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Soldering Iron Recommendations

I'm planning to upgrade the screen for my Gameboy Advance to an LCD screen. The upgrade requires me to solder some wires to the motherboard, in order to get brightness adjustment. Is there any soldering iron that anyone can recommend for a newbie like me? I know there's other threads on this topic, but I'm not sure if there's soldering irons for specific tasks. Here's the link to the LCD Screen:

https://handheldlegend.com/collections/game-boy-advance-gba/products/game-boy-advance-gba-ips-funnyplaing-v2?variant=31583104630918

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49 minutes ago, RonSoye said:

I'm planning to upgrade the screen for my Gameboy Advance to an LCD screen. The upgrade requires me to solder some wires to the motherboard, in order to get brightness adjustment. Is there any soldering iron that anyone can recommend for a newbie like me? I know there's other threads on this topic, but I'm not sure if there's soldering irons for specific tasks. Here's the link to the LCD Screen:

https://handheldlegend.com/collections/game-boy-advance-gba/products/game-boy-advance-gba-ips-funnyplaing-v2?variant=31583104630918

There are in a general way.  Soldering can be used to hold together both large and small parts and there are soldering irons designed for each.  At one end you’ve got plumbing and at the other you’ve got microsoldering for electronics. 

Life is like a bowl of chocolates: there are all these little crinkly paper cups everywhere.

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https://www.amazon.com/Soldering-Iron-Kit-Temperature-Desoldering/dp/B07Q2B4ZY9/ref=sr_1_14?crid=11P1EAY9VZ8UF&keywords=soldering+iron&qid=1643035935&sprefix=soldering+iron%2Caps%2C153&sr=8-14

 

That would cover 99% of any electronics soldering you need to do. There are some others on amazon that have a digital temp readout as well. I have this one https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01712N5C4?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details  Its done good for the few things I've used it on. (replaced a couple parts in a vizio LCD TV.) I kind of wish I had looked harder, because there are some nice looking ones I didnt notice when I bought mine.

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-> Moved to Hobby Electronics

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For a project like this you probably need a relatively simple iron. Personally I usually recommend one with temperature control, so it's not just "turned off or full blast", but so you have some control over it.

 

I use the Hakko FX-888D, which is a great iron, but also quite expensive if you're not planning to do multiple projects with it.

What I often see recommended online is the KSGER T12, which is a much more budget iron, which still possesses temperature control and even comes with multiple tips so you have some different sizes for different jobs.

Other than an iron, you will want some rosin core soldertin (usually leaded solder is recommended, because it's easier to work with) and a simple flux pen would be recommended too, as flux helps the solder flow to the pads (and away from everything else).

 

So with an iron, rosin core solder and a flux pen you would good to go (of course in addition to all the components and cables needed for the mod itself).

"We're all in this together, might as well be friends" Tom, Toonami.

 

mini eLiXiVy: my open source 65% mechanical PCB, a build log, PCB anatomy and discussing open source licenses: https://linustechtips.com/topic/1366493-elixivy-a-65-mechanical-keyboard-build-log-pcb-anatomy-and-how-i-open-sourced-this-project/

 

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If you have any ryobi one+ tools they make a soldering iron that uses a battey or can be plugged in and has variable tempature control. I have a couple of gas and simple plugin soldering irons and the ryobi has become my go-to soldering iron. I can take it everywhere and it heats up quickly and the battery lasts along time. 

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If you plan to use your soldering iron not only for this one project, pick up a TS100 or Pinecil. These are truly amazing for their prize.

I use them on the go all the time professionally and they are really the best you can get without shelling out a couple of hundred dollars for a proper station.

 

If you buy one, do yourself the favour and buy a big tip for it, because the pencil-tip shaped tip is one of the worst you can get for it. Just use something with a lot higher thermal mass (which means its bigger).

 

And what is also important, get a cheap power supply in the 19...24V range for the TS100 or in the 19...21V range or a good USB-C supply, that can deliver 20V with 3A for the Pinecil. Although both of them run with 12V, they dont do it really well on these low voltages.

 

A good silikone cable for it is also a really good idea and with this set, you can do almost anything from SMD soldering to big parts ob big ground planes, if you have a tip thats big enough.

 

By the way, i currently own 2 TS100 and one Pinceil and use them primarily with the TS-C4 tip, which is a reaaallly good combination.

 

I also use JBC and Ersa stations regularly, and they are better, but the TS100 and Pinecil can do most of the tasks almost as good as them by being a fraction of the price.

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A decent solder station like the ones described above, are the best choice if you do a lot of soldering. However, if your only doing occasional soldering, you can get a setup like I have:

 

soldering_irons.jpg.ac5318e34aa5fa33052cacb4ebfeb362.jpg

 

The 80w iron is my "primary" soldering iron. I use the 25w when a more delicate touch is needed. The butane iron was given to me,  I use when I'm doing something that running an extension cord would be a PITA. These cost me around $25 each, but I purchased them separately over the years.

