Evaluation Type: Independent Products
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: I tested the new soldering station against my 40 year old Weller soldering gun. I looked at power consumption, temperature stability, heating and cooling time. I used both devices in soldering and unsoldering tests.
What were the biggest problems encountered?: The user interface is not intuitive to use. The instructions are clear, but still difficult to understand how it works.
First, I want to thank Element 14 and Weller for making these soldering stations available for Roadtesting.
When I entered tech school in 1970, yes I am that old, they had each of us buy a Weller Model 8200N soldering gun. It costs about $40 USD, but we were told it would last a lifetime. They were correct, I still have it and it still works. That and in those days, we were still working with tubes. Transistors were those new fangled miracle devices.
I was very interested to see if Weller had maintained the quality of its devices over the last 40 years. Quick answer, Yes they did.
The Documentation was good, though brief. To cover all of the EU languages made it a little difficult to find the English version, default was German. The documents provided clear identification of danger areas and explained the basic operation. I know a lot of you are wondering what the big deal is, you just plug it in and use it, right? Yes and No.
The WX-1 controller has a lot of user options. You can preset two temperature settings, so you can adjust your tip to a specific job, or part. The controller also has USB and RS-232 connections.
The WXP=120 soldering iron and cleaning station is very well designed. You have a nice place to clean the tip and set the iron when in use. Much better than those coiled wire things you see in the cheap soldering irons. It also has places for you to set different tips. To change a tip, you just twist and pop off, and then replace with the new tip, twist it back and you are ready to go with the new tip in just a few seconds.
The built in temperature sensor is very good. The iron maintained its set temperature within 1 degree F. Very neat.
When plugged in, the controller drew about six watts. Most of that was probably used to power the User Interface. The iron goes cold if not used after about 20 seconds. Very efficient.
When you pick the iron up and touch it to the component to solder, the solder melts within seconds. Max power usage was 20 watts at the 662 F default temperature.
I could use my vacuum solder sucker almost as quickly as it took to touch the solder and trigger the vacuum. Solder gone!
My old Weller soldering gun was as fast, but it took 81 watts in low mode and 120 watts in high heat mode. So you can do the same job, but it used about 4 times the amount of power. Plus it is not ESD safe, Rohs compliant, and probably no longer legal as it only has a two prong plug with no grounding tip.
Changing tips on the old beaste required you to unplug the gun, let it fully cool, remove two threaded nuts, pull the old tip out, push the new tip in, and then tighten the nuts to make sure you had good contact. Figure a couple of minutes at least for tip changing.
To summarize, the new Weller is a major upgrade from my old one, just as well made, if not better.
Is it cost effective? Well that depends upon your needs. If you are just a hobby user, this unit is probably more than you want to spend. However, if you are a small business or work in the industry, you need this station. It will save you time, use less power and be a tremendous asset for many years of heavy use. If you throw in inflation, it costs about the same as my $40 unit bought forty years ago. It may look pricey, but you get your money's worth.
In my early days, Weller soldering stations were considered the best. Forty years later, I think they are still the best.
Just my opinion,
PS, If I ever figure out how to upload pictures, I will show you the two units I used for this road test.
PPS, now I can solder the 32768 Hz crystal into my TI experimenters board for real time clock control. I was afraid to try it with my ungrounded soldering irons, now I feel safe doing it.
I also have that 8200 model but I really believe that these soldering stations with pencil tips are much better when it comes to soldering pcbs. Congrats on your new tool!
Nice review DAB. I'd like to bump Zeta's question ... "... the one with the micro tip?" I too have had similar experiences with micro tips heatings. If this is the model you received I for one would be grateful for your thoughts. Thanks again for the review.
Hey DAB, thanks for sharing the info on your Weller's. Sounds like a great Setup. My first Soldering Iron was a Weller Soldering Gun (a Red One). I inherited it from my Dad, when I was a kid. He must have bought it in the 50's or very early 60's. I taught my self to Solder with it... I used it until I was about 35 and if finally quit heating up. I missed that thing sorely, for about 15 years!:O But, now I have another one, that I inherited from my Buddies, Dad. My Buddy didn't want it and offered it to me. So, I jumped right on that!:) It's a 70's or 80's Model (Black). And works just as well as my original one did. I do need to get some new Tips for it. The one I use the most is about to break in two. I would like to have a real Soldering Station to though. For those very small things...
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