RoadTest: Weller Soldering Station WT Series
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?: Hakko FX-888D
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Finding operating details/ manual information on website and in documentation. Not realizing standby was not usable with soldering iron included.
Box Arrived 11 Feb. 2020 and I ran through unboxing the next day. However I was derailed in initial testing as I spent 3 weeks in February on jury duty. Frustrating to have a new piece of gear just sitting there waiting!
Equipment arrived with only one issue that I found. One of the two plastic pins designed to hold the tip holder on the safety rest was broken. The tip holder is clipped in place with the two pins but with only one it still held together ok. I plan to simply replace the plastic pin with a small bolt eventually.
Notice the broken pin on the left.
There was not a lot of padding around the iron in its box but it seemed undamaged. The safety rest also did not seem very well packed although it was undamaged. It seems those items are boxed to be shipped with more padding.
The items sent make up the WT 1012 set which includes:
Initial impressions were that the unit was well built and solid. Other than the plastic pin it appeared to be well thought out and the build quality looked good.
Power unit with preset temperature off and on, and the silicon pad on top.
The Power unit is a 90 W single channel unit and is designed to be stackable. It has a silicon pad on top that could be used to place parts although I cannot really see that as a use case. The documentation claims that it is backwards compatible with older tools. It has a nice clean design and good display.
This iron has a temperature sensor in the tip and takes LT tips. It does not have an acceleration sensor needed for the WT1 standby mode. Only the WTP90 has the acceleration sensor.
My first impression is that it is comfortable to hold right or left handed and seems to be easily positioned.
The Safety rest is designed to allow the soldering iron holder to be easily turned around so you can use either the wet sponge or brass sponge. In my early soldering I had always used a wet sponge to clean tips. Recently I learned more about caring for tips and switched to brass sponge. I like the way it removes excess grunge without wetting down the tip.
The tip holder would be fine for extra tips but there is not enough room between it and the sponge for the storage of a sleeve and tip which is how they recommend using it. You would need to remove the sponge if storing sleeve holder. With the holder turned the other direction (sponge forward)to the bronze sponge
Once unboxed I immediately bypassed any attempt to RTFM and plugged in and turned on the unit. Which is where I started to go down a bit of a blind alley. At first glance the unit is pretty self explanatory but reading through the menu steps would definitely speed things up. A few items like pushing the menu for 3 seconds to get at the 2nd menu are not intuitively obvious.
Upon power-on the station began to heat up to a pre-programmed temperature, a temp is shown on screen in degrees F. I immediately decided that I should check the temperature requirements of solder on hand and while doing that the unit went into standby mode, cooling down to the preset standby temp. I did not realize that was what was happening first so was a bit frustrated by its behavior.
The Power unit has switched to standby mode and is cooling down to a preset standby temp. The L shape on the left bottom shows that no heat is being applied.
After fussing around a bit I decided that in all fairness I really should take at least a look at whatever quick start guide and / or manual was available.
Here I ran into another issue. The included paperwork had several QR codes to access manuals, videos and FAQs which I used my iPhone to attempt to access.
Covering the unneeded codes made focusing on the correct one a little easier.
I eventually mastered the one handed iPhone juggle and was sent to the website which supposedly had the manual but no joy there…. I was greeted by a “Not Found - The requested URL was not found on this server.” page.
My next step was to go to the website referenced: weller-tools.com. After a couple tries I selected the Weller professional area. I then tried to look for obvious document sources and selected the link for Download Center -> Operating Instructions! This page helpfully tells you:
“You can find operating instructions for our products directly on the respective product detail page.”
“Please use the product search on the top of our homepage to find the desired product and the associated operating instruction.”
A search for WT1 leads me to the power unit line item and clicking again took me to the description with a link to the Manual and a supplement. Note that if you for some reason don’t remember the exact part number you might try to get the information by going to Home -> Application -> Soldering and end up on a page that does have a picture of the station but with no links leading anywhere helpful. It does tell you that the picture is a WT 1010 so searching that should get you close enough.
A search for the WSP 80 takes you through a similar route to a short manual for the soldering iron. Wading through the languages you will find a one page manual in English. I found the most useful information at the back of the manual with tip information and an exploded diagram.
The manual again has a non-working link: “For more information please visit http://www.weller.de/tips"
I believe the problem with the QR codes and other links is they are pointing to the German site but automatically switching to the local site, In my case the US. At that point the path is lost for some reason
Am I being nit picky here? Yeah a little. But I found the paper manuals sparse at best and spent too much time trying to find online versions to fill in the gaps. In fact the online versions do not provide much more than the paper versions. Just a little verbiage to go along with the pictures.
if you are going to provide a QR code then you better make sure the QR code actually works everywhere you expect to sell the unit. Same comment applies to any links. Weller has done a decent job in writing a multi language quick guide but failed on organization and ease of use on the website.
