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Soldering is excited when it comes to electronics. Almost every guy into electronics finds it very interesting.
But when you are new to this fun world, i.e. soldering, and you don’t know much of it. It’s very hard how to choose a soldering station for yourself and your projects.
You want to solder but you don’t know what is the best tool and station to solder with. If you have this in mind.
Then worry not!
In this post, I share useful knowledge to help you in how to choose a soldering station for your projects.
Table of Contents
Choosing a soldering station
Back then PCB was not that complicated as it is now. Devices are getting smaller and smaller with time, which is very good for technology overall but it is making the soldering process complicated as well.
There are lot of components which are now impossible to be solder by human hands with perfection, it is done in PCB manufacturing houses.
Almost these days everything is done with machines, and sometime one may think that soldering is just for repairing or when prototyping your own design yourself.
This might be true but this is not the case. Soldering is still as important as it was and it will be.
For a quality soldering you need a quality soldering station, to get one following are the factors you need to consider.
1.What are your requirements?
This is the most important question you should ask yourself first. By requirements I mean specifically what type of boards you gonna solder? What types of components you will deal with the most i.e. the through hole or SMD?
Through the hole components are easy to solder as compared to SMD and can be done neatly with any budget soldering station. And if you are very new to electronics, you can solder them easily with a simple stand alone solder iron.
On the other hand, SMD components are not very easy to solder. Sometime people prefer to solder them in the manufacturing house and not prefer to solder themselves.
It is a good idea not to solder them yourself as there is high chance you will damage the device if you are not careful and don’t have high expertise.
2. What is your budget?
This is a very obvious question.
I include is to give you my advice. Never go for a cheap brand made soldering station. If you do you will regret it very soon.
Have a decent budget and I promise you will never regret investing on a high quality brand made soldering stations. The reason is, it feels too bad when you finish a board with soldering and it doesn’t look neat. clean and professional. And bad soldering happen only with bad soldering station.
So never settle for a cheap one.
3. The right brands
Brands are the most important thing to look for when it comes to invest in any device. I am a brand person and never trust anything if I don’t familiar with its brand.
When choosing a soldering station there are few brands that have proved themselves with time. According to me they are Hakko and Weller. I am a great fan of these brands.
Do your own detail research and select the brands which feels good to you.
4. Must have features
Having cool features in any device is good. Good features makes the device more desirable.
Same goes for soldering stations, quality features means a quality station. But this makes the station expensive too.
Eliminating all the fancy features, following are the must have in any soldering station. These features cannot be ignored in any case.
Temperature control is crucial for any soldering station.
What happens if you a station with bad temperature controller, you end in burning or damaging components on the board.
For your information, analog temperature controllers are also available but they not precise as that of digital. Digital ones are more accurate and easy to operate.
2. Light weight and easy to carry
Who cares for a bulky device. If someone does. Let me tell you, what’s wrong with you?
A light station is plus because who knows where you will need it for soldering. It is easy to carry it in your lab, put it anywhere.
3. Having a decent warranty
These days the brands I mentioned provides warranty of more then a year. I think almost every manufacture does the same.
But in case you see a station, loved it, and there is no warranty, think again.
4. Easy spare parts availability
We know, there is always a possibility of damaging a part of a station.
It happen no matter what you do. So, go for the brand thats can provide you with all the spare parts anytime in the world.
Moreover, sometime you may also need extra tips for your station. These tips should be available easily to you. If not you may find yourself in hard situation.
You have to make sue of the all the above things because it is good to buy spare parts rather than buying a whole new station.
5. Stand by temperature setting
This means if you are not doing anything with your station, it must automatically setup itself to decent settings.
This save power as well prolong the station life. Thus making it reliable device for your soldering career.
6. Sleep time mode
This is same as the above. You station goes to sleep if you left it untouch for a specific period.
Again this feature helps saving a lot of power, also extend the life of tips and the whole station itself
7. Error message indication
This is for people who are very new to electronics.
I think this is must because when you are new to something there are higher chances of missing things up. And soldering station could be the device you should not miss up, as you can harm yourself or burn yourself.
8. ISO certified and conforms to international standards
It is an international safety stranded. A device having this certificate is guarantee safety. Don’t avoid it in any case.
9. ESD safe
If you are working on SMD Circuits then this feature cannot be overlooked. It will ensure that no static electricity pass through the sensitive SMD components. You just cannot ignore this point.
10. Automatic solder feeder
This feature will optimize the soldering by saving solder wire to the maximum. If you are very frequent soldering station user, then you can find this feature good.
It free-up your one hand. Also, the solder quality becomes very consistent.
This feature is not must have one, but I think it is cool one.
Soldering station is the basic tool for repairing. A bad station can lead you to ugly results so care must be taken when it comes to choosing a soldering station.
I can’t put all in summery, but following are the key things from the whole above post.
- First look for the famous brand that has a proven track record.
- Write down your requirements, like what type of board you will repair? What key components you will solder the most.
- Manage your budget, never settle for a low price station you will regret it very soon.
- There are some key feature a station must have in any case that are below
- Temperature control with a good PID control system
- ESD safe and have tips interchangeable compatibility
Hopefully, this article has helped you in some way and you enjoyed it.
Thank you and have a good life
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