We know you've always dreamed of having a SparkFun branded soldering iron. And here at SparkFun, we are all about making wishes come true. This is a great step up from the basic soldering stations from Radio Shack or wherever you picked up a cheap iron because your last one broke right in the middle of a project.
Unit includes 110V base station, iron, iron holder, and brass sponge. We can't say enough good things about this iron - set the iron temp to 350C and forget it. It's the iron that we recommend to our friends who've been bitten by the electronics bug. It's just a workhorse!
The unit takes around 20 seconds to heat up. We are now shipping the irons with a brass sponge so you don't have to wet anything. Just wipe the tip across the brass sponge and you're good to go!
The red LED on the front will be constantly on while the iron is heating up. Then the LED will start to pulse slowly (on for around three seconds, off for around three seconds, repeat). This LED indicates that the iron has reached and is maintaining a constant temperature (also called a control loop or feedback loop).
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We currently don't carry specific replacement tips for the 50W soldering station at SparkFun. However, we've had customers use the Hakko replacement tips and they worked fine with the soldering station. In some cases, they said that the tips heated better and were more precise. Then again, that's for you to decide. ;)
Here are a list of Hakko tips that we have on stock that should work with your soldering station:
Hakko 3mm Bevel tip (T18-C3) [ https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10719 ]
Hakko Chisel tip (T18-D16) [ https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10720 ]
Hakko Conical tip (T18-B) [ https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10721 ]
The efficiency of the heat transferred from the tip to the joint is dependent on the the size of the soldering iron tip that you are using. Usually, you want to have a soldering tip that is about the same width as the soldering pad you are soldering to. For more information, check out this article by Hakko.
This skill defines how difficult the soldering is on a particular product. It might be a couple simple solder joints, or require special reflow tools.
Skill Level: Noob - Some basic soldering is required, but it is limited to a just a few pins, basic through-hole soldering, and couple (if any) polarized components. A basic soldering iron is all you should need.
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I only have issue with this soldering iron, but it is a problematic one The collar that holds the actual iron part to the handle is the cheapest thing imaginable and after just a few months of use its threading degraded badly. I am already having to use plumbing tape to hold it and that seems to be only a short term fix.
They don't sell replacements or upgrades for that part, so it looks like I am gong to have to use a hose clamp or something to keep my otherwise awesome soldering iron running.
Hi, Sorry to hear that you are having some issues with your wand. We would be happy to help you with this. Email us at techsupport at Sparkfun.com and we'll be able to take care of you.
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What more can I say? This soldering station does the job, isn't terribly expensive (Hakko, Weller, I'm looking at you), and is high quality to boot. Others have noted the bronze sponge-holder that keeps popping out-a bit of electrical tape (or Gorilla Tape, or pretty much whatever you please) on the edges fixes that while not being unsightly. The switch is very solid and makes you feel quite confident when you push it. Compatibility with Hakko tips is always a bonus. The Hakko FX-888D's digital temperature controls seem quite awkward, but the dial on this is simple and gets the job done. The potentiometer feels a bit scratchy here and there, but is overall quite nice and solid. The small arrow at the base of the knob is a nice touch. The wand is thin, light, and quite easy to hold (and it stays completely cool, too). The stand is a bit loose, but works just fine. (For those with cramped work areas, the angled base station is a blessing and a curse-it makes it easier to see and control, but you can't put your iron holder on top of it.) It would be nice if the light would do a PWM fade or switch between green and red, etc. instead of simply blinking on and off-this can be quite annoying to think, "Did I remember to turn off the soldering iron? The light's off, but it might just be blinking very slowly..."
It's really quite a shame that this was retired. The good news: this probably means a new revision of it is coming out soon!
EDIT: Unfortunately, SparkFun relayed to me that they currently have no plans to replace this, leaving us with only two iron choices from them: the cheap iron without temperature control and the expensive Hakko FX-888D. Again, I'm quite sad that they discontinued their best midrange iron that's not too expensive while still being very useful.
Heats up fast and does the job even without digital readouts
(the price being $45)
I love this soldering station, and have recommended it to everyone I could.
The soldering station is well built, seems to maintain temperature well, is very easy to use, and takes standard, high-quality Hakko tips. The iron's cable is very flexible and doesn't try to pull the iron around like a stiffer cable would. The included brass sponge works much better than a traditional wet sponge, in my experience. The stand is very sturdy and has no meltable parts.
I have done both leaded and lead-free (including SparkFun Special Blend) soldering with this station, and it handles it all with no difficulty. I haven't tried to use it for difficult parts like heatsinks and huge wires yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it struggles with those—it's only 50 W, after all.
I have noticed a few annoyances:
The iron fits very loosely in the stand, so it could be pulled out easily by something snagging and pulling its cable. I've thought about adding magnets to keep it in place.
The brass sponge's roof thing doesn't stay in. I fixed this with some Gorilla Tape; someone else fixed it by putting bumps on the sides to hold it in.
(minor) The stand's metal feet might scratch soft surfaces, and they make noise when sliding. I put some Gorilla Tape on them too.
(minor) The power cable is not removable.
(minor) The power switch is in a slightly awkward location. I'd prefer it to be on the front.
(minor) There's no display of the current temperature. This is to be expected on an analog soldering station, though, and I haven't really been hindered by it.
Most importantly, I can no longer recommend it to everyone who wants a good but inexpensive soldering station, because it's been discontinued. :'(
But I need another. I see the Atten 937B available on eBay. It just has the cleaning sponge. Are the parts available to add the brass sponge?
Actually what I was looking for is the trim piece that holds the brass sponge. Thanks!
If you are interested, we sell a brass sponge - https://www.sparkfun.com/products/8964
I got this iron a few years ago. I have never had any issue with it. I have issues with the quality of the holder, but I've found that the adafru.it/1154 holder pairs wonderfully with it.
If I could improve anything on this iron: