Weller Soldering Station WT Series - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Weller Soldering Station WT Series

Author: dimiterk

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Workshop Tools

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?:

What were the biggest problems encountered?: The only issue that was encountered was the lack of a set of tips for the WP90 soldering iron. The new tips feature a different design.

Detailed Review:

This road test will focus on the Weller WT1 soldering iron station I received from Element 14.

This is the 90W version with the North American power plug rated at 120W.

The photos below shows the Weller WT1 that was given for this road test.

 

The WT package is comprised of the:

 

  • Soldering iron WSP-80
  • Soldering station WT1N
  • Soldering iron holder WSR 201

Unpacking

 

The soldering iron station is named the WT1N rated for 90W. The version I received uses the short LT series tips. I was surprised to actually find only a single bevel edge tip came with it.

The WSR and the WPT80 come in their own separate boxes.

The soldering iron safety rest was unboxed next.

After setting up the soldering irons station ,the unit was turned on and the first thing you'll notice is the LED display,  with a well lit white background and black letters.

Unboxing the unit, shows that the soldering station is tucked well with the power cord in the bottom as well as the accompanying Weller manual.

 

Soldering Iron station

It's a bit tough to show this on the photo but the display has options for a thermocouple, an NFC connection as well as for a fan speed. The temperature rate of change is shown by a vertical bar on the LED.

Probably this unit does not support such options and the display is shared with higher end models.

There is a rubber holder on top of the unit that allows stacking additional units on top.

 

This is quite useful since it saves quite a bit of space. The unit has 4 buttons on the front panel as well a high contrast LCD display.

 

The first button returns to the main menu. The next two buttons (up, down ) are used for adjustment while the last button is used for selecting.

 

The default temperature is in Fahrenheit so for those that feel challenged in converting to Celsius you need to follow the steps below.

So to convert to Celcius, press the last button, move to the offset menu and press the up button to set the degrees in Celsius scale.

 

The RJ11 connector at the bottom is used in conjunction with the Zero Smog extraction system.This part is procured separately . I did not get to test this since I did not receive this equipment from Weller.

As with all soldering equipment it is suggested that the user use a fume extractor when working on these projects.

 

The other connector is a 3.5mm jack that is used for grounding for ESD purposes.

 

Soldering Iron WSP-80

The soldering iron has a temperature sensor embedded below the soldering iron tip.

Even though the soldering iron has a small mass, it heats up relatively fast. In less then 10 seconds it jumps by almost 100 deg.

The handle is quite comfortable to touch. When I turned on the unit for the first time I heard a humming/hissing sound coming from the bottom of the soldering iron. This stopped after a minute or so.

 

 

 

There are differing opinions on choosing between a brass wool and a sponge. It should be noted that the bras wool will affect the tips' life.

The stand and the station are separate pieces which allows for flexibility in how you can set it up. The soldering iron chord has a length of a bit less than 1m.

 

The LT series tips can be procured from the usual CM for around $12 CAD each. As was mentioned only one bevel edge tipcomes with he unit.

 

 

Quick tip: Using a high temperature shortens the life of the soldering tips so aim for a medium range temperature.

 

Iron Holder

The safety rest is quite sturdy and heavy. It comes with a metallic stand used to hold the tips that can be attached via screws.  . I ended up replacing the sponge with the brass sponge for cleaning the iron’s tip.

The safety rest for the soldering iron is called the WSR. (Weller Safety Rest). It comes equipped with a brass wool and a yellow rectangular sponge as well as a holder for the iron tips.

Personally I like the brass wool. The main disadvantage of the sponge is that wetting the tip imparts a thermal shock on the tip which requires a second or two for it to reheat again to the original temperature.

 

 

Project

After unboxing and setting it up , I decided to solder some 0.1inch male headers to a couple of MEMS microphones. This scenario represents the most common situation encountered by intermediate users.

I tested the unit on:

 

a) 4 MEMS microphone breakout boards

b) 32 SMD components on a custom ESP32 board I build recently

 

The bevel edge tip worked fine for all 0603 and even 0402 components as well as the IC's with the castellated pads.

I had to use a hot-air gun for one QFN24 package. Even a fine tip would not have worked in that case.

 

Comparing with the low end model I have been using so far one can notice that the better temperature stability and fast setting time of the WS1  makes the soldering joints easier and better.This basically means no cold solder joints in practice.

 

Final comments

All in all I like the fast heating time, the ergonomic design of the soldering iron and the sturdiness of the safety rest.

At this price point I would expect that Weller had also included a fine tip for use in soldering fine pitch components however all the components included are top-notch quality.

This is a product which is definitely recommended for the seasoned professional or for the hobbyist working in his home garage.

 

Pros:

  • Great temperature control
  • Fast settling time.
  • High contrast LED
  • Good ergonomic design
  • Excellent construction for stacking up units
  • Programmable parameters such as sleep time, offset ..

