Author Topic: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)  (Read 23704 times)

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Offline analogix

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #50 on: August 22, 2015, 05:18:08 pm »

 [..............]
You can do a lot with this little selection IMHO, and it helps keep the price down to get started.

Plenty of other profiles of course, and they all have their place. Download a copy of Ersa's iTip catalog and see for yourself.  ;) Also, Hakko's Tip Page (i.e. by shape or operation) can help illustrate what the different profiles can be used for.

Good advice. I didn't find the iTip catalog from Ersa (there was some other interesting info in their catalog section though), but the Hakko tip page was informative.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2015, 06:19:43 pm by analogix »
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #51 on: August 23, 2015, 04:22:49 am »
I didn't find the iTip catalog from Ersa (there was some other interesting info in their catalog section though), but the Hakko tip page was informative.
This might help (102 series).  ;)102 series tips on Ersa's site (nice photos of the standard series).
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #52 on: August 23, 2015, 12:33:57 pm »
As for tips: I've never really used anything apart from "sharp pencil" tips with my soldering irons -which tips should I choose for what type of work? I assume the flatter ones will conduct more heat and be better for soldering cables and big stuff while the "sharp pencil" tips might be better for delicate electronic components or electronics in general?
I agree with the others: Chisel tips are the best everyday tips.

I've had soldering irons with those awful blunt conical tips, with tapered pencil tips, with angled face tips, and with chisels. And hands-down, for everyday stuff, the chisel is the best because you can have a whole surface touching the lead, and the whole edge touching the pad.

The i-Con Nano comes with a 1.6mm chisel tip, which is a great everyday tip for PCB work. I also bought a 3.2mm chisel (better for larger connections), a 0.4mm chisel (not as useful as I thought it would be), and a 2.4mm PowerWell drag-soldering tip, which is great. I've considered getting a really big chisel (5 or 6.5mm) for things like soldering to heavy chassis metal. The desoldering wick blades Ersa sells look awesome, but they're really expensive. :(

I suggest getting an extra tip fastener (see the last link in the post above) for each tip you buy, so that you can swap easily, even with the iron hot.
 

Offline pallee

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #53 on: September 12, 2015, 08:09:34 pm »
I am in the same boat as OP, that is comming from 30w cheap-o sticks and wanting an upgrade (not counting a butane powered iron/torch that i use for various hobby projects).

As of now I am looking at two stations:
  • fx-888D and an extra 2.4D tip from batterfly which ends up at roughly 150 EUR including shipping and vat/tax .
  • Fx-950 (2.4D tip as standard) from a swedish reseller (as i live in sweden) for roughly 180 EUR shipped.
As a comparison the cheapest temp controled no-name station that can be found in a reputable store in sweden is about 60-70 EUR.

What is your advice?
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #54 on: September 12, 2015, 10:48:14 pm »
I am in the same boat as OP, that is comming from 30w cheap-o sticks and wanting an upgrade (not counting a butane powered iron/torch that i use for various hobby projects).

As of now I am looking at two stations:
  • fx-888D and an extra 2.4D tip from batterfly which ends up at roughly 150 EUR including shipping and vat/tax .
  • Fx-950 (2.4D tip as standard) from a swedish reseller (as i live in sweden) for roughly 180 EUR shipped.
As a comparison the cheapest temp controled no-name station that can be found in a reputable store in sweden is about 60-70 EUR.

What is your advice?
Between the two Hakko stations, there's a substantial performance upgrade with the FX-950 (cartridge tip technology).

The tips for the FX-950 are more expensive than those for the FX-888D (T18 & T15 series respectively), but not horribly so. Their tips are of excellent quality and will last you a very long time if cared for properly* (not unheard of for tips to last over 10 years).

So if you can handle the additional costs, the FX-950 would definitely be the way to go IMHO.  :-+

* Just keep the tip clean and tinned.

You might also want to consider the Ersa I-Con Nano if you'd rather have simpler, less expensive tips (plated copper) for the same/similar money and performance as the FX-950.  :o
FWIW, Ersa offers very good value in the EU/UK market from what I've seen (lots of discussion about this model if you search).  ;)
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #55 on: September 13, 2015, 11:27:45 am »
I am in the same boat as OP, that is comming from 30w cheap-o sticks and wanting an upgrade (not counting a butane powered iron/torch that i use for various hobby projects).

