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I'm frustrated with cheap irons that take ages to heat up, don't hold a consistent temperature, only have one size of tip and break after a year or so.

What sort of thing should I buy that can handle small wires on a flight controller and larger power connectors?

I think I want something with some sort of active temperature control so it heats up quickly and holds its temperature accurately, but does that mean I need one with a digital temperature setting and a bulky box? I'd rather it wasn't too large, if possible.

I only use it occasionally so I don't need industrial quality, but I would like it to last years.

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Another product from the same OEM, I'd recommend getting the MiniWare TS80P. (OEM product page, Banggood product listing, Slightly-more-expensive Amazon product listing) MiniWare makes a whole bunch of different nifty electronics tools, including soldering irons, pocket oscilloscopes, etc. I personally have the older version of this product, the TS80, and I have no complaints from my year and a half of casual usage.

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It's a 30W iron powered off of a Quick-Charge 3.0 USB connection and has a wide variety of different tip shapes. This also means you can use it with QC 3.0 battery banks. The power rating may seem tiny, but I can vouch for the exceptional performance of the older TS80's 18W power output, which has been more than enough for almost anything I've ever needed it to do.

Like @conditioHumana mentions about the TS100, you can also flash custom firmware to the STM32 MCU inside it, but I've never felt the need to because the interface has been just fine for my purposes.

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Experience: I worked for HP R&D for 31 years soldering and building boards as an Electronic Engineering Technician.

First you need to decide if you are working on surface mount parts or through hole wire boards. The irons for each are completely different.

I always used WELLER soldering irons. I used two irons, one was micro tip for very small parts and a standard iron for large parts and wiring. The temp control is in the tip. It is magnetic and controls a switch in the tip holder. You can buy tips from 600 to 800 degrees. The standard temp is ~700 degrees. There are any tricks to use in soldering. the most useful trick is to use DISTILLED Water in the tip cleaner sponge. If you use tap water it leaves calcium on the tip and the tip won't wet properly. Get D'water @ target for $1/gal and always use it for the sponge. I used a siphon bottle for the sponge. Use the largest tip to do the job. It holds more heat and will speed the soldering process. I did lots of work with an 800 degree very fat tip, especially on IC's. It heats and solders quickly and very locally so you don't damage the board or parts. Do not cool the joint with water, it crystalizes the joint. It takes lots of practice to learn to solder properly. There are videos on proper soldering technique. If you learn and practice you will move to larger tips and hotter tips but start with medium size 700 degree Weller.

READ: https://www.weller-tools.com/what-type-of-soldering-iron-do-i-need/

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Maybe something like the TS100 fits your bill. I am not an expert on soldering but use it in the hobby. There are different tips available and there is a firmware project. The heat up powered from a 4s battery which i mostly use is fast. A review: https://hackaday.com/2017/07/24/review-ts100-soldering-iron/ The firmware project: https://github.com/Ralim/IronOS

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I strongly recommend Weller products, not because I've used them, but also because they're not USB powered (increasing anxiety levels), not looking like a DIY, being electrically isolated and most importantly they are reliable. I also recommend them because I work with electronics and used several soldering irons and stations.

Also keep in mind that proper maintenance and proper tools for your soldering job will make your life so much easier.

Buying a soldering station or iron is just a part of soldering process.

EDIT:

I've not used any of the so called "hobby" soldering irons because if they are not properly isolated they can act like ESD guns and fry your IC's.

Here's another soldering station that I have at work and is doing what is supposed to do without having to worry if the charger will work with the iron.

This 3-in-1 station proved to be a cheap alternative as I've used it a few times for some basic to intermediate soldering and does the job quite nicely for it's money.

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