Which tools - soldering station from scratch

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amishbill
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Which tools - soldering station from scratch

I have an itch to dig into some lights with something more appropriate than a 30-40 year old Weller pencil and vintage radio Shack rosin core solder.

This will probably be used a few times a year, so I don’t need professional hard-duty gear, but I don’t want the cheapest stuff either. Solid quality at a not-stupid price is good for me.

I’m no looking to do any hardcore work – just adding USB-C resistors, building some programming keys, maybe changing out an LED or three, etc.

I need ideas for both the types of gear to look at, and suggestions for each.
- I’m pretty sure I do need a decent solder station, but I’m not sure if the extra cost of one with hot air or a standalone hot plate will add a lot of value.
- In the realm of light modding what consumables and misc supplies do I not know I will want? Tweezers, solder types, flux types, etc? Tip cleaners? magnifying visor? Mad Scientist wig?

I’d like to jump right in, but realistically a few weeks delay is OK. I’m assuming that means buying from Ali and Banggood is my best bet?

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

Edited by: amishbill on 12/10/2019 - 11:51
Joshk
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You can get a TS100 from Bangood in USA for $49 and it is a professional grade beast. It makes short work of soldering to a MCPCB. I love mine. Then you just need solder and flux. I prefer leaded solder because it’s so easy to work with. Lead does not vaporize at soldering temps, so it’s safe.

whatsthepoint
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I have a simple old fashion no frills that plugs into the 120v AC outlet and does a decent job of soldering that doesn't require much fineness.

Two days ago I removed the MCPCB from a flashlight that had the LED drop off.I've also bee some repairs on Christmas lighting.For both these projects I used a TS100 with various tips.I like working with the TS100.

It can be found on Amazon for a higher price unless you're in no rush and opt for a cheaper price on Banggood and Aliexpress.

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riffraff
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Hakko FX-888.

f0xx
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This excellent thread started by Lexel is a good place to get some of that info:
http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69638

I myself haven’t pulled the trigger on a better setup (new baby on the way and currently renovating our house, big merger at work in progress, and the holidays means no time, space, or money for this at the moment), but I have looked at the T12 stations that Lexel recommended and the TS100 Joshk recommends a few times.

The soldering iron I have now has a dial for temperature control, but no way to determine what temperature it is set to (goes from yellow to red instead of x to y degrees). It works for most things, but I suspect the tip should be replaced and the recommended ones are probably much better due to regulation and higher output.

I too prefer leaded solder. I haven’t mastered flux, but I hear good flux is huge. It sure makes a difference on sweating copper pipe..

A hot air station is probably more important when you are building drivers or (re)flowing LEDs than modding some resistors.. but I think it would help with those programming keys (haven’t built mine yet). If it were me and I could only have one, it would be a good soldering iron over the hot air/plate/whatever. I’ve had good luck reflowing LEDs with a butane torch. I hold the MCPCB with pliers or better yet a vice and heat from below.. I try to work fast and I stop applying heat when the solder melts so I don’t burn the mask.

amishbill
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I have one of those small butane torches. The soldering attachment for it is fairly useless, but it should be fine for heating up a MCPCB or pre-tinning wires.

The T100 looks to be about twice a expensive as the T12 clones from Lexel’s thread. Is that just because it’s small? Are spare tips about the same cost for each?

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

whatsthepoint
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I ordered additional TS100 original MINI tips on Banggood @ $7.01 each.They took 3 weeks to arrive.

Prices are constantly changing.

On Amazon they're double or more.

I use the BC2 and D24 tips the most but YMMV.

Last month the TS100 with 1 tip and no power supply was $38 from China but average is about $44.

A notebook power supply that outputs 12v to 24v and 2.5a to 5a should work.

The one I got is a fixed supply that tests at 19v/2.5a.

A 12v/2.5a power adapter from a retired wifi router works too. but heat up is a bit slower than the 19v.