 

Cons:

  • More expensive than other models
  • Only 1 tip with the soldering iron
  • No accelerometer on the soldering iron so unit cannot tell when it's at rest. This is alleviated by the fact that the unit can be programmed to enter sleep mode so no biggie.
  • Supplemental Operating Instructions printout not included on the box
Anonymous
  • they had a bi-metallic temperature thing.  and when it turned on you could 1) hear the click, 2) have an induced load, remember that you have a transformer and a load!

  • No, I think that they finally retired them?? 

  • Hi . Not sure I understand what was going on there. Would that system have behaved in the same way for any other soldering iron/load i.e. it just so happens in this case it was a Weller?

     

    I'll try and get my roadtest report written soon.

  • and now you know the reason that I will not go near  Weller, I have never liked their lack of quality. Going back to the '60s when I bought my first iron it was an Ungar Imperial, it was a grounded tip and stayed cool, and very light. When I was at Airearch in California I got bit yet again by the Weller plage, as I was troubleshooting something it would fire for no reason. A day later it was lead to the solder irons mag snap switch in the tip!  Again while at Hughes I was trying to figure out why a new HP digital spectrum analyzer failed in the rack but worked in my lab! Well you see there was this 100amp pull-out for power. And you could see both ends. But no avail it still failed intermittently in the rack. So I said maybe something is up with the cable. what uncovered was FUBAR! The 100amp pull-out from the wall went about 10 feet behind a sound baffle. Well between the two cables was a multitap box and between the box and the test stand was a large Variac! and guess was plugged into the tap? Yup a Weller Soldering Station just idling away. So every time the iron needed to reach temp the switch would close and the voltage would fold back!!

    BTW here is my stand!

  • A nice demonstration, that users often know the product better than the manufacturers, or will use in ways not expected.

    I remember reading about some company who released a ready-meal style food product in Asia which was intended for rapid-heating in rice cookers.

    It didn't sell well, and they couldn't figure out why.. eventually they realized that rice cookers are used to permanently contain rice all day in some countries - there's no time to insert another product!

  • You have been a closet sponge user? Keeping the moist damp membrane behind your solder stand for fear you will be recognized. Do you not fear, now that it is up front for easy access, you will lose the wrist dexterity so well developed from years of reaching behind. You my friend, are a patient man.

     

    I was initially trained to use both, dab in the sponge and stoke the wool to prepare the tip for use while it regains its temperature.  My exit from electronic maintenance and repair into computer system design and support isolated me from industry changes. It is now appears you use one and only one but not both.

  • They didn't realise that us sponge users want nothing better than to migrate across to the wool (we've heard such great things) but we're a cautious folk and so still want that satisfying sizzle sound occasionally during a tip clean .

     

    I've now managed to swap mine around 180 degrees as part of this conversation and currently its stuck in the sponge position ! I like the sponge as I can see where all the bits of old solder have gone including anything with fine metal wires or old SMT parts.

  • Hehe it's a mystery. I reckon it's a not-expected use-case, for the wool-user to also want the sponge, i.e. sponge to be removed if the stand is oriented for the wool side to be used.  It might also be awkward to get arm around to use the sponge.

    But the idea that it's for cooling is also a good possibility. I'm still guessing they don't expect the sponge to be there and let it air-cool, because the wool-user won't want to have to also wet a sponge.

  • You are very welcome. I also have no worries regarding this slight oddity - especially as I only have one barrel and, as you can see in my photo, the spare tips fit the other holes OK. I'm happy to take a break while the iron cools off in the stand for 5 minutes so I can change the bit over (time for a cup of tea, leg stretch etc).

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you!

     

    The picture is exactly what I would like to have provided myself. I am currently unable to get to the site where the Weller I received for the RoadTest is located.

    Earlier on in this blog, I posted the labels attached to the Weller components I received from my RoadTest. There is a mismatch between the Safety Rest and soldering iron that was shipped in the kit. A Weller WT1012N system contains a WSP80 pencil and a WSR201 Safety Rest. I was provided for the RoadTest a WSP80 pencil and a WSR200 Safety Rest. The WSR200 Safety Rest is for a WTP90 solder pencil.

     

    My components have no markings compared to what is on the labels. If I didn't have this documentation I wouldn't know what components I have.

     

    I noticed with my system assembled (i.e. the sponge positioned as it is in your picture) the barrel with tip touched the sponge. I have been struggling to confirm if the issue is related to my mismatched components or is this the way the unit functions. It appears from your posting, it is a flaw in the design.

     

    The Safety Rest is designed to accommodate the sponge behind or in front of the pencil. The fact the barrel touches the sponge when behind the pencil to me is a design flaw. If you provide the optional position of the sponge, nothing should be compromised.

     

    This thread of mismatch components and design issue has been ongoing for a week. Your picture answers my question. The problem is not related to the mismatch. I wish to express my thanks to the RoadTest committee and the vendor for providing me the equipment for the review. The posts have been in no way a means to harp about the mismatch. I identified the issue before I started my review and proceeded. The mismatch in no way has taken away from the experience, only enhanced it. I am concerned this thread has gone on to long. All I was attempting to find was an answer to a question.

     

    My thanks again, to   for providing a picture that puts my question to rest.