Soldering is most definitely a skill one needs to possess to further their pursuit into the DIY electronics hobby. Have a good soldering station greatly improves one's ability to solder. Unfortunately most decent soldering stations are a pain to move from your bench to access remote projects. Over the years there have been many companies who tried to solve this problem. Some offer portable irons that are fueled by natural gas, others of approach the the issue with battery-powered irons. Historically battery-powered irons have been horrible, and have had low duty cycles, inferior tips, and ergonomics that can only be described as clunky. Fortunately a company called ISO-TIP has broken the cycle of atrocious battery powered soldering irons. Today were going to look at not only a portable soldering iron but a full-fledged portable soldering kit.
ISO-TIP 7710 Soldering Tool Kit
Someone say that having a portable soldering iron is not a necessity but more of a luxury. Obviously those people have never had to solder a wire under the dash of their car, or down in a dry well compartment on a boat. A good friend of mine is heavily involved in autonomous robotic competitions and preaches the importance of having a good portable soldering iron. In the past I have taken it upon myself to build complete portable soldering kits. These usually involve a butane powered soldering iron with a spare porch tip, a small role of solder, a sponge, some heat shrink tubing, and a cigarette lighter. I would usually house these kits and small fishing tackle boxes which were larger than needed. The two big flaws to this kit were that the gas powered iron usually took 15 - 20 minutes to cool off enough to be put back in the box. The other flaw was that gas powered irons are notoriously hard to control the temperature of the tip. ISO-TIP has taken the time to put together a kit that in my opinion should be in every DIY enthusiast's tool collection. It's not only powerful but compact and design and features almost everything one could desire in their portable soldering solution.
ISO-TIP's Model 7710 Soldering Kit includes the following items:
7700 Soldering Iron – our most popular model
Charging Base station
3 different tip styles - 7545, 7546, 7566
Titan Smart Torch
Silver Bearing Solder Paste
Lead free Solder
Solder Sponge tip cleaning pad
Heat Shrink Tubing – Assorted sizes
They managed to fit all of that in a case that measures 12"x9"x3.5". Things are held securely during transport by a fitted foam interior which prevents movement in any direction.
One thing that has always bugged me about battery-powered soldering irons is the long heat up time. With the 7700 heat up time is not an issue in my test it went from room temperature cold to melting led free solder in 8 seconds. In comparison it took my spark fun 50watt soldering station an average of 30 seconds to heat up from room temperature to melting the same led free solder. The 7700 also includes a light which helps to better illuminate the solder joint you're working on. While I would have liked to see this light replaced with a superbright LED it serves his purpose and does its job just fine. The 7700 utilizes a 2.4 volts 1300 mAh battery that is easily recharged in about four hours. Ice is it states that you should get around 125 soldering joints per charge during continuous use I was able to manage about 200 joints of stopping go soldering on a fresh battery. The 7700 feels comfortable in your hand at almost any angle and I would not hesitate to use it as a day-to-day workhorse . Below is a video we shot of the 7700 and action. We were able to solder up the whole whole InkShield board in less than 30 minutes using the 7700.
Also included in the kit is the Titan Smart Tourch which comes in handy for shrinking heat shrink, or soldering and desoldering large connections such as a heavy guage wire to a lug terminal. The Titan Smart Torch is powered by butane and emits a flame hot enough to melt a copper penny. InISO-TIP tip also includes a small vial of gelled flux, a small syringe of solder paste and a tube that contains a few feet of solder. One thing we would like to see added to this kit in the future is a short role of solder wick or a cheap solder sucker pump.
For the average everyday DIYer, maker, hardware hacker this kit would be an excellent supplement to your fixed soldering station or as your main soldering kit. It's an excellent loaner item for hacker spaces, or for members of hacker spaces to purchase as their portable kit we can see this kid meshing perfectly with one of Ben Heck's portable workbenches. For the more professional type user such as an on-call repair technician we feel the 7700 will get the job done but would recommend purchasing an additional iron or upgrading to ISO-TIPs "60" Pro which has a recharge time of one hour. We would reccomend the ISO-TIP 7710 Soldering Kit to anyone who is in the market or a portable kit or would like a bench iron and portable solution all in one neat package. We absolutely love this kit and have told everyone we know about it. The only things we could find wrong were the lack of a solder removal device such as a solder sucker or a small roll of solder wick.