For years I have had an Aoyue 2738 rework station as my main soldering station. It has always been the standard basic kit and has served me well. The soldering iron stand is starting to look a little tired and recently the iron has been cutting out. A little wiggle of the tip and it starts to work again.
I have only the one conical tip, that I use for everything and have struggled soldering devices connected into ground planes on some of my projects. I don't think the conical tip can transfer enough heat quickly, I do struggle using it with solder wick as well.
The heat gun is fine, although it tends to spend most of its time heating heat shrink tubing than any SMD work.
Luckily enough, it still appears to be a current model and I was able to purchase some spares for it from a UK supplier.
I was unsure if it was the tip holder or the tip itself that was causing the error with the soldering iron, so I decided to purchase a new holder along with a few different tips to start with. To go along with this I ordered a new stand, that comes with the wire style tip cleaner as well as a sponge.
I ordered a replacement 0.5mm conical tip to match the existing tip and then 1.6, 2.4 and 4mm chisel tips to help with soldering on the larger pads and ground planes.
The stand came in parts, but didn't take long to assemble, needing just a box spanner, Philips screwdriver and right angled Philips screwdriver to put it together. Although I still don't know what the small metal bracket and screw set supplied in the tip cleaner are for.
The old stand was aluminium based, quite light and a little more compact than the new one. The solder reel sat at the back and fed underneath the stand through a hole which I did like about it. In contrast the new stand is steel and much heavier, the solder reel now sits to the side and so the stand has a larger footprint.
Whilst the parts ordered were those recommended by the supplier for my model, the old and new handles and tips are different. The old handle would not fit in the new stand and the new handle does not fit in the old stand, so I am glad I ordered a complete set. The new tips are different to the old ones. The old tip has two contact rings at the top and the new one has three. Whilst the tips appear to physically fit in either handle, I am not sure if they are electrically compatible, and didn't feel like trying it out either.
I also decided to treat myself to a pair of tweezers and compatible stand to help with the removal of SMD components that I struggle to do.
Hopefully, this will help me out with my soldering and shouldn't need any upgrades for a while.