As of now I am looking at two stations:
  • fx-888D and an extra 2.4D tip from batterfly which ends up at roughly 150 EUR including shipping and vat/tax .
  • Fx-950 (2.4D tip as standard) from a swedish reseller (as i live in sweden) for roughly 180 EUR shipped.
What is your advice?
Ersa i-Con Nano for €180.
 

Offline pallee

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #56 on: September 13, 2015, 12:32:02 pm »
Between the two Hakko stations, there's a substantial performance upgrade with the FX-950 (cartridge tip technology).

The tips for the FX-950 are more expensive than those for the FX-888D (T18 & T15 series respectively), but not horribly so. Their tips are of excellent quality and will last you a very long time if cared for properly* (not unheard of for tips to last over 10 years).

So if you can handle the additional costs, the FX-950 would definitely be the way to go IMHO.  :-+

* Just keep the tip clean and tinned.

You might also want to consider the Ersa I-Con Nano if you'd rather have simpler, less expensive tips (plated copper) for the same/similar money and performance as the FX-950.  :o
FWIW, Ersa offers very good value in the EU/UK market from what I've seen (lots of discussion about this model if you search).  ;)
Ersa i-Con Nano for €180.
Thanks for the advice!

My upper budget limit is already stretched to ~180 EUR including shipping and as i cannot find the i-Con nano for less than 190-200 177 EUR not including shipping I don't see that as an option.
The pico on the other hand would be within my budget... I bet this question has been asked a million times, but what is the difference between the nano and the pico, apart from the nano being esd-safe?

Also, what advantage would the nano/pico have the over the fx-950 (or even the fx-888D)?

Cheers!

EDIT: found the amazon.de in in an earlier post for 177 EUR (still to much for me though)...
« Last Edit: September 13, 2015, 01:17:57 pm by pallee »
 

Online wraper

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #57 on: September 13, 2015, 12:56:24 pm »
My upper budget limit is already stretched to ~180 EUR including shipping and as i cannot find the i-Con nano for less than 190-200 EUR not including shipping I don't see that as an option.
The pico on the other hand would be within my budget... I bet this question has been asked a million times, but what is the difference between the nano and the pico, apart from the nano being esd-safe?

Also, what advantage would the nano/pico have the over the fx-950 (or even the fx-888D)?

Cheers!
Eur 177 (with German vat) on amazon.de, shipping shouldn't be to steep too. With Latvian 1.21% VAT + shipping to Latvia it becomes EUR 192.69. As Sweden have a bit higher VAT and amazon uses that of destination country, will be a bit more expensive. Though shipping likely will be cheaper. Anyway, shouldn't exceed EUR 200 delivered.
http://www.amazon.de/ERSA-i-CON-digitale-L%C3%B6tstation-0IC1200A/dp/B002MQLJ46/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442148439&sr=8-1&keywords=i-con+nano
 

Offline pallee

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #58 on: September 13, 2015, 01:12:51 pm »

Eur 177 (with German vat) on amazon.de, shipping shouldn't be to steep too. With Latvian 1.21% VAT + shipping to Latvia it becomes EUR 192.69. As Sweden have a bit higher VAT and amazon uses that of destination country, will be a bit more expensive. Though shipping likely will be cheaper. Anyway, shouldn't exceed EUR 200 delivered.
http://www.amazon.de/ERSA-i-CON-digitale-L%C3%B6tstation-0IC1200A/dp/B002MQLJ46/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442148439&sr=8-1&keywords=i-con+nano

Thanks for pointing that out :) (just re-read this thread and found the link, should have read it more carefully the first time... |O )
 

