Soldering iron choice?

Mr_Roboto

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Okay, so my Weller TC202 shit the bed. Looks like the thermal switch is out and it's $33 or so to get another. Considering I bought it a decade ago for a princely $10 bill at the pawn shop, I can't bitch all that much.

Right now I'm looking for $100 or less, something entry level to mid range-ish. This is what I've come up with.

FRYS.com*|*AOYUE

This is one of my big finalists, it mentions closed loop temp regulation which is important to me.

FRYS.com*|*American Hakko

This is towards the higher end. Assuming it's closed loop. Has feature like a lock code for temp I don't think I'll use.

FRYS.com*|*AOYUE

This is about the same price says it has closed loop temp feedback. Also uses Hakko tips which is nice.

The Weller stations seem to be at $110-150 at Frys until you go high end. Any reason I should pay the premium besides the name? My goal is high value and I'm willing to pay a few bucks more for quality but I am a hobbyist who definitely uses their gear but not a pro. Application is PCBs, car wiring and likely some tube amplifiers.
 

OffshoreDrilling

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Hakko. that's what I'd be buying if I was in the market for a new one. But, I find lots of free tools that get sent to the trash at work. Got a weller WTCPT last year that I really like. South bend lathe, Bridgeport mill, couple older snap on chests, oscilloscopes, more files wrenches and screwdrivers than you could shake a stick at.
 

Mr_Roboto

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What'd you hammer out for a scope? I have a beat ass 932A currently.
 

OffshoreDrilling

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I couldn't even tell you the model number off the top of my head. it's some 80's ancient thing. Ive actually never used it, just found it so why not have it on hand
 

Mr_Roboto

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Trade you a fith of whiskey for it, how I got my last one. :rofl:
 

Mr_Roboto

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Screw those mini irons...:io: I use sievert matic or the old timer hickery handle ones. And yes it works great on automotive stuff too.:s00ls:
Not my use case but my god that is sexy.
 

Mr_Roboto

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Ended up bucking up for the Hakko. So far so good, I haven't even adjusted the temp up or down though. The tip options for it are huge even with what Frys has in stock. What I don't like so far is that the iron holder is separate from the power unit, I think I'd have rather ended up with something integral since it seems like I'm always soldering in weird spots.

The WTCPT you have uses the same iron as the one I had. I got 10 years of hard use out of it. If you decide you need some tips or you need some parts for yours, I have a few things laying around for it. The thermostatic switch seems toast but the element is still good and that's a $35 part by its self.
 

b00sted

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The hakko 880D is one of the most highly recommended out there. I'm upgrading to one eventually...I currently have a Weller with an analog temperature knob.
 

Mr_Roboto

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The hakko 880D is one of the most highly recommended out there. I'm upgrading to one eventually...I currently have a Weller with an analog temperature knob.
So far I like it, the one thing I'll say is if you're using a TC201 iron you'll think it's too thin initially. I'm super edgy about choking up too far on it tbh.
 

BADAZZTEALCOBRA

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Hoping to order a new Metcal at work will full desoldering station.... Tired of using the dinky Wellers we have...
 

OffshoreDrilling

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what kind of work do you guys do with them?

I really don't use one often at work, home use I could get by with a $20 pencil. For me it's just something nice to have around, and it was free. I'll do some minor electronic work once in a great while, the rest is simple stuff you could handle with a crappy iron.
 

BADAZZTEALCOBRA

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We have to assemble some small through hole components onto boards and then conformal coat them for a customer. I had to go to a class and get certified for soldering both through hole and surface mount, but we only use through hole here.
 

Eagle

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I used to have a great soldering iron that died a couple years back. It made soldering well a piece of cake... I really miss it. Sub'ing for an affordable replacement.
 

Mr_Roboto

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what kind of work do you guys do with them?

I really don't use one often at work, home use I could get by with a $20 pencil. For me it's just something nice to have around, and it was free. I'll do some minor electronic work once in a great while, the rest is simple stuff you could handle with a crappy iron.
Quite frankly I tend to flex the fuck out of mine. That means I'll end up doing stuff like circuit boards and car wiring.

I do want to get into SMD more. Any of you have experience with QFN-40s? I have a few AD9852s here I would eventually like to make an oscillator out of.
 

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