Weller Soldering Station WT Series - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Weller Soldering Station WT Series

Author: waleedelmughrabi

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?: TENMA 80W Soldering Station 21-21310, Aoyue 866, and Weller WE1010

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Struggled to find manuals or documentation.

Detailed Review:

Weller WT1 Soldering Kit

 

A bit of history:

I still remember my first time holding a solder iron, many years ago. It was when I was trying to fix a buzzing noise coming from my guitar. I bought a cheap kit, was not sure what I needed to do other than that I needed to join things together somehow. I ended up with a big blob of solder covering most of the back cover of the volume potentiometer. I later learned of the magical compound called FLUX!!!

 

General background:

My experience in electrical/electronics engineering started in PLC maintenance, I then moved to power supply design and focused on DC-DC choppers and inverters. Somehow the power rating I worked on designing, kept on getting lower until I took part in a project involving ultra low power design, found the IoT world very interesting and been in this field for a while.

 

Soldering and PCBA background:

I work with traditional electronics and with printed electronics, most soldering needs are for prototyping or rework.

Usually the first revision of a new design will require some rework.

Some of the problems I came across:

- Faulty components (capacitors).

- Components placed rotated when polarity matters.

- Mistake in the design.

- Worse fault I experienced was when the ground and power planes in a 4 layer PCB where misaligned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

[Update] Specifications Comparison:

This comparison is between the WT1 / WSP80 combination and the Aoyue 866 3 in 1 soldering station.

The Aoyue 866 has extra features like the hot air gun and heated bed, but this comparison will only consider the soldering iron functionality. 

 

 

WT1 / WSP80 combinationAoyue 866
Dimensions (mm)150 x 138 x99192 x 11 x 325
Weight (Kg)1.96.59
Power output95 for WT1 and 80 for WSP8060
Channels11
Temperature range (C)50-550 for WT1 and 50-450 for WSP80100-480
DisplayBacklit LCDBacklit LCD
Heating technologySilver line heating element technologyQuartz Infrared
Tip heating time (S) [measured]2245

 

 

 

 

Unboxing:

The unit arrived safely without any damage.

Contents:

- Weller WT1 soldering station

- WSP 80 soldering iron 80W, with Silver-Line heating technology

- WSR 201 Docking station

- Tip: LTB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The WSR 201 Docking station has a nice weight to it. The 2 in 1 design for both dry and wet tip cleaning is a very nice idea.

My favourite feature is the shelf used for stacking spare barrels and tips. However, its height is not very practical, as the sponge needs to be removed for the barrel to sit in place.

This can be solved by removing the WSP80 dock and rotating it to the sponge side.

 

 

 

Exploded View of the WSP80

 

 

Extra attachments:

An extra barrel was very handy to have, instead of having to wait until it cools down to be able to replace the tip.

I also got an adaptor to test tips made for other types of soldering irons, but could not find clear documentation on which series would fit. I will have to look into it, so I will leave that test for later.

 

NumberDescriptionMPN
1BARREL ASSEMBLY, WSP80/MPR80/FE7558744710
2ADAPTOR, FOR LT SERIES IRON54441799

 

 

Extra tips:

 

 

 

NumberDescriptionMPNPhoto
1LT GW TIP, SOLDERING IRON, GULL WING, 2.3MMLT GW
2LT K TIP, SOLDERING IRON, CHISEL, LONG, 1.2MMLT K
3LT 1 TIP, SOLDERING IRON, ROUND, 0.25MMLT 1
4LTF TIP, SOLDERING IRON, ROUND, BENT, 1.2MMLT F
5LT 4 TIP, SOLDERING, SLOPED, 1.2MMLT 4
6LT 1S TIP, SOLDERING IRON, ROUND, 0.2MMLT 1S
7LT 1SC TIP, SOLDERING IRON, CHISEL, 0.4MMLT 1SC

 

 

Testing:

I tried to test various types of soldering, tips, components and PCBs. First test results are shown in the photos below, and I thought I would create videos for the rest of the tests. I added some comments in the videos to clarify the process.

 

First test RFID tags:

 

The 2 photos below show my attempt to solder RFID transceivers on a flexible substrate, the one on the right was done using a solder paste and a reflow oven, whereas the one on the left was done manually. As you can see the substrate creased at around 200 C, I tried to keep to that threshold to be able to solder, but it was not that simple I ended up destroying many samples.

 

To be fair I will not hold that against any soldering station, as conductive inks and most flexible substrates are not meant to be soldered manually, I tried it out of curiosity.

 

 

Second test:

Soldering an SMA connector

 

 

 

Third test:

SMD rework

 

 

Fourth test:

Drag soldering

 

 

Fifth test:

Desoldering

 

 

Sixth test:

Thermal test, settling time

 

 

Conclusion:

I have used other soldering stations before some were great, others kept breaking, the one I currently have in the office is an Aoyue 866 which is a great value for money.

 

The Weller WT1 and WSP 80 give a great soldering experience, will definitely recommend it for professional use. It can be pricey for personal use, especially if the plan is to upgrade it and buy compatible soldering tweezers, and the heatgun desoldering station is almost double the price.

 

I struggled to find a user manual to read about how to store settings and any other available options, but it was not very complicated to figure out.

