Which soldering station to buy

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living sounds

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JBC BT-2B. It's almost perfect. Instantaneous heat, very powerful, quick tip change, silicone cable, rock solid aluminum construction. The only thing I do not like is the (additional) mount to the right, since I am right handed.
 

tommia

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Thanks for the tip abbey. I'm constantly fighting against consumption. I would like tp buy something that last over 20 years. Do I have to give in and buy chinese cheap stuff on Amazon?
I start to get the feeling that that's the case. Ok I wait a little bit longer, and if no better idea pops up, I go with that or .... Metcal.... .

If so I hope Amazon France delivers to a Belgium company.
 

living sounds

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Thanks for the tip abbey. I'm constantly fighting against consumption. I would like tp buy something that last over 20 years. Do I have to give in and buy chinese cheap stuff on Amazon?
I start to get the feeling that that's the case. Ok I wait a little bit longer, and if no better idea pops up, I go with that or .... Metcal.... .

If so I hope Amazon France delivers to a Belgium company.
 

abbey road d enfer

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Thanks for the tip abbey. I'm constantly fighting against consumption. I would like tp buy something that last over 20 years. Do I have to give in and buy chinese cheap stuff on Amazon?
I start to get the feeling that that's the case. Ok I wait a little bit longer, and if no better idea pops up, I go with that or .... Metcal.... .
I probably hate waste as much as you, but I had so many expensive pieces of equipment dying on me and proved not being sensibly repairable that I am no more ashamed of doing so.

If so I hope Amazon France delivers to a Belgium company.
They should, since Belgium is officially served by Amazon France.
I found out the name Amazon in Belgium is owned by an insurance company.
 

pucho812

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I have been through different solder and desolder stations at various work places over the years, Weller, hakko, the list goes on.

On my home bench I have had a hakko 936 for over 20 years and the only service it saw was replacing tips. I did extensive travel gigs in that time and never had an issue.

Recently I added a solder station to the stu so I can leave my 936 at home. It's made in china and sold under various brands. To my surprise the heats up fast and keeps an even temp. It's quite nice over all. The only issue I have with it, is that the base station feels cheap, and it's got big bright blue led's that flash when heating up and hold when at temp. Ouch that led is burning my retinas. but anyway.
I think we have hit a point where even the el cheapo irons can be pretty good if you get the right one of the lot. What really separates them is the QC to ensure that everyone works as intended
 

cyrano

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I've had a Chinese soldering iron, with a built-in transformer that lasted over 40 years. I just used it for heavy-duty work. It went just a year or two ago, in a stench that lasted for days.

I'm amazed it took the beating. A German one that cost twenty times as much gave up many years ago.

My English Antex 18W is the same age, still going strong.

The Wellers I had, have all died years ago. TBH, they saw much more use than the others, as they were temp controlled. One of them was the magnetic control one. I really liked it, but it's gone.

The conclusion probably is that simple things last longer.

The worst one I've ever come across, was sold by LIDL. In the manual, it said it wasn't to be used for soldering. Just for burning wood. And even that only if it was for hobby purposes... The tips eroded away so fast I had to bin it after just 5 or 6 soldering attempts. Attempts, cause the tip caused very bad joints. Strangely, it came with two small rolls of solder and a spare tip. One roll was marked "electronic solder" and one marked "electrical solder".

It was only 20€ or so, but it looked like it was temp controlled and it said "soldering workstation" on the packaging. Go figure.

Worst buy ever!
 

industrialarts

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Here's my $0.02.

I repair mostly guitar amps, pedals and vintange synths but also do some work with SMD devices. I have used a lot of different Weller irons because as a bench tech when you it's generally standard issue. I never really liked Wellers, all the models I have used ate up tips like crazy. I have used Antek - which I loved especially since I was doing a lot of studio maintenance at the time and I could get a lot of heat at the base of the tip for large ground areas and ground wiring. They were cheap at the time - about $20 and had a US distributor. Amazing iron but they have gotten a little pricier and I don't know if you can get them from a US distributor anymore.

I had a Hakko 888 for about a minute, I returned it right away, it wouldn't get hot enough for the guitar amp work, I found it very frustrating to work with. I don't see the hype about the Hakko myself, but there must be something there because lots of techs seem to think of them as the holy grail.

