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Old 02-21-2018, 04:24 AM   #1
Dannyx's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2016
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Default Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

Good day folks. Having worked in the field of electronics for a while now and having only used my shop's tools, I decided it's time I bought my own soldering station so I can carry on doing projects and repairs at home, now that I'm more confident in doing them.

While I have an above-average selection of tools compared to most people (my old man himself being passionate about crafting and the likes) these mostly include "hardware" stuff like screwdrivers, spanners, power tools, etc and not so much tools for electronics, much less so fine stuff like SMD. What I currently have is a soldering GUN....not an IRON, but a GUN You know one of those things where a copper wire loop heats up and melts the solder ? Well that's more than enough for soldering two wires together and even through-hole stuff, but it's nearly impossible to do SMD stuff with it, plus you run the risk of passing some voltage through the part itself and damaging it, so it's time I "graduated" from that.

What I use at work is an assortment of "Bakku" tools (a Hakko rip-off obviously), which also includes two soldering stations. They both have a hot-air gun and a soldering iron (actually one of them has TWO soldering hand pieces, but that's beside the point, since they're identical anyway).....they get the job done and seem decent enough, at least for what I use them. They served me well all these years and they're still going strong. So far there hasn't been a job which was too much for them - neither too big or too small. The only thing that's to blame at the end of the day, if anything, is skill, not the tools.

Not sure whether I should get one of these myself for home, from the same store where the shop bought ours, our invest in something better...with tools, the general rule of thumb is that expensive means better, but it's not always like that, case and point: one of these Bakku thingies costs way less than other stations out there which cost a fortune and it doesn't feel like I'm struggling with it....then again, it could just as well be because I haven't laid my hands on something top of the line which would blow my mind and make these things look like trash I certainly don't want to spend a fortune, especially since it won't see THAT much use at home, but at the same time I don't want to get a piece of junk either.

Question is, what exactly should I be looking out for in a soldering station ? The main difference that I see seems to be the typology of the hot-air gun: some are pump-based while others are fan-based, meaning they have the fan in the hand piece itself. The Bakkus I have are both fan-based. Not having seen a pump one before, I'm not sure which one is better and strangely enough, there aren't many tutorials or tips for purchasing soldering stations out there...or perhaps I didn't dig deep enough. I'm mostly interested in noise, airflow, stuff like that...any thoughts ? Another brand which seems fairly popular here is Gordak, though again, it seems favored by the european market and there aren't many reviews out there. Cheers and thanks.
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