They say that a poor workman blames his tools but sometimes it is justified. After my efforts last Friday I decided to purchase a better soldering iron. I went for the Antex XS25, which gets good reviews. Sure enough, with the new iron, I was not only able to finish the job I started on Friday but even fix some of the mistakes from that earlier attempt. What I needed was not more power (the new iron is 25W; the previous one was 40W) but more precision and this fits the bill. I did get a decent stand and a tube of solder with the previous one (along with a desoldering pump I haven’t tried yet) so it wasn’t entirely a waste of money but I’m glad I didn’t spend much longer trying to figure out how to solder electronic components with it.
Even better, the soldering has passed the test and actually worked. Using an online tutorial as a guide, I have managed to wire up my temperature sensor and get onto the much more familiar ground of developing a Python script to interpret the data it provides. Now I can muster up the basic electronic skills needed to attach input and output devices to my Raspberry Pi, I can finally start to do some more interesting things with it than just updating the software from time to time.
I should also mention the brilliant customer service received from Antex (via Amazon). One of their staff, Sue, spotted that I had ordered the version with a European plug. She took the initiative and queried this with me in time for a UK plugged one to be swapped in before it was dispatched. That has saved me a few more days waiting and the hassle of returning it; definitely worth a note of thanks.