 

Having said that, if your planning to do more than occasional soldering, getting a decent soldering station is the way to go. My son has an Aoyue 888A soldering station and it's really nice to work with. You can find them selling direct from China on eBay for a decent price:

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/384663208080?hash=item598fb6c090:g:F90AAOSw6oVh15p8

 

For $126 USD, it a great station. Maybe not as good as a Weller, but for the price, it's good enough to do all of the projects that I have used it for.

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2 hours ago, zogthegreat said:

A decent solder station like the ones described above, are the best choice if you do a lot of soldering. However, if your only doing occasional soldering, you can get a setup like I have:

 

Zog, i would totally recommend, you have a look at the Pinecil. It costs 26USD on its own and together with a power supply, a couple of tips, a stand etc... It blows all of what you just listet out of the water while being smaller and around the same price as your set. It might even be cheaper, if you have an old power brick, that you can use for it. It can do everything that the ones you listed, can do, and more. The TS100 is also highly recommended. It has an a little higher maximum voltage of 24V and with this a little more power, but doesnt work with USB power delivery. Performance-wise, they are otherwise the same. They even use the same tips.

 

 

The only function it doesnt have is the heatgun of the station your son owns.

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Get a 936 soldering station (or one of the digital versions) off ebay. The 936 soldering station goes under many brand names like Yotec, Yihua, YCD, but they are all copies of a Hakko 936.

 

You can get them for under $50 on ebay, and there are cheap soldering tips and probes available for when you need to replace the tip of the soldering iron (or if you just want a different profile). You can control the temperature of the iron, and you can even calibrate it if you need to. Big Clive did a video on one of the digital versions and he got his calibrated within 2 degrees with ease, and it seemed decent.

 

Are any of these soldering stations as good as the original Hakko 936 they are based on? No. But unless your doing work where your soldering on large solder joints that require high thermal mass, there is little justification to spend 100$ more to get a Hakko if your doing this as a hobby.

 

The digital 936 clones on ebay sometimes have iffy soldering joints that can cause it to arrive DOA, but it seems rare. If you want a more mainstream brand get a Weller WLC100 for 55$ on amazon, its basic but my experience with Weller irons has been good.

 

If your doing work at a desk fixing circuit boards and stuff, you want a soldering station because it allows you to easily control the temperature, and it provides you with a place to hold the iron when not in use. I would only pick up a soldering iron if I were doing work outside or on my car where I need something portable.

"You can't fully appreciate new technology until you understand what came before it"

 

 

Experience in repairing: VCR, cassette decks, Walkman, film cameras, and Chromebooks

Programming languages: Java, Python, and C

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1 hour ago, Heats with Nvidia said:

Zog, i would totally recommend, you have a look at the Pinecil. It costs 26USD on its own and together with a power supply, a couple of tips, a stand etc... It blows all of what you just listet out of the water while being smaller and around the same price as your set. It might even be cheaper, if you have an old power brick, that you can use for it. It can do everything that the ones you listed, can do, and more. The TS100 is also highly recommended. It has an a little higher maximum voltage of 24V and with this a little more power, but doesnt work with USB power delivery. Performance-wise, they are otherwise the same. They even use the same tips.

 

 

The only function it doesnt have is the heatgun of the station your son owns.

Thanks for the advice @Heats with Nvidia   Unfortunately, both are currently unavailable in Canada. I'll have to wait for the border to reopen, (again!), to get one. 

 

 

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39 minutes ago, pyral said:

Get a 936 soldering station (or one of the digital versions) off ebay. The 936 soldering station goes under many brand names like Yotec, Yihua, YCD, but they are all copies of a Hakko 936.

 

You can get them for under $50 on ebay, and there are cheap soldering tips and probes available for when you need to replace the tip of the soldering iron (or if you just want a different profile). You can control the temperature of the iron, and you can even calibrate it if you need to. Big Clive did a video on one of the digital versions and he got his calibrated within 2 degrees with ease, and it seemed decent.

 

Here's the 936 that @pyral mentioned. 

 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/403254837076?hash=item5de3dc7f54:g:6TsAAOSwXmdhdnMo

 

For $30 USD, much better choice than the ones that I have... and at the same price that I paid for one iron.

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if you do have a quick charge laying around, you can get the pinencil for around 25 bucks, but consider that the tips are expensive, but it's fancy

 

cheaper irons like generic 7 dollar aliexpress iron's are alright, but they won't last long

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One thing to consider is how much you will do this.  Lower quality stuff makes more sense if it’s not going to be done much at all.   Do it a lot though and top level pro gear starts to make sense.  A lot of so structuon workers have really good reason to pay $400 for good boots for example.

Life is like a bowl of chocolates: there are all these little crinkly paper cups everywhere.