Online wraper

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #59 on: September 13, 2015, 02:06:21 pm »
I guess the best price for you would be from here http://www.ersa-shop.com/ersa-icon-nano-elektronisch-geregelte-l%C3%B6tstation-standby-antistatisch-p-364.html
IIRC they used German VAT when I ordered, therefore good for your case. In total should be EUR 190.80 delivered to Sweden.
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #60 on: September 13, 2015, 08:26:56 pm »
...what is the difference between the nano and the pico, apart from the nano being esd-safe?
  • The Nano has better thermal regulation & faster thermal response (proper thermocouple embedded in the heating element assy. instead of just measuring the resistance of the heating element as they do in the Pico).
  • Additional features on the Nano, particularly regarding setback & auto shut-off (helps extend tip life & is also a safety feature).
  • The threads on the heating element are metal on the Nano, plastic on the Pico (complaints the plastic threads get damaged easily). Other reliability issues for the Pico as well IIRC (error coded 4 & 8 reported on one for example).
  • The Nano is made in Germany, while the Pico is made in China, so they're not the same as one would expect (different irons, control boards, and made of non-ESD compliant materials, not just missing the tip connection to ground).
Also, what advantage would the nano/pico have the over the fx-950 (or even the fx-888D)?
The Pico has cheap tips only, and it's negatives really should put it out of consideration entirely IMHO.

The Nano however, not only uses less expensive tips, it also offers similar performance and is comparable on features.  :-+

Tip cost is why I mentioned this station, as cartridge tips can be a tad pricey for hobbyists (i.e. ~4 - 6EUR each instead of 14 - 17EUR for common profiles). And that was before you mentioned you're rather budget conscious ATM.   ;D So you'll understand if I'm under the impression the Nano is the better fit in your case, as the station is a "hurt once, but last for years" situation, while the consumables/tip costs are easy to absorb.
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #61 on: September 13, 2015, 08:43:55 pm »
Quote
The thermal performance of the Ersa I-Con line is better. They use low mass tips with very good thermal coupling to the metallic heating element and a temperature sensor which is placed not far away from where the actual soldering takes place, right at the front of the heating element. The advantages of this design are rapid heat-up times, fast thermal recovery and good regulation. It's comparable to Wellers "Fast Response" technology irons.

That all sounds good, except for the part about "low mass tips". Reducing the sensor distance from the tip is good. Increasing power is good. But in my experience with Weller's Fast Response technology, none of that actually makes up for the low thermal mass of the tips, in practice.

I can run my Hakko at lower temps than the Welled WD on the same SMD boards. That equals less tip cleaning.

I've never seen an Ersa. But the only thing I like about the WD is the auto standby. The shorter tip to handle distance should be nice, in theory, but it doesn't make any different to me. And none of that even comes close to mattering when the stand is so fickle you have to look at it to get the iron back in place.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2015, 09:10:37 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #62 on: September 13, 2015, 08:51:25 pm »
Quote
Also some stands seem to be made of plastic/rubber etc. (Ersa RDS-80, Hakko FX888D etc.) while others (Ersa IC1300A etc.) are of metal which seems to make more sense

The Hakko 888 stand is one of the main reasons it is on my bench, over a couple of other irons that are fairly similar in other ways. The iron goes in very easily and doesn't wiggle/droop in the stand. Working under lamp/scope, you don't have to stop and look to put down or pick up the iron. Along with tip selection/quality, the holder is probably the most important feature in an iron, AFAIC.

And it's not plastic. It's die cast zinc/aluminum alloy, as far as I can tell. The two different colors, yellow and blue, are two separate cast parts. The yellow iron holder slides/mates into the bottom blue half. I have dropped this holder many times, and it doesn't break. Nor does it get bent or gouge the floor like a sheet steel metal holder might. It's all curves/rounded edges. It's just big enough to do what it needs to do and be completely stable. It's made to work by itself, to be placed exactly where you need it, for the particular job at hand. It has integrated wool holder and sponge. If you ever get a hakko clone with the same tips/handle shape, you might want to buy an 888 stand. The stand is a work of art.

I've had a 75W Xytronics iron that takes a T18 tip. AFAIC, the only practical difference was the iron holder. I'd rather use a Xytronics iron with the Hakko stand, than the other way around.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2015, 09:23:58 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline pallee

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #63 on: September 13, 2015, 09:18:16 pm »




Quote from: pallee on Today at 02:32:02 PM
...what is the difference between the nano and the pico, apart from the nano being esd-safe?