 

 

[Update 11/4/2020]

I have been testing the extra tips in the table above for 3 weeks so far, the soldering process is very smooth and enjoyable so far. My favourite tip for rework and reflow for small footprints is the LT4. The size of the tip and angle are perfect to touch and melt solder on pads.

 

The unit is meant to go to standby mode if not used after a certain amount of time (adjustable) since it has an acceleration sensor, it would have been also useful to get the unit to wake up once picked up, but it seems that a button needs to be pressed for that to happen. (Maybe it is a safety feature!).

 

The lock mode can be very handy when working in a team when you need this unit to keep the same settings for repeatability.

 

[Update 15/3/2021]

Weller WTA Soldering Tweezers

I had a batch of the circuit board shown above made, it is part of a battery pack that holds some safety components (fuses and diodes). The problem was that the wrong fuse was fitted, which meant that I'll have to replace 10 fuses on each board. When I did this roadtest last year I remember seeing that there was a compatible desoldering tweezers in the accessories portfolio, so when this issue came up now I thought it'll be a great time to order the tweezers and make use of them. I made a small video below:

 

 

Overall was really easy to use, and they worked even better when the tips have got a bit of solder on them. The rework process was very smooth.

A bit pricey, but will definately be worth it if there is a lot of rework to be done. Can be bought as a standalone or as a bundle with the stand.

Anonymous
  • W.L. Weller has seven signature expressions.

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  • W.L. Weller has seven signature expressions.

    Weller’s original wheated bourbon, and perhaps the brand’s most notable expression, is Weller Special Reserve. Weller 12 Year is another unique offering, as it is aged far longer than most wheated bourbons, making it especially smooth. Weller’s other expressions include Weller Antique 107, and Weller Full Proof, which has a proof of 114, and is distilled without chill filtration. Also significant is William Larue Weller, the brand’s unfiltered, hand-bottled, barrel-proof expression. Finally, as of summer 2020, Weller Single Barrel is slated to be an annual release. <a href=''www.worth-whisky.com/'' rel=''dofollow''>wl weller</a>

    <a href=''www.qualitybourbonwhiskey.com/'' rel=''dofollow''>stagg jr</a>

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  • Hi Waleed,

     

    Thanks for putting together this very useful list! I didn't realize you were in the UK, the link to the supplier I used is here : https://www.somersetsolders.com/tin-bismuth-low-temperature-solder-paste/p195#prodtabs

    The Qualitek tin bismuth solder had good reviews which was encouraging. I didn't order additional low-temp flux paste at the time, but I will do so from there at some point.

  •   thanks for the info, I never used bismuth solder, but just looked it up and it can save me tons of time.

    I am thinking how great it will be to have this low melting temperature solder when working with cetrain types of PE and other materials as a substrate, doing it manually can sometimes save half a day of setup time.

     

    I have a DEK Horizon screen printer at work which I use for prototyping, however it can be costly to keep ordering screens (a couple hundred pounds each, and one to two weeks lead time), which is not great as it makes each test very stressful.

    The problem in just using a stencil is the non-uniform layering and repeatability especially if printing antennas or resistive nature sensors.

     

    If it is any help the list below are suppliers/manufacturers that I use, they are usually happy to provide good advice on inks and pastes:

     

    Sun Chemicals

    Henkel

    Dupont

    Gwent

    EMS

    Toyo ink

    Epotek

    Delo

    Creative Material

    Applied Ink Solutions

    Agfa

    Intertronics

    Zymox

     

    If you're interested in screens with custom mesh angles for manual prototyping with a squeegee, I believe I did order some from somewhere in Yorkshire that do them in a fairly short amount of time and very affordable price. (will have to look up old invoices to remember where from, but happy to do so if anybody happen to need it) 

  • Very cool! How did you do the screen printing? With a laser-cut stencil?

    Incidentally have you considered tin bismuth solder? I have not experienced that (yet) but I did purchase some a few months back (comes in wire form or paste form) to try it. It has 138 deg C melting point. The reason I was considering it, was not because of any low-temp substrate, but because I have a (unfortunately) very low-power hot air setup which struggles, and I wished to use for small prototypes rather than the oven. So I was going to use the paste version.

     

    The downside of the wire version are twofold: (1) cost - high! and (2) the thinnest I could find was 0.8mm. The paste was ok-ish price in the UK (quite a large syringe that should last years although it will expire for production use). If it dries up it will need a different flux paste too of course (since it needs to activate at the lower temperature).

  • Thanks a lot shabaz, I think out of 10 tags I managed to do 2 by hand and damaged 8. The tags are still for R&D I screen printed these using an ink and substrate that can handle up to 180 degrees, so I really pushed my luck by trying to hand solder them by hoping that there is some tolerance. The air bubble around the chips is just my poor lamination skills. 

  • Hi Waleed,

     

    Very good review! Also, impressive you tried to hand-solder those long-range RFID tags. How did you print the antenna using conductive ink, are these prototypes or a production batch printed for you?

  • Thanks John, much appreciated. The timing for this road test was perfect, locked at home in this quarantine, but with a new piece of kit to spend time testing.

  • Thanks for your report on this soldering station. I enjoyed reading about it.

     

    John