Let's Make Robots!

Soldering station -- bad station, bad tips, bad user... or all of them?

Well, I have a Fixpoint AP2 soldering station... it's basically a cheap soldering iron with a knob to control (or try to) temperature. I recognise that my soldering skills are nothing to write home about (I had no previous experience). Despite that the solder tip that came original with the soldering iron (despite being a bit "thick") I think would behave normally/properly so any soldering mistake I could only blame myself. Then I decided to use it to poke holes in plastic (and yes, I knew I would ruin it). Which led me to buy a set of 4 tips. I bought one purposely sold for my specific soldering station model... and yet, there's something not quite right.

These tips don't seem to like tinning very much, it quickly "fades off" and the tip seems to "sweat rust"... and it would seems to get worse over time... no matter how much tinning I do... last night I decided to replace my first replacement tip, here's how it looks:

NOTICE the "Sweat spot" I was talking about... I see it "sweating" while tinning... so I replaced it for a new one:

Also notice the shaft... over time it because that "burnished color" is it normal, is it in any way related to the issues I've been having? Also... even with the new tip... right away I noticed I got a little bit of "rusty sweat" on the new tip, albeit much less than in the older one...

What about the sponge? the yellow one... can it be a problem? being too wet or too dry... I usually soak it and twist it up until it's only moist. Am I doing it wrong?

 

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So filling is off the table and understand why. So, far I though myself as a frequent tinner, but from all that I gather here on the replies I do have abnormal temperature build up (burnished shaft, handle too hot).

I'll be returning to work at lower temps with the new fine tip pencil given that I mostly solder components in (and only unsolder the occasional missoldered component).

Also I'm going to peruse about abasive brass pad given that I'm starting to dislike the sponge, and the sponge holder configuration.

I rather not buy a new iron/station unless this one dies or the situation escalates to truly unbearable.

 

Is there some type of plating on tips? If so filing may not be the best thing!

Tips are chromed or hard nickle coated to aid tinning, and adhesion and reduce oxidation.Filing will take this coating off exposing the copper/iron core(whichever is used) and greatly increase oxidation.

My soldering iron gets turned on early morning and not shut off till night-every day. I have never had a tip look like that. I think maybe its too hot and that burnished look is the plating "boiling" off. If its getting that hot, it will certainly oxidize quickly and cause you no end of greif.

 Does your control box have a temp indicator? If not, maybe try turning it down and increasing gradually. I go through about 6 tips a year on my Weller-And even after the useful life, the tips never look like the one pictured. It must be very frustrating.

I use a sponge for cleaning also as you describe(well my pantleg also at times) so thats not the issue(unless its wet with saltwater)

Put a new tip in and try a lower setting. Maybe your controller has gone bad, and its running at max all the time?

Good luck-I hope you figure it out.That has got to be annoying!

Well, it has just the knob, no temp indications of any sort... even the markings around the knob are just a color grading into red.

At first I would not turn it to the max, but I've gotten increasingly impatient with the heat/re-heat times, so lately I've been using it on the max setting. Regardless of that, it always would get quite "more-than-warm" at the handle if I left it on too long, regardless of temp setting (at least over half-spin).

I use tap water... it's chlorinated, but there shouldn't be much Sodium, or Calcium in it to be an issue I guess...

I was having similar trouble with my tip. I let it cool off and carefully filed the oxidation off and re tinned. I believe that if the oxidation is too severe the flux can't adequately clean it off. I also try to make a habit of tinning the tip well before putting it away and not letting it sit hot and idle.

I too use a pencil tip and i like it!

Ah yes, then that must be the problem. Despite always tinning before putting the soldering iron away I guess I sometimes (probably too often) leave the iron hot and idle on its stand... for instance while making and placing a bunch of jumper wires...

I'll try and file off some oxidation and see I can get better results... and I guess I should also file new tips too... I also now wonder if the flux in my "soldering wire" might be of poorer quality.

Many thanks Master Hoff