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Boff

Antex 660A Soldering Iron

I'm looking for a decent new professional grade soldering iron station ahead of the new GC season. Our old temperature controlled one from Maplin is on its way out. It's set to 400C on the screen but my thermometer is only getting a reading at ~280C and it's getting tricky to do 16AWG bundles. I suspect the heating element's on its way out because I've changed the tip and I've still got the same issue.

I'm looking at the 660A since I don't see any great need for a digital screen. Antex irons are made in the UK (their control units in China apparently) and I've heard many good things. That link is the manufacturer's own website but I can go to their Amazon outlet and get it for 60 cheaper.

So my questions are: is it worth it? Does the quality match the price? Is there an equivalent grade of iron that might be cheaper? Budget isn't an issue but I need something that's going to stand up to doing a lot of soldering both of Nerf blasters and PCBs.

I'm mostly asking because a) I know there are a lot of engineers in the community that will have or have friends that will have opinions b) it helps others know what's at the top end and if it's worth it.
OldNoob

I use the 25w non temp control version for everything, with the silicone cable. I have done very small chip work with it fine, just use a needle point.
If you need the temp control by all means pay the extra, they are an excellent iron.
UKNerfWar

I have this model of iron at work. It's very nice and the iron is very light but it seems to get through tips easily. I'm not really sure what it is, possibly the metal they use but it's an issue I have. Also, I discovered that they don't tour very well. Obviously yours won't travel the miles that mine did but it's not the most robust station out there.

I used to have a Weller solder station as my workshop and touring tool but that was stolen along with all my other tools in China.

My current main iron is a Weller. Temperature control is mechanical and the tips are tough as a coffin nail. Granted you have to have a variety of tips for different temperatures which can be irritating if you're switching between SMD work and heavy gauge a lot. It's what I use on the road these days and the lack of electronic control means more space in the tool case.

My soldering station at home is actually a cheapo one from Maplin. It's over 10 years old now and starting to show a bit. Temperature control is quirky at best but the value for money is good.

tl;dr
Get a station like this for the office but leave it there. Get a decent mechanical iron for field work. You won't have a production line at GC so there won't be the need to change temperature constantly.
Boff

We have an iron we use in field. CarrierII made a thing that means it's got Bluetooth based temperature control because he's a wizard. The one I'm looking at replacing is our workshop iron.

I did look at Weller but couldn't find anything immediately that jumped out. I'm happy to take suggestions, however. Smile
Northwind

Weller's basic irons are good but I've never used their stations. We use the Antex ones you linked in all the uni labs- which means they're durable enough to give to clueless first years, but good enough to solder bits onto subsea ROVs and the occasional satellite...

Having said that, public sector procurement  Laughing
UKNerfWar

Boff wrote:
We have an iron we use in field. CarrierII made a thing that means it's got Bluetooth based temperature control because he's a wizard...


You spelt 'weirdo' wrong.

If it's just going to sit on your workbench then this iron is a good choice. Get yourself a high mass tip (I think they call it an XL) for heavy gauge work. The time you'll spend swapping tips will be made up for time you'll save not waiting for it to heat up. With some practice, you'll do everything with the XL tip anyway or find another tip that's a happy medium.

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