Author Topic: Need advice on soldering station: Hakko FX-951 or FM-203 ?  (Read 771 times)

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Offline JLL

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Need advice on soldering station: Hakko FX-951 or FM-203 ?
« on: November 22, 2019, 03:30:52 pm »
Hello, newbie here but I've been lurking a lot.

I've read a lot about which soldering station to pick and have basically narrowed it down to the FX-951, which I can get 2nd hand but in good condition for about 130 USD where I live (Japan).

The thing is, I also found another awesome deal for a brand new FM-203 for about 250 USD.

Both of them are genuine Hakko goods, not counterfeit.

Now I'm totally a newbie when it comes to soldering (last time I touched a soldering iron was years ago in school) and the FM-203 is probably overkill for this new hobby I have (retro machines/games repair/mods/research etc).

However, considering the bargain on that FM-203, shouldn't I take it ?

I'm not exactly sure if I will ever need two soldering irons but after reading people's experience, it looks like tweezers are definitely nice to have.
The FM-203 also supports the desoldering gun but I'm not familiar with how that would work since it mentions "a desoldering control box and compressor" as requirements.

What should I do ?
« Last Edit: November 22, 2019, 03:32:23 pm by JLL »

Online GreyWoolfe

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Re: Need advice on soldering station: Hakko FX-951 or FM-203 ?
« Reply #1 on: November 22, 2019, 07:48:23 pm »
One of my stations is a FX-951.  I like the station.  If I was in your position and had the money, I would opt for the FM-203 simply for all it can do.  You can add tweezers and a desoldering gun.  If that doesn't interest you, you won't be disappointed with the 951.  One suggestion I would make regardless which you buy, when you buy extra tips, always buy OEM, the extra expense is worth it.  Also get tip holders for each tip.  They are cheap and it makes it easier to swap tips, IMHO.
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Online Shock

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Re: Need advice on soldering station: Hakko FX-951 or FM-203 ?
« Reply #2 on: November 22, 2019, 09:20:59 pm »
It depends what handpieces and parts come with the Hakko FM-203 and FX-951, if it has none then it could be a much more expensive station.

Three things you should be aware of. The interface of the Hakko FX-951 when setting temp or calibrating set tip offsets is really annoying. It also has an operator key that partially obstructs the keypad, this can be circumvented however if you cover the sensor on the inside, you can leave the key out. The last annoyance is the loud piezo speaker.

The station may come with a FM2027/FM2028 70W handpiece which is the full size one, if it comes with the FM2032 this is the micro handpiece and only 48W. I would strongly suggest considering if a low power micro handpiece is of any benefit at all.

You will want to watch videos or read the manual of the Hakko FM-203. See how it works and if it improves on the FX-951 interface. If the station says it needs external controller and compressor to use vacuum desoldering it means these are extras that need to be purchased as well as the handpiece. It can be a very expensive addition to the cost of just the handpiece alone.

Depending on what comes with the deal it may be worth it. The FX-951 station is a fairly old design now and has really been replaced as the best low value professional station out there. The Pace ADS200 is US made station and though a slightly larger footprint it's all metal construction, better tip swapping, better controls and more power at 120W. It's ~$220 USD for the instant setback version.

Check if the used FX-951 is the Japan 100V as well, the stands should have a plastic box at the back that have a switch to detect the handpiece has been returned. See if the package includes the tip stand. Those are a few other things to check.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
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Offline Aztlanpz

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Re: Need advice on soldering station: Hakko FX-951 or FM-203 ?
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2019, 09:55:05 pm »
I have the Hakko FM-203 and love it.  It has great selection of tools.


Offline JLL

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Re: Need advice on soldering station: Hakko FX-951 or FM-203 ?
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2019, 04:04:13 pm »
I spent the entire day and night researching some more thanks to you guys' advice and while it was a very difficult decision to make, I ultimately settled on the FM-203.

It comes with a soldering stand, tips stand and FM-2027 soldering iron. I just need to buy tips (which can be found for 8~12 dollars a piece here).

I agree that the user interface on those Hakko is probably the worst ever made (FM-203 included, I read the user manual and it's still * and # long presses with flashing numbers here and there). You basically need to have the manual on your side to be able to understand the meaning of those numbers.

Usability is going to be a pain but hopefully I'll get used to it.

I considered the ADS200 as well and while it looks like a great soldering station I couldn't find any local reseller. Importing it from the US would have made the price shoot way past my budget as I still need to get a rework station.

Anyway, thank you for the advice :-+

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