A 24v power supply will heat the TS100 quickest.

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f0xx
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That sounds like what I have (Weller branded butane soldering iron/torch). I’ve soldered with it before, but the exhaust port for the flame makes me nervous with delicate electronics. I’ve mainly used it for automotive soldering or for stuff where I need to be mobile (installing speakers in office ceilings for example).

I think there is a greater variety and availability of tips for the T12’s.. price might be similar. Between the two, I’d think the T12 is slightly better as the controller electronics are further from the heat, and as you pointed out, they are cheaper (though when I click those links, I see them at nearly the same price ~$40-$50 for the T12 on AE and ~$50 for the TS100 at BG). I think you’d have to buy an external power supply for the TS100 as well, and I’d recommend something to hold it when you need to set it down for a minute. It is smaller, but probably not enough smaller that it would be a real benefit unless you need to travel with it.

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The following is a pretty solid iron I use from CXG, the DS110T from DSxT series, fully compatible with Hakko T18 (900M) tips:

The new version seems to be E110WT (ExWT series):

 

My excellent hot air blower: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32744701147.html

I recommend buying the kit with spare heater, will be able to fix the tool while another one is on the way if you mess up. The tool progressively cools down before fully turning off after you hit the switch, power must not be removed abruptly.

In my experience with it I recommend placing some bit of rubber material at the back of the handle base and gun stand so it stops moving due to vibrations (hot glue, for example).

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I use this head mount for smd work and diagnosis.

You can find it on amazon too but it’s slightly more expensive.

The 5mm leds are not great. I taped Ultratac K18 (with 219b sw45k of course) on top instead.

Sirstinky
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I really like my Quicko 942 controller without the internal power supply. Cost me $24. Infinitely adjustibe up to 480C. I went from the 15W/30W dual power Radio Shack pencil iron. Thought I died and went to heaven. It uses Hakko T12 tips with the internal heater. Lots of functions it goes to sleep if I dont use it, auto powers off, has presets, etc. I pair it with a 19.5v 4.5 amp HP laptop power adapter for 90 watts and it heats up in 7-8 seconds and has a lot of power. I can solder to pills no issues and it laughs at 1.6mm mcpcb. I don’t like the ones with internal power supplies since they can be cheaply made and unsafe. Plus I can run it off 12 volts like a car battery or 3S lipo pack if needed. Just uses a 5.5mmx2.1mm barrel jack.

amishbill
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I should have a few spare laptop power supplies laying around. Worst case, I can make a barrel -> PowerPole cable and run it off the ham radio supplies I’m not using.

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

Joshk
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whatsthepoint wrote:

Last month the TS100 with 1 tip and no power supply was $38 from China but average is about $44.

What website are you using to see that data? That sounds handy.

Joshk
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I haven’t seen any features mentioned here that the TS100 doesn’t also have. And it’s open source hardware and software too I think. Silly

whatsthepoint
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Joshk wrote:
whatsthepoint wrote:

Last month the TS100 with 1 tip and no power supply was $38 from China but average is about $44.

What website are you using to see that data? That sounds handy.

 

That price was from one of the sellers on Aliexpress around the middle of November.It was only there a day or 2 before it disappeared.After that $42 was the lowest and then $44.I was watch prices daily while I was looking for a 2nd TS100.I t think there was lower pricing pre black Friday pricing with the offered coupons.

I ordered a Sofirn SP33v3 about that same time.

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amishbill
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I keep forgetting that Aliexpress is basically ebay but with even less trustworthy vendors.

Any recommended Ali sellers for this gear, or is bangood a better idea?

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

Sirstinky
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Yah, you can get the Quicko or Ts100 from either place probably from the exact same sellers with different names. I like Ebay’s buyer protection much better since they are based in the USA not a free-for-all like AE or BG. Pricing is similar, but I’d pay extra for something from a reputable eBay seller. 99% minimum.