  • The Nano has better thermal regulation & faster thermal response (proper thermocouple embedded in the heating element assy. instead of just measuring the resistance of the heating element as they do in the Pico).
  • Additional features on the Nano, particularly regarding setback & auto shut-off (helps extend tip life & is also a safety feature).
  • The threads on the heating element are metal on the Nano, plastic on the Pico (complaints the plastic threads get damaged easily). Other reliability issues for the Pico as well IIRC (error coded 4 & 8 reported on one for example).
  • The Nano is made in Germany, while the Pico is made in China, so they're not the same as one would expect (different irons, control boards, and made of non-ESD compliant materials, not just missing the tip connection to ground).

Quote from: pallee on Today at 02:32:02 PM
Also, what advantage would the nano/pico have the over the fx-950 (or even the fx-888D)?


The Pico has cheap tips only, and it's negatives really should put it out of consideration entirely IMHO.

The Nano however, not only uses less expensive tips, it also offers similar performance and is comparable on features.  :-+

Tip cost is why I mentioned this station, as cartridge tips can be a tad pricey for hobbyists (i.e. ~4 - 6EUR each instead of 14 - 17EUR for common profiles). And that was before you mentioned you're rather budget conscious ATM.   ;D So you'll understand if I'm under the impression the Nano is the better fit in your case, as the station is a "hurt once, but last for years" situation, while the consumables/tip costs are easy to absorb.


That was a nice, compact and informative answer, thank you!
From what I can gather I should skip the 950 due to the high cost of the tips and set for the nano. So basically I am deciding between the more feature rich nano and the cheaper 888D. (the looks of the 888D is growing on me.  :-DD )
« Last Edit: September 13, 2015, 09:25:24 pm by pallee »
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #64 on: September 13, 2015, 10:28:07 pm »
That was a nice, compact and informative answer, thank you!
You're welcome.  :)

From what I can gather I should skip the 950 due to the high cost of the tips and set for the nano. So basically I am deciding between the more feature rich nano and the cheaper 888D. (the looks of the 888D is growing on me.  :-DD )
If it were me, I'd opt for the Nano over the FX-950 (would take the FX-951 to really get closer regarding the feature compliment).

And between the Nano and FX-888D, there's no comparison. The Nano is a noticeably better performer and has more features. And unusually, doesn't come at much of a premium based on what you've posted for pricing.

FWIW, on single or double sided boards, you wouldn't be fussed between the performance of FX-888D. But it's on joints that draw off a lot of heat, such as those over a ground plane on 4+ layer boards, that the performance differences will truly matter (i.e. FX-888D will struggle or even fail to perform a joint without preheating).

And given the sense I got from your posts were you mention budget, the Nano seems to make the best sense (performance + financial).
 

Online wraper

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #65 on: September 13, 2015, 11:48:02 pm »
  • The Nano has better thermal regulation & faster thermal response (proper thermocouple embedded in the heating element assy. instead of just measuring the resistance of the heating element as they do in the Pico).
Pico has temperature sensor, it's not measuring heater resistance.
Quote
The Pico has cheap tips only, and it's negatives really should put it out of consideration entirely IMHO.
What does this mean? Tips are exactly the same as for all other i-con soldering stations - 102 series.

Major differences of pico - different stand it comes with by default, not ESD safe, made in China, not Germany. Otherwise more or less the same, including heat up time, power.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2015, 12:05:07 am by wraper »
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #66 on: September 14, 2015, 02:05:31 am »
Pico has temperature sensor, it's not measuring heater resistance.
Came from the following:
Quote
I asked ersa-shop.com about the difference pico vs. nano and just got the answer. They stated that pico's temperature control is based on the measuring of the heater resistance. Nano has a "true" temperature sensor (probably a thermocouple, don't know what do they mean otherwise), which makes the measuring preciser and quicker, so nano is better for large solder joints.
This contradicts to the mail from ersa, posted by jpb, where they state, that pico and nano both have a thermocouple....

Source.

What does this mean? Tips are exactly the same as for all other i-con soldering stations - 102 series.
In regard to the Pico's advantages over the FX-950ue.
 

Offline GreyWoolfe

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #67 on: September 14, 2015, 02:21:06 am »
If it were me, I'd opt for the Nano over the FX-950 (would take the FX-951 to really get closer regarding the feature compliment).

