What kind of soldering setup do you use for mods?

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whokilledJR
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What kind of soldering setup do you use for mods?

Hi guys,

After recently completing a mod on my JM07 I’ve decided that the cheap $2 chinese soldering irons are not the way to go for future mods, especially considering the one I’m using doesn’t seem to get hot enough at the tip even at 60W.

I’m going to buy a new one on the net somewhere. Any advice, in particular on soldering vertical (when relying on the tip of the soldering iron).

Are flat tips better? How many Watts would you recommend?

scaru
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Can't really help ya considering I use a cheap 10 dollar one. Wink

cainn
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Get yourself a temperature controlled soldering station and a selection of different sized tips. I prefer “screwdriver” tips myself and have them in 0.8mm, 1.6mm and 3.2mm which covers most situations I encounter. In particular I find a 1.6mm tip a good all-rounder for most of the work I do on flashlights. Keep your tips clean and tinned while you’re using them, otherwise you’ll have trouble transferring heat no matter how much you dial up the temperature.

For hardcore stuff I have a separate 80W iron with a huge bevel tip.

Fox
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I use a cheap Chinese one… always in the budget range

I beleive mine is 40W

The most ugly place in the world! Surprised

Major
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Thoroughly recommend the Antex TCS50 the most usefull purchase i’ve ever made.
Bit expensive but worth every penny IMO.
Had it about 6 years and worn out a few replaceable tips.
At 250c and fine tip for awkard and surface mount stuff
Full 450c (i think its 450c the lettering wore off long ago) and a big tip for soldering pills and other heavy stuff.
Heats up in about 30 seconds no more waiting for the iron to heat up!
The tip also seems to stay cleaner than cheap irons i’ve had might be something to do with the tip not oxidising as much as the temps are more stable i dunno.

ryansoh3
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I use these dual output soldering guns.

Click the trigger to output 60W, release to output 20W.

They heat up in about 20 seconds and are much nicer to work with than pencil type soldering irons IMHO. They run for about 20 bucks.

To top it off with a budget temperature control system, I use this:

These incandescent lightbulb dimmers are surprisingly very useful.

BLF ≠ B-grade Flashlight Forum

 

DON KIDIK
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I have three.all are good.Problem is im USELESS at soldering.I used this as referance and similar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BLfXXRfRIzY

DON

Slewflash
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How do you guys feel about kick starting the startup times with a butane torch? Eg turning it on, then heating with the torch for a few seconds.

Slewflash 

texaspyro
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I use a Pace PRC2000 (aka PPS400) rework station. “Pace” translated into english means “you want how much!!!?” New and fully equipped they run over $6000 (http://www.techni-tool.com/612PA0132). I could hook you up with one for around a tenth that…

Ubehebe
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This is from another BLF thread where I posted about our Wellers:

Yes, Wellers are more expensive, but think of it this way. You will have that weller for the rest of your life. In a light-use setting, a weller will never break.

I solder cables and guitar wiring all day long, 5 days a week, so I put my soldering station to a LOT of use. I have tried the digital readout solder stations, but the major problem with them is never knowing whether the temperature readout is correct. Okay, maybe it’s correct when you first buy it, but is it correct now? Truth is, you end up with these stations with all these postit notes on them: “Set this at 1070 to get 800 degrees.” And as the tips wear, the temp changes.

Except if you use a Weller WTCPT. I found out about these rather plain-looking unassuming TANKS of the industry from soldering vets who were practically born with a soldering pen in their hands. In these nifty little units, the soldering tip sets the temperature. So they are always right-on correct in temperature because the temp is set by the internal reistsance of the tip. You have three temperature tips: 800, 700 and 600 degrees. And probably 100 different tips for any possible use. Weller is pretty much the grandaddy of all solder stations. They are some of the safest units for soldering pcbs and delicate traces because of the grounding, or so weller says, and supposedly very ESD resistant,which you do need to be careful about. Never fried anything with ESD with a weller.

