Electrical / Soldering Kit

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Electrical / Soldering Kit

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 8:45 pm

Hey everyone,

So, I'm in need of a basic electircal kit (wires, connectors, shrink tubes, maybe just a few resistors/capacitors, etc.) and a soldering iron, but am really having trouble finding what I have in mind. Back in college, a lab partner had this wicked kit with all of that stuff in it. Maybe it was just a hodge podge kit he had thrown together himself, I don't know. Anyway, I need something like that for a project I'm working on, and just need it in general.

I would like to only spend $30-$50. I've looked around online (Amazon, Google shopping, some manufactuer websites, etc.), but am coming up short. So far the kits I've seen are like $100+, which isn't what I'm looking to spend.

Here's a kit Radio Shack has a kit (http://www.makershed.com/Make_Electroni ... /mecp1.htm) that kinda looks like what I've got in mind, but it's really heavy on the electronics stuff (capactiors, resistors, bread boards, etc.). I'm just looking for a wiring kit, and maybe a soldering iron separately (a multimeter would be a plus). I've already got some speaker wire, odd computer components, and a self-adjusting wire stripper (the best tool ever invented??). I just need the soldering/wiring bits now.


What do you folks have? Was it a kit you bought, or something you just threw together over the years? Preferably, I'd like a kit that comes in an all-in-one . . . kit. Post up what you have and your thoughts about what I should do (is my price range realistic??). This might be in the wrong section - mods please move if necessary.

Thanks!
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Re: Electrical / Soldering Kit

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:00 pm

I've picked up pieces here and there as I've needed them.


I've moved this topic to General Hardware.
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Re: Electrical / Soldering Kit

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 10:19 pm

I personally prefer using Weller soldering stations for all soldering work... Though they might be a little bit out of your price range :wink:
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Re: Electrical / Soldering Kit

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:05 pm

I have this: http://www.amazon.com/Weller-WLC100-40- ... rds=weller
It works.
Some would suggest that you get a fancier one with digital temperature control.
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Re: Electrical / Soldering Kit

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 12:46 am

Complete package with a soldering iron for only $30-50 seems a bit hard to come by, if not impossible at least here in Australia. I've never seen something like you showed in that link with a whole bunch of general purpose parts for a sort of DIY at home kinda thing. Anyway.. I can add a bit to the soldering station/iron conversation.

As far as soldering stations go, you should really have a look at Hakko stations, they are brilliant. I use Weller stations at work, mainly WES-51 and variations of such, and they have their share of problems. What's annoying is that they show poor temperature control, sometimes they have a hard time warming up, sometimes they get so hot that you can't pick up the iron handle, and the only way to resolve it is to power cycle it. So the tips tend to go faster as they oxidize. Also transformer hum in my station, which is caused by the changing magnetic fields in the windings in the core and hence vibrations between the wires, don't know if that's common in the entire series or not.

I've recently bought myself a Hakko FX-888 http://www.hakko.com/english/products/hakko_fx888.html station for my workbench at home and you really get top stuff for what you pay. It heats fast, maintains temperature far more accurately than any Weller I've used, has a 65W ceramic heating element, and built sturdily with a metal casing. The station and iron cradle are separate so if you need to maneuver around the stuff you're soldering you don't have to keep moving the entire thing everywhere. The cradle is also really well built and has a multipurpose function with solder brae, sponge, and silicon rubber to remove chunks of solder with leads off the iron tip as an example. Now I must say that I was put off by the childish look initially when I was looking into them. However a brief search on google and I saw that many were recommending them highly while the Weller camp gave a mixed reaction (I was looking into the Weller WES-51). Overall very satisfied with my purchase. But it goes for about AU$200. So this might be far above your budget.

The proper way to take care of a station and tips is to turn up the temp dial to the desired temperature and do your soldering, when you anticipate that you will need some time to trim wires or prepare components or something like that turn down the temp dial until ready to solder again. This prevents the heating element from burning out and the tip from oxidizing as fast. This is where a station with fast heat up time is an advantage as you can do this quite easily then.

Anyway, I'm interesting to see what others have to say as I'm always on the hunt for good deals on electronics stuff and getting my workbench more feature complete at home. Maybe we could set up a dedicated subforum on TR for this kind of stuff and sharing of ideas and interesting projects.
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Re: Electrical / Soldering Kit

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:56 pm

kikib wrote: sometimes they have a hard time warming up, sometimes they get so hot that you can't pick up the iron handle, and the only way to resolve it is to power cycle it. So the tips tend to go faster as they oxidize. Also transformer hum in my station, which is caused by the changing magnetic fields in the windings in the core and hence vibrations between the wires, don't know if that's common in the entire series or not.

Weird... Never had those issues myself, especially "transformer hum"... I've been using WTCPT model, though.
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Re: Electrical / Soldering Kit

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:57 pm

I've made do with a cheap-ass Rat Shack 40w iron that built many a Heathkit back in the day,
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Re: Electrical / Soldering Kit

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:08 pm

Whatever you get, make sure it has replaceable tips and that they're available and reasonably priced. At some point you WILL toast a tip from leaving the station on too long, and trying to solder with an oxidized tip is difficult and you can damage your work. A new tip is faster and safer (and cheaper, if you have a swear tax at home).

Also, you'll want a fine tip and a broader flat tip for working on different tasks. And don't worry about the wattage - I used to use an 18-Watt iron that'd cook a chicken.
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Re: Electrical / Soldering Kit

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:51 pm

sluggo wrote:And don't worry about the wattage - I used to use an 18-Watt iron that'd cook a chicken.

Agreed. The only reason I have a 40W is because the local Rat Shack was out of 25W irons at the time and the Heathkit needed building right then and there. Lots of tip choices for this one, though.
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Re: Electrical / Soldering Kit

Postposted on Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:12 am

For most brief soldering excursions, any old 25W+ handheld iron will do. After 15-30 minutes they usually become too hot to use (or hold), so for longer excursions, invest in a proper soldering station, preferably with at least a simple temperature control. Yes, this will cost $100+ just for the iron kit. Speaking as someone who has logged at least 2500 hours on a Weller WES50, t's worth every penny. Also, proper soldering stations generally use a grounded iron for ESD protection, which could save your bacon if you're working with CMOS logic devices or microcontroller kits.

Protip: if you don't have a workbench with a reasonably flame-resistant surface, buy yourself a 16"x16" sand tile at a home improvement store and then apply some self-stick felt pads (intended for protecting hardwood floors from furniture feet) so that the tile doesn't scar the table underneath. This costs less than $5 and is easy to store. When you're not soldering, it also works for hot glue guns and such. Sand tiles will crack under provocation, so if you have a history of breaking things, you might want to glue it to a piece of 1/2" plywood using tile glue or construction adhesive.

If you're just looking at a few household repairs and doctoring up a few wires with spade lugs, the little assortment kits you can buy anywhere are probably sufficient. If you've got bigger ideas in mind, buy some empty nylon sorting boxes (nylon, NOT acrylic -- those crack and pop open at the worst possible times) at your local home improvement store, then start buying packages of exactly what you need, and sort them into the boxes.

I think your $30-50 budget is optimistic, though, and any kit you turn up at that price range will have lousy tools with poor tolerances, and you'll probably break at least one useful thing after just the second or third project. $100, spent carefully on just the necessary bits and pieces, will serve you far better in the long run. And you may not have to spend it all at once, either.
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