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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
New to this "hobby" of tinkering with my PC peripherals. Can you suggest me some budget-friendly soldering iron kits? Looking at the ones from HAKKO since I've been watching this YouTuber and that's what he regularly uses, are those ones good?
 

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Big Dog
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Any decent quality soldering iron that heats to at least 350C (662F) will work. Just ensure the that the tip is tinned properly. There are a number of decent soldering stations available online, most for less than $50.
 

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I burn through soldering irons like crazy. I used to get the more expensive ones, but there is really no sense because they ALL burn up after a bit of time.

The cheap electric ones with the fine tip are best for desktop electronics while the propane/butane ones are best for portability and higher heat outputs for larger projects and large gauge wire. Get a soldering iron stand as well. It keeps you from burning the counter top!

You will also need a desoldering device of some kind so you don't overheat a project while trying to undo something. A cheap manual pump solder sucker works great
 

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Been running a Soldering Iron for over 50 years and don't think I ever burned one out. I have replaced a few tips when they would no longer take a tin but that is expected.

A station that holds the iron and a wet sponge to help keep the tip clean is good. My favorite is a variable temp unit so I can match the tip and the temp for the work I'm doing.

Bud
 
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Buy something good. But it once. Basic station with have holder, adjustable temp and sponge tray.
If price is not a concern, you may want to look at a station with a solder sucker pump (de-soldering) tool.
For boards you need and must have variable temp control.
 

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Junk electronics will have lots of boards you can practice on. You can even start your collection of spare small parts, diodes, resistors, and ICs. learning to identify components is an important part of working on pc boards. And practice is a must.

Not sure what the available videos are showing but there are many tricks that help do a better job without damaging the board or components.

Also, pick up an analog VOM (voltage ohm and milliammeter).

Good luck.
Bud
 

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I have one of the Hakko digital soldering stations. I don't do much PCB work but it would be excellent for that. I typically stick to musical cables and guitars.
 

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Keep the tip clean and tinned. The sponge shown in the link is important. Keep it damp, wipe your tip on it each time you solder. Just before turning the iron off, wipe the tip and apply fresh solder. Extends the life of a tipl

Wiping not only cleans the tip, it lowers its temperature causing the tip to heat; just what you want when soldering.
 

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Big Dog
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Not sure what the available videos are showing but there are many tricks that help do a better job without damaging the board or components.

Also, pick up an analog VOM (voltage ohm and milliammeter).

Good luck.
Bud
To expand on Bud's post, there is a channel on YouTube run by Louis Rossmann from which one can learn more about PCB repairs.

Rossman owns a PC repair business in NY and many of his videos expose the ineptitude and/or deception of the Apple Genius Bar. He does this by taking computers the Apple Genius Bar claim either cannot be repaired or requires hundreds of dollars of replacement parts and repairs them for a fraction of what Apple wanted usually by simply locating and replacing a bad IC on the board or repairing a loose connection.

The repair process is shown through a microscope connected to a monitor so you can see in detail what is being done.

Rossman is also a big proponent in right-to-repair and often testifies at hearings on the matter.

For anyone not familiar with this issue, manufacturers, mainly of mobile phones and laptops are making it harder and harder for owners to get their products repaired. It is obvious they are trying to force consumers to buy new products. Well not everyone can afford to buy a new laptop every year or two, especially if they can get theirs repaired for a fraction of the cost.

Apple seems to be one of the biggest culprit in this. It has gone so far as to try and use government entities in an attempt to shut down repair facilities often with bogus claims that those facilities are using "counterfeit parts" to do repairs.

There is a similar battle going on between farmers and John Deere over commercial equipment.

John Deere is forcing farmers to cede all repairs of equipment to the manufacturer by locking down the software preventing the farmer or a third party repair facility from being able to perform the repairs or servicing themselves. John Deere is essentially telling farmers that may have purchased an $800,000 piece of farm equipment but they don’t own the machine’s software and merely receive “an implied license” to operate the vehicle? The problem is the operation of modern farm equipment is so integrated with the on-board computers that without them, the farmer has a 20-ton lawn ornament.

Farmers are complaining that it often take JD 3-4 days to get a tech out to do a 30 minute fix. Meanwhile the farmer has lost 3-4 days of productivity. Some farmers have turned to buying hacked software to enable to them to do the repairs themselves.

I did not mean to hijack the thread, but thought the issues might be of interest.
 

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Good post and the problem is extensive.
Tears back so cannot reference but I read a bulletin from Big Blue to their service techs, my brother was one of those techs. It stated that 75% of their board failures were the result of bad solder joints. When a PCB was returned for service the first step was to run it through the wave solder machine which re-soldered everything and eliminated further troubleshooting. Along that line of thinking I became very good at identifying those cold solder joints, I didn't have a wave soldering machine.

Bud
 
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Before the advent of surface mount, I saved a lot of time, and more than a little money, by reflowing solder joints instead of ordering and waiting for a warranty replacement. Initially I was flabbergasted at how often it worked, then it just became a fact of life. Always notified a manufacturer's sales rep, to let the company know there was a problem and it was known.
 

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The primary reason my efforts to identify cold solder joints was so successful is we supported a huge inventory of identical machines. Once I spotted a troubled component I knew to resolder that point on every similar machine that came in for repair. I established a "symptoms and solutions" book so all new tech we hired could avoid repeating the troubleshooting I had to do. My company made a bundle of money being fast and effective at doing repairs and preventive maintenance (fixed them before they failed).

Bud
 

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Mine were with items added after the solder bath. These were on the solder-side of the board, components omitted to reduce import tariffs or some other reason.
I agree on your book. I always said my legacy would be how well the department ran after I was gone.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Nice! I didn't expect this thread to get this much attention, and I ended up learning a lot more than I expected to. I'm actually experimenting on an old keyboard PCB to practice my soldering skills. Kinda getting into that custom keyboard hobby so I wanna practice soldering before splurging on those expensive kits.
 

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All kinds of electronic stuff gets thrown away every year so don't hesitate to grab some for practice. I use a solder sucker (not sure of the brand) for removing solder to remove components. One trick is to first add a little extra solder so the sucking action can slurp it all away.

Have fun
Bud
 

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Just my preference but never liked the solder wick. The pump does a much better job of cleaning out the old solder. Key point is to avoid overheating the copper paths. Once they peel away you have a mess. The wick probably isn't expensive so maybe give it a try on something you don't care about so you will know first hand.

Bud
 

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Like Bud9051, my preference was a solder sucker, but solder wick may work better on SMDs. Mostly it's personal preference, and we prefer is often the first thing we tried that worked.
 
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