Author Topic: Soldering station buying advise..!!!  (Read 10203 times)

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Offline Fat

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2015, 06:52:17 pm »
I had a Chinese counterfeit of a Hakko 936. It was a pretty good station, but I finally out grew it. When I tried to solder LEDs mounted on stars and the star mounted on a heatsink, the counterfeit couldn't do it.  I'd eventually get it done, but it took a lot of time.  Next purchase was a Hakko 888D, It was MUCH better than the counterfeit station. I notice that the real Hakko tips are easier to work with, wet and seem to last longer.  I had a chance to grab a Metcal for less that $200 with a lot of tips and other kit with it.  It looked new in the box.  It solders better than the Hakko and has become my daily use iron.

On the Hakko solder wand and the Ebay controller 24 Volt controller board, I grabbed one for travel. I use my Lenovo computer power supply with it and have a pretty decent station on the road that is easy to carry with me in my carry on luggage.  Not the fastest station, but it works and I can run it off a car plug if I have to.

Fat
 

Offline Paul Price

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #26 on: November 08, 2015, 05:04:55 pm »
Soldering is 90% skill and 10% equipment dependent.  I have seen people repair SMD PCB's, replacing tiny transistors and resistors using just heating up the bent shirt pocket clamp metal of a ballpoint pen with a cigarette lighter as a soldering tool.

The picture below shows how a typical radio receiver was soldered together in the 1940's. No, that soldering iron is not a Hakko.
 

Offline JoeB83

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #27 on: November 09, 2015, 01:55:57 am »
Soldering is 90% skill and 10% equipment dependent.  I have seen people repair SMD PCB's, replacing tiny transistors and resistors using just heating up the bent shirt pocket clamp metal of a ballpoint pen with a cigarette lighter as a soldering tool.

The picture below shows how a typical radio receiver was soldered together in the 1940's. No, that soldering iron is not a Hakko.

I agree, it is mostly skill. But, like anything else, it's much, much easier using good tools.
 

Offline deadlylover

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2015, 02:45:07 am »
I started with the 936 clone and I don't regret it one bit. You can use genuine Hakko tips with them and perform some simple mods to improve the coupling of the heater to the tip.

It's only when you get to the integrated heaters or RF heater systems that you'll notice a jump in performance. It just means you can sometimes skip changing to a bigger tip, and heat up times are a much faster so you don't have to slow down when doing lots of big soldering (but a few seconds isn't really a big deal). Most irons of that class have standby functions so you don't have to keep turning off the iron if you want to take a short break, helping tip life a little.

I use a JBC now and I think it all comes down to comfort. Switching tips can be done on the fly, and the handpiece is smaller and much nicer than the 936 clone. I wouldn't say it has made much difference to the soldering quality, it's just all quality of life improvements. The increased thermal capacity does make soldering mostly trivial, but when I was using the 936 clone I'd just naturally lay tips on their sides for better heat transfer anyway wherever possible.

The 936 clone is cheap enough that I don't think any beginner should skip it, come on it's like 20 bucks. And if you're lucky enough to live in a country with 100/120V mains, it's not like you're gonna throw it out if you "upgrade" to a $100 FX-888 or something better.
 

Offline salil

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #29 on: November 09, 2015, 03:03:28 am »
Hello guys.. Im looking for a good soldering station which is bang for the buck.Weller soldering stations look fine to me but they are pretty expensive .. Im a student..which means im broke... Is there any other cheap brand i can put my money on??

Doesn't your school have soldering irons?  My school's Pace soldering stations are sooo much better heat transfer than my Hakko FX888D.  Are you going to do soldering regularly?  If so, I would atleast atleast invest in a Hakko FX888/D.  Also, buy genuine tips and name brand solder.  The cheap solder on eBay coming from China that claims to be 63/37, usually isn't.
 

Offline mich41

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #30 on: November 09, 2015, 09:41:15 am »
I started with the 936 clone and I don't regret it one bit. You can use genuine Hakko tips with them and perform some simple mods to improve the coupling of the heater to the tip.
How did you do that? Heat transfer seems to be a weakness of my 936 clone - sometimes even if it's set to high temperature but the tip is too cold to even melt solder, the heater still isn't running all the time.
 

Offline aneng

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #31 on: November 09, 2015, 10:58:02 am »
I'm in the same boat.  I'm in the UK and the Hakko FX-888 (old analogue version, in black) is $225 AUS plus delivery, ($160US).  I'm sorry, but I just can't afford to spend that on a soldering iron !  I don't care if it's made of angel's wings and unicorn horn...  I'm not that well-off :-)

I'm not going to risk buying a Fakko off eBay, so where do I go now ?

What is the next best soldering station under $110AUS / $75US
 

Offline Paul Price

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #32 on: November 09, 2015, 12:12:18 pm »
« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 02:09:37 pm by Paul Price »
 

Offline daybyter

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #33 on: November 09, 2015, 01:33:39 pm »
I started with the 936 clone and I don't regret it one bit. You can use genuine Hakko tips with them and perform some simple mods to improve the coupling of the heater to the tip.
How did you do that? Heat transfer seems to be a weakness of my 936 clone - sometimes even if it's set to high temperature but the tip is too cold to even melt solder, the heater still isn't running all the time.