+1 on the FX-951.  I am a fairly new owner.  Night and day difference between that and my old Hakko 936.  It just does everything so much better.  If interested, I did a review of the FX-951 here:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/hakko-fx-951-review/

Hope this helps in your decision.
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Offline tooki

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #68 on: September 14, 2015, 08:51:22 am »
...what is the difference between the nano and the pico, apart from the nano being esd-safe?
  • The Nano has better thermal regulation & faster thermal response (proper thermocouple embedded in the heating element assy. instead of just measuring the resistance of the heating element as they do in the Pico).
  • Additional features on the Nano, particularly regarding setback & auto shut-off (helps extend tip life & is also a safety feature).
  • The threads on the heating element are metal on the Nano, plastic on the Pico (complaints the plastic threads get damaged easily). Other reliability issues for the Pico as well IIRC (error coded 4 & 8 reported on one for example).
  • The Nano is made in Germany, while the Pico is made in China, so they're not the same as one would expect (different irons, control boards, and made of non-ESD compliant materials, not just missing the tip connection to ground).
Also, what advantage would the nano/pico have the over the fx-950 (or even the fx-888D)?
The Pico has cheap tips only, and it's negatives really should put it out of consideration entirely IMHO.

The Nano however, not only uses less expensive tips, it also offers similar performance and is comparable on features.  :-+

I think most of this is incorrect, sorry. Not sure where you're getting your information but it's wrong.

1. The Pico and Nano have identical heating times according to everything and everyone, save for that one lone report you linked to, which isn't even from the manufacturer, it's from a dealer. The manufacturer says it has one. No way does the Pico lack a thermocouple. Heck, the handles even have memory to save their own calibration. You really think they'd save the 15 cents on a thermocouple and yet have tons of electronics in it?
2. The standby/setback features in the Pico and Nano are absolutely identical -- see the screenshot of the configuration software below.
3. Yes, the threads on the Pico are plastic, and the heater is ceramic from what I hear, hence no electrical connection from the base to the tip. No idea if this really poses a reliability problem in practice, or if it's just hypothetical.
4. Yes, made in different places and of different materials.
5. Not sure what you're trying to say about tips. The Pico and Nano use the same series-102 tips as the rest of the i-Con series, and have identical heating times.
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #69 on: September 14, 2015, 07:11:08 pm »
I think most of this is incorrect, sorry. Not sure where you're getting your information but it's wrong.
Source is linked in the previous post. It's even possible that the original responder (person that made the statement), whether a dealer/distributor or was a direct employee of Ersa, confused the Pico's tech with that of the RDS80.

1. The Pico and Nano have identical heating times according to everything and everyone, save for that one lone report you linked to, which isn't even from the manufacturer, it's from a dealer. The manufacturer says it has one. No way does the Pico lack a thermocouple. Heck, the handles even have memory to save their own calibration. You really think they'd save the 15 cents on a thermocouple and yet have tons of electronics in it?
2. The standby/setback features in the Pico and Nano are absolutely identical -- see the screenshot of the configuration software below.
3. Yes, the threads on the Pico are plastic, and the heater is ceramic from what I hear, hence no electrical connection from the base to the tip. No idea if this really poses a reliability problem in practice, or if it's just hypothetical.
4. Yes, made in different places and of different materials.
5. Not sure what you're trying to say about tips. The Pico and Nano use the same series-102 tips as the rest of the i-Con series, and have identical heating times.
I've not had them to teardown, so I can't compare the irons. The threads are definitely different (metal on one, plastic on the other), and the only internal photo that comes to mind, is the more complicated i-Tool image used in their marketing materials/pages. Internal photos of the Pico and Nano's irons for a side-by-side would be nice.

The software is nice.  :) Are you sure the thermal performance is genuinely the same though, given the different heating elements?
Heck, from a marketing perspective, having a performance difference would help push the Nano, which should be a more profitable station (i.e. reason to upgrade within Ersa's line).

