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Re: Soldering irons [was Re: gEDA-user: Free Dog meetings at MIT starting this September!]

I'll lend my voice to the chorus of those who endorse Metcal soldering
irons for SMT work.  Metcal rulez, Weller droolz, IMHO.  Buy a Metcal
with a fine point tip, and you won't be disappointed.  I do lots of
SMT work with a Metcal soldering iron and a high-power magnifying
glass/lamp.  Even an old fart like me can do 0805 passives without too
much trouble with a metcal and a good magnifying lamp. 

As for the price: Yes, Metcals are expensive.  You pay for quality.  My
suggestion is this:  I don't know where you live, but if you live in
a US city with a high-tech economy, you will undoubtedly have noticed
that there have been a lot of electronics companies going bankrupt in
the last few years.  When they go belly-up, auction houses move in and
auction off the assets of the company.  You can buy lots of good stuff
for cheap if you watch your Sunday newspaper's bankrupsy auction
advertisements, and then go to the auctions & bid on the equipment.
I've bought lots of good electronics tools this way.    

Although you must have local auction houses, a global leader in this
area is Dovebid:


They often have on-line auctions of high-tech companies which have
croaked.  This might be a good place to troll for equipment.

Have fun, and buy a Metcal!


> > irons for SMT work.  The price on this one is about twice what it 
> > should be, so don't use that as a data point, but here is the model 
> > that I use:
> > 
> >    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3835290314
> Twice?  Or half?  It looks like $300-$400 retail, but only $200 on
> eBay (used).
> Still, I was hoping to spend less.  I don't solder nearly enough to
> justify an "expensive" iron if I can avoid it.