what do you think of this soldering station for the price?

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by funkymann1, May 14, 2015.

  1. funkymann1

    funkymann1 Tele-Holic

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  2. hotpot

    hotpot Tele-Afflicted

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    :eek:That is a heck of a deal at that price, the exact same one over here is £96.99/$153:eek:

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/New-3in1-...723?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&hash=item485b5cc8f3
     
  3. bullfrogblues

    bullfrogblues Friend of Leo's

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    That looks like a great deal to me~! I wish I had seen that before I bought the one I have.
     
  4. choupique

    choupique Tele-Holic

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    It's not really a heat gun. Hot air is used to work with surface mount devices. Hopefully you'll never have the pleasure. I guess it could be used as a very small heat gun. For that price I'd say give it a try.
     
  5. funkymann1

    funkymann1 Tele-Holic

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    wondering if its good enough for heat shrink..thats all i would need it for.....i have the 15 bucks gun from HF that i use for that....melts heat shrink in seconds...
     
  6. Bongocaster

    Bongocaster Friend of Leo's

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    So is that how SMDs are soldered? With the heat gun instead of the iron?
     
  7. choupique

    choupique Tele-Holic

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    That's how they are reworked or repaired. In a factory they more than likely would be wave soldered or by a process called reflow soldering. Do a google search. It's kind of interesting.
     
  8. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    If the air from that gun will reflow solder, it'll melt shrink tube as surely as your big ole gun does now, BUT, since its small and likely puts out limited air, that cools pretty rapidly, you could probably manipulate the distance and how you play the air over the heat shrink tube, so as to avoid damaging it. I think I'd try using one of the bigger nozzles shown in the illustration. For a new unit, that sounds like a very good price.
     
  9. Cat MacKinnon

    Cat MacKinnon Friend of Leo's

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    In a factory, the boards are put into a reflow oven. You can make one for home use out of a toaster oven, lots of hobbyists do. SMD's are fiddly though, especially if you have to pick those little things up with tweezers and a magnifying glass! Factories typically have Pick N' Place machines that grab components off spools and place them in the correct spot. FWIW, a Pick N' Place machine is not something a hobbyist generally builds :lol:.

    As for the OP's question, that station looks like one of the typical imported ones that are sold under all sorts of different names on eBay and Amazon. It might last a long time, it might crap out pretty quickly. Dave Jones' EEVBlog has also shown that those aren't always ESD Safe, despite having that printed right on the front. The temp controls often aren't calibrated very well either. Unfortunately soldering stations are kind of one of those things where you get what you pay for: there's a good reason why a comparable station from a respected brand will cost 5x-10x what this one does.

    Another issue is tip availability. Soldering iron tips are consumables, and need to be replaced every so often (especially if you start playing around with lead-free solder, which requires much higher temps. In that case, you'll be lucky to get about 10 hours out of a tip before it withers away!) Quality, better-known brands like Hakko and Weller are super easy to find replacement tips for. You might get lucky and find that this station fits Hakko or Weller tips...or not, in which case you'll have to figure out which tips will fit this. These stations don't have the tightest tolerance control during manufacturing, so it's not uncommon for tips to not fit right, even though they should.

    I'd suggest spending a little more and getting something like a Hakko FX-888D station. They're high quality (made in Japan), their temp control is accurate (and also can easily be recalibrated if necessary), tips are available all over the place and replacement tips actually last a long time; cheap tips often wear out ridiculously fast (the chrome or nickel plating wears off, after which the tip basically shrinks as bits of metal transfer from the tip to soldering joints of projects you're working on.) Newer RadioShack irons have fast-wearing tips too, I've noticed.

    At any rate, the Hakko 888 is about twice the price of this one, but it'll last you decades if you take care of it. Plus, brands like Hakko and Weller have replaceable heating elements too, which occasionally burn out. You can find the Hakko 888 stations for between $89 and about $135 brand new, price depending on if it's a "bundle" with a bunch of extra tips, wire cutters or other goodies, or the standard package. This kit comes with a bunch of extra tips (normally they're about $8 each, so it's actually a pretty great deal if you can swing the $134.) Otherwise here's the basic setup for $91.

    One thing about Hakko irons: they're counterfeited. A lot. I wouldn't buy one from an eBay vendor unless they're 1) located in the USA and 2) an actual authorized Hakko dealer. Same with Amazon, although I've seen more counterfeits on eBay. You might want to check Hakko's site for their list of authorized vendors (you can also buy directly from them if you want.) Otherwise, reputable electronics places like Fry's, B+D, TEquipment, Adafruit and Sparkfun are sure things.

    BTW, I've noticed that every few months, Fry's seems to put them on sale for something like $60, but they go really fast! Definitely jump on that deal if you see it!
     
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