As per a reliability problem with the threads, I do recall at least a couple of users that indicated that was a genuine issue.
But like anything, how did they take care of it?
Gently or by way of Jeremy Clarkson's School of Ham-Fistedness?  :-//  :-DD

I find the different COO's suspect regarding similarity, as it would be less expensive to build both in the same location. Which leads me to think there's more differences than might be expected as well as a reduced degree of quality control (OKi/Metcal HCT-900, which is a POS, certainly comes to mind; so this type of scenario isn't without precedence). And the bit in the linked source mentioning the enclosure components weren't ESD compliant lend some corroboration to this line of thinking as well.

Regarding the posts on tips, it seems you've missed the point entirely  :o, which was comparing the cost of the 102 series tips used in the Pico (and Nano) with the T15 cartridge tips used in the FX-950.  |O   :P I was trying to keep things simple (answer the specific question regarding the Pico).
 

Offline m98

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #70 on: September 14, 2015, 08:50:01 pm »
That all sounds good, except for the part about "low mass tips". Reducing the sensor distance from the tip is good. Increasing power is good. But in my experience with Weller's Fast Response technology, none of that actually makes up for the low thermal mass of the tips, in practice.

I can run my Hakko at lower temps than the Welled WD on the same SMD boards. That equals less tip cleaning.

I've never seen an Ersa. But the only thing I like about the WD is the auto standby. The shorter tip to handle distance should be nice, in theory, but it doesn't make any different to me. And none of that even comes close to mattering when the stand is so fickle you have to look at it to get the iron back in place.
I'm using an Ersa I-Con 1 since two month, it also comes with the I-tool and I can't complain about the low thermal mass. Works perfectly even for massive through hole components on an 4-layer pcb with two ground planes.
 

Offline tooki

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #71 on: September 15, 2015, 09:43:18 am »
I've not had them to teardown, so I can't compare the irons. The threads are definitely different (metal on one, plastic on the other), and the only internal photo that comes to mind, is the more complicated i-Tool image used in their marketing materials/pages. Internal photos of the Pico and Nano's irons for a side-by-side would be nice.

Here's a photo of the Pico heating element:
http://sg.element14.com/ersa/013100j/heating-element-i-tool-pico/dp/2057379
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/(ersa-i-con-pico)-using-soldering-iron-with-own-diy-station/
https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/ersa-icon-pico-vs-icon-nano!-is-esd-protection-important-soldering-station/msg448964/#msg448964

Here's the full i-Tool (same element as the Nano):
http://www.kurtzersa.com/fileadmin/_processed_/csm_iTool_zerlegt_walter_mit_Schrift_d130f5ba83.gif

As best I can tell, the i-Tool Nano is simply the regular i-Tool, made slimmer, without the rubber grip, and without the accelerometer. (So same on the inside, different on the outside.) The Pico tool is basically the same as the Nano on the outside, but with cheaper guts made down to a price by making more bits out of plastic. But it still has the same heating element inside its cheaper heater module, and it still has a thermocouple. The heater modules have the same number of pins, but different pinouts.

The software is nice.  :)

Yes, in a sort of "court-appointed software developer" kind of way! ;)

I also did an experiment, and indeed the software for the Pico can read config files for the Nano and vice versa, just by renaming the file on the SD card! Of course, this makes me wonder if the software for the "big" i-Con stations can do more...

Are you sure the thermal performance is genuinely the same though, given the different heating elements?
I can't be sure insofar as I haven't tested them both myself (I have the Nano), but I've not heard a single report of them having different performance in practice. Ersa's press release for the Pico swears it's "based on the same heater technology" as the Nano/full i-Con series, and they always quote identical performance specs.

Heck, from a marketing perspective, having a performance difference would help push the Nano, which should be a more profitable station (i.e. reason to upgrade within Ersa's line).
I couldn't agree more: the Pico and Nano are so similar as to cause confusion. (I've seen reseller catalogs where both are listed, and the Nano's ESD safety wasn't mentioned, making them appear absolutely identical in specs.)

Interesting question about profitability though: the street price for them here in Europe isn't gigantic (like 50€). I wouldn't be surprised if they made more profit on the cheaper Pico, because the manufacturing costs are so much lower than in Germany. I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers were something like this (educated guesses based on my background in electronics retail):

Pico mfg cost: €30; sale price €130; wholesale price €110 = gross profit €80
Nano mfg cost: €90; sale price €180; wholesale price €140 = gross profit €50

As per a reliability problem with the threads, I do recall at least a couple of users that indicated that was a genuine issue.
But like anything, how did they take care of it?
Gently or by way of Jeremy Clarkson's School of Ham-Fistedness?
  :-//  :-DD
Truer words have seldom been spoken!

