiconductors and passives
>    - surface mount devices
>    - thermally big joints
> For PTH on a 0.1" pitch, I managed without any problems for 40 years with
> a 25W Antex iron (and a red hot poker on a gas stove for thermally really
> big stuff :) ). That is perfectly adequate.
> For SMD, that is inadequate. For SMD you need a range of tips and a
> variable temperature iron - which is much cheaper than a temperature
> controlled iron. Get a small round tip (<=0.8mm) for fine work, and a
> chisel tip for drag-soldering.
> Note that if you need to use two different tips on components on one
> board, then you will waste a lot of time swapping tips. Seriously consider
> getting two cheaper irons, having a different tip on each; and you'll also
> have higher availability because the probability of both irons failing
> simultaneously is lower.
> SMD boards are best fabricated using the sand-in-saucepan method (see the
> hackspace wiki) or a reflow oven (Hackspace has one, but I haven't used it).
> For SMD rework and/or soldering the odd component, you will eventually
> benefit from having a hot air gun, but that's outside the scope of your
> question.
> If you are soldering things that are thermally large then you will need a
> higher power tool (unsurprisingly), but equally important is the thermal
> mass of the tool itself. You can - to a limited extent - use a smaller tool
> if you run it at a higher temperature.
> Be aware that there are a large number of Hakko clones sold on fleabay,
> and some of them are apparently internally dangerous.
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