I will be doing an iMac G5 capacitor job and a first gen iPhone battery replacement so I want to buy a good soldering gun and/or kit. What brand and wattage do you guys recommend? Also what website do you guys buy your stuff from?
Thanks a lot.
The guys who do soldering can tell you what type and style of soldering iron, flux, and solder to get, but why go online when you can go to any Radio Shack or Electronics Shop?
Sometimes its just as easy as it is going online.
Rosin core and/or no-clean flux is good.
10-15 watt iron for the iphone.
And possible (depending on the ground plane size) a 25+ iron for capacitors since they may be connected to a hefty heat-sink like plane of copper ..
the availiable devices for soldering show up with a wide spread in price and quality - so one of the first questions to answer yourself will be: "do i want to just solve this single task with the iPhone and later there will be no use anymore for the equipment or do i intend to probably start with this task and probably want to use the equipment more often with growing experience... ?"
for a onetime use you prabably can limit the amount to a cheap tool... but for intended use in more projects in the future it will probably be more likely to set the focus to quality and the ability to solve different tasks with the same tool
- in that case it will be wise to choose a soldering-iron-station with integrated regulation of the temperature of the soldering tip - but these are more expensive - at the other hand these also solve the issue to handle different kinds of tasks like simple soldering a few components as well as soldering at pins connected to cooling-sinks...
the second thing will be to think about at least buying a iron that has changable tips and to buy immediatly at the beginning at least 2 so called "pen-tips" for soldering small components and 2 "spade-tips" for soldering large components where more heat is needed in larger space....
if you want more information then just google the topic with DIY soldering or learning soldering
there are several pages online that not only give instructions in detail, how to solder but also what equipment should be used with good pictures to the different tools....
in fact it will be also wise to just make some small exercises at the beginning - before you startup with the iPhone to get experience with the handling and the timing... newbies tend to make at the very beginning mistakes and to "fry" the components by giving them too much and too long the heat or in the opposite to not get a good flux by not providing enough heat ....
thats a thing to train a little before touching sensitive devices....
the second thing to train with sensitive devices is the correct grounding to protect devices from electrical shock..... this topic should be covered too, when learning the startup with soldering....
If you ever plan on using a soldering iron again after your upcoming project, consider buying a good-quality, adjustable one. Those cheap Radio Shack irons will work in a pinch, but are not very pleasant to deal with. Weller makes some nice, basic irons (I'm quite happy with my Weller station), but Hakko is quickly becoming my favorite. Here's a variable-temperature iron that would work well; yeah, it's $80, but it's easily the kind of iron that will last you the rest of your life:
For brief, infrequent soldering jobs, a cordless iron might work too. The Hakko FX-901 is still available, and at $30 it's a decent deal. I liked it in my review from back in 2006:
I've used a non-temperature controlled Weller base station for about 15 years. Had to replace the tips several times through normal use, but it's been rock solid.
Last fall I had a need for hot-air reflow, so I picked up a combo solder/hot air from ebay. Chinese made, temperature control for both functions, and it comes with a few spare heater parts...sort of a testimony that this isn't the same quality as the Weller. It was just over $100 with shipping, and for the hot air option it was completely worth it.
Similar to this chap:
I used hot air for removing the old caps on my 840av, then used the iron for adding the new ones. It's a good investment as an occasional-use hobby item. Pros should rightly avoid it.
One thing I read and completely recommend if you or anyone else buys one, is to crack it open and check the wiring before you even plug it in. Mine was okay, but I added a hard off switch next to the AC plug, since with the design power was always flowing to the board so the hot air fan needs to run to cool the unit off when switched off. So I let it switch off on its own, then fully kill the power. I could just unplug it, but the switch saves me some fumbling for the plug.
...and hot air will be handy for you when you're opening the iphone.;)
I don't solder much myself, but the person who works with me does. I got him the WD 1 from Weller. Bought from Amazon
I highly recommend it, but it's used around 15 hours average each week. Not worth it for the occasional use.
I buy much of the supplies (tips, solder, etc) from All Spec http://www.all-spec.com/ For the iMac we use a chisel tip.
I know many people who use the cheap 15w ones from Radio Shack for years spending 100s of hours with them (going through several). Everyone who solders a lot, and buys a better one says they wished they did bought it a long time ago. They can do things faster and with less failures. If you solder quite a bit, there will be a time when you need 2 for something, so your cheap one won't go to waste, I'd suggest buying a cheap one first, try that out, if you end up liking it and want to solder more, buy something around $100. I've heard good things about the WESD51
Wow! Thanks for all the info guys. I am more informed but not much closer to a decision. I know I can't afford the $295 iron...maybe the $118 one. But even that is expensive to start this project.
