Soldering Station

Hey everyone,

I was talking to Rich last night about setting up a proper soldering station, we cleared a bit of space and started looking at the available tools, still got more to do but I think it would be great to have a space that is kept really clean - it’s nightmare trying to solder 0603 components when there’s bits of crap everywhere, the components get mixed up with the general detritus.

To this end we discussed the possibility of purchasing a really good heat resistant soldering mat, that also has grounding, so I had a bit of a look around and found this which seems reasonable:

Anyone got any better ideas? General thoughts? Concerns? Comments?


Good idea and, yes, the place definitely needs a clean-up. Would be good to get a lot of the donated stuff that’s interesting, but of little practical day-to-day use, e.g. BBC Micros and bits of random cool lab components, out on the racking in the corridor. Then all SMD etc. parts in wall counted component drawers.

There was also talk of moving all the sheet material onto shelving built under the bench it’s currently piled on, which would be good to get sorted at some point.

The mat looks fine. Could also do with a half-decent stereo microscope that has illumination. You’ve probably seen that the tips on the irons are all ruined from abuse (not cleaned properly and tinned), so they need replacing. RS no longer sell that iron or replacement tips, but it’s going to be a generic model and I suspect someone will still be selling suitable tips.

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Hehe, well I don’t mind how other people work, but I need to be able to clearly see what I am doing when building such small things; I am not getting any younger and my eyes need all the help they can get. Realistically, no one should be doing that kind of detailed work in a messy environment, it’s just making hard work for yourself.

Drawers for components would be very cool. How does this work? Who owns the components that are there? I would not make a habit of taking components unless they really are surplus and not needed for anything. I would also question shelf life of some of it too. I do this to earn some part of my living so I have all the parts I need to build the things I do and need to keep the majority of those parts for that job, and make sure the parts are in good enough condition to be worthwhile putting in something that will inevitably be used for years to come, but occasionally I need just one or two things or might have one or two things spare.

No objection to more tidying up. There’s tons of storage space in the corridor and I agree that as much as possible should be moved out there, especially things that are known to be broken, to make room for people to sit and work on whatever project they like. I imagined ‘narrow columns’ rather than ‘wide rows’ for the sheet material, or maybe a combination of both? I don’t have a stake in this at the moment, so don’t really mind, just a suggestion.

I have dentist goggles that I find much more comfortable than using a microscope, peripheral vision remains intact and the field of focus can easily be moved around to suit. You are afforded a certain amount of eye protection and they are also really inexpensive.

I also have my own soldering iron, naturally I like to use the tools I am used to, but yes, I did notice that there’s a lot of nice stuff that needs some maintenance. While I don’t particularly need anything, it would be good to get all the group equipment fixed up so that I could do a ‘build your own synthesiser’ soldering workshop at some point or something.

It would be great to sort out a working power supply, frequency counter, oscilloscope and signal generator. I think I have seen examples of all these things, but I am unsure how many of them are working, calibrated etc…

Thanks… good to chat about these things :smiley:

Hi Kel. I’m all in favour of a dedicated space for soldering. I think the mat is expensive though. I can’t imagine we need one 3m long :slight_smile:

I’ve got one at home I can donate. It’s got a grounding plug too. I’m coming down on Tuesday night so can leave it somewhere for you if you want. It’s about 2 foot by 4 foot. Ideal for a typical work bench.

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Hehe, I didn’t spot that it was that size :joy:

All irrelevant now - thank you so much for your kind donation - that’s awesome!

You could leave it on the desk opposite the laser cutter, would be ideal :slight_smile:

They’re donated and free for anyone to use. You raise a good point here and a lot of other hackerspaces have a system of labelling stuff so that it’s clear what’s personal and off-limits (shouldn’t be much of this around), what’s free for anyone to use (but not disassemble if equipment) and what’s essentially scrap.

I suppose with components it would be nice if people made an appropriate donation, as with sheet material.

Yes, this would perhaps work better. Suspect we may need to look at getting a joiner in.

There’s at least one, if not two, bench PSUs that should work. Maybe dual/triple rail ones. There is one that got submerged during the flood and it should be obvious which this is, but wouldn’t hurt to mark as it do not use, or possible even throw it out — guessing it’s all rusted inside. @paul123 brought a scope or two down, as did @Giles I think. There’s a 75R spectrum analyser I brought down, which has a CRT scan problem and I suspect wouldn’t be too difficult to fix.

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All makes sense - thank you :slight_smile:

All for a labelling system, and contributions - all this stuff costs money and it’s easy to say oh it’s only so much - but it really adds up over time!

