Today I awoke to one of my packages arriving from SparkFun. Today it was my Variable 50w soldering station and ESD safe SMD Tweezers. Upon opening the package I was greeted with two red SparFun box’s.
After open the red box I was again greeted with a rather amusing 2 page instruction manual. After taking out all the components of the station from the box, and examining them they feel of good sturdy construction. The base station is solid and rather heavy witch I like. “I’m not the type that likes to hold something that feels like it will break in my hands”
the soldering iron itself also feels of good sturdy construction the tip is a bit fine but you can replace it if you don’t like fine tips.
The holding station is rather nice as well it comes with brass sponge to clean the tip of the iron to help prevent oxidation of the tip, bad stuff the black hard residue on the end of the iron if not taken care of.
Putting the unit together is a snap, really just connect the hot end plug into the main station tighten down the lock washer plug the unit in and your pretty much set aside fron turning it on via the side rocker switch. The brass housing for the sponge seems to like to pop out of its holding area, easy fix pop it out and ever so slightly bend the flaps that hold it in outwards a bit and it should now fit rather snug.
Fully assembled unit. Oh and I forgot to mention the unit can go up to 480 Celsius “896 Fahrenheit” and it gets up there fast. Tinning the tip is easy with this unit set the unit to about 350c or to just above the melting point of your solder, touch the tip of the solder until it starts to melt then apply a generous amount to the tip of the iron and rotate the iron if needed to coat it then take a rag of some sort and gently wipe from you to the tip of the iron and turn the iron off. After you have completed this step the tip of the iron should be shiny. This tinning process helps from oxidation of the tip. Here is a good video of how this should be done. Here.
Overall the service and quality of SparFuns products have yet to disappoint me. This unit is a must have for anyone starting out in electronics, or someone who just needs a good replacement iron. All in all the setup will set you back $40.00 not bad for something that if taken care of will last a long while.
I have used this station a few times in the last couple of days and everything is going good. The wand doesn’t heat up or feel like its going to melt when I have the unit on, and the tip heats up fast and stays hot. The sponge cover is still on nice and tight. Although the holder for the wand is a bit small it still hold the wand in place and doesn’t allow the tip to touch the walls. All in all a good experience, I’ll update more if anything else happens to the unit.