Someone asked how much soldering do I plan to do. Well, right now I have two projects (the iPhone and the iMac G5 Caps). If they (especially the iMac) go well than I plan on buying a few other iMac G5's that need caps and fix them as well for some family members. Now that I am thinking about it I also have a couple tube radios, vintage Blaupunkt radio/liquor cabinet and a Philco chair side radio that needs the power supply changed. So I do want a middle of the road iron that can be adjusted (temperature wise) for these kind of projects.
Again thanks for the info, I have begun to read the tons of info I found on Google about soldering and de-soldering. If anyone has any other websites they have bought soldering items from and are happy let me know. Thanks.
to come up with some kind of a resume:
so you probably will not only restrict the use to a "one-time-show" but rather intend to enter in some future use too...
then its clear that it won´t be a good idea to use a cheap "taiwan"-solder-frying-tip -but rather to chose a tool with some minimum level of quality and minimum to at least control the temperature at the tip-point....
this kicks off the very cheap ones for less than 30 bucks....
the minimum starts then at some 75 to 80 bucks .....
at this point there probably is not the need to start immediatly with nearly 300 bucks....
to compare with a car.... you should not try to make a long distance drive with a used car for 100 bucks if you intend other travels with that car in future ....
the second thing to have an eye on is the soldering material....
the soldering material is availiable in a wide spread of quality and varieties....
its not a good idea to get material from past centuries that has aged somewhere in a shelf....
there is cheap soldering material with old lead content and determined for use not in electronics but more for use in making tiffany-lamps ( usualy very thick wire material with 3 mm to 5 mm diameter....
the "good"-stuff has inside a core with aided material for good fluent and is determined specialy for use with electronics...
this material is availiable in diameters from 0,5 mm ( very thin for very tiny soldering work ) to 2 mm diameter ( for large soldering work like in tube amps or tube radios...
due to the fact that i´m located in germany i can´t give advice where to get the required stuff in the US - but i do guess that hundreds of shops specialized on such topic are located to cities around silicon valley and other towns with universities that have special-branches related to electronic development like MIT.... and quite a good bunch of them will probably offer mailing services and mail-distribution for electronic engineers-supplies ....
usually they then also offer components and other electronic material too....
maybe a coffee-break with some small-talk at the local tv-repair or computer-repair shop with the technician could be usefull to detect some reliable local supply resources.....
While you're on the subject, what's the deal with the iMac G5 capacitors? I've got one sitting on a shelf in my garage that needs new capacitors, too. I noticed there's info online about replacing them, including YouTube videos, so it seems to be a recurring problem. Why is that Mac prone to this problem and is there a way to assure it doesn't happen again after the replacement?
I'm no expert on this stuff, but I think the caps go bad because of the heat inside the iMac. Cleaning it occasionally will help, but I'm pretty sure they will go bad again even if you keep them clean. I've heard people replacing them with the polymer caps think it will last a lot longer, but it doesn't look right. If you're fixing one for yourself, I think I might do that. I used to fix them to resell, and tried to use caps that matched the original (except for the PS which doesn't matter since you can't see them easily), expecting another 2 years of use out of it, but no real data to back that up. It's a few years later and the ones I'm aware of are all still working.
With the iMac, you almost always have to replace the caps in the power supply as well as the board
It was found that the motherboards where built with cheap knock-off caps and that is why they went bad. After replacing them with genuine Rubycon caps you can expect the normal life expectancy of the iMac.
the really wierd fact is that Apple for sometime used the politics of "planned obsolecence" meaning that they planned during the developement to construct their hardware to only last a limited time..... that bad behaviour was initiated by Steve Jobs himself ! The most common known case was the accumulator-pack within the iPOD in the first editions... it was by the development designed not to last longer than 2 years... and Apple refused to sell the accumulator-packs as sparepart but instead requested the customers to buy a new iPOD ! ( so in fact the iPOD was a oneway-ticket for a maximum of 2 years ! Apple got sued in that case and was forced by an agreement to change their policy and offer the accumulator-packs as spareparts for exchange and to change the lifecycle back to normal expectations of 3 to 4 years.....
( all that stuff to be researched within google - including the material of the trial at court ) ...
that was one of the reasons i dropped off in the early 90´s from being an "absolute fan" and instead dropped to the spec of being "a fan of the former Apple´s" ...... Woz would have never accepted such policy of "obsolete tech"....
I just did about 20 search variations on the above and didn't find a thing. Would love to read about it. Do you have any links?
I have the well WESD51 and it makes a giant difference in the quality of solder joints you make. I attempted to do some quick soldering work at my local Hackspace who had a cheap iron and it looked terrible. I wound up buying them one because I felt bad and knew I'd be there again and at somepoint it would be worth it.