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amishbill wrote:
I keep forgetting that Aliexpress is basically ebay but with even less trustworthy vendors.

That really does mean nothing, nothing really good I mean. Most sellers I've dealt with in AliExpress did right, and when a problem has arisen I either have solved it with straightforward cooperation from the seller or fair dispute settlement by way of the AliExpress Case Management Team.

One could say it is good luck, but good luck is a consequence of right vibrations. 

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Joshk
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AE disputes are horrible. The sellers will try to wear you down with meaningless replies, hoping you will give up.

Sirstinky
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amishbill wrote:
I should have a few spare laptop power supplies laying around. Worst case, I can make a barrel -> PowerPole cable and run it off the ham radio supplies I’m not using.

No Chinese power supplies sold from China are UL listed for the USA and have unbelievably cheap internal parts so I dont trust them. Use good quality ones like Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. They’re cheap at the thrift stores.

leftdisconnected
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Joshk wrote:
AE disputes are horrible. The sellers will try to wear you down with meaningless replies, hoping you will give up.

I’m sure that you are right, but I’ve had that same experience with any Chinese seller on eBay whenever an issue arose; they will constantly delay (with extremely polite conversation, of course) until they are somehow able to close your claim without your permission and after the feedback window has closed (a ridiculous limitation, in my opinion).

Chinese sellers have learned how to play eBay’s policies against you and eBay seems silent on the matter. I’m sure that they use these same strategies on AliExpress. For anyone that has not experienced this, be warned that you will get responses the seller, at least for awhile, and they will be extremely nice to you, even claiming that they’ve personally looked into your shipment or re-shipment.

If something goes wrong with either eBay or AliExpress, simply demand an immediate refund and if that doesn’t happen, open a PayPal dispute. Do not concede to the seller’s request for mercy and understanding.

I fully admit that many AliExpress sellers are entirely unreliable and are often selling stuff so counterfeit that it doesn’t function at all. However, I’ve purchased hundreds of items from AliExpress and so far have never had any issues, so everyone’s mileage will vary. I try to buy only from established sellers or factory stores, but I’m sure that I will eventually get burned. That’s why I don’t buy $100 items from China.

In fact, I don’t buy anything from Asia through eBay anymore as I’ve been cheated too many times. I still use eBay, but only if the item is shipped from a U.S. address and when the delivery estimate is less than a week so that I know there’s domestic inventory and there should be plenty of time for resolution if issues do arise.

If eBay is my only option, then PayPal should still provide a refund when necessary, but even that process is not guaranteed to go in your favor Sad .

RobAllen

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leftdisconnected wrote:
Joshk wrote:
AE disputes are horrible. The sellers will try to wear you down with meaningless replies, hoping you will give up.

I’m sure that you are right, but I’ve had that same experience with any Chinese seller on eBay whenever an issue arose; they will constantly delay (with extremely polite conversation, of course) until they are somehow able to close your claim without your permission and after the feedback window has closed (a ridiculous limitation, in my opinion).

Chinese sellers have learned how to play eBay’s policies against you and eBay seems silent on the matter. I’m sure that they use these same strategies on AliExpress. For anyone that has not experienced this, be warned that you will get responses the seller, at least for awhile, and they will be extremely nice to you, even claiming that they’ve personally looked into your shipment or re-shipment.

If something goes wrong with either eBay or AliExpress, simply demand an immediate refund and if that doesn’t happen, open a PayPal dispute. Do not concede to the seller’s request for mercy and understanding.

I fully admit that many AliExpress sellers are entirely unreliable and are often selling stuff so counterfeit that it doesn’t function at all. However, I’ve purchased hundreds of items from AliExpress and so far have never had any issues, so everyone’s mileage will vary. I try to buy only from established sellers or factory stores, but I’m sure that I will eventually get burned. That’s why I don’t buy $100 items from China.

