Instructables

Good Cheap soldering Iron?

Anyone know of a good, yet cheap soldering iron? I like the pen variety, not the gun type. My current one is a pain because it doesn't have a regulator, so I have to unplug it once it gets hot... or it gets WAY to hot. Sorry if there is no-such-thing...

Vaginatron3 years ago
If you are serious about electronics and want for your creations to function well, please just spend the money and get the right soldering iron. I screwed up enough circuits due to a bad iron that buying a good one pretty much pays for itself.
I just got done ordering a new $25 video converter because i screwed up TWO of them from using my crappy soldering iron on it...the first got fried because my soldering iron was TOO hot, and the second because it wouldn't hold solder properly due to being poorly 'tinned', so a big blob just rolled off and landed on the main SMT IC chip, seriously annoying!

Look at Adafruit.com or Sparkfun.com, both of those sites have very good soldering irons listed for about $40+ dollars, which is a decent price for an actual quality soldering iron. It has an external heat supply that allows you to set the temperature so that it doesn't get too hot, and it should heat up in about 30 seconds, if not less.

It is well worth the investment and will pay for itself over time.
cold_fusion8 years ago
Kentek is onto something, good and cheap pretty much never go together. If you want a portable soldering iron I think a butane would be best, but they aren't cheap. Also this reminds me: whats up with americans saying "sod-er-ing" and "sodd-er"?
zachninme (author)  cold_fusion8 years ago
What do you say?
musicman3868 years ago
Crash2108 had a good idea. I have one that I bought in a side-of-the-road hardware store. I spent $1.49 and it works great. It does get to hot though. I should get a dimmer switch.
trebuchet038 years ago
My current one was $3 at Big Lots... well, technically its a wood burning iron.. Honestly, it does a piss poor job -my last one was a radiocrap model... It too did a piss poor job. I end up having to smear on solder rather than touching the contact area with the iron - then removing the iron and touching solder to it (like you're supposed to do :P). Its better to start off too hot than too cold ;) A good iron is on the list of things I'd like to get -- along with a nice (non $1 HF variety) multimeter :P
zachninme (author)  trebuchet038 years ago
I only have a dollar-tree store "multimeter". However, I have figured how to test things like continuity with it.

My current one is so bad (mainly the tip, I guess...) is that I can't "thin". I have to touch the point, then add in the solder.
The problem with a very hot iron is that it takes more than a second for it to cool. That is VERY annoying when you are trying to do things like LED matrix.

Before this, I had a "Cold-heat". That was a real piece of crap. $20, and $10 per replacement tip. I only got it because my parents were afraid to give me a real one :-P

I soldered about 500 points before burning myself for the first time :-P That is pretty good!
(I know how many points because I assembled some kits that say how many points they have, then I estimated the rest)
Yea, I bought the stupid "Cold-heat" too and that thing sucks. I mainly got it for jobs that didn't have an outlet nearby (and quick touch-up jobs), but seeing as how it can only melt lead-free solder (little had I known), I sort of "melted" part of the tip away and as for lead-free soldering jobs, it still sucked..... hmmmm anyone know if there are battery powered irons (good ones)? I'm sure you could make one, if you wanted to :)
kentek8 years ago
Good and Cheap don't go together very well. I can't imagine attempting to do something delicate like solder with a POS tool. Usually you will muck up the work or piss yourself off so badly that you wont finish the job. I suggest you spend the $ on a good solder station. It doesn't have to be top of the line but you should at least be able to buy different heat temp tips for it. Maybe check out eBay. Even try Harbor Freight. Their stuff is all from China but some of it is decent.
zachninme (author)  kentek8 years ago
I don't care about a expensive station, just a cheap iron.
Crash21088 years ago
10$ el-cheapo radioshack one. Best I've ever had. If it get's too hot, just buy a lamp dimmer switch. The external one you just plug in.
zachninme (author)  Crash21088 years ago
AH! thats it. Ive been using a el-cheapo $5 one. The dimmer switch is very smart!