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Thursday 24 January 2019

The dilemma of my soldering iron

Almost every Amateur will have a soldering iron in their shack, given that Amateur radio operators are more often than not building their own gear, some have a basic cheap soldering iron, some have a temperature controlled soldering station, I have the latter, and the one I have is a unit sold by Maplin under their Precision Gold label, trouble is now that Maplin have gone bust getting new tips and irons may prove a challenge.

The same unit is sold by Rapid Electronics under the Atten brand (which appears to be what it actually is), the iron is rated at 28V AC rather than the 24V AC some other generic Chinese soldering stations are rated at (though the measurement I got with my multimeter suggests the voltage out of the transformer is in fact around 30V (I put a voltmeter across the two yellow wires inside the base rather than across the connector), I also discovered construction of the unit is similar in fashion to units disassembed by Clive on his 'bigclivedotcom' YouTube channel, however the wires are connected onto the board using connectors rather than solder)).

The fact the transformer put out 30V did puzzle me at first, though I suspect this is because I am supplying the transformer with 240V on the primary, and it is labelled for 220V on the primary, though I have no means to test my incoming mains supply, the only sure fire thing I know about the iron is that earth is connected straight from the iron to the earth pin on the plug, thus backing up the ESD safe claim and meaning I can replace sensitive components without risk of ESD damage, modern radios do use a lot of solid state components so this is critical.

So Rapid sell a replacement iron for the pricely sum of £10.90 exclusive of VAT, add the VAT (at current rate this is 20%) it is more like £13, all the irons I found from China are in fact for the 24V stations and presumably are not compatible. the iron I have is the third for this unit and the final Maplin sourced one, so new irons would have to be sourced from Rapid or CPC Farnell as I suspect they are the only other supplier and sell this same station though under the Tenma brand, new bits can come from China as they fit a number of irons

So as long as the station is being sold I should be good for a new iron should I need one as they'll always be available separate to the station (though the last two were destroyed while being used at the same time as my former PMR446 gateway was in transmit, though when I say destroyed it is more likely they need a new heater element).

Naturally this only occurred to me while the iron was being used for component salvaging in the shack, and I don't want to be without my soldering iron, as it is the most useful tool any Amateur could have and I certainly plan to use mine for as long as possible, and also so I can actually turn the temperature down a bit I plan to switch back to leaded solder, a lot of the hams I know that solder prefer it.

not too much radio related but it does go with our hobby, and with that I could see if it is possible to repair the Intek DRS-5070 as I suspect the finals have failed inside it.

73 de 2E0EIJ

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