View Full Version : Soldering/ Unsoldering gear recomendations.

November 14th, 2015, 12:59 PM
Not long ago I bought an IBM 5160. It was running when I received it but shortly thereafter blew a tantalum cap in one of the floppy drives. Not a problem as I have spare drives. A few hours run time later the PC developed the Power Supply Fan Twitch fault. Turned out to be a bypass cap on the +5 volt runs of the MB. I clipped that one out, ordered some 3 legged caps and pressed on. Now the machine has blown another one. So I'm at the place where a sane person would consider recapping the whole MB.

So in my box of old tools that have been sitting unused since my now grown kids were born I have a Wahl Iso Tip that doesn't seem to hold a charge like it should and a couple of Radio Shack cheapie pencil irons. I have a garage full of vintage computers I need to get moved from the "junk" column to the "working antique" column and these tools could use some upgrading before I begin.

So I'm looking for a temperature controlled soldering station. Most places I look, people are comparing the Weller WES51 and the HAKKO FX888D. But in my searching I came upon one site where people were all excited about a semi-pro and out of production system, the METCAL SP200. Looks like the first two are in the $100 - $150 range new. The METCAL, which seems to be a somewhat more advanced piece of kit, can be had for $175 or so used.

I used Weller products both in my EE classes and at work and never had any complaints about them. But I'm unfamiliar with the other two companies. So I thought I'd see if you guys had any comments or recommendations before I buy anything.

November 14th, 2015, 01:42 PM
... So I'm at the place where a sane person would consider recapping the whole MB.
I bet that your IBM 5160 had been unpowered for many years. My experience when having acquired such machines is that, initially, you will see one or more tantalum capacitors fail, but after that, things 'settle down' fairly quickly.

By the way. During that 'burning in' period, I suggest that you wear safety glasses when you are working inside the computer. I have had some tantalum capacitors explode close to my face, and sometimes the fragments are alight (as evidenced by a burn mark in my carpet).

Bungo Pony
November 15th, 2015, 05:46 AM
I've never had any problems with my Weller irons. Those cheapie Radio Shack ones are garbage. They take forever to heat up and never give good heat either.

As for desoldering tools, I've always hated the "sold-a-pult" style ones. I've also never had good luck with desoldering wick as I find you need tons of heat to use it and I end up making a bigger mess of the job. My favourite desoldering tool is actually one of the cheaper ones:


I've had mine ever since I was a teenager and it's never let me down. Nice and small, quick to reset with your thumb, and gives good suction. Makes nice quick work of cleaning out holes for ICs.

November 15th, 2015, 07:31 AM
I have both Weller WES51/WEDS51 and a Metcal PS2E-01 Station. Both are very nice and work well.

If cost is a consideration, get the Weller. It works fine, and if you don't plan on soldering on a daily basis would be a perfect choice.

If the cost isn't an issue, you plan frequent use, and you can spare the desk space - get the Metcal. It heats almost instantly, no adjustments (the tip controls the temperature) and changing tips takes just a few seconds.

With some careful shopping, both Weller and Metcal stations show up on the used market and at Hamfest at modest prices.

The Metcal is my "daily driver".

- Gary

November 15th, 2015, 11:36 AM
I just have a cheap Aoyue 937 but it's been fine for hobbyist stuff. Make sure you get a good tip cleaner too. Brass sponge like the Hakko 599 works well.

November 15th, 2015, 12:02 PM
I bought a WES51 a couple years ago. It works as good as or better than any other soldering iron its size that I've used.

I won't but Hakko just like I won't buy Rigol.

I've not used a Metcal, but I would say the Weller will do everything you need to do. It's much better than the Archer/Radioschack ones.

I've never used a brass tip cleaner, maybe they work good. I've never had problems using a wet sponge or paper towel.

November 15th, 2015, 01:28 PM
I'm using a Saike 852D+ soldering station, and an Aouye 474+ desoldering station.
Neither are amazing, but get the job done just fine and are very low cost. Both are Hakko clones so higher quality tips are available cheap.

If you've got the money I'd buy better, but for hobbyist use they seem to get the job done. I'd recommend lots of practice with whatever gear you buy before touching anything of value though - I've got one or two motherboards here that I jumped on to a bit too early.

November 30th, 2015, 05:47 AM
I use a Hakko 936 station and love it. I use Edsyn Soldapullt devices (I have two) as my go-to desoldering solution, however I also use various wicks as well as a cheapie electric solder sucker that was recommended here quite awhile back in another thread.

December 13th, 2015, 05:53 AM
If you have the money and do a good degree of soldering:


Best solder station I ever used. Older Pace systems also do well (the new ones with the cardboard-type desolderer tubes are junk).

December 13th, 2015, 06:26 AM
I use Hexacon Select-o-Track irons. Good, cheap, and easy to fix in the rare case that the temperature control board dies.