For my general work, I use the 800-degree tips almost always, but they take getting used to, because at that temp you have to work FAST. Even three seconds contact with a 800-degree tip will make a light pill hot enough to burn you or to cook burgers. But the thing is, you want the solder station hot, so there is no waiting for the solder to melt because waiting for the solder to melt also transfers heat to whatever you’re soldering and will make it blisteringly hot. You can be so fast with this weller that you can solder wires that will only be warm when finished!!!!!!!!!!!

Wellers are also made like tanks, but watch out for used ones as the cord from the pen to the unit does wear out after 8 million bends, maybe 10 years of continual use? And changing the wire is an absolute pain. My wires go after about 10 years. But you have to understand that this thing is used 10 hours a day, every day by me or my employees. If it does break? (It won’t,, but if it does) There are parts available everywhere all over the web, just a click away. No dealing with one dealer in Zambia who has the only pen shroud in existence.

Not trying to sell it over other stations. Perhaps the other ones are better now. But I am really used to the wtcpt now, so I would never change. The thing about the fancy digital readout models is also to make sure that there is no lag to warm up between solderings. With the WTCPT, there is no need to wait for it to warm back up after soldering something. The thing hardly ever loses heat — a HUGE slow down if it does lose optimum temp. Maybe if you were soldering a big metal plate on a boat or something, but PCBs and wires? Nah, you can work as fast as you can and it will never cool down from one joint to the next.

I have three in continual use now. They should be about $110 or so. Just bought one about a year ago. Just look for the cheapest well-known vendor.

And yes they do make a 240v model. Little hard to find but not impossible.

Hope this helps!

DarkSide
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If your going to start building or modding take this as the best advice : Invest in a good solder iron it doesnt need to cost $1000.00. The differnce is Day in Night..What was a pain in the arse is now doable. A cheap iron will make most never want to solder again. A good solder iron will make you start taking things apart knowing you can solder them back up. I took all mu El Cheepo solder irons and threw them in the garbage, I went out and purchased a Weller 80 Watt Soldering pen for fine work, and a 175w Black Beauty for heavy or thick gauge . Both serve there purposes you may not need both. Now fine PCB work take some practice and heavy i.e. thick or solid copper heatsink requires a very hot iron to even think about soldering on it. I remember attempting with the cheaper irons..What was i thinking? That's the kind of results you should expect with a proper soldering setup http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31RHmOSqSYL._SL500_AA300_.jpg http://www.lashen.com/vendors/coopertools/images/wad101.jpg

 


PilotPTK
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I am currently extremely busy with work. Please do not expect a response from me quickly. I will be dropping in as time permits, but the amount of time I can dedicate to responding to topics and PMs is very limited.

Ubehebe
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>>>>>Read This thread.

Good thread.

I can completely understand people not wanting a solder station if they only solder a few times a month, but a standalone pen just can’t keep up with the heat demands, in my experience. Maybe there is one out there that does it, but I haven’t seen it. If there is one, I’d love to get one for a cheepy backup. But in the end, I think even a budding solderer would be better off with a cheepy off-brand +++but good-reviewed+++ station than a standalone pen.

I agree completely with darkside:

“A cheap iron will make most never want to solder again.”

Same thing with cheep guitars (Jeez talk about off topic), never buy a beginner a cheep guitar. He/she will destroy their fingers in the first day and never touch the thing again. Just like DS says about cheep under-powered pens.

And another off topic: ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GLASSES. Saw that in the suggested thread. Once a day, 800-degree flux spatters my face. You can never tell when the flux will spatter or produce little mini explosions. Instant eye injury and end of the flashlight hobby. Blind people don’t need flashlights. WEAR SAFETY GLASSES.

flash.light
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DarkSide wrote:

If your going to start building or modding take this as the best advice : Invest in a good solder iron it doesnt need to cost $1000.00. The differnce is Day in Night..What was a pain in the arse is now doable. A cheap iron will make most never want to solder again. A good solder iron will make you start taking things apart knowing you can solder them back up. I took all mu El Cheepo solder irons and threw them in the garbage

Absolute agree: “What was a pain in the arse is now doable.”