If you are doing caps now, who knows what you'll do tomorrow or next year. When you buy a good Weller, you will give it to your kids
here are several links to this topic:
this following one is realy remarkable because its a result of the mentioned trial at court that ended with an agreement and not with a decession...
the agreement was only valid in california, so only the users in california had profit from that agréement...
in fact its discrimination of the citizens within other states, because the agreement did not include the remaining states...
another link to the topic of the case at court:
and yes in one point i agree to your search:
apple seems to have sucessfully kicked off any kind of link to the court-case itself that far in the listings of google,
that any info might probably only be found nowadays at link 1.000.000 or so...
I've had several hundred of the iMac boards fixed, while I haven't looked at all the caps to see if they were supposed to be affected, I don't think so. Apple used at least 3-4 different kinds of caps in the iMac, and I've seen all kinds fail. I've seen all kinds of boards fail, even the replacement ones Apple sent out. I do know heat and bad power supplies will cause issues even if the caps are the highest quality caps. The caps in the power supply are often off brands, it's possible that's part of the problem, but it's still my opinion that heat is one of the root causes of the issues. I see boards with known good caps or good power supplies fail. Several boards come, and I've got systems from people who replace the caps themselves, and can say from experience that if you recap the board with good caps, but the power supply was bad, it will fail again unless you also fix the power supply, If both are repaired, I have yet to hear of any bad caps from any of the ones I've sold.
I believe if you replace the motherboard caps, and fix the power supply where it's giving off consistent voltage, and keep it free from dust, it will likely last several more years.
I did not google "Planned obsolescence", I googled the "accumulator-pack within the iPOD in the first editions" and a host of different variations of that phrase. Had I googled about planned obsolescence I would've come up with tons of examples. Anyone can point their finger at a product and scream "planned obsolescence" from fashion to wood windows to cars. If a company doesn't have planned obsolescence than it doesn't make a profit. Complaining about that topic is a moot point.
Thanks. I have been trying to decide on a Weller today. There are quite a few on Amazon I have been reading.
I agree but from the research I have done, the different caps either on the motherboard or power supply that were failing were found to be counterfeit. Sourcing genuine caps seems to give the iMac a lot longer life (and yes dustless as well).
Apple isn't alone in its problem with capacitors from that era; a large number of other computer and electronics companies were hit too. In fact, Dell got in quite a bit of hot water recently, as they knew about the problem but refused to acknowledge it, or repair systems under warranty.
The gist of it is, in the race for Chinese manufacturers/OEMs to keep costs as competitive as possible (or perhaps maximize their profits), they cheaped out on parts. Sure, each cap was probably 1/10 of a penny cheaper than the properly-made and -rated caps that they should have used, but since they'd buy caps by the millions, that very small decrease in cost saved a significant amount of money.
Apple most certainly does engage in planned obsolescence -- but they do it through software (e.g. not supporting certain Macs with new versions of OS X), not by purposefully causing the hardware to fail.
the behavior of designing parts to fail as planed obsolescence was practice by Apple at least in the time between 1994 to 2003 .... that behavior changed after the trial-case about the i-pod accumulator when they found out that it would be more expensive when being forced to replace that material by demand of court in conjunction with possible punishment.... thereafter they changed policy to move from planed technical obsolescence to the alternate practice of obsolescence by development and styling...... the first was bad behavior, that realy harmed the interest of the customers... the second alternative form after 2003 is acceptable as normal behavior and widely normal practice....
at least up to my privat opinion
There are a lot of people who insist on using no other solder other than Kester-44. And also, to not use any kind of soldering flux.
Soldering is all about temperature control - too hot and you could melt or damage something that you didn't intend to - too cool and your solder joint will not be good. Get a temperature controlled iron that supports a variety of tips. To get the right heat into an area with a lot of heat sink capability, you don't turn up the temperature, you use a bigger tip with more mass. To get the right heat into an tight area with with not much heat sink, you can use a slimmer tip, with less mass.
Fixed wattage, non-temperature controlled soldering irons will eventually cost you by overheating and damaging a board or component. You can do the same by running a temperature controlled iron at too hot a setting, but if you set the temperature at a reasonable level and leave it there, it will be almost impossible to overheat your work.
I use and am happy with a Weller WES-51, but I've heard good things about Hakko soldering irons, also.
Soldering is a craft, like many other things. I can make a $10 special from radioshack sing and dance and do the same thing a $500 metcal station can - or use that same metcal and botch the most basic wire-to-contact solder job.
One can use those 100-watt ungrounded Weller guns to repair pins on smt devices if you know exactly what you are doing.
Everyone is going to have their own work style and preference of tool brand. The basic rules of the craft will never change, how you interpret them, well, there's thousands of ways.