On a whim I picked up a 30W soldering iron from a 99-cent store in Tucson.
I always say you can use a cheap iron to make nice solder joints as long as you have flux. Time to prove it.
There's a certain Fez Cerb40 that needed pin headers, so that's the first test.
|STM32F4-based Fez Cerb40 (from GHI Electronics )|
After warming up the iron and letting it smoke for awhile (what it was burning off I'd rather not know), I broke out some Radio Shack rosin core solder that's probably long expired. The stuff works moderately well with my Weller WES51 without flux paste or a flux pen.
Soldering on the pin headers actually went fairly well. The iron has a nice pointy tip for detail work. Heat took a little longer to transfer and solder flowed slowly but, it flowed. I'm sure this iron runs cooler than the 650-750° I set the WES51. The result? Relatively shiny solder joints. What do you think?
|Completed pin header soldering. Not bad...|
I used a Kester #2331-XZ flux pen and Radio Shack 0.015" silver bearing solder which I like a lot for detail work.
The iron acts differently than the WES51 on fine pitch SMD parts. I was able to sweep solder across the pins but had to go back and use a solder braid to remove solder.
Towards the end I could feed just enough solder to do a few pins at a time. Not bad. The soldering results were reasonable for a first try, don't you think?
|Soldering 0.5mm pitch LPC2101 pins with a $1 iron|
|The power cord can be replaced; it's twisted in place|
The Weller is somewhat better than this cheap iron with a finer tip for more control, and better solder flow, though at lower wattage it takes a long time to heat up. Best for use on surface mount components.