This gets 5 stars not because everything in here is great (it's a mixed bag), but because unless you want to buy directly from China and experience the miracle of 2-4 week free shipping, you're getting a good combination of stuff you can use within just a few days.

What makes it worth it:

  • $4 - Wire Cutters (you always need another pair)
  • $3 - Solder Wick (must apply rosin or flux for it to work)
  • $1 - Good solder (0.8mm 60/40 Rosin Core Solder)
  • $1 - Solid Rosin (crush and mix 50/50 with 90+% isopropyl alcohol to make flux)
  • $1 - Desoldering pump (looks hokie, but it works and is good to have)
  • $1 - Tweezers, fine-tip, ESD-safe
  • $1 - Tweezers, blunt-tip, ESD-safe
  • $1 - Hobby knife (x-acto razor blade) (fastener appears to be safe)

Total: $13

The solid rosin (block of dried pine sap) is quite effective if you use it directly on the board or component. It's not effective to dip the iron in. I actually really like this both for direct use on the board and dissolved in IPA with a few drops of health and beauty glycerin (surprise, that's proper liquid flux!)

Add $3 to $5 to each of those things for Prime "free" shipping and you've got what they would cost separately.

What doesn't matter:

  • $6 - 12" toolbox (not big enough to hold the iron stand, but it is a box to hold things)
  • $3 - Various tips (pretty awesome, but the iron is bad and I don't know if they're Hakko / X-tronic compatible)
  • $3 - Stand + Sponge (10x better than the wireframe holders, but you'll still want a decent solder station)
  • $1 - Electrical tape (pretty useless for modern electronics, get heat shrink tubing and/or kapton tape)
  • $1 - 0.1mm (30 awg) enameled wire. This is useless (see video review).

Total: $14

What's dangerous:

  • $5 - Wood burning iron (yep, that's how it's listed in other places)
  • $1 - Electric Pen Screwdriver (good for medium-small screws, unreliable and dangerous for testing voltage)

Total: $6

Grand Total: ~$30

(ordered individually from Chinese sites - e cough bay cough with free shipping)

I will say that it's nice to have a secondary iron for burning plastic cases, wood, or the occasional time that you need two irons. This will get the job done, but it doesn't sit in the stand well, the temperature is unpredictable, and it doesn't even have a fuse. If you only have $20 to spend... eh, it'll hold you over.

By AJ ONeal

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