Soldering basics and choosing a cheap soldering iron.

The soldering equipment on eBay is actually very usable. I test a cheap generic 936 soldering station in this video, including a look inside the unit and at the PCB, and exploration of the actual iron.
One of the nicest things about these soldering stations is the ready availability of cheap parts from the internal PCBs to the complete irons and a wide selection of tips/bits.