In terms of keeping a generally available stock of a wide variety of components I stumbled across these while looking for some particularly elusive components (any one else noticing a general lack of availability of a lot of things at the moment? Try finding a 25V 0.1uf 0603 5% cap - they are gone!) the other day, they seem inexpensive and super useful for that time when you just need 1 or 2 of something:

I ordered the Resistor book and the Capacitor book at 0603 because I do quite a lot of work with this size component and for ~£40 it seems like a no-brainer. On the listing I bought the resistor book from the components are marked as Yaego - I am sceptical but it has to be worth a try. I will be testing a few of them before placing!

Re Andrews comments about the power supplies, oscilloscopes… They are working, good pieces of kit. They were used in a professional capacity until they were donated last year.

There’s also a good Racal counter. I checked that with a calibrated signal generator and (if I remember directly) was accurate to 1ppm. It’s certainly good enough for tuning crystals etc.

And there’s at least one basic sig gen, that at least ‘works’.

By the 3D printer corner are some component trays. I think they’re all leaded components. Yes, could be very old so measure critical components before use.
Use the Wayne Kerr LCR meter that’s on the racks. (That was also tested before being donated.)

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You can see I don’t know how to quote properly in Discourse :slight_smile:
Those 0603 components will be great to have access to (very infrequently for me). Thanks very much @kel.
Yes, I’ve noticed component shortages recently, including ceramic capacitors. Have you tried using They search loads of distributors, showing you available stock.

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I put the mat on the desk yesterday. Looks like we can have a nice electronics working area there. It would be nice to have better microscope, but they’re about £160. I also use dentist goggles when I don’t have access to a good microscope.


Just select the text you want to quote with your mouse and the Quote button pops up:


Looks like it is starting to take shape already :smiley:

I’ll probably keep the component books with me as I flit between working from home and working in BR as I do plan on using them regularly - but if you, or anyone else, ever needs the odd thing here and there then you can know there’s a reasonable chance it is available in the valley at fairly short notice :smiley:

Thanks for the tip on ocotpart, I hadn’t seen it before!

Another thought, hang on - I’ll start a new thread, it is a different topic really:

How about a ‘tip jar’ for the component use? Anyone who uses any components puts change in according to the value they feel it offers them at the time - sometimes I would pay £1, or even more, for just one resistor because it means I can finish off a project right there and then! But also, 1p, 5p, 20p or whatever the single value of each component is would also be fine. That way we will build up a cash reserve to either re-stock on certain components or even buy new kit for the soldering station - that microscope is only 160 ‘desperate’ moments away for example :smiley:

Others could do the same with their own tip jars, one for 3D printing filament, another for Laser Cutting materials etc…

I am not attached to this idea so if anyone has any concerns or objections it’s fine!

There’s a secured locked box/safe thing bolted to the wall, which is meant for such things. I guess if we wanted to be specific about what money was put in for, it could be put in a marked envelope. Though it would be better to track this sort of thing via the wiki or some other electronic means.

I did put together a template for tracking sheet material use, but looks like nobody has ever bothered to update it.

It’s not a big deal, but if we did get into the habit and had similar pages for other consumables, it would make tracking these and allocating spend to replenish them a bit easier. A wiki page with table formatting is, admittedly, probably not the least hassle route!

Thank you!

Does anyone know if there is some of that acid stuff that is used for re-tinning soldering iron tips around? If not can we buy some please?

All the soldering irons are in pretty bad shape, I am going to try and resurrect them.

I checked to see if new tips were available but they are discontinued unfortunately.

I previously tried with tip cleaner and had no luck. I suspect that, as if often the case, the same iron will be sold under other names and there will likely be other models using the same format tips. Probably just a boring job of scouring the Internet to find a suitable replacement.

Thanks @9600

Ahh that’s a shame!

Yeah I did look, but not that much, I guess the easiest thing to do would be to email RS.

Spoke with the product manager and he couldn’t help.

Oh dear… thanks for trying!

Next time I am in I will check the model number and look for any clues on the tips themselves and try and find replacements.

Have wondered if there is something like reverse image search, where you could take a photo of a tip, upload it and then find web pages with photos of similar ones. Seems like that should exist…

Hi…In my opinion they are all inferior Chinese models and at that price all your doing feeding the Chinese companies behind them. Aoyue is emerging as popular but keep in mind a few years ago all these brands were obscure and now people are importing them and they are doubling the cost to the consumer.
When I purchased my Yihua 936 stations from Hobby King they came to about £6 each now they are about £12. I also kept an eye out and picked up the Yihua 858D hot air station for about £22.

pcb manufacturer