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Soldering iron

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John O'Brien:
So I ran in to some cash recently, and we became friends rather quickly. We decided that it would be best if I spent it on a new soldering iron for myself.

I just wanted to ask my fellow LABsters if they had any preference for something like this, or any thoughts I should be considering. I just want it for basic cable fixing and things of the like, nothing huge.

I've heard Weller is a great company to invest in for these things, and they seem to have amazing reviews across the board. I don't want to dump too much money in to this just yet, as I wont be using this every day. I was looking at something like this:

or would spending the extra $30 or so, would this be a better option:

I know wattage doesn't affect heat necessarily, but I don't want to underheat myself and be frustrated with the lack of heat my purchase has after the fact.

Any thoughts are appreciated!

Ola Brekken:
The Weller WS80 soldering station has been my trusty workhorse for the last 10 years.
I believe it's called WS81 now.
Can do anything from 2ga cable (with the 4.5mm tip) to SMD IC's with the 0.2mm tip.

Keith Broughton:
Weller is a good product and I can't say enough good things about the WS80 station.
I know it's more money than you are planning to spend but look at it as an investment for long term. You won't buy another one for a long time to come.
The WS80 has removable tips that allow for different tip shapes and heat ranges. That is a real benefit you will come to appreciate.

John Halliburton:
IN the $40-50 range, a decent pen style iron instead of the cheap "station":


I prefer Hakko products, after years of Weller problems in a few of their stations other than the very expensive units.  Hakko makes a couple of nice irons that I haven't used, but have ceramic heating elements.  They may be to much power for smaller electronics work. 

If you can afford it, the Hakko 936 station is the best $90-100 you'll spend on a soldering iron(station in this case).  The range of work you can perform with great thermal control is very wide, along with a great selection of tips.

Oops, apparently Hakko have discontinued the 936 station, and are now introducing it's successor, the FX-888:

So much sexier, eh? ;>)  I suspect you'll find 936 units for sale new still for awhile.  Also check ebay and other places for used units.

"Buy once, cry once".

Best regards,


Frank DeWitt:
I moved to a soldering station when I started making DI boxes.  My instant reaction was "Wow, I really do know how to solder"  I made better looking joints quicker.  Weller, or Hakko, I would buy a used station with regulated temperature before I would buy any iron.



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