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Vintage Test Gear and Workshop Equipment For discussions about vintage test gear and workshop equipment such as coil winders.

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Old 10th Nov 2019, 3:40 pm   #41
paulsherwin
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

Well said Stuart.

I would go for an Antex every time. I did buy a cheap Lidl soldering station a few years ago as an experiment, but found it had very poor temperature control and the bit wore quickly. I soon went back to my 30 year old Radiospares badged 18W Antex. (See #23.)

I would certainly use Weller/Metcal pro gear if somebody gave it to me, and don't doubt that it would work very well. I'm not going to spend my own money on it though.
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 3:57 pm   #42
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

Brian (the OP) seems to have gone quiet; perhaps we have overwhelmed him with different opinions? While he did say that he didn't want spend very much, perhaps if he could turn that in to a number, it would focus the discussion.

If his budget is really tight, it could be that he actually has few options other than a simple Antex, and that would not be anything really terrible...really.
Many (most?) of us cut our teeth on Henley Solons, which I suppose were the Antex of their day!

B
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 4:15 pm   #43
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

Well lots of people have recommended Antex, even the likes of Metcal/Oki users such as myself.
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 4:37 pm   #44
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

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Well lots of people have recommended Antex, even the likes of Metcal/Oki users such as myself.

Still got one in the cupboard for use if all else fails.
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 4:41 pm   #45
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

I have in the past made a copper attachment for a Henley Solon iron in order to desolder 16 pin conventional ICs. Have also used a Variac to control the maximum temperature of Solon and Antex irons. I mention these things simply to illustrate the flexibility of basic but robust soldering irons. Robustness is important to me because it always takes time to adapt your technique to suit a new soldering iron so an iron that is well made and that will last is well worth acquiring.

Alan

Last edited by ajgriff; 10th Nov 2019 at 5:06 pm. Reason: Corrections
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 5:29 pm   #46
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

For anyone considering buying an Antex XS25 it's well worth spending an extra pound or two on the silicone cable option. The standard PVC cable is rather stiff and as a result tends to get in the way as well hampering manipulation of the iron. In addition to being heat resistant the silicone cable is much more flexible.

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Old 10th Nov 2019, 5:57 pm   #47
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

If you fit a switchable 1N4007 in the mains lead you have an instant high/low switch. You can also use a lighting dimmer to reduce the heat.
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Old 10th Nov 2019, 6:30 pm   #48
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

There's a weller temp controlled iron in the for sale section right now at an affordable price (there were two, but one already has a taker)

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Old 10th Nov 2019, 6:40 pm   #49
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Snapped up pretty smartly by the looks of it.

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Old 11th Nov 2019, 8:20 am   #50
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

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And where are amateurs without industry contacts supposed to find all this faulty Weller and Metcal kit?

Yes, if you're working on SMD stuff you're not going to find a 25 Antex a lot of fun, but that's a huge challenge for any amateur setup, let alone the occasional dining room table job. The OP wants a cheap iron to change caps and transistors in 30 year old hifi separates, he's not going to be fixing iPhones.
Hamfests!
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Old 11th Nov 2019, 8:57 am   #51
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It might be helpful to the OP if any users of the ubiquitous temperature contolled/regulated irons sold by the likes of Lidl/Aldi and on eBay (often clones) could comment on their experiences. I am thinking of the ones that come in at between about 15 and 50. Are there any that people would recommend from use over a sustained period? Can't help personally as I've never tried one as my 'go to' soldering station is Weller TCP1 based although I still use the old Antex now and again.

Alan
Many of the "cheapies" aren't really temperature controlled in any real sense at all,----- the knob on front adjusts a TRIAC "lamp dimmer" circuit, running off raw Mains.
Although they feel as if there is a transformer in the base, it is just a weight glued in to stop the base falling over when you remove & replace the iron.

