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If I had a dollar for every time I’ve recommended a “high quality, real soldering iron” for serious RC’ers, I’d have…well, I’d have a mountain of dollars. Few tools are more important to an RC guy than a quality soldering iron, and those cheap little $15 jokes from Radio Shack simply don’t hold a candle to a 60-watt soldering station. TrakPower’s TK950 rotary-dial soldering station is one such iron that can handle tasks ranging from delicate servo wires to 10-gauge motor wires, but what if you want to set an exact temperature for a specific job? The new TK955 digital soldering station is your answer.

FEATURES
Like the TK950 station with its rotary knob temperature adjustment, the TK955 digital station packs 60-watts of continuous heat. Both units have identical specs, the difference being the digital temp readout for the 955. Temperature is adjustable from 392F-896F (200-480C) in 1-degree increments, and the iron will hold the selected temp within a 1.8F (1C) range when at idle. Set it and forget it. Open the box and you’ll find the soldering iron, a long connecting wire, an iron stand with sponge, programmable security key (to fend off all of those rogue, drive-by solderers at your local track…and more seriously, to program a favorite temp setting), and some fancy decorative decals for the station body itself. All of this will set you back about $110.

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TESTING
I connected the TK955, flipped the switch, and set the temp to full blast 896F. In what seemed like only a minute or two, the iron was fully heated, burning off assembly oils and tempering the iron’s metals with the sweet stench of electrical burning. Ahhh, the smell of melted solder in the morning… I used the iron at full throttle to tin an assortment of 10 and 12-gauge brushless motor wires, as well as the soldering tabs on two new brushless motors. Touch a length of rosin-core solder to the TK955’s tip, and watch out; the solder vaporizes almost instantly.

Even during heavier use while soldering multiple motor wires, the TK955 maintains its temperature–you can watch the temp fluctuate on the digital readout while you work–and should the iron lose too much heat, it re-heats almost instantly.  Adjusting the 955 unit requires only the push of a button and a few moments for the iron to heat or cool to the desired temperature. During long soldering sessions, you may notice that the handle will heat up, but it’s nothing uncomfortable considering the blazing inferno at the tip of the soldering wand.

I have only one complaint about the iron itself; the included tips (a fine pencil tip, and a 2.3mm regular tip) work well for small jobs, but for regular motor/battery/ESC wire soldering, however, I do highly recommend picking up TrakPower’s optional 3.2mm chisel tip (TKPR0968) which is considerably wider and heavier than the included tips. If it had been my call, I would have included the 3.2mm tip in the box, and have the fine tip as the optional accessory. The larger 3.2mm tip retains more heat and makes large soldering work a breeze, and at less than $6, it’s the best upgrade you can make for the price. Swapping the iron tips takes only a few seconds, allowing you to choose the correct tip size for the job.

The standard included tip on top, with the optional 3.2mm larger chisel tip installed for increased heat transfer.

The standard included tip on top, with the optional 3.2mm larger chisel tip installed for increased heat transfer.

CONCLUSION
RC guys – if you’re reading this article, you’re dedicated enough to RC to own a real soldering iron. Toss that ridiculous $18 Radio Shack pencil iron in the trash, and don’t bother arguing that it “works just fine, especially for the price.” Those cheapo irons suck and they create cold solder joints. Get a real soldering station and do the job right. It’s the best $110 you’ll spend, and as a long-term investment, the TrakPower TK955 will pay for itself many times over when it provides stress-free, high quality solder joints.

CONTACT
TrakPower TK955 Soldering Station
http://www.trakpowerusa.com/solderingtools/tkpr0955/index.html

Part Number: TKPR0955
Price: $109.99