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The Heart of a Soldering Station

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Max The Magnificent
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Unwanted components
Max The Magnificent   3/17/2017 5:46:52 PM
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@Adam: ...The important through-hole components, such as the optocoupler and the triac, seemed to have good solder connections...

Surely all of the components are important LOL

David Ashton
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Re: Unwanted components
David Ashton   3/17/2017 6:25:24 PM
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@Max...Adam said... "...a significant amount of the through-hole devices were lacking in the amount of solder required to make a good soldering joint.  The important through-hole components, such as the optocoupler and the triac, seemed to have good solder connections..."

The bane of my life is poor wave-soldered connections on large or mechanical components, especially connectors or other connections to off-board components.  ICs and discrete parts don't move much and are fine with minimal solder, but a connector (especially one that is used often) needs a good amount of meat on the joint.  If I had a dollar for every connector I've resoldered, I could....buy you lots of beer and bacon :-)

Aeroengineer
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Re: Unwanted components
Aeroengineer   3/20/2017 10:51:39 AM
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Yeah, I have had to do my fair share of fixing connectors as well.  I can say that this connector that is to the Iron from the main board is solidly attached.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Unwanted components
Max The Magnificent   3/20/2017 1:08:49 PM
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@David: ...If I had a dollar for every connector I've resoldered, I could....buy you lots of beer and bacon :-)

That's the spirit I like to see -- we need more like you! :-)

Aeroengineer
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Re: Unwanted components
Aeroengineer   3/20/2017 7:12:28 PM
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There Max goes again, getting us derailed on food again.  I think that we need to add a food designline here.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Unwanted components
Max The Magnificent   3/21/2017 10:06:34 AM
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@Aeroengineer: ...I think that we need to add a food designline here....

Or perhaps just a "Bacon and Friends" Designline

GregB110
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I could never trust
GregB110   4/5/2017 8:18:12 PM
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I could never trust such a low cost unit. I own a couple Weller stations that were used on the Apollo program, which are very robust. I own a couple Weller semi modern stations with potentiometer temp controls and led displays (WES51?) and those are ok. I also use a JBC rework station which I feel is a piece of junk and two Hakko FM-206's which are my new best friends. Through trial and error I have always felt any sub $150 solder station is not worth my time and frustration. I want to get the job done in the least amount of time with the highest quality and least frustration.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I could never trust
Max The Magnificent   4/6/2017 9:55:15 AM
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@Greg: ...I want to get the job done in the least amount of time with the highest quality and least frustration.

So you aren't a follower of the Meatloaf philosophy: "Two out of three ain't bad" LOL

Aeroengineer
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Re: I could never trust
Aeroengineer   4/17/2017 11:18:15 PM
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Isn't that the project management philosophy you can have two out of the three items:

-Low Cost

-Fast Delivery

-High Quality

Aeroengineer
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Re: I could never trust
Aeroengineer   4/17/2017 11:16:20 PM
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I am actually curious as to what people think is defining as a great soldering station?  I have now tried a handful and I have found that some legend like products really did not perform any better, and sometimes worse than a simple cheap off the shelf device.  I think that we can all agree that a non-temp controlled fire starter soldering iron that you can get for $5 is really useless, but other than that, the principles of how to drive a soldering iron are not that complex.  The iron itself has a relatively large thermal mass, so even good power regulation should not be extremely critical.

From my perspective here is my short list of critical things:

-Ability to get to temperature fast

-Not oscillate around the set point significantly

-Ability to provide instintaneous heat energy to maintain soldering temperature while soldering

-Easy to use

-Availibility of consumables

 

I have been looking into actually creating my own soldering station over the last few years to accomodate some reatures that I would really like to have, and really other than the cost of a transformer, the rest of the parts are really cheap, and can be implimented with a very small 8bit uC (can be done in analog components as well).  On things such as durability of components, the tips and heater elements are the main components to fail.  Most of these units are using the same interfaces with the well known brands.

I am very intereted to hear your thoughts on this.

David Ashton
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Re: I could never trust
David Ashton   4/18/2017 4:45:03 AM
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@Adam...I recently purchased this soldering station for work:

http://www.altronics.com.au/p/t2080-micron-temperature-controlled-soldering-station-100w/

but it was primarily as it had this tweezer iron (sold separately) for unsoldering SMD diodes:

http://www.altronics.com.au/p/t2081-smd-tweezers-to-suit-t-2080-soldering-station/

I use the iron a fair bit and my workmate uses the tweezers for unsoldering and resoldering large SMD protection diodes in our two way radios (Diodes: $1.79 each; Manufacturer repair: around $ 300; so the first couple of repairs paid for the station).  With both irons it is nice to use, light and the temp control seems very precise and it heats up quickly (slower for the tweezers, as you'd expect).  The supplier does carry spares (for now...).  AU$ 400+ (= US$ 300+) for both, so not too cheap, and beyond my means for home use, but money well spent for work.

elizabethsimon
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Soldering tweezers
elizabethsimon   4/18/2017 11:26:03 AM
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@David

We have several soldering irons with tweezers at work. They are in frequent use for unsoldering SMD diodes, resistors and capacitors. In addition, you can get different tips for the tweezers that extend their usefulness. Everything from really small tips for the small SMD resistors and capacitors to tips that are wide enough to desolder a 20 pin DIP (or in my case a 10 position DIP switch). The regular iron tips are better for soldering in most cases though.