I bought a similar one to tide me over when my Weller WTCP croaked.
The "cheapie's"performance was abysmal.
Being a "grey beard", I knew a few "tricks", & was able to make reasonable joints on new work, but for rework-----aaaarrrrgggghhh!
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Old 11th Nov 2019, 9:30 am   #52
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Well, I guess you can control the temperature. But it's not kept constant during soldering.
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Old 11th Nov 2019, 9:47 am   #53
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I tried a Lidl one a few years ago, it wasn't very good and died quite quickly probably because it was 220v not 240. It also put out an awful lot of HF hash.
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Old 11th Nov 2019, 10:57 am   #54
ex 2 Base
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

I have recently been given an RS soldering station. RS no longer stock these items. On the detachable tip it says No 544-601 made in USA, are these station temperature controlled and should I require a replacement tip does any one know of a supplier. The tip does get hot. Finally how are they rated.
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Old 11th Nov 2019, 9:54 pm   #55
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

I'm one of those people who does electronics for a living, and am lucky enough to have a Metcal MX500 and a good selection of bits. It makes light work of everything from 0.5mm pitch surface-mount components to 50mm2 (300 amp rated) cables. It does have the auto-off function, which is fortunate because professional electronics design involves surprisingly little soldering!

However, that's a high-end piece of kit which is way beyond most people's needs and budget. For home use, I'd recommend the Antex mains-powered irons every time. Their combination of light weight, high temperature, sheer effectiveness of getting heat in to the joint, and easy parts availability is unbeatable. My top tip: make sure you get the proper Antex stand, which has the bit in contact with the metal 'spring' of the stand. It stops the iron overheating when it's resting, and makes the bits and elements last much longer.

All the other mains-powered irons I've ever tried, from no-name far eastern cheapies to Weller ones, haven't been as good as the trusty yellow Antex XS25 which lives in my 'portable' tool case. I grew up with an Antex CS, which eventually fell to pieces after innumerable replacement bits and several replacement elements. I also have an Antex temperature-controlled soldering station, a 690SD, at home which conveniently takes the same bits as the XS25. It's not in the same league as the Metcal but it's still very effective, reliable, and routinely gets used for work on surface-mount PCBs as well.

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Old 11th Nov 2019, 10:50 pm   #56
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

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Oh yes, an Antex type iron is hopeless for desoldering ICs, though they are OK for fitting new ones so long as they're not surface mount. On the rare occasions I have to remove a dead IC I snip the legs from the body with sidecutters then desolder each leg separately.
I highly recommend Chip Quik for carefully unsoldering large pin count ICs, amazing stuff.
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Old 12th Nov 2019, 8:45 am   #57
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I highly recommend Chip Quik for carefully unsoldering large pin count ICs, amazing stuff.
And so do I! I was introduced to it on a "Hardware Hacking" course a couple of years ago and now wouldn't be without it.

Hugh
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Old 12th Nov 2019, 12:46 pm   #58
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

I started with a GEC Henley Solon, 15W, but upgraded to a 25W.

Once I started using a temperature controlled iron, I never looked back! Bought myself an Oryx for home, but it wasn't as good as Weller.

Quote:
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I did buy a cheap Lidl soldering station a few years ago as an experiment, but found it had very poor temperature control and the bit wore quickly.
I did too - well, 20 wasn't a lot to take a chance with. Yes I found the same, so OK for rough jobs but would not recommend.

Weller TCP irons are really good, I still use one at work. Bits last ages. Usually use a No 7 temperature bit, but occasionally a No 8 for stripping solderable enamelled wire. Lots of different shapes too. I also have a 100W Weller iron - can't remember the type number - again using their Magnastat system, which is used occasionally when the extra heat delivery is needed.

And I do have a (salvaged) Metcal, it's super. But I keep it switched off except when in use.

So for the OP, I'd recommend a secondhand Weller TCP.

I've never used a massive copper bit, externally heated iron though...
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Old 12th Nov 2019, 1:06 pm   #59
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I've never used a massive copper bit, externally heated iron though...
My Dad taught me how to solder with one of those. It was heated in an open fire. I have to say that the Henley Solon was a revelation after that.

Alan
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Old 12th Nov 2019, 1:22 pm   #60
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Default Re: Soldering Iron For PCB's

Nor would you want to!!
Mine would never sit on top of the blowlamp properly.
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