Recently, in an ETO thread, Mikebits described a reasonably priced solder station that he had just ordered. As the information in the thread may be of general interest, with the contributor’s agreement, I have paraphrased it and posted it as an article so that it is more visible and easily accessed. Some information has also been added.
The contributors, in order of posting are: Mikbits(OP), KeepItSimpleStupid, G0WZB, JimB, MrAl, dr pepper, Inquisitive,Reloadron, Little Ghostman
If you are into electronics good solder joints are essential, but solder joints and rework are getting more difficult to do in the face of increasing miniaturization, especially with the advent of surface mount components with narrow leads and close spacing. Ball grid arrays (BGAs) have greatly compounded the difficulty. A range of bits for the soldering iron is essential. In general, the soldering options are:
(1) Soldering iron
Basic mains powered soldering iron, possibly temperature controlled.
(2) Solder station
Base unit with soldering iron bit temperature control, soldering iron, soldering iron holder, sponge/scouring/chemical bit cleaner, and possibly a heat gun. The iron typically operates at 24V AC. A magnifier may also be part of the station.
(3) Rework station
Comprises a solder station plus extensive facilities for soldering and rework, possibly including an oven.