Then I started using the cheap adjustable temperature irons that I found on eBay - like these. Surprisingly usable, but I did go thru a lot of the cheap tips - you can use Hakko 900M series tips if you want longer life - but the knock-offs are cheap and many styles of tips are available. The other thing is that they die after time but at $10 a shot, these irons will work for most situations.

But finally, after going thru about 4 or 5 in almost the same amount of years I started looking for a better station, especially one that would shut itself off, since my iron can sit idle for long periods of time. After trolling the EEVblog I settled on the Quicko T12-952 and it is, for me, the best iron I have ever used.

Check the EEVblog forum and there is giant rabbit hole you can go down about T12 style irons, mods, upgrades, differences in models, software hacking, etc. But for me the stock is working AWESOME. This iron also will take Hakko tips but again, I'm cheap and continue to use the stock ones (I'll bet the Hakkos would be an improvement but haven't needed a new tip yet - it's been about a 9 months).

Last bit of advice, NEVER use a damp sponge or cloth, use a metal scrub pad instead. Probably one of the reasons I ate up Weller tips was because I always used a sponge to
 

tommia

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Hakko got mentioned a lot on the cheaper side. Plus I find a lot of spare parts at a reasonable price. I would like digital temperature reading or is that asking for trouble in that price range?
I don't know jbc. Is it worth the price differance? Parts are more expancive and harder to get, when I google it.

It looks like bye bye to Weller. And I got atached to that blue color just like I'm attached to the blue of Lexicon.
 

warpie

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I think this sponge-wool debate has a lot to do with whether we're talking about led-free or leaded solder.
 

CJ

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we bought about 10 Hako's for the shop, after a few years all were broke except this certain one which kept on going for 15 years, could never figure that out.
 

tommia

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we bought about 10 Hako's for the shop, after a few years all were broke except this certain one which kept on going for 15 years, could never figure that out.
Just when the Hakko camp was winning me over.

JBC BT-2B. It's almost perfect. Instantaneous heat, very powerful, quick tip change, silicone cable, rock solid aluminum construction. The only thing I do not like is the (additional) mount to the right, since I am right handed.

Any more fans?

I've bought a ERSA i-con nano last winter and absolutely love it!
Looks interesting. Any more fans?
 
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Khron

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It wasn't cheap, but i'm pretty pleased with my little Ersa i-Con Nano. Heats up within 10s or so, plenty of "juice" even for bigger joints and groundplanes; 98% of the time i use the PLCC wedge/knife tip as a catch-all (fine enough tip but still a fat flat edge for more heat transfer).

I've had mine for 5-6 years now, still going strong, and even got my boss to buy me one for work.

I do still want to DIY a power-controller for JBC wands one of these days, though...

Plus one for the Ersa, and maybe half a vote for JBC?
 

Ricardus

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I was given the very nice gift of a Hakko FX888d for my birthday 8 or 10 years ago, and it's running great. When I have time and money, and have lots of stuff to build, that sucker might be on 12 hours a day.

10 out of 10 for me.
 

Matador

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I have a 936 that I've been continuously using since about 2000, other than occasional tip replacement has been flawless.

If/when it dies I'd like to know what might work. A few people I know bought Xtronics stations that have worked well, but I'd like to know if there something in-between the $50 cheapies and an $800 Metcal.
 

amplexus

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Just when the Hakko camp was winning me over.



Any more fans?


Looks interesting. Any more fans?
Everyone’s got horror stories about everything…

but I will say my Hakko 951 is on all day every day. 6-10 hours a day, nearly 7 days a week (who needs a day off) and it has never blinked. 6 year now. Tips last forever and I love the lightweight, nimble handpiece. I also have an FR410 desoldering station… 5 plus years same duty cycle. No issues.

Back before Ward Beck closed down, I was in their shop a few times… every single workstation had a 951 on it.

So i laugh a lot every time someone comes in saying “Hakko isn’t any good for professional production work!”

I might look at JBC and/or Metcal if this one ever fails or if I finally succumb to the temptation to move to induction. But until then, my 951 and 410 will keep on making my living…
 

Zim

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Ersa Nano here too.

Like it alot, though no experience with Weller, JBC, Metcal or Hakko so couldn’t say how it compares...
 
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