I managed to find some videos on the site. They were under the Download Center -> Movies as well as on the details pages. There was a movie labeled WT which covered the WT1 Power unit but with the WTP-90, 90 watt iron not the WSP-80 which was in my kit. There was also a video about the WSR Safety rest. I found a few other useful videos in the stack there. Most were marketing videos instead of educational videos though.
After turning the power unit on push the menu button to enter the first set of setup items. Here you can set standby time and temp as well as off time. I would recommend setting standby time off unless you have the WTP-90 iron. This is also where you can choose to show Fahrenheit or Celsius temperatures.
Pushing the menu button for 3 seconds from the main screen enters the second menu which includes PrE, the dual fixed temp setting. Once turned on you can set the two fixed temps. To do this use the back button to get out of the menu, the main screen now shows the current tool temp with two more temps in a smaller font below the current temp. These are the two preset temps. Push the up or down button below the temperature that you wish to set and then use both buttons as needed to change it. If your timing is off in pushing the buttons you will end up selecting the temp for use instead of setting it to change it. Note also that it is very easy to push the button too long when selecting a temperature and end up changing the setting.
Setting the temps is not well described in the manual. It just says that you can turn on the dual temps it does not describe how you set them. I had to figure it out once I realized that is was not set via the menu settings.
First picture is in the menu setting before turning Preset Temps on. In the second picture you see I have pushed the back button and the temp is at the second preset temp.
I spent way more time than needed playing with menu settings - not because it was complicated but I was looking for anomalies. Just in case you want to do something similar the factory reset is to turn on the machine while holding down the back, up, and down buttons simultaneous for 3 seconds.
While going through setting up the unit and figuring out how to use the menus and controls I practiced soldering on various parts using different solder types (leaded, lead free, silver/lead) and different temperatures. The iron in all cases (as long as it did not go into standby mode without my noticing) held whatever temperature mode I set and did a good job.
I choose a breadboard power supply kit as a soldering test and decided to use a standard 60/40 leaded solder. I cleaned and re-tinned my tip as I had used lead-free solder with it in preliminary testing. The kit had a variety of through mount components to place. It was also a fairly closely spaced kit and so tested my ability to get the iron tip into a variety of tight locations. I did create a bridge at one point which I was able to correct without difficulty.
An annoying finding was that the unit went into standby mode several times while I was putting the kit together. At first I thought that it was just taking me that long to read directions and go through the steps. To double check I switched out the kit board for my test board and timed different soldering operations for 2 minutes several times. The unit went into standby mode every time. I tried changing the sensitivity but with no affect. I double checked the manual and eventually went to Google where I found that the standby mode only works with the WTP-90 iron not the WSP-80 iron that came in my kit. I found this in the data sheet for the WT1N Power Unit.
Have to mark the safety rest down for using flimsy plastic pins in the safety rest tip holder. Other than that the unit looks, feels, and acts like a well built professional unit.
I would like to see them doing a better job on both the documents shipped with the parts as well as the online versions.
A tick mark on the negative side for the way hitting the up down buttons can change the preset temp values while in use. It seems to me that setting the temps should be a menu setting and so separate from selecting the temos. That would fix the problem of being too heavy fingered and changing temp instead of selecting it.
I did not notice any noise from the unit during use and it did not get overly hot even in my overly constrained work space.
It heats up quickly and keeps its tip heated in use. It turns itself to standby and then to off in the defined times and cools down to the correct set points.
It did not get too hot and was easy to control. The only tough bit was in a few cases I would have done better with a smaller tip simply because of the space between a few of the components. (I already ordered some tips.)
It balances nicely in the hand and is comfortable to hold and does not get too hot during use. My old iron had a tendency to get hot and the cord always seemed to get in the way. The cord on the Weller is more flexible than my old unit.
The old Soldering Iron shown below.
Nicely designed for both wet sponge and brass sponge use. Iron is adequately held without being hard to remove at need.
Cheap plastic pins hold on the tip holder.
The price! You could get a Hakko or similar for much less and have a decent unit. For a non-professional user this would be quite adequate. May even be fine for a professional user. You would likely give up a number of its capabilities such as potential equalization, fume removal control, automatic standby times, etc but do you really need those capabilities? Personally I would likely spend the extra amount on the belief that a professional quality machine was worth it.
I definitely found my soldering experience improved by having this unit. When comparing my test joins using my old unit versus this one I believe them to be much more consistent. Some of the problems with my older solder station was its lack of consistency in temperature control and the lack of balance and insulation in the iron itself. I found my old iron was not comfortable to hold and would heat up whereas the new unit was quite comfortable.
The old Soldering Iron shown below notice the cracks on the handle of the iron.
