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KING OF THE DIRTY DANS

Looking to begin soldering. What is a good starter iron for a complete beginner?

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Hello friends.

 

I am looking to start soldering, to create mods to game consoles, fix wires, and DIY Mech keyboards.

I am a complete beginner, so be nice.

I was wondering, what would be a good iron for a beginner. I looked into it, but it seems that people like Louis Rossman only recommend newer hot tip irons.

 

Thank you for your time


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You're going to try to self educate, so expect to spend a little more than someone who already knows what they are doing, and will buy everything they need. 

 

Having said this,, why not just start with the cheapest soldering iron you can find that arrives quickly,, then buy a toy kit to put together, that doesn't matter if you goof it up?? You can buy something that blinks lights or squeals, (just buy a few little kits), and has nice big pads,, so a cheap soldering iron won't be a problem putting it together, and you've only invested a few dollars. 

 

You will hear that solder has flux in it already,, which is true,, but you MUST buy some flux if you want to skip a lot of hard days. it's expensive, raises the ticket a lot, but is the best thing you can start to learn about early. 

 

Once you've started making solder melt with a cheap iron, you might spend some time thinking expensive irons are a waste of money,,,, they're not. However, knowing which expensive iron will meet your needs takes experience, and if you buy a nice iron right away, you will clumsily corrode tips, and won't be able to produce the quality of work that justifies it anyway. 

 

If you were going to buy ANYTHING that's pretty affordable, and you know nothing about, you should expect to need to buy several to get the one that works well for you,,, if you're serious about learning to solder, do the same. Go to walmart, and buy what they have there. Sure, you will want to pick a nice iron sooner than later, but if you just go to walmart and buy their solder and iron, you can start practicing , and you can right away start getting closer to useful competency. That doesn't mean don't buy a good iron from amazon,, like a ts100, which most drone pilots swear by,, but don't let people shy you away from the iron at walmart. it gets hot, melts solder, and costs basically nothing. your first try won't go well no matter what you do. (of course, with soldering, your first try WILL make a joint, and work, but there's a lot that ends up mattering over time). 


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if you want GOOD toy kits and educational materials, try kits from elegoo. They cost more, but are VERY WELL ORGANIZED so that beginners can spend lots of time feeling confident before doing anything. 

 

Also, consider exploring arduino , places like sparkfun. Also, consider taking up the hobby of FPV drones. there's good soldering in drones, which covers higher powered joints for motors and smaller joints for serial data. big and little wires, high and low current. 


total newbie/non-gamer

 

currently: i7 4790k , z97hd3, pny 16gb ddr3 1600, gtx 1050ti, 24" vizio basic screen, 240gb sata ssd

 

under development: rogstrix b350-f gaming, r5 2600, corsair vengeance 16gb ddr4 2400, crossfire 7970-7950 , 120 gb sata ssd

 

games: Starmade, Velocidrone, Minecraft, Astrokill, Liftoff, ThrustandShoot, , I want to learn better Teamfortress, csgo, half-life, DEmankinddivided, , I want to buy doom. 

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The ANBES Soldering Iron Kit is an electronics soldering kit perfect for beginners. Not only you get a 60-watt adjustable soldering iron, but also multiple tips as well as with range of accessories as well. These accessories include: a support station, desoldering pump, and a wire stripper w/ cutter.

As you mention that you are a beginner then take help from these below mentioned sites regarding soldering:

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Solder-a-Through-hole-Component/ 

http://www.soldertools.net 

 

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Make an effort and buy a soldering station with adjustable temperature and proper temperature sensor in the tip.

The Hakko 936 clones are cheap and they work.

 

Don't buy those hand pieces that plug directly in the mains socket, and don't buy those stations that don't have temperature sensor in the tip (they may have a temp. knob but that basically adjusts amount of electricity, not checking actual temperature)

 

You'd be so put down by the poor quality of these things that you'll give up soldering.