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The Hakko 936 clones are fine, but those cheap ones usually come with a lower power transformer (30-35w instead of 65w) so the tip heats up slower and takes more time to recover when you're soldering things. It's still ok for hobby projects and small jobs, soldering thin wires, components. 

Also, the tips they usually come with are the conical thin ones which are kinda bad, because there's very small heat reservoir and you don't have a lot of contact with the piece or copper pads you want to solder, so heat isn't transferred well. 

Luckily the tips are mass produced and cheap, so my advice would be to spend a few dollars on getting chisel tips, and maybe the blade and the tip with a small depression in the middle of the tip (useful for drag soldering - you apply liquid / cream flux on the pads and leads of a surface mount part, then melt solder onto the iron tip and that solder stays in that small cup in the tip and then you can just slowly drag the solder over the component's leads to solder them to the pads)

 

Farnell / Newark likes to rebrand some of those chinese soldering stations under their own Tenma brand, so you can buy them with warranty from their stores. You can also get tips for them.

They're Farnell in some regions, Newark in others, and lately they've been bought by Arrow so who knows under what brand they're gonna do business. 

At the end of the day, you want a soldering station with adjustable temperature and with temperature sensor in the tip.  There are some cheap stations that have a temperature knob / potentiometer but don't actually have a sensor, that knob only adjusts how much power is pushed into the tip.. those I don't recomment using.

 

Anyway, going back to Farnell/, these would be fine

 

83$ : https://www.newark.com/tenma/21-10115/soldering-station-esd-safe-60w/dp/56T2208

 It's a rebranded Atten model, which uses the same Hakko 936 tips, and same 24v heating elements so fairly easy to repair if something breaks. 

They sell the tips (900M tips, Hakko style)  for 4.6$ - 6.8$ : https://www.newark.com/c/tools-production-supplies/soldering-stations-accessories/soldering-iron-tips-nozzles?brand=tenma&for-use-with=tenma-21-10115-21-10120-21-10130-soldering-stations

 

They also sell a 77$ station that looks like Hakko 936 on the outside but I'm not sure what tip it's using and the don't list replacement tips for it yet. 

I mean the station looks like the Hakko 936, the handpiece looks like Hakko 936, but in the pdf manual, the solder tip looks like Pace solder tips with the contacts in 3 rings. 

 

They used to have another Atten rebrand for around 40-45$ but not now. 

 

If you're in Europe, they have them cheaper there. 

ex 50 pounds + vat : https://uk.farnell.com/tenma/ss-207bc-f/soldering-station-60w-240vac/dp/2565326

and tips for it (i think it's same 900m but with other part codes) : https://uk.farnell.com/c/tools-production-supplies/soldering-stations-accessories/soldering-iron-tips-nozzles?for-use-with=tenma-ss-207bc-f-soldering-station

or the 230v version of the us one at 60 pounds : https://uk.farnell.com/tenma/21-10115-uk/soldering-station-60w-220v-uk/dp/2064549

 

SDG Electronics on Youtube also started reviewing a bunch of soldering stations which are cheaper, some are ok, some are bad.. may want to check the channel : https://www.youtube.com/c/Sdgelectronics

 

 

 

 

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I'm a fan of the Weller WES51/WESD51. I like the iron they use, there are plenty of different tips available, and they've been around for years so they're all over the used market for affordable prices. (They also don't carry the YouTuber Tax that inflates the price of Hakko gear.)

Oh no my chronic foot-in-mouth is flaring up again...

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17 minutes ago, Needfuldoer said:

I'm a fan of the Weller WES51/WESD51. I like the iron they use, there are plenty of different tips available, and they've been around for years so they're all over the used market for affordable prices. (They also don't carry the YouTuber Tax that inflates the price of Hakko gear.)

The quality of Weller soldering stations has dropped significantly in the last period, and they're still expensive for what you get. I guess it could depend on the country and local distributors, but in general it's too expensive, not worth it. 

For example, their latest Weller 1010 is 150 euro and doesn't have even have a fuse on the primary side of the transformer.

Weller 1010 on Farnell : https://uk.farnell.com/weller/t0053298699/soldering-station-70w-230vac-450deg/dp/2851721

 

 

 

 

Not just this model, even other cheaper models have issues and quality control problems 

 

 

 

 

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That's why I specified their older models.

Oh no my chronic foot-in-mouth is flaring up again...

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On 2/2/2022 at 2:25 PM, Needfuldoer said:

I'm a fan of the Weller WES51/WESD51. I like the iron they use, there are plenty of different tips available, and they've been around for years so they're all over the used market for affordable prices. (They also don't carry the YouTuber Tax that inflates the price of Hakko gear.)

The old Weller are only good, if you can get them for much less than a TS100 or Pinecil. I had one of those and have been working for a place which had these old Weller and we immediately swapped them out for TS100 which are superior in every respect, except maybe longevity because they didnt have any chanxe to prove it yet.

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