Regarding the posts on tips, it seems you've missed the point entirely  :o, which was comparing the cost of the 102 series tips used in the Pico (and Nano) with the T15 cartridge tips used in the FX-950.  |O   :P I was trying to keep things simple (answer the specific question regarding the Pico).
Well, given that I wasn't the only person confused, it may be fair to say that your presentation didn't quite succeed at conveying your intent. :p

But indeed, the low cost of the 102 series tips means I barely think twice about ordering one if I want it, and I won't worry if I f••k them up by mixing leaded and lead-free solders. (As an aside, is that really an issue? Maybe you guys can shed some light on that.)
« Last Edit: December 03, 2015, 06:11:04 pm by tooki »
 

Offline pallee

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #72 on: September 15, 2015, 08:24:01 pm »
Thanks everyone for your input to this torrent of information!

I think you have convinced me on several accounts to get the Ersa I-con Nano, namely:
1) Pricing and availability of tips and other consumables/spare parts in Europe
2) Manufacturing quality vs. Ersa I-con Pico
3) Power, features, bells and whistles etc. vs. Hakko Fx-888D

Realizing this might be slightly OT:
What recommendations regarding tips for the Nano? I was thinking chisel-tips (1.6 or 2.4 as an allround and one thinner and one thicker). I will mostly be doing through-hole with the occasional SMD.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2015, 08:25:43 pm by pallee »
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #73 on: September 15, 2015, 08:25:10 pm »
Pico heating element...
Out of curiosity, I checked Farnell and Newark (COO & pricing respectively), and not only is there a notable price difference ($57.77 for the Pico's element v. $131.20 for the Nano's), both are actually made in Germany (if you trust Farnell's COO statements). Makes sense IMHO, as they can keep the "secret sauce" out of the hands of the Chinese to some extent (protect their trade secrets type of thinking).

The assemblies are definitely constructed differently (cost cutting regarding the Pico by using more plastic to reduce assy. processes), but I don't think the internal construction is quite the same either. Even if it's just TC placement (TC to tip distance is increased slightly or in free air rather than metal-metal contact), it would affect performance a bit.

Such a small performance difference may not be noticed in most cases (1 & 2 layer boards for example), but would show itself on higher demand joints that push the station to it's limits (which I still suspect would be reached before the Nano's, based on a few comments in the thread you linked).

As best I can tell, the i-Tool Nano is simply the regular i-Tool, made slimmer, without the rubber grip, and without the accelerometer. (So same on the inside, different on the outside.) The Pico tool is basically the same as the Nano on the outside, but with cheaper guts made down to a price by making more bits out of plastic. But it still has the same heating element inside its cheaper heater module, and it still has a thermocouple. The heater modules have the same number of pins, but different pinouts.
Regarding the plastic shell components for the irons, the cost per unit would be rather small (plastic is cheap + NRE for the molds isn't high when divided out).

Unlike the full blown i-Tool iron, I'd be willing to bet there's zero electronics in either the Nano or Pico. My reasoning for this is twofold.
  • First, the Nano and Pico are only meant to be used with the irons that come with them. So there's no need to use a serial ROM to store a tool ID string or any other data (i.e. temp. offsets).
  • Second, the base units don't use motion for setback settings, so no need for an accelerometer either.
I mention this, as the photo of the full-fledged i-Tools' PCB only appears to contain a ROM + accelerometer. FWIW, Weller uses the same approach with some of their irons as well (irons for the WX stations for example).

I can't be sure insofar as I haven't tested them both myself (I have the Nano), but I've not heard a single report of them having different performance in practice. Ersa's press release for the Pico swears it's "based on the same heater technology" as the Nano/full i-Con series, and they always quote identical performance specs.
There's just enough information in various posts to make me think there actually is a performance gap. Not drastic, but enough that the Pico will leave a user wanting/needing more if they're pushing it at/near it's limits. And the Nano can fit that bill (i-Con 1/2/4 would be even better of course, as they can provide 80W or even 120W of continuous power ;)). Such a scenario would be in Ersa's favor at any rate.  :P

And although the basic specs are the same between the Pico and Nano as you pointed out (80W max, 68W continuous), keep in mind however, the electronics may differ as well as the thermal performance of the iron it comes with (and probably do if for no other reason than cost cutting).

