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May 29, 2013
about 2 years ago
Same issue here, and then the plastic collar broke (see comment below).
Just had the chance to buy this recently, and comments:
Iron is a bit flimsy – after only using this 4-5 times, the plastic connector on it snapped where you connect the tip with the iron – it looks like just due to bad plastic. Sparkfun, to their credit, is sending a replacement. I guess I shouldn’t expect more at this price, but was a bit disappointed on the build quality of the part. This was just soldering connectors, no pressure on the tip, or anything. Might have been a manufacturing defect/fluke with that particular iron.
Temperature output is great, for rosin core (regular, lead) solder, and seems to work well.
Although advertised as lead-free capable, I have had little to no success with the lead-free solder sold at Sparkfun and this iron. It seems like the iron is just not hot enough to get the lead-free solder to melt without first frying the contact/electronic component/board. Switching to normal, leaded solder eliminated all the problem. This could be my poor, rusty soldering technique (grew up in the leaded solder era on Weller soldering irons), but I wouldn’t recommend it with lead-free solder. Painless with normal rosin core, completely frustrating with lead-free solder.
Heats up fast, for sure.
Much better than any other cheap soldering iron I’ve seen at this price, despite issue #1. Have tossed other irons at this price point which failed to get to temperature or maintain temperature.
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