Let's Make Robots!

Recomendations for a School Lab?

I am setting up a basic electronics/robotics lab at my school. I have been trying to figure out what a good soldering iron would be for the classroom or if one of the kits available, which contain other useful tools, are viable. This is a class/club where both the students and teacher (me) are relatively inexperienced. We bought some cheap soldering irons last year but they are already useless and I don't want to make the same mistake twice. So, I guess I'm looking for warnings as much as recommendations.

Here are the options I have been looking at but of course any recomendations would be welcomed.


Tool Kit - Beginner (from Sparkfun)

Electronics Essentials Basic Toolkit (includes things like helping hands, snips etc.)

Learn To Solder Kit

Hakko 503F-V12ED 60 Watt Heavy Duty Solder Iron (the price is right)

Hakko Blue Soldering Iron (40w)

Soldering Station Variable Temperature  (the price point on this one would mean fewer stations and other tools)

I have a budget of about $200 to make as many workstations as I can and I'd like to be able to equip them all with a soldering iron, sodlering iron holder, and helping hands. The kids can share snips and such.

Thank you

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Hey, CalvertSan! Nice to see you on LMR.

Check out Dave's eevblog on How To Set Up An Electronics Lab. Dave's blog is amusing and enthusiastic at the very least, and he does offer some good advice now and again. ; j

I'm still working with the same ancient Weller 25W pencil soldering iron I've had since high school, but I really cannot recommend it. It is a bit limiting.

That channel is great - thanks.

The breakdown of basic tools was really helpful.

I am going to take everyone's recommendation for a temp controlled station on the theory that its better to have the kids sharing good tools than having them end up sharing bad ones when things start to break :)



double posted by accident

The variable temp soldering station is well worth the price and lower number of stations....typically they irons are easier to hold(lighter) and yes, they look like the hakko.....a lot like a hakko(I love my 936 though I think I could have gone cheaper with this one).plyers and  tools could be shared, but helping hands and soldering irons should be enough for each person...

I have the cheap soldering iron in the SparkFun Beginners kit. While it is not top-of-the-line, I've been using mine for almost a year with no problems. I bought it just 'cause it was cheap and I needed an iron while traveling, but I find that if you take good care of it (like always cleaning the tip after every joint you solder, and making sure you don't leave it turned on for too long, and not sanding the tip and all that) it stays in pretty good condition.

I've also been able to solder surface mount pieces, if that's of any importance. Definitely get the stand with the sponge, as it makes it a lot easier to keep the iron looking nice.

However, like JAX said, if you want it to last at least two years, get something of decent quality, like a Hakko or Weller station.

Thanks, that was sort of my reasoning but I know enough to know when I don't know :)

Ultimately, I want 10 stations. For now, I am just hoping to make 5; I have one and I need at least four more now. I have a couple of sets of helping hands that I got cheap - so I know your right on that one.

I'm a fan of going with name brand items (read, Hakko) when dealing with core pieces of equipment. Replacement parts are more available and usually the quality is better. That being said I think the Sparkfun kit has the best equipment for a new workstation. Sparkfun offers replacement tips and heating elements for the low-budget soldering iron they offer. I feel that is an important factor regarding the lifespan of an iron. It keeps it from being a "throwaway" unit. The only thing it lacks that I would miss is the helping hands. Those can be had for $5 online.

Just curious, how many stations are you aiming for?