We recently noticed a new soldering station on the shelves of Altronics, and something caught our eye... touchscreen! Yes that’s right, a soldering station with touchscreen control! It’s not the first out there, but not something usually found in the realm of hobby electronics.
At first thought, we wondered - do we really need a touchscreen control on a soldering station? We’ll save you the anticipation, and say - absolutely! Read on to find out why.
Before we look at the fancy touchscreen, we wanted to see what the iron itself was like. After all, if it’s not comfortable and ticking the boxes, the screen isn’t going to be much use either.
Picking up the soldering pencil, we instantly noticed it’s nice and lightweight, and ultra-comfortable thanks to a cool rubberised grip. If you’re soldering often or working on a large project, you’ll quickly discover the benefit.
Included is a rock-solid stand for the soldering pencil, and a brass tip cleaner. If you’re used to the sponge-type tip cleaners, you’ll love the metal version. They resemble a metal kitchen scourer, but the major benefit is the reduced heat loss, which is typically associated with the sponge-type cleaners. It’s very low abrasion, so it won’t damage the tip either. At DIYODE, we prefer these types, even simply for ease of use. Push the tip in and pull it back out; the majority of the time that’s all you need - multiple passes not required.
Switching the unit on, we’d have to say it comes up to temp at a reasonable pace. It’s not the fastest we’ve experienced, but it’s quick enough. Temperature range is 100°C to 500°C, so it’s suitable for use with leaded and lead-free solders.
Unlike some cheaper soldering stations, the main power unit runs totally cool, which increases safety too. We noticed good temperature stability and heat recovery. The design of the tip helps this, as the heating element sits inside the tip sleeve itself, which is common in quality stations these days.
One of the unexpected benefits we did find with the touchscreen were the advanced functions. There are three memory channels for temperature presets. This is helpful for finding and storing your favourite temperatures for different types of jobs, such as leaded versus lead-free solder, PCBs versus power cables, or whatever you like. The controls are still straight forward, with a large temperature display and a clear “up to temp” indication.
Tips are available down to 0.2mm, and it’s ESD (electrostatic discharge) safe, providing confidence when using sensitive components.
With a price tag of $335, it sits firmly in the realm for those looking for a solid soldering station, who will use it regularly. Of course, it still suits occasional use when you just want a quality unit! We think it represents excellent value for money, and it will give you many years of faithful service.
Grab it online from Altronics