I very recently purchased the Soldron SL-938 and this post contains all of what I experienced initially. The Soldron SL-938 specifications can be found on the Soldron website. You may consider it as more of a “first impressions” post than a complete review. I will definitely post more updates and probably a complete Soldron SL-938 review in the future.
As this was the first session, I did not quite try to push my soldering skills too hard. It takes some getting used to when it comes to using tools. So I set off trying to solder some usual 0.1″ pitch DIP headers on to a module so that it can be inserted into a standard breadboard. Also, I soldered an ESP-12 F module to its breakout board. The ESP-12 is not tough to solder but it is good enough to tell you if your soldering iron is decent enough for basic surface mount component soldering or retouching.
The soldering station was packaged really well by the seller I purchased this from. I received it with a Soldron conical tip mounted. I put on a Hakko chisel tip and it fit in just fine. Not that the Soldron tip was bad, the issue with conical tips is that you need it only for components that are small in size (by small, I mean lead sizes of less than 0.5 mm). But since I had larger stuff to solder, chisel tip was just fine for the job.
What the usual 25W mains irons do
Just for your reference, here are some images of what actually happens when you use one of the cheapo 25W uncontrolled little irons working directly off the mains. I tried to solder some bulky DIP headers to a multi-layer board, the heat spreads out fast on those and sometimes solder just solidifies way too fast. The result? Absolutely unacceptable solder joints! Take a look:
Well, what you see above is an absolutely useless soldering job. The solder did not flow properly and got accumulated up on the top. Clearly, it was too thick to be able to enter the plated hole, which means the iron was unable to provide enough heat. The bottom side reveals an equally unfortunate condition:
This will simply render your design defective and unable to work properly.
Soldering with the SL-938
However, on a similar board with multiple layers and good thermal dissipation, the Soldron SL-938 did a really good job. The fillets were precisely formed and the solder flowed right through very easily. The reason being that the SL-938 was really good at maintaining the temperature at the tip and prevent cooling of the solder before complete and free reflow. Here is what the joints looked like when soldered at 320 deg Celsius:
The solder flowed uniformly and the joint turned out really good for the first attempt with the iron. I’m sure it will improve as I get used to the new iron and tip. And to compare with the above photo of DIP header, here is what a 0.1″ standard DIP header soldered with the Soldron SL-938 looked like:
As you can see here, the 0.1″ headers have a perfect conical shape of solder around them. This means that the solder cooled off properly and flowed really well around the pad and into the cavity. This is what you would expect from a good soldering setup.
So far, everything was good with the iron. The cleaning sponge is probably manufactured by Soldron itself and it was of good quality too. Same with the holder for the iron. Some other positives that I immediately noticed are:
- Smooth temperature control knob
- Good build quality of equipment
- Fast initial heating
- Responsive temperature compensation and powerful iron
- Flexible cable that makes it easy to maneuver the iron freely
And the negatives I noticed are:
- Slight heating of the iron handle after 30 min of usage
Not a big deal but may be uncomfortable if you use it often and for long sessions.
- No instruction of safety manual included.
- No chisel tip !!!
That is all I have to share as the first impression or initial review of the iron. I like it so far and would definitely recommend it if you plan to work with components of about 1mm pin pitch. I have not tried smaller SMD components, but I will definitely post one more article along with photos of the work done.
Do leave your questions in comments below if you have any! 🙂