0 votes
asked in ESP8266 WiFi Color Kit by (550 points)
I have the esp8266 black and white kit, and it's great! I'd be interested in the color one, but I see that takes soldering, is there a soldering iron you recommend? What about solder - is leaded solder a safety concern?

2 Answers

0 votes
answered by (9k points)
Thanks for being the first one to post a question on the new support forum! It depends how much money you want to invest. I'm personally using a cheap one for about $20 from the local electronics store with adjustable temperature. Look for an iron with a power between 40-60W and adjustable temperature.

Actually if you already have the black and white kit an you don't want to go into soldering you could also just go for the display and use the NodeMCU from the black and white kit for it. That would work even without soldering, you'd just use the female-female connection wires to connect the 2.4" ILI9341 with the NodeMCU...

I think nowadays you should really go for unleaded solder for health reasons...
commented by (550 points)
Great suggestions!
0 votes
answered by
Since you ask about soldering iron recommendations, I'm assuming you don't have much experience soldering electronics; maybe none.

This kit is on the easy side for soldering. If you don't have any soldering experience at all, though, I suggest you look around for a kit specifically aimed at "learn to solder". There are a lot of those around. They usually include some kind of forgiving circuit that is interesting enough to hold your interest but very easy to build. It's much better to make your mistakes on a $2-3 practice kit. Here is just one of a million examples: https://www.tindie.com/products/MakersBox/easy-joule-thief-soldering-kit/ (I have no affiliation with it).

As @squix78 says, what kind of iron you get depends on how much you want to invest. If you think this is the beginning of a hobby you will do for a while, then you probably want a pretty good iron. Since you don't know much about it, you'll soon be reading opinions about the ideal soldering temperature for various things. There are many temperature controlled irons around that don't tell you what the temperature is ... the just have a dial with no scale. You'll have no idea (pro tip: don't test it with your tongue!). So I suggest you get a temperature controlled iron with a digital readout so you'll know what's going on. But, again, only if the money makes sense to you because that will probably cost you $50-100 or more.

Finally, I recommend watching the youtube series on "Basic Soldering" by PACE Worldwide. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIT4ra6Mo0s Although it's aimed at those beginning a career in professional electronics assembly and repair, it's really informative for just about anybody starting out.
commented by (550 points)
Thanks WJC - great suggestions on the 'throw away' starter projects.

Generally speaking aside from something like temperature control, what makes a soldering iron 'good' vs 'not good'?

Looking at amazon reviews hasn't helped - There are tons of models, lots have good reviews.

Is this one of those things where it really doesn't matter that much and I'll be happy with any soldering iron so long as it gets hot enough??
commented by (550 points)
WJC I just watched that Pace video - So much information and a nice nostalgic look back to 1980!
commented by (100 points)
I'm really not very qualified to tell you the difference between good and bad soldering irons beyond the things I said. If you ask that question as a web search, you will see quite a few opinions. Most of it boils down to "do you want to pay a high price for a name-brand rig, or do you want to pay a low price for a non-name Chinese rig and hope it doesn't let you down".

One little piece of advice (or at least what I did): when you are shopping around, you might find something that includes a heat gun for not much more money. That's what I did. It's very handy for taking things apart, whether to harvest something or to undo your own mistake.
commented by (550 points)
Nice! I saw in one video online a guy had a soldering iron with a little suction tube at the end to pull away the smoke created by the soldering process, that looked appealing to me, but I didn't catch what brand it was (the video wasn't specifically about soldering irons) The mini heat gun is probably a good idea too (I have a larger one now, but it's more for removing paint than solder)
commented by (160 points)
Not undermining anyone's comments here, its all good advice.
As far as solder goes, lead free is the ECO way to go however, its melting temperature is a lot higher than conventional solder. This may cause you a few issues as you begin your journey.
I suggest you try first with leaded solder to get a feel for how the joint is formed. The way a lead free joint forms and freezes is totally different.
Dont get too hung up on the ECO thing though, ive been chewing on leaded solder for over 40 years and im still here....Cough!#%%^
Seriously, give leaded a go to start then move on to unleaded if you want. Sooner or later in your hobby you are going to come across leaded solder. Better know the Devil now.


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