 

HobbyKing used to have cheap soldering station from Yihua, now they seem to sell the Hakko 936 clone made by Atten:

us plug  ATTEN 50W AT-937 Adjustable Soldering Station with Soldering Iron (US Plug) | Hobbyking

eu plug ATTEN 50W AT-937 Adjustable Soldering Station with Soldering Iron (EU Plug) | Hobbyking

uk plug ATTEN 50W AT-937 Adjustable Soldering Station with Soldering Iron (UK Plug) | Hobbyking

au plug ATTEN 50W AT-937 Adjustable Soldering Station with Soldering Iron (AU Plug) | Hobbyking

 

Farnell (Newark.com in US/Canada) and some countries also sell such soldering stations under their own brand, Tenma, and they're reasonably priced 

TENMA Soldering Station, 240 V, 60 W, 480 °C Max Temperature

Atten AT938D rebrand:

TENMA Soldering Station, Digital, ESD Safe, 60W, 220V, Euro Plug

TENMA ESD Safe 60W Digital Soldering Station with Preset Temperature Buttons (UK Plug)

 

If you want proper Hakko in Europe, Batterfly is a distributor with decent prices: https://www.batterfly.com/shop/en/soldering/stazioni-saldanti

Batronix also sells some Atten stations and it's good store: https://www.batronix.com/shop/soldering/Atten-AT980D.html

 

In US, Digikey has some soldering stations you're better off buying a Hakko stations from amazon and other places.

 

If you can still find it, buy leaded solder from a reputable brand:  Multicore, Kester solder,  Henkel , Stannol, Edsyn , MG Chemicals

 

Farnell/Newark has solder but in Europe, leaded solder it's no longer sold to individuals: https://uk.farnell.com/c/tools-production-supplies/soldering-stations-accessories/solder/solder-wire

In US, Digikey has good solder: https://www.digikey.com/products/en/soldering-desoldering-rework-products/solder/262

 

 

Also see this LONG post I made some time ago, where I explain types of solder wire, flux, useful things to know :

 

 

As for videos, Dave's videos are good.

I also recommend watching a 2-3 videos from a series Pace made. They seem dated, but the information in them is still valid so give these a view if you want :

 

 

 

(copy pasting from a previous post i made)

 

I recommend Lesson 1 - Solder & Flux which explains the soldering technique and the importance of flux and tip temperature and contact duration (if you get this right, you're half way there, you'll only need practice to be very good at this)

Lesson 6 - "Component Soldering" explains in more detail how to solder leads, teaches you how long the leads should be on the other side (where you solder) and how much solder should you use and how a proper soldered connection should look, and shows examples of bad soldering jobs. You can ignore the part at the beginning about abrasive tool because these days components are no longer made with leads that could rust like in the old days. If you want to be anal about it, usually just wiping them and the circuit trace where you solder them with a paper towel dabbed in isopropyl alcohol to remove the grease from your fingers and other crap is enough.

Lesson 7 and 8 are short and give you additional tips about soldering ICs with more leads, it's worth watching them.

Lesson 3 - Cup Terminals teaches you how to solder to some connectors like VGA or serial / parallel ports .. it's useful information but not critical in learning how to solder.

The other videos explain how to solder to some terminals or how to do some things that are out of fashion these days, they're no longer used. They're worth watching, they won't give you bad advice but not as relevant these days.

 

On the excessive side, really paranoid soldering (avionics standards etc), really overboard, you can see here a couple of videos that are very good, they're great soldering jobs, but really a lot of unnecessary steps for regular soldering. Still very useful tips about cleaning tip before soldering, cutting a tiny bit of  solder wire at the start because that part may lack flux inside which may have melted from previous use, how to properly clean tip without messing that sponge, how to tin wires properly 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, D.U.F.F. said:

I can't recommend anything other than Weller

 

I can... the quality control went down the drain in the latest products, and they're cutting corners.

For example, they're not including thermal fuses in their transformers or any kind of fuses ... people who accidentally plug 120v AC models in 230v AC outlets end up with blown transformers :

 

 

And here's QUALITY CONTROL for you ... and no fuse:

 

 

 

 

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