Since it’s better to start off with some decent tools to avoid problems later on—that’s at least what I convinced myself of in order to justify the cost—I bought the ERSA i-CON Nano soldering station. This is an 80W soldering station that heats up to 350°C in 9 seconds (max. 450°C). It’s great! 🙂
The difference with the ERSA i-CON Pico soldering station is that the Nano has electrostatic discharge (ESD) protection—and the solder iron stand looks better in my opinion. Since I’m not sure yet if I want to work fully ESD protected but might do so in the future, I decided to buy the Nano.
The soldering station ships with a great 1,6 mm chisel tip but I got some additional ones as well:
I also got some tip tinner to prevent tip oxidation.
As for lead vs. lead-free solder, this is a decision to make for yourself, but since I don’t like the idea of getting lead on my hands and equipment, and lead-free being environmentally friendlier, I chose to work with lead-free solder. I bought both 0,5 mm as well as 1,0 mm solder. The former works best for most kinds of soldering, but I got the latter for low-precision work such as soldering thicker wires together. To avoid breathing unhealthy fumes, one of my first projects will be building a fume extractor though.
Some tools to remove solder:
Some other tools:
- some flush cutters to trim the legs of components after soldering
- some gripping pliers which are also great to bend stuff, but harder to hold things. I should’ve probably gotten one like this, with a pointy tip, but with a flat gripping surface inside though.
- a set of scrapers, hooks and brushes
- a set of tweezers
- a third hand to hold stuff while soldering. It comes with a LED light and a magnifying glass, which gets in the way when not needed—I’m not entirely sure I like that feature.