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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
Parents
  • I was wondering, what is the procedure for bit-change?

    There's this diagram in the user manual, but (to me) it didn't explain how to change the bit. Presumably the diagram marked "NO!" actually does need to be done, otherwise how will the bit (indicated in red) be removed from the bit-sleeve (indicated in blue)?

    Also, isn't both the bit and the bit-sleeve going to be hot? Sliding out a hot bit from a hot bit-sleeve seems not right (in case the hot bit accelerates sliding through the bit-sleeve and rolls off onto the table or lap.. unless there's some container or space to catch it?). So I'm guessing a second bit-sleeve should be purchased or supplied? So that a cold bit can be placed in a cold bit-sleeve while the hot bit cools off in the hot bit-sleeve, placed as in the "OK" diagram until it cools, and then the diagram labelled "NO!" can be used on the now-cold items?

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  • I'm not sure, but my interpretation is that it's probably advising against changing just the bits by dumping them out onto the sponge ...

     

    It seems to me, they're trying to say that in order to use the "holders", you should have a sleeve for each tip you intend to use and swap the whole sleeve + tip assembly.

     

    I know Metcal irons (as I have one) come supplied with a silicone pad which they say can be used to grip the collar and undo it, removing the whole assembly while hot. It seems potentially dangerous, so I usually wait until cool, but I guess it means "hot" swapping isn't entirely taboo.

     

    - Gough

  • Ah, I see. That makes sense, and seems a good solution having an extra sleeve. Also maybe it may cool reasonably quickly anyway since the bits are small. The silicone pad method makes sense too.

    I did replace my iron bits while hot, but eventually just got two separate iron handles since they were not crazy-expensive (and manually disconnect and plug in the other).

     

    EDIT: Just saw the price of the Weller iron handle on its own.. that's quite expensive, so the extra sleeve method would make more sense.

    EDIT 2: Found the WSP 80 barrelWSP 80 barrel.  It's just £10 so worth getting for hot-swappability!

  • You guys are following my train of thought. Tapping hots bits out of a barrel or waiting for a cool down to make a change didn't seem practical. I can see me tapping the hot bit out, it rolling of the desk and me trying to grab it or falling on the floor burning my vinyl.

     

    The one downside of this plan on my mismatched setup is the barrel with bit is to long and touches the sponge. I'm curious on the matched Rest and pencil units does this problem exist.

  • Hehe yeah it was a mystery to me too. The consensus seems to be that an extra barrel is used to do the hot-swap.

    I've been thinking about it, and it seem a good solution, since the black part of the barrel looks like it won't be hot, and will allow unscrewing. It's a nice implementation, but it would be annoying for users placing a second order, not realizing that a barrel is needed to be added to the order the first time around.

    They should just add an extra barrel to the kit and increase the price by £5-10, it solves some confusion and encourages the user to buy and experiment with more bits to make use of the extra barrel.

    It still doesn't solve the sponge and barrel with bit length issue though.

    I guess some users still require sponge capability so they've left that feature in the stand, but personally I'd throw away the sponge if it means the hot barrel and tip won't collide with the base. I'm wondering if in the wool mode, they do not expect the user to simultaneously also have the sponge there.

    The only downside would be if it is a shared iron where some users prefer sponge and others prefer wool. But I guess that's an unlikely use-case, and could always be solved with a separate pot (like the one in the photo below) for the wool or for the sponge. I use a separate pot anyway, I don't think my stand has an area for wool to be inserted.

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Comment
  • Hehe yeah it was a mystery to me too. The consensus seems to be that an extra barrel is used to do the hot-swap.

    I've been thinking about it, and it seem a good solution, since the black part of the barrel looks like it won't be hot, and will allow unscrewing. It's a nice implementation, but it would be annoying for users placing a second order, not realizing that a barrel is needed to be added to the order the first time around.

    They should just add an extra barrel to the kit and increase the price by £5-10, it solves some confusion and encourages the user to buy and experiment with more bits to make use of the extra barrel.

    It still doesn't solve the sponge and barrel with bit length issue though.

    I guess some users still require sponge capability so they've left that feature in the stand, but personally I'd throw away the sponge if it means the hot barrel and tip won't collide with the base. I'm wondering if in the wool mode, they do not expect the user to simultaneously also have the sponge there.

    The only downside would be if it is a shared iron where some users prefer sponge and others prefer wool. But I guess that's an unlikely use-case, and could always be solved with a separate pot (like the one in the photo below) for the wool or for the sponge. I use a separate pot anyway, I don't think my stand has an area for wool to be inserted.

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Children
  • - I don't have access to the unit, but on looking at the design of the tip holder tray in the pictures posted earlier - I'm wondering whether the tray could be accidentally assembled upside down, reducing clearance by a small but noticeable amount:

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    If that were reversed, I could definitely see there being about 5mm loss of height. Probably worth a check ...

     

    - Gough

  • Weller indicates the Safety Rest can be configured either way. Dry and wet preference facing forward with the pencil holder. If that is an option then the barrel length is a shortcoming. But wait?

     

    The barrel length anomaly has yet to be confirmed on a Safety Rest that is matched to the solder pencil. My Safety Rest is for a WTP90 pencil but my kit came with a WSP80 pencil.

     

    I was hoping someone with the matching set would determine if the barrel in the holder touches the sponge? 

  • Yes, I understand it can be configured with the sponge or wool facing you as one of its features. What I meant (and apologies if I was not clear) was the actual holder piece with the holes could be potentially placed upside down at the point where it attaches to the unit (which was circled in red)? I'm not sure if this is a part you had to assemble, which is why I asked the question ...

     

    - Gough

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    The Safety Rest came in three pieces. The base, pencil holder and the ring. The pencil holder can be positioned is reversible.

  • I guess since words fail me, I will let my poor Photoshop skills have a try -

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    EDIT: Forgot to say ... sorry if I'm being a bit persistent with this question ...

    EDIT-EDIT: Just looked up the technical data. Indeed, it seems the WSP 80 uses a different barrel (T0058744710) and is compatible with KH 18, WDH 10, WDH 10T safety rests, whereas the WTP 90 uses T0058768724 and is compatible with the WSR 200 you have. Very interesting they should send you that combination, but ordinarily, higher-wattage pencils tend to have longer barrels, so I'm not sure why it seems that your lower-wattage iron barrel and tip seems too long for the holder ...

     

    - Gough

  • Hi Gough,

     

    I don't think it can because the locating pins are underneath...mine assembled like the photo you have shown (although I opted for brass wool at front, sponge in the rear)

  • Hi Sean,

     

    Mine too hits the sponge:

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    However if that were a spare barrel and bit the bit would ride up inside the barrel. Not sure you'd want it sat long term on a wet sponge though. The iron seems to cool fairly quickly anyway (pressing up and down together whilst displaying the tip temperature). Probably a better method as at least the heating element can dump the excess heat into the tip still.

     

    How do you know what model stand you have - I cannot see any part number on mine ?

  • 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.

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    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.

  • 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).

  • 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.