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(very) basic soldering - the tools
by IKE 28-Dec-2009 00:24

This post is about the basic tools and equipment for soldering (and desoldering) electronic components. The most essential tool is of course a soldering iron. I already had an 26W iron and although with experience one can use it effectively a small diameter 11w is the next best thing to an expensive soldering station. This one is a JBC 14S 11W and it cost me around 40 euros .---

In the image below you can see the difference in size between the 11W 14S model and the 26W 40S model. I also bought the smallest soldering tip I found, a round 0.5 tip (JBC B-03D) although the slightly bigger standard one of the 14s does the job.

A solid stand is quite expensive for just a piece of iron but it will pay itself. Just be sure that it fits your soldering iron and when you are using it don't forget to moist the sponge whether you use it or not because if it is dry it will at some point accidentally burned from the tip.
If you are soldering very small and closely placed components buy the thinnest soldering wire you can find.
The stand with the clips (in the right) is hugely useful and it will save you from some extreme acrobatics. There is a reason it is called the third hand. This particular example was cheap (7 euros) but not very good quality although it does the job ok. The magnifying glass although it can help in showing more detail it messes with depth perception and I never use it, maybe I should just take it out.

Another very useful tool I didn't knew it existed but I realized I always wanted is this mini vacuum pump that with the help of the iron can move away the melted wire and desolder parts. It is very effective and although made from plastic it is very durable in high temperatures. Mine have touched momentarily the hot soldering tip but has not even a scar. It just needs regular cleaning because it accumulates the sucked melted wired. This particular one is an ERSA VAC-3 and cost me 15 euros. Last but not least from my small but intensive soldering experience the best way to clean the soldering tip is bu rubbing it to metal sponge (used for cleaning in the kitchen). I used the thickest first and the thinner last and the tip stays clean and shiny.

A last piece of advice, always buy the best quality tools you can afford, they will pay themselves in the future, do some research before you buy and ask any questions you have to the people in the store.

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