I went with a Hakko station – ‘bout $75 a few years ago.

ryansoh3
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Great soldering tutorial, including the materials needed:

BLF ≠ B-grade Flashlight Forum

 

DarkSide
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Although most of these features don’t pertain to this type of DIY..Nice to have if this
is what you use to make a living. Pace happens to be a good name but is mid entry
when you start looking at professional grade resoldering multi pump stations..

texaspyro wrote:
I use a Pace PRC2000 (aka PPS400) rework station. “Pace” translated into english means “you want how much!!!?” New and fully equipped they run over $6000 (http://www.techni-tool.com/612PA0132). I could hook you up with one for around a tenth that…

 


texaspyro
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DarkSide wrote:
Although most of these features don’t pertain to this type of DIY..Nice to have if this is what you use to make a living. Pace happens to be a good name but is mid entry when you start looking at professional grade resoldering multi pump stations..

I’ve used just about every type of soldering equipment out there (including some custom $250,000+ jobbies… the wire stripper alone was over $100,000) and the Pace unit does what it is supposed to. I haven’t found anything better for general purpose rework. It is not good for things like BGAs and specialized surface mount packages. They make other units for that.

ChibiM
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Never buy cheap flashlights, you’ll hate them, and never want to use them again!

Ahum, I have to disagree!
Same goes for any tool you talk about, including soldering irons, DMM’s, lux meters, tools, audio equipment etc.
People always say these things and it’s kind of useless.
I’m not going around and telling everybody should buy L lenses for their Canon Eos, because they don’t want to go back to the cheap ones anymore.
Just give the OP a link to a decent soldering iron and be done with it.

PilotPTK
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ChibiM wrote:
Never buy cheap flashlights, you’ll hate them, and never want to use them again!

Ahum, I have to disagree!
Same goes for any tool you talk about, including soldering irons, DMM’s, lux meters, tools, audio equipment etc.
People always say these things and it’s kind of useless.
I’m not going around and telling everybody should buy L lenses for their Canon Eos, because they don’t want to go back to the cheap ones anymore.
Just give the OP a link to a decent soldering iron and be done with it.

Best:
http://www.stanleysupplyservices.com/product-detail.aspx?pn=406-016

Good:
http://www.stanleysupplyservices.com/product-detail.aspx?pn=445-420

Budget:
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=19240
or
http://www.circuitspecialists.com/soldering-station-60-watt-3dlf.html
or
http://www.circuitspecialists.com/csi-station1a.html

I am currently extremely busy with work. Please do not expect a response from me quickly. I will be dropping in as time permits, but the amount of time I can dedicate to responding to topics and PMs is very limited.

ChibiM
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PilotPTK wrote:
ChibiM wrote:
Never buy cheap flashlights, you’ll hate them, and never want to use them again!

Ahum, I have to disagree!
Same goes for any tool you talk about, including soldering irons, DMM’s, lux meters, tools, audio equipment etc.
People always say these things and it’s kind of useless.
I’m not going around and telling everybody should buy L lenses for their Canon Eos, because they don’t want to go back to the cheap ones anymore.
Just give the OP a link to a decent soldering iron and be done with it.

