View Full Version : Good soldering equipment?

05-25-2010, 01:27 AM
So after trying the craftsman soldering iron (again), and realizing (again) that all of the tips are bad--they don't heat right, the core gets hot, but the outside just chips and falls apart, without reaching a usable temperature--I'm ready to buy something descent.

I don't need professional grade equipment, just something that works. So, anyone with some experience in this matter, decent stuff (used once a month or less)?

05-25-2010, 03:07 AM
I use the Radio Shack ones... get the grounded (3 prong plug) selectable 15w/30w or just the 30w iron, depending on what gauge wire you plan to solder. I like to use the 15w setting for stuff under 18awg and 30w for everything else. Oh, and make sure to use flux, there's a white plumbing flux that cleans up REAL easy that I get from Home Depot, or you can get the "non-spillable" stuff that Radio Shack has. I also recommend a small gauge solder so that when you're doing 15w soldering you don't have any melting issues from the solder itself.

05-25-2010, 06:40 PM

I completely forgot about Radioshack.

04-28-2011, 05:46 AM
I use a $30 Weller gun from Home Depot. Had it for several years now and haven't ever had to replace the tip.

joe's gt
04-29-2011, 04:46 AM
Radioshack one worked good for me, but i don't think they had different tips for it. Always heard good things about Weller.

04-29-2011, 06:09 PM
I use a butane micro torch with soldering attachment. Really easy to maneuver under the dash, plus remove the tip and it's a good heat gun for heatshrink

04-29-2011, 06:48 PM
I use a butane micro torch with soldering attachment. Really easy to maneuver under the dash, plus remove the tip and it's a good heat gun for heatshrink

I've never gotten mine to work properly as a soldering iron... but it does a hell of a good job as a heatgun or for melting plastic.
I use a Weller gun.

04-29-2011, 07:21 PM
My radio shack 15/30 has worked great for what I have needed, which is megasquirt and making the harness. I just need a better setup for sodering 2 wires together.

05-01-2011, 10:02 PM
It really depends on how much soldering you do - and what you are willing to spend on the tools.

Myself - as an electronic design engineer I solder maybe 100 times a week on occasion - and though I have access to "professional" soldering people when I need it - I myself solder many things - it is part and parcel for my job.

The tip of your iron is really EVERYTHING - if it is no good - you ain't going anywhere!

Here is my basic rig I use at home:


Now - this is not a "cheap" soldering iron - maybe about $125. I need an iron capable of different temperatures - and with selectable sizes of tips - so this is the best for home for me - as all those tips you see heat up to different temperatures - 700F for PCB work and 880F for heavy wire and/or copper planes. You can see there that I have many selections of tips for whatever the job at hand - most of them very small because I generally solder on PC boards.

Even with the cheap soldering irons - you can save the tip - if you treat it right.

The main thing you need to do is:

ALWAYS leave solder on the tip - do not ever let the thing stay heated in air without a good coating of solder on it! This is Numero UNO and I cannot accentuate the importance enough! Without a coat of solder on it the tip will oxidize - and it will never again hold solder like it once did.

Yet - if you are human like me - then sometimes you might forget Rule #1 and let your tip sit there heated without solder on it - even worse - perhaps you forgot to turn off your iron!

In this case - all is not lost. Check that pic out and focus on that little round thing. That is "tip cleaner" and it is your best friend. I don't know what is in it but you can just immerse your old tired and burnt up tip in it and it will work wonders! Just tin the tip as soon as you take it out and you will have new life from your soldering iron tip.

So - even with a cheap iron - if you use it wisely - and practice proper "tip maintenance" - and finally use tip cleaner - it should last more than a little while.

05-01-2011, 11:21 PM
Whatever you do - don't file your tip!

If you do - it will work good - ONCE - and then you will need to file it again and again - every time you want to use it.

That tip cleaner - and the flux you see in the photo - those are the keys to good solder joints and keeping your iron in shape - and are available at the usual electronic outlet stores, such as Digikey, Mouser, or Fry - depending on your region.

05-03-2011, 05:19 AM
The radioshack 15/30 is a nice pen style iron, it works pretty well for occasional and small guage stuff..or replacing resistors that one accidently snaps off...
I've also got a Weller gun I bought at work, it's nice for doing wire to wire soldering. But I'm with KM, the cheap butane torches work pretty good for heatshrink, but i could never get them to work for electronic soldering. Plumbing is a different matter.

05-03-2011, 04:45 PM
I've used a RadioShack soldering iron for years, it was one of thier "custom one time deals" and is a 45 watt iron, very nice and solders quickly. Came with a nice plastic case, tips and other goodies. Think I paid about $20 on sale, its almost time to purchase a new one ....