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Support Forum » Soldering Iron

January 30, 2011
by nanaeem
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Just started work on my LED Array. I was hoping someone could recommend a cheap but decent soldering iron. Since I have never soldered before I do not want anything fancy for now. If I find that soldering is something I would be doing more and more I will look into a nicer one. What features are a must have for someone who is not likely to use a soldering iron more than maybe making an led array, led cube and maybe do some basic soldering on a perf board. Wattage and tip shape seem to be some of the considerations. Any comments would be greatly appreciated. -N.

January 30, 2011
by mongo
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Look for something around 40 to 60 watts with a cone/chisel point. If it is too low in wattage, it will take too long to make a solder connection because of the sinking off of the heat by the material. That can end up cooking the components if there is heat on them for too long. You also need to watch out for too much power too. It may have so much that it overheats the components.

The best for the money are the little soldering stations that are commercially available. The hobby shop irons also work well but are not really intended for continuous use.

Another thing to be mindful is the type of tips available. Some cheap ones are chrome or nickel plated copper and once the plating erodes away, they start burning up.

I have one of those Isotip cordless irons and I think the tip is iron, which does not seem to burn away as fast as the copper tips.

January 30, 2011
by Keyster
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nanaeem

i am by no means a professional at soldering but i purchased one at SparkFun.com . it is a "soldering station" like mongo is talking about and i love it. before recently i only soldered about once a year and i used a Radio Shack "hobby" iron. i will tell you it is night and day different using a "real" iron. i can't imagine using the old Radio Shack special when i was building my LED Cube... ;)

also, google around for soldering "tips and Tricks" they WILL come in handy.

i just looked and the iron i purchased is currently out of stock but here is the link:

http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9672

January 30, 2011
by Ralphxyz
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Definitely make sure there is a replaceable tip and that you can buy the replacements.

Ralph

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