Involvement:Expert (understands the inner workings) - Ownership:more than 1 month
I don't know why, but I really enjoy using this soldering iron (and I've used a LOT of them in 30+ years as a hobyist). It's light, but *just* heavy enough that the weight of the cord won't drag it instantly off your desk or stand. The handle is cool and the tip is quite hot. The provided tip is reasonably good for fairly fine work. (see below) It's a cheery blue -- which shouldn't matter, but somehow does.
I like this soldering iron *but* I figured people would want a full description.
If you are thinking of using it with other tips: it uses a long unthreaded shank
(4mm diameter, total length ~ 6mm (2.4"), with about 42mm (1.75") in the barrel. You need that shaft length to pick up the full heat from the hollow heating core, so even though a threaded tip may fit, and be held by the two set screws, it won't heat well.
I've had inexpensive soldering irons that came this kind of long unthreaded shank, and they served me well for years, but I don't think I've ever seen long unthreaded replacement tips in the stores or at DX.
This isn't a big deal, since the tip it comes with is fine for through-hole PCB or even some SMD work, but you may wish you had a thicker tip for electrical wiring (e.g. soldering stranded power cord) or a chisel tip for SMD work. I'd still use it for those, but I've recently really come to appreciate the benefits of using "the right tip for the job"
I actually bought this to do some tests on heat distribution with a PID soldering Iron controller I built, but it glows *quite* hot near the base of the tip, so I never used it for the measurements I intended. It was too hot for the Kaptan tape I used to hold the thermocouples (I have some higher temp kaptan tape on order) That's a little bit of a concern, and suggests that this iron may not be as long lived as others. The can also be hotter than I like when working in cramped spaces around wires. Barrel heat can melt nearby insulation and make a smelly smoke.
I tried putting a thin sheet metal perforated shield to make it better for working among closely spaced wires, but while that helped, it seemed to make the barrel run hotter (due to reflected heat)
This is a good basic soldering iron. Don't misread my detailed cons. That's just for your info. I'd still be likely to buy one of these again for general PCB work
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