Any recommended soldering irons?

tech3475

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For a while now Ive been meaning to learn how to solder, but unfortunately the cheap irons Ive been given were no good (either not hot enough (battery powered) or tip quickly failed (came from Lidl)).

I was wondering if anyone here has any recommendations for soldering irons? Preferrably if available from amazon uk if possible, budget is £20-40.

Thank you.
 

FAST6191

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If we are sticking with cheap my choice for a firestarter iron has to be the mercury 30W ones
http://www.amazon.co.uk/mercury-703-212-Ceramic-Soldering-Iron/dp/B000L9A05K
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mercury-30-W-Soldering-Iron/dp/B000L9C2CO/
I got one perhaps 13 years ago and it still works fine, I got another though about 2 years ago and retired the original to a client's site so I have an iron when I go there.

I have well tip ones for drag soldering, hot air for other things and a temperature controlled station for some things again but for learning and general use I would suggest that -- I have soldered everything from laptop charge ports to mod chips to car stereos and it has done new wires, done rework and done desoldering. I have used the fancy hakko stuff and yeah it is lovely and definitely better but the ones linked I like a lot. Likewise I have used the cheap and nasty stuff and this not that despite being around the same price.
I have just seen that the company does a temperature controlled one too ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/mercury-703-050UK-Ceramic-Soldering-Station/dp/B000L97ZT4/ ) so that is probably going to be my Christmas present to myself.

If you are still after portable then this guy goes through a few of the newer options as well as the classics
 

Armadillo

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If I have used the fancy hakko stuff and yeah it is lovely and definitely better but the ones linked I like a lot. Likewise I have used the cheap and nasty stuff and this not that despite being around the same price.

I wish Hakko would sort out the UK availablity. Cry about the various as they say "clones",yet seem to give zero fucks about UK/EU availablity, while the various "clones" are readily available. I was looking to get a hakko station a few years back and there is basically one place in the UK to get it (dancap) and they haven't joined everyone else in 21st century and you have to faff around with contacting them and then bank transfer/cheque. Checking now, the situation is much the same, which is a shame. Radio spares do sell some Hakko stuff, but mostly the high end gear, the lower end general use stuff like the 888D, and it's dancap only. Meanwhile in the US, you can pick them up pretty much anywhere.

On the general subject of irons, I use

http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/60w-mains-lcd-solder-station-a55kj.

Used mine for quite some time, and done everything for me from small stuff like 360 RGH and general console stuff, to larger items that like to suck up a lot of heat (various larger connectors). Can use the ayoue type t tips or 900m hakko ones or any generic tip that fits those two, so easily available.

Unit itself is a strange one. Seems to be sold under a load of different brands (I've seen tenma, atten and something else I can't remember) and it seems like the units may be slightly different or change over time as an older review on youtube of the atten version has some iron complaints, but I've not had that issue with mine, but my iron looks slightly different (maybe an updated one to address the issues?). Makes it hard to recommend.
 
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FAST6191

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I have the slightly older version of that soldering station (or one from the same company I guess), one shot of my crazy messy desk (see also battered soldering stand in front of it featuring said mercury iron)
soldering_sta.JPG
Or https://gbatemp.net/threads/post-your-toolbox.390841/#post-5539774 I guess.

If it is anything like that then buy some replacement irons while you can -- that one came to me having been cooked by leaving it on overnight (also managed to have about 60% dry joints on the LCD) and maplin decided 6 months was a good length to support such a product. I got lucky and it turns out that was just custom port on a reasonably common Chinese brand as happened to you (it is maplin so I did not expect any better -- those not in the UK I have been in places where they are the only electronics vendor, I wished for even the most incompetent radioshack).
 
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Armadillo

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I have the slightly older version of that soldering station (or one from the same company I guess), one shot of my crazy messy desk (see also battered soldering stand in front of it featuring said mercury iron)
View attachment 33989

If it is anything like that then buy some replacement irons while you can -- that one came to me having been cooked by leaving it on overnight (also managed to have about 60% dry joints on the LCD) and maplin decided 6 months was a good length to support such a product. I got lucky and it turns out that was just custom port on a reasonably common Chinese brand as happened to you (it is maplin so I did not expect any better -- those not in the UK I have been in places where they are the only electronics vendor, I wished for even the most incompetent radioshack).

Pretty sure Precision Gold is Maplins own brand and just rebadge everything. As you found with yours, you can normally hunt down the original Chinese brand/different rebadge if need be.

In the case of the one I have, Maplin seem to be keeping it around, I think I've had mine for two years and Maplin still sell the tips (of course overpriced, cheaper to buy ayoue or 900m tips online) and replacement irons. Atten 938D irons are easily available as well online, you can get the heating elements as well, if you are up for a bit of soldering/don't want to replace whole iron. I guess Maplin will keep it around until whoever the oem supplier is stops and then they'll rebadge something else. I think I paid £30-40 (Maplin claim £59.99, but it always seems to be "on sale"), so I can't say I'd be too upset if it broke/parts were unavailable, I'd just move on to something else (probably a better one this time around).

Think I may grab one of those irons you recommended. As nice as the temperature controled ones with easy change tips are, dragging around the base unit is a bit of a pain. Especially if I just want to quickly solder something, it'll save me having to drag the unit out from where ever I've put it.
 
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