What sort of soldering iron/station should I use to wire up my uBITx?

Richard WB8YXF asks what sort of soldering iron or gun should be used to wire up his uBITx.   The answer is pretty much anything.

Doug Wilner responded as follows:

“Kind of like asking what car you should buy or shovel or rifle or whatever.  We can be much more helpful if you know your goals.  Are you on a limited budget and this is the only thing you plan to ever build and need the cheapest way to just get this done or do you have so much spare cash you light Cuban cigars with $100 bills and want the best tools that will last for generations?

“Personally my go to iron is a supposedly 60w adjustable pencil type iron that I keep planning to upgrade but I like it and it gets the job done.  I have this one https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00Y9UW2XA  that was around $15.  It isn’t available anymore but there are tons of similar Chinese ones on Amazon.  While you’re at it I would suggest picking up one of the copper scrubby looking tip cleaners.”

Perhaps not a soldering gun (first seen in the 1950’s).   You have to press the trigger and wait for them to heat up.  A soldering iron with a thermostat and adjustable temperature is a much better option.

These soldering guns were a source of wonder to the ubitx.net editor in his youth, because his Elmer had one and swore by it.   Of course, said editor earned an income from mowing lawns around the neighbourhood and this meant he simply couldn’t afford it – it was around NZ$60 even then.   Joe KD2NFC said, “I used to watch my grandfather repair tube TV’s with this one.”

The Weller 853D shown at the top of this news item is a full rework station as well and on special can be around US$70.

Chris, KF4FTR, makes the observation, that “Having a hot air gun available for tighter pitch work is important.

“Spark fun has an old multi page tutorial on SMD work located at https://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/category/2 .

“Is it possible to use just an iron? Sureand again it depends on the work that will be done. However, if you look at the page for removing multi pin SMD ICs you can see the results of trying to this without hot air. You can try and physically force them out of place or use an xacto knife to try and cut the pins. Both are bad because just flexing the part can rip a pad out which means you will need forceps and wire to fix it, or you can cut traces with the knife.

“The best thing to do if any rework or SMD parts need to be placed is to get the right tool for the job which is a hot air rework station. I have seen people suggesting 100$ irons. Well, if you spend the 70$ on a rework station you wont have that problem… This again is all based on the assumption that this person will need to work on the UBitx or mods or possibly other kits. Sure its another 50 bucks or so, but it will save hours of frustration for a person who hasn’t even used an iron in a long time.”

Rich WB2GXM also points out, “There are two very good Youtube videos by Dave Cassler, KE0OG, on soldering irons, accessories and techniques”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XW_gkdWJ5U https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gqz1xGj_m_E