The unit includes inputs and settings which I did not have a way to test.
I did not test the floating switching outlet or the sensitivity. Also did not try the window function and equipotential bonding. While I did partially test standby time I could not test it being triggered by the iron. I also was not able to do a good job testing temperature as I found that my IR thermometer did not actually go up high enough and was not accurate enough.
Multifunction Interface and Potential equalization ports were not used. My only comment on these is that there is not very much information included in the manuals which explain how you would use them.
As I was finishing up editing this writeup and getting ready to post it I received a package from Newark Electronics which included the tips I had ordered. I don’t want to hold this review up while I test the new tips but thought at least including a couple pictures would be nice.
More Tips than I will need!
While finishing up testing and writing this review we are in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. I have to admit that I am quite distracted by what is happening and I am afraid my review has suffered from all the distractions. Apologies.
Good write-up for your road test. No apologies needed for being distracted. You point out the good features and the areas for improvement. And the covid19 situation is distracting. 3 weeks of jury duty…
Enjoyed your review. It was great reading another reviewer. There were comments in yours on issues I had but was reluctant to make it a *** session.
Thank you for the picture of the tip holder. The holder…
Great write-up Linda. I like how you covered all of the aspects of the tool, including the (lack of) documentation. I have also encountered issues accessing various information on Weller's website because…
A great roadtest review which I enjoyed reading, thank you.
It does not have an acceleration sensor needed for the WT1 standby mode. Only the WTP90 has the acceleration sensor.
That explains a lot. However I also read that the WT1 can sense which iron is connected and adjust the presented options accordingly, so perhaps a flaw in that I was able to see the sensitivity level under the second menu (hold MENU for >3 seconds) when the WSP80 cannot support it.
Jan Cumps wrote:
Tip & barrel storage touching the sponge design I thought was short sighted.
I think that several of the road testers got a wrong safety stand with their kit. Not matching the iron.
Maybe they had to mix and match kits, irons and bases to deal with different areas (110 / 220) and goofed up when repacking?
baldengineer & lkknapp Ok folks please take a look at a series of blogs that I called Soldering School. The blogs can be found in Blog Index II. I have also included all of the NASA-STD-8739-x, plus the student workbook and the pictures of the good, bad, and the ugly! enjoy
BTW I had to take the classes!
Thanks for the response. I breath a sigh of relief when other individuals have similar comments to mine. I'm trying to figure out what is normal and not just my perception of normal?
I curious with the first name of Linda are you female? If yes, are willing to respond to the results of the poll Do you think women are fully supported to pursue an engineer career?
I feel the final results of the poll reflect a high male participation. I don't identify as female. It is easy for me to say females are supported to pursue an engineer career. If I was female in the industry, would I feel the same? I'm not sure of the answer.
I want to respect your RoadTest Review post here. I have a fear of starting a discussion thread in this post not related to the purpose. I am curious about female perspective and would welcome a response on the link provided if you are interested in continuing the discussion.
According to the Weller Manual the WSR-201 is the correct safety rest/ tip storage combo for the WSP-80. So in my case at least they matched up correctly.
In the Weller documents they do show a picture with tips and sleeve stored but without the sponge in the unit so clearance is not an issue. In that scenario the safety rest is setup with the brass sponge for use (in front) and they are assuming that you will not be using the sponge. I still think that this is not a good design since you would likely want to leave the sponge there in case you wanted to use it or someone sharing the unit wanted to turn the pencil holder around and use it in that configuration.
Thanks for the complement and thanks for the video pointer - I will add the Workbench Wednesday Series to my watch list! I do prefer the brass sponge to a wet sponge now. It just makes way more sense to me from a thermal shock load / corrosion point of view. I am one of those people who has done a little soldering for a long time. Generally not very well. Now that I am working on projects which need good soldering techniques I'm trying to learn as much as possible and practice practice practice. Having this high quality soldering station has really helped.
I initially thought that moving the pencil would stop it going in to standby. I then thought that maybe there was a temperature change sensor or something that would tell it you were still using it. It was only when I tested just for that - set a timer for two minutes and spent that time filling a bunch of board holes with solder while making sure to move the pencil around. Repeated several times and then continued working on my kit - after turning off standby mode!
When you look at the docs there are 4 different tip holders for the safety rests. The one I got is listed for use with the WSP80. If you removed the tip from the sleeve holder it just barely clears the sponge. But removing the tip kind of defeats the purpose of having multiple sleeves I think. There are part numbers for the other tip holders so you should be able to order one which works for your pencil. Searching for the WSR-201 and finding the manual will hopefully get you there.
I definitely am turning off standby mode - There is still an timer to turn the unit off in case I forget to do that manually.
I am not sure what the courthouse security would have done if I tried to bring in a soldering kit!
Thanks for the feedback!