I read the "based on the same heater technology" statement as the key for opening up possibilities for variation in performance & implementation, yet still be technically correct (lots of wiggle room regarding "based on"). Things can be left out (i.e. simplified circuit to reduce the BOM cost), made of cheaper materials, or mechanical specs changed (this is discussed above) in order to make something cheaper (or performance to fit product placement). Combine this with the different pin-outs, and it makes me wonder what's changed between them under the hood as it were (just enough hints to get my gears turning).  :-DD

Regarding manufacturer controlled test conditions, it's easy to demonstrate similar performance if that's their intent (with users unaware of the conditions this is no longer the case). The recent JBC discussion certainly comes to mind.  ;)

Ideally, both units need to be tested side-by-side under real world conditions from independent sources (aka EEVBlog members  :-+). But AFAIK, Ersa's the only entity that's done side-by-side testing and they're not revealing the whole story (after all, marketing isn't exactly known to be completely truthful :o   :P).

Interesting question about profitability though: the street price for them here in Europe isn't gigantic (like 50€). I wouldn't be surprised if they made more profit on the cheaper Pico, because the manufacturing costs are so much lower than in Germany. I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers were something like this (educated guesses based on my background in electronics retail):

Pico mfg cost: €30; sale price €130; wholesale price €110 = gross profit €80
Nano mfg cost: €90; sale price €180; wholesale price €140 = gross profit €50
Maybe, but I suspect they're basing MSRP on a 435% markup, so that would produce the following cost per unit for Ersa:
  • Pico = ~29.89EUR
  • Nano = ~41.38EUR
Puts the Pico where you estimated, but the Nano comes in for a lot less. The production facility in Germany is likely highly automated, so man hours are kept to a minimum despite the higher wages in Germany. It's the basis for my Nano should be more profitable comment at any rate (a little really does go a long way regarding how cost translates to MSRP).  ;)

But indeed, the low cost of the 102 series tips means I barely think twice about ordering one if I want it, and I won't worry if I f••k them up by mixing leaded and lead-free solders. (As an aside, is that really an issue? Maybe you guys can shed some light on that.)
I'm the same way. Not much thought when parting with say $5.00 - $6.00 for a tip, but at $30 a pop, I tend to have reservations (puts a noticeable dent in a $50 - $100 parts/supply budget).  :o  :P

Regarding using the same tip for both lead and lead-free solder, no need to panic.  :) Just rinse them off well with the next alloy before using it on any joints (keeps you from mixing the alloys which would give you some very strange properties, mechanical in particular that could cause you all kinds of aggravation when fault finding). Also, best to stick with no-clean or rosin based fluxes as organic/water soluble can corrode a tip and joints if not cleaned off properly (still active at room temp).

 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Considering a soldering station (Hakko FX888/888D?)
« Reply #74 on: September 15, 2015, 08:35:54 pm »
Thanks everyone for your input to this torrent of information!

I think you have convinced me on several accounts to get the Ersa I-con Nano, namely:
1) Pricing and availability of tips and other consumables/spare parts in Europe
2) Manufacturing quality vs. Ersa I-con Pico
3) Features, bells and whistles vs. Hakko Fx-888D

Realizing this might be slightly OT:
What recommendations regarding tips for the Nano? I was thinking chisel-tips (1.6 or 2.4 as an allround and one thinner and one thicker). I will mostly be doing through-hole with the occasional SMD.
You'll be better off with the Nano IMHO, and I suspect a lot happier using it in the long run as well.  ;)  :-+

As per tips, I would recommend getting the following to start, as you can do a LOT of tasks with just these 5:
  • 3 chisels (say 1.6, 2.4, and 3.2mm) to start
  • 1 bent conical (SMD)
  • 1 drag soldering tip (SMD)

The Hakko's Tip Selection page will be useful for illustrating what the different tips can be used for (by Shape or Operation).  ;)
 


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