In fact, I don’t buy anything from Asia through eBay anymore as I’ve been cheated too many times. I still use eBay, but only if the item is shipped from a U.S. address and when the delivery estimate is less than a week so that I know there’s domestic inventory and there should be plenty of time for resolution if issues do arise.

If eBay is my only option, then PayPal should still provide a refund when necessary, but even that process is not guaranteed to go in your favor Sad .

I have been on eBay since 2000 and it’s changed a lot in 19 years. I was on before anyone knew you could order stuff directly from China, back when you could get a parts kit for a 1911 handgun or Glock slide and barrel or an automatic knife.

Buy carefully and you’ll probably be fine. Pay extra for shipping if offered.

leftdisconnected
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Off-topic:

Sirstinky wrote:

I have been on eBay since 2000 and it’s changed a lot in 19 years. I was on before anyone knew you could order stuff directly from China, back when you could get a parts kit for a 1911 handgun or Glock slide and barrel or an automatic knife.

Buy carefully and you’ll probably be fine. Pay extra for shipping if offered.

Yep, it’s absolutely changed. I began buying and selling stuff like used music CD’s and film cameras on eBay in early ’98 and, as you’ll remember, the only option back then was “Auction”; none of this “Buy It Now” or “Best Offer” nonsense Wink . IIRC, they didn’t register the eBay.com domain until the end of ’97 and my friend found it sometime that winter. I’m still the same 4-digit username as then, but I was forced to come up with something that wasn’t a standard name Wink , so I’m “kank”, which was an inside joke between my friend and I at the time.

Since I don’t buy stuff from China via eBay and only did so a few times (and got burned most of those times), I largely use eBay like I always have. I don’t enjoy the auction process as much as back then, but I still buy used equipment that way sometimes.

RobAllen

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Yes, ebay is due for an overhaul to better compete with Amazon. And their auctions are guaranteed disappointment these days.

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OK – I think I’m getting closer to a purchase. The hot air gun Barkuti posted looks quite attractive and not excessively expensive. I’m just not sure if it will be a Step One or a Step One-and-a-Half purchase.

The TS100 looks nice, but it’s a bit more expensive and it looks like the tips are a bit longer between grip and work surface. My hands are not as steady as they once were, so the long shaft doesn’t really appeal to me.

The KSGER line looks nice. I really like using a standard PC power cord, but the comment about cheap Chinese power supplies has be questioning it.

The Quicko looks nice too. The DC in has me thinking that I can use some 2S battery packs I got for a portable HAM radio project, a laptop power brick, or, well, anything. I don’t like that it requires a particular power source, but for under $30 it’s hard to turn down.

For the purposes I listed in the first post, what tips should I be looking at? I know to look for lead solder. Any particular type of flux or solder paste? Tip cleaners?

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

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I hope you like whatever you choose. If it helps, I measured and the TS100 is 2.75” from plastic handle to the tip of the tip.

amishbill
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Only 2.75”?
They must be using marketing pictures with tiny Asian hands, as it sure looked long in comparison. Thumbs Up

Any idea how far the T12 tips extend past the handle?

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

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I’ve had 3 tips, but not the T12. I am pretty sure they are all the exact same length. I think D24 is the one I have pictured. It’s the only one I ever use anymore. It has a large side for large jobs, and some nice small corners for small work.

amishbill
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Sorry – I meant the Hakko T12 clone type inserts like the KSGER and Quicko use, not a specific tip design.

DIY LT1 battery wrap image. "PDF on Google Drive":https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IHIEOi1NXu868IYNCzIM7D2Ulpxchmww

Fresh Sanyo NCR18650GAs already wrapped "for sale HERE":http://budgetlightforum.com/node/69120 if you like.

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Ah, Hakko T12. Sorry, never owned one. Maybe someone here could measure theirs?

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amishbill wrote:
Sorry – I meant the Hakko T12 clone type inserts like the KSGER and Quicko use, not a specific tip design.

The T12 tips are universal between the KSGER, Quicko, and the Hakko designed for T12 tips.

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