There is a russian video on yt, in which some graphite was added between tip and heating element.
 

Offline SteveLy

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #34 on: November 09, 2015, 06:20:42 pm »
I recently got this WEP 937D+ (seems like an updated version of Dave's "world's cheapest"): http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/231582147579 and it's working extremely well for $AU50 (~$US35) delivered. Even the heat resistant lead lives up to the claim: I held the 380 deg C iron's tip to it for 1+ second with no harm done, not even a mark.

Edit: I see it's up to $76 now. I'm glad I got it when I did (month ago). Might just be the weak Aussie dollar..(?)
« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 06:22:45 pm by SteveLy »
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #35 on: November 09, 2015, 11:10:38 pm »
I have used cheap soldering stations for years and even built my own stations.

The main concern in my experience are 3 things. The durability of the heater element. The fit of the element to the tip. And tip selection. If you can find a good clone, you're gold. But you're taking a chance on the first two points. It might be worth it to buy a new heater element/wand every couple of years, but it's a hassle when your soldering iron goes down.

Your clone heating elements are sometimes wound nichrome wire, only covered in ceramic. Heat cycling will cause them to eventually fail. And it might sound stupid, but the plastic and grip of a Hakko are of obvious higher quality than most clones, less slick and more heat resistant. A lot of the cheap clones will eventually break from heat stress. Depends on how much you use a soldering iron, this may never come into play. But there is definitely a difference. I have BTDT. The first time you repair a broken wand, it may be worth it. But then it breaks again, and fixing it feels like a waste of time. It's like a nuclear reactor. Eventually the material gets so weak, you have to throw it out and start over.

Also, the 888 has an very good stand. You can insert and pick up the iron from across the room without looking.

So if your end game is 5-10 years of light duty soldering, a good clone will probably save you money and cost you little in hassle. If you're more into CAD and whatnot, then you wouldn't notice the difference. Maybe you will even paste/reflow and hardly use an iron, at all.

If your end game is 20-30 years and/or heavy assembly/rework, a clone and replacement parts will probably still save you money. But you will probably end up upgrading, anyway, just for the sheer cool factor (if not for the hassle of down-time and repairs). That's what we are trained to do from birth. To buy cool stuff we don't necessarily need, and to identify ourselves with brands. Hence you will probably waste money and time.

The problem is you don't know if you're going to be doing this in 20 years, right now. Do you?
« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 11:48:22 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline Deathwish

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #36 on: November 09, 2015, 11:30:44 pm »
Electrons are typically male, always looking for any hole to get into.
trying to strangle someone who talks out of their rectal cavity will fail, they can still breath.
God hates North Wales, he has put my home address on the blacklist of all couriers with instructions to divert all parcels.
 

Offline Kalvin

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #37 on: February 20, 2016, 04:16:16 pm »
I have bought one of those cheap Hakko handles (price around $15), a few T12 tips and a $10 hakko controller for evaluation purposes from eBay. The handle requires 12V ... 24V DC power supply, and I am running it at 24VDC for the best performance.

Kalvin is there a thread on this already? or would you care to create one with the parts you used and what you found during assembly etc?

Here is my hobby soldering station parts list:

1. Soldering Iron Controller $8 - $10 :
 
- Enter magic keywords to Ebay: Hakko T12
- You can buy a controller with a handle if you wish. I opted to buy a separate handle.
- The controller may need some parameter adjustment for the best temperature control and accuracy.



2. Soldering Iron Handle $15 - $20:

- Enter magic keywords to Ebay: T12 soldering iron
- Select a handle for the 70W T12 soldering tips

3. DC-DC Converter 150W $4 - $8:

- Enter magic keywords to Ebay: dc-dc 150W
- This is optional if you have a power supply 20V - 24V / 4A.
- Has an on-board fuse
- Input voltage can be 12V - 20V DC
- Output voltage will be adjusted to 24V / 70W
- The peak input current from the power supply will be 5 - 6 Amperes at 12V, 2 -3 Amperes on average
- With a DC-DC-boost converter the soldering iron can be used with any input voltage between 12V - 20V giving 24V 70W
- Doesn't generate lot of heat, so it can be placed inside the enclosure
- The cheap DC-DC-converter may produce some audible high pitch noise at lower input voltage levels.



4. Enclosure for the controller and the DC-DC-converter $14:

- Enter magic keywords to Ebay: T12 soldering iron case
- I do not have access to proper tools, so I went and bought a ready-made enclosure
- Modified the backpanel for a DC plugin power connector
- The DC-DC converter is mounted inside the enclosure
- The minus power of the DC-DC converter is connected to the enclosure through a 1 megaohm resistor
- The enclosure is connected to the ESD ground through a 1 megaohm resistor



5. Buy a selection of T12 tips

- These T12-type tips are available from Ebay for decent price
- I do not know yet how well they perform or how long they will last, but they are cheap and fast to change

6. Power supply

- Use