David Ashton
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Re: Soldering tweezers
David Ashton   4/18/2017 4:34:54 PM
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@Elizabeth.... the tweezers certainly make it easy to unsolder SMD bits.  Our iron only has the tips it came with as far as I know, and they are pretty large - unsoldering the smaller Rs and Cs would be a bit clumsy.  But for the big protection Diodes it works really well.

I've seen irons that can unsolder whole SMD DIP ICs - do you have any of those?

elizabethsimon
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Re: Soldering tweezers
elizabethsimon   4/19/2017 4:07:36 PM
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@David

I'm not sure what exactly you are asking about but we've got tips for the tweezers that are wide enough to desolder most dual row SMD ICs. We also have wide tips for the regular iron that you can use to desolder one side, pry it gently up and desolder the other side. For quad ICs we've got a hot air system. I think we've got enough of an assortment of tips etc to solder and desolder just about anything short of a BGA or QFN. I suspect that we've got a couple techs who would even give those a try but I prefer being albe to see the leads I'm soldering.

Most of the soldering/desoldering equipment we have is Metcal with some Hakko equipment and a few older Weller irons.

David Ashton
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Re: Soldering tweezers
David Ashton   4/19/2017 6:09:27 PM
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@Elizabeth, yep, sounds like you are well set up there.  I've never done any SMD rework but I'd like to try it sometime.

Aeroengineer
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Re: Soldering tweezers
Aeroengineer   4/19/2017 10:59:25 PM
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It is not too bad to do.  I just have a simple hot air station, and it works well.  I also have the tweezers as well, but I do not use them too much, only occasionally.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: I could never trust
Max The Magnificent   4/18/2017 9:26:45 AM
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@Aero: ...I think that we can all agree that a non-temp controlled fire starter soldering iron that you can get for $5 is really useless, but...

As a professional -- and thinking of my current projects -- I carn't help but agree... on the other hand, as a teenage lad, all I had was a non-temp controlled fire-starter soldering iron and I made it work...

TonyTib
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Re: I could never trust
TonyTib   4/18/2017 11:55:40 AM
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I'd recommend searching for open source soldering iron and open source soldering station to get an idea of what others have done, since you're not the first - there might even be a useful starting point.

I don't solder heavily; I have an old (>10 years) adjustable temp Weller that works fine, and we use a different model of adjustable temp Weller at work. 

I'd say your list looks fine, except it's good to have a variety of tips.

If you want to start down another rabbit hole, starting look at hot air rework stations like this https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006FA481G

Aeroengineer
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Re: I could never trust
Aeroengineer   4/19/2017 10:56:25 PM
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There are a few projects that I am following in this area.  I am actually also looking at how to do a hot air rework station as well (yes I know that I am crazy).  My end goal thought, is to make all the items that are not the soldering iron itself as small as possible.  Looking at things like using computer power supplies as the power source, and then using onboard regulation/temp control.  Lots of ideas, though need to get through a few other projects first.

Max The Magnificent
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Just my 2-cents
Max The Magnificent   3/17/2017 5:48:29 PM
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Re the last photo -- it looks like some of the pins/wires poking through the holes aren't soldered at all -- even if they aren't used, I'd tend to solder them down if thsi was my design...

Aeroengineer
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Re: Just my 2-cents
Aeroengineer   3/17/2017 6:14:10 PM
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I informed the vendor of this very issue, and the corrective action was already in place. 

I have had the chance to use this device rather extensively over the 4-5 months or so, and I have specifically been looking to see if there are any issues that can be associated with the lack of quality in these solder joints.  To date, I have found none. 

I agree with you though Max that I also solder all joints even if they are no connects.  It is just easier than missing a critical joint.

Max The Magnificent
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What? Electronics Engineers Who Cannot Solder?
Max The Magnificent   3/17/2017 5:49:29 PM
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Dare I be so bold as to reming you of a column I posted quite a while ago: What? Electronics Engineers Who Cannot Solder?

Aeroengineer
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Re: What? Electronics Engineers Who Cannot Solder?
Aeroengineer   3/17/2017 6:15:03 PM
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That is bringing back some memories.  Glad this non-EE can solder better than other EE's and EE techs.

Battar
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Hakko tips
Battar   3/20/2017 10:34:00 AM
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I don't like those Hakko tips. I've used Weller and Hakko irons, and I find the Hakko tips have a life-span shorter than the average housefly, while the Weller tips seem to last until at least the next leap year.

Aeroengineer
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Re: Hakko tips
Aeroengineer   3/20/2017 10:50:21 AM
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I have never had to replace a tip so far (>8years), though I do not solder everyday either. 

MeasurementBlues
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Aluminum electrolytics caps
MeasurementBlues   3/27/2017 12:38:36 PM
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It's only a matter of time before you'll have to replace those aluminum electrolytic caps.

Failed Capacitors Down Computer Monitor

 

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