Soldering pencils

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koitsu
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Soldering pencils

Post by koitsu » Sun Nov 01, 2009 1:00 am

Anyone have recommendations for soldering pencils of sorts? *looks in the direction of bunnyboy* ;)

Also, just to clarify: by pencil I do not mean "soldering iron with a replaceable tip" (I already own a WESD51, which is a bit bulky). I'm talking about something with a thinner overall base and a tip that's smaller for work on console carts or similar.

I've heard about butane soldering pencils (Cooper Tools/Weller makes something called a PyroPen; there's also the Portasol, but that looks to have fat/wide tips), but I have no idea how decent they are.

Discuss? :D

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NESHomebrew
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Post by NESHomebrew » Sun Nov 01, 2009 1:57 am

I'm in no means an expert at soldering, but when it comes to portability, a $15 iron from radio shack has always worked for me. (I'm from Canada, does radio shack still exist in the US?)

The nice thing about them is even though they don't have an adjustable temp, they are low power enough that you don't need to worry about overheating components or lifting traces (unless you keep it there for an extended period of time.

Also, if they ever break, it's only $15 to get a brand new one. I've had mine for 5 years and with proper tip care, it is pretty much good as new.

I've never used butane, so I can't comment... I've never needed to solder anything that wasn't more than an extension cord away.

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koitsu
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Post by koitsu » Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:12 am

I'd completely forgotten that my WESD51 has replaceable pencils which are much thinner/lighter weight -- except they don't appear to be compatible with the WESD51. Basically, the PES51 which comes with the WESD51 isn't exactly "ideal" for my hands, I guess.

Seems the WMRP, WP80, or WMP pencils are more along the lines of what I'd like, but they use a different station. :( What can I say, I have slender elf-like hands. :P

And yeah we still have Radio Shack in the States, but they're pretty much used for "oh crap I need some super generic parts *right now* and don't know where else to go" situations.

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Post by peppers » Sun Nov 01, 2009 7:18 am

Yeah the radio shack irons are total crap that barely work compared to something descent, you have the right idea Weller dose make the best irons by far.

Is your intended purpose just simple stuff like NES carts and such or will you be doing anything more advanced?

If its small electronics modifications any lower end soldering station would do quite well for this purpose I most commonly use the WLC100 40w soldering station for this kinda stuff. All of the Wellers are pretty well made so you really can't go wrong as long as you get the right tool for the right job. If its just NES mods your doing everything on its pretty easy to work with, so I don't see you needing anything special. Personally I've successfully soldered FPGA's by hand using my simple station.

You don't want butane irons for this kinda stuff, they are not really designed for small electronics, or at least I would not use them for that purpose. Also the lifespan of an electric iron is quite a bit longer than a gas one.
Last edited by peppers on Sun Nov 01, 2009 6:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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kyuusaku
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Post by kyuusaku » Sun Nov 01, 2009 9:17 am

If you really like Weller there's: http://www.cooperhandtools.com/brands/C ... 7103477118 which should be perfect for electronics.

If you're thinking of getting another cheap station, I'd recommend the old analog Hakko 936 with the small pencil (936-11) over another Weller. It's ~$100 with the nonstandard pencil. For around the same price though you may be able to find a very used Metcal station which are apparently the best, period, and always have small pencils for fine work.

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koitsu
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Post by koitsu » Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:34 pm

Thanks a lot guys!

I'll have to retract my previous statement (it's been a while since I've done soldering work) -- that is to say, it's not the pencil size/width that's a problem...

My problem seems to be with the distance between the pencil grip and the soldering tip. For example, on the WESD51, the distance between the grip area and the tip of the pencil is about 3.5 to 3.75" -- I've measured (boy that sounds bad!). The WM120 that kyuusaku listed appears to have about the same distance.

Ideally I'd like a distance of 1-2" at most -- the WMRP has 45mm (1.7"), WP80 has 52mm (2"), and the WMP doesn't say but I'm guessing 45mm or less.

I work on general electronic projects -- sure, console stuff, but occasionally doing soldering of wires (serial adapters, things of that nature). The WESD51 works great for the latter, but I've found that for electronics (PCBs, anything with pins, and (god forbid) surface mount) I have a lot of trouble.

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