soldering/desoldering stations, recommend?

Posted: 4/1/2009 10:50:20 AM

From: Asheville, NC

Joined: 1/25/2008

Just wondering if anyone has any recommendations regarding an affordable soldering/desoldering staion that wouldn't be a total waste of money? I've come across a lot but I'm not familiar with many of the companies, other then Weller (who seems to be pretty pricy).

I'm not doing day in/day out industial work or anything but do build circuit boards, wire up pots and jacks, and sometimes have to replace a component on a PCB enough to warrent a halfway decent station.

Thank you for any advice.
Posted: 4/1/2009 11:15:12 PM

From: Eastleigh, Hampshire, U.K. ................................... Fred Mundell. ................................... Electronics Engineer. (Primarily Analogue) .. CV Synths 1974-1980 .. Theremin developer 2007 to present .. soon to be Developing / Trading as . ...................................

Joined: 12/7/2007

Do you want this for SMD work - or just for Thru-hole components? .. If an SMD station is required, you need to do quite a bit of planning and research - as you may need all sorts of extra bits / desoldering bits to cater for the parts (footprints) you will require, and these are expensive! (do you need, for example, a hot air gun for reflow?)

For me, the 'best' soldering / unsoldering equipment is very much a matter of personal 'taste'.. Weller equipment is probably the most popular choice - but I do not get on with it.. For me, it is too 'chunky', and my favorite is Antex which I find lighter and more comfortable for extended use.

I have decided not to buy a 'rework' station - My reasoning is that there is little economic value in doing so - I do not trust components which are 'salvaged' from a board (even if one manages to achieve this quite quickly).. So, with SMD, I cut the legs off the part (using a Stanley knife) and remove the debris with solder sucker and solder mop.. It will be a long time before the value of components I 'lose' by doing this reaches the cost of a full workstation capable of removing components which I can safely re-use.

The RoHS (lead free) solder is Awful! It requires greater heat which stresses components more than the old solder, and is far more difficult to rework. It is worth realising that soldering bits etc will last about 1/2 the time you are used to with lead solder - so worth checking the price of replacement bits and factoring this into you decision about which kit you buy.. It will be an ongoing expense.. Antex bits last well, and are cheap.

There is quite a lot of discussion on these issues on Electronics forums - it is worth checking these out.

Posted: 4/2/2009 8:47:02 AM

From: Asheville, NC

Joined: 1/25/2008

I usually deal with through hole components.

I wanted some sort of desoldering device not so much for salvaging parts but for things such as removing resistors and caps for simple modifications(or when I realize I just put one in the wrong place:), replacing through hole mounted pots and jacks (such as the time my cat knocked my Evolver synth off my keyboard and smashed the output jack), etc...

I'm in the US so we still have leaded solder although I'm not sure for how much longer.
Posted: 4/2/2009 2:30:49 PM

From: Escondido, CA

Joined: 2/6/2008

leaded solder is still alive and well

There are some excellent irons from MCM Electronics ( ) in their Tenma line. For example they have a Tenma adjustable solder station on sale for $44.95 in their March Savings catalog.

They also have a "fast heat/recovery soldering iron" for $6.99.

These are better and less expensive than what you'd find at Radio Shack.

You'll also want to buy some solder wick and a manual vacuum desoldering tool ($6.49 for an ESD-safe one).

Weller and Ungar make great irons, but you will typically have to pay a lot more for them.


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