Suggestions for a soldering iron?

Same one I bought.

It’s true that it’s not exactly easy soldering on the Cthulhu’s tiny parts with it, but a steady hand can compensate for it. Just make sure to let it heat up for a good 5 minutes or more.

Definitely practice on something else before hand though, or else go for a more expensive soldering iron if you’re really unsure. I’d love to be able to do more accurate temperature control, but it all comes down to your budget.

I guess it all depends on pricing and how frequently you want to use the tool.

You see if your intent was to mod/build 2-3 sticks, just get an inexpensive soldering iron around 15watts to maybe 20watts that will let you change the iron tips. Downside is that if you buy a “el cheapo” soldering iron it does not come with the soldering station.

What’s the primary advantage of a soldering station? In my opinion, in stick building scenarios, its the speed. You do not need to wait as long when you have a temperature controlled station. The heat up wait is much less. Also the moderately priced Hakko 936 soldering station has a thin pencil iron that is much lighter and also as thin as a pencil for precise handling. Most stations are temperature controlled. If you need to control your temperature for other application, the temperature controlled station is you baby.

I also have the radio shack one but pencil iron is super long and thick - if that matters to you.

The secondary reason for soldering station with full cast metal casing for your iron is if you are clumsy like me. After putting back the pencil into the hakko soldering station (while it was still on) I have touched the iron pencil casing with my hand and forearm nurmerous times. The casing is actually a thick piece of heatsink. I never got burned because of it.

Hope this helps deciding what features to look for when purchasing an iron. All in all, like the members say, just get 15watt but not too high for electronic soldering and that’ll be enough for PCB soldering (enough to melt solder but not enough to burn the PCB and components). :wgrin:

is the tip big? cant you just replace it if it is?

alright so i guess ill just look for one with a changeable tip since that radioshack seems like you cant replace that tip. thanks

im thinking about getting the one rtdzign posted up

It can be unscrewed out and radioshack sells various replacement heads, though they are rated for different wattage. With how simple their cheap irons are, I can’t imagine it would be a big issue there.

Here is the radioshack iron in question next to an MC Cthulhu for tip size reference:

http://img42.imageshack.us/img42/4170/img7905h.jpg

You’ll have to excuse the filth and amateur soldering. :stuck_out_tongue:

i see. lol as long as it works it’s all good right? thanks

When you buy the tips, you may be tempted to buy a tip with a fine point to work on a toodles’ board with small components.

However watch out for needle point tips. They are untra thin/narrow/super fine point and considerably finer point tip than one’s that are labeled conical, fine point. Get the fine point tip as it is great for toodles board/ other small component PCBs. The needle point tips are meant to be used with even smaller components and also it takes some time to melt solder and heat/tin the component you want to solder. (Finer point = less surface area to use for heat transfer). Again I want to re-iterate fine tips has already a pencil sharp tip. The needle point is a tip that is even finer than a lead pencil tip (avoid it, if your intent is joystick soldering.)

Radio shack pencil iron does have some different shapes of replacement tips - which is much more than you need for joystick soldering. However if you even want more flexibility get the one from weller or hakko which will provide much more variety than radio shack iron.

sounds good to me again Thanks everyone

sorry for jacking your thread Polic =P

I bought the radio shack digital soldering station, it was like 80 bucks. A tad expensive, but I love the thing…super fine point (I’m a nut about having fine point instruments… I use a .3 mechanical pencil :rofl:) and it heats up in like 15 seconds.

I think for some basic mods that dual wattage iron will probably do you just fine though.

Also, no matter what always tin/sponge your tip after and before use so there’s no oxidation build up.

ESD safe is reccommended

I’ve done a lot of soldering in the past (working on previous version of this http://solar42.mst.edu/ with I was in college), and the fact that the Cthulhu board has a microcontroller on it I would recommend going with an ESD (electrostatic discharge) safe soldering iron. Your standard Radio Shack or cheap soldering irons tend to actually apply voltage to the component you are soldering on, which can lead to damage.

Having used an older version of the Weller iron that Chad from LizardLick recommended I would second that iron, and with the option of changing tip sizes on Weller’s (superfine is my personal favorite for SMT work, the standard tip for most everything else, and there spade tips are great for 12 gage and on up) makes them even more useable.

If you are limited to a cheaper iron option, I would suggest pulling the microcontroller out of the board prior to doing any soldering, just in case.

I would also recommend using flux on everything, even when using rosin core solder as it helps clean the solder pad while you are soldering.