Today I ordered the recently QST reviewed Hakko FX-888 soldering station. My wife and I got a gift card from my parents for our first anniversary and its my birthday this month so she said I could order one. In the past I've used low power (30w) Walmart specials, and they have pretty much stunk. I also found that the solder I was using must be acid core - bad news! Needless to say, I was due for an upgrade, especially since I've been doing a lot more building lately. And with my Amazon Prime membership, the $4 overnight shipping has the new station arriving tomorrow! I chose the FX-888 because I know the name - I work at Rockwell Collins and we have Hakko desoldering stations in some of our labs (mostly use Metcal stuff elsewhere though) so I know its quality if we use it, and the QST review also helped convince me. Several of the members on the QRP-L mailing list also suggested that the Hakko stuff was good so here we are.
So with overnight shipping, my soldering station should arrive at my QTH just in time to begin work on the KSB2 - SSB kit for my K2! I will finally be entering the realm of the digital modes again in short order. With all this activity on WSPR, QRSS and JT65, I really wanted to get in on the action. This little guy is funded by a nice alternative reward (i.e. a gift card) from work for working a few extra hours on a project that had a very tough deadline. I'll mostly be using the SSB mode for digital stuff but I'm sure I'll do some sideband too, especially when I'm operating around non-hams like my in-laws. Makes it easier for them to enjoy it I think. I equate using CW around them to talking a foreign language to a buddy of mine while they stand by wondering what I'm talking about or if I'm making fun of them. I think it'll be more polite to use voice instead of CW.
Anyway, a fitting birthday present for this month: a new soldering station and a KSB2! Happy birthday to me!