Best:
http://www.stanleysupplyservices.com/product-detail.aspx?pn=406-016

Good:
http://www.stanleysupplyservices.com/product-detail.aspx?pn=445-420

Budget:
http://www.hobbyking.com/hobbyking/store/uh_viewItem.asp?idProduct=19240
or
http://www.circuitspecialists.com/soldering-station-60-watt-3dlf.html
or
http://www.circuitspecialists.com/csi-station1a.html

Thanks! See, that’s useful Smile

whokilledJR
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Hi everyone, thanks for the info, plenty of food for thought. Smile

mattthemuppet
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that Hakko clone from Hobby King is interesting, although the $17 price would make me wonder! The hakko 936 (I think) that I have makes soldering a breeze and has allowed me to do stuff (stacking AMC chips, wiring up an Lflex inside a light) that I never would have been able to do with my cheap Radioshack iron. Got mine 2nd hand with some spare tips for $45 Smile

whokilledJR
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mattthemuppet wrote:
that Hakko clone from Hobby King is interesting, although the $17 price would make me wonder! The hakko 936 (I think) that I have makes soldering a breeze and has allowed me to do stuff (stacking AMC chips, wiring up an Lflex inside a light) that I never would have been able to do with my cheap Radioshack iron. Got mine 2nd hand with some spare tips for $45 Smile

Yeah I found out the hardway stacking chips ain’t easy with a cheap iron. My first driver mod became DD 1 mode, all but redundant I guess..

dct73
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I tried ordering that HobbyKing unit but they are out of stock. All support could tell me was they would be back in stock in 60 days. I’ll keep looking.

LumenHound
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I bought a Hakko 936 back in 2008 and after one evening’s use I found myself wondering why I hadn’t gotten one sooner. It’s just a joy to use.

I use a hammerhead tipped 80 watt pencil iron that has a variable heat control built into the handle for battery pack stack soldering.

Tom E
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Just recently bought a Hakko: here. Highly recommended by a long-time super tech I work with. He uses a similar Hakko every day on the job. It's working well so far for me, though I'm a beginner.

 It's $81 plus shipping - not crazy money.

 

Rufusbduck
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Also consider a decent magnifying lamp. One that clamps, is adjustable, and won’t tip over. You need to see to solder small. I use a cheap 25W Weller along with a small butane torch and wish I had better.

Three Tanna leaves to give him life, nine to give him movement. But what if he eats the whole bag?

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Ubehebe
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>>>>>>>One that clamps, is adjustable, and won’t tip over.

I have TWO of these that are combined.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Third-Hand-Soldering-Iron-Stand-Helping-Magnifyi...

Everbody here is mecahnaically inclined, so I don’t need to show how to pile two of these atop each other. I haven’t met a job that these can’t hold steady in place. The magnifier is plastic (at least mine is) and pretty low grade, but I use a head loupe or a binocular magnifier so no matter where I look, it’s all in focus. But I see some use the attached glass and swear by it. And five or six hemotats of different sizes and some alligator clips, and you’re ready to go.

If you’re doing huge pcbs or something unwieldy, you might want to tie the stand to a wood base, but they have a heavy enough base that I have never needed one. Also if you’re doing assembly line type stuff, where you’re repeating the same soldering angle over and over, having two of these means that you can have four different arms and alligator clips that can be pre-adjusted to buzz through assembly line solders without fiddling with the arms every time.

Hope this helps!

ezarc
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My soldering setup is a ancient 80w soldering iron I found and this “soldering station” I made from alligator clips, a coat hanger wire and a little solder.

Its got a lot of use when I’m installing car stereos to hold the wires while I solder them.

I don’t mod flashlights though, my eyes aren’t good enough and my hands are too shaky for small parts.

DCX
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+1 hakko bought from frys electronics a while back, no trouble, soldering all kinds of fine stuff, most appreciable thing i’ve noticed with good irons vs cheap is the tips last a lot longer on my weller/hakko then they ever did on the cheap irons.

Boaz
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Rufusbduck wrote:
Also consider a decent magnifying lamp. One that clamps, is adjustable, and won't tip over. You need to see to solder small. I use a cheap 25W Weller along with a small butane torch and wish I had better.

I have a 25W weller too and i like it ..I also have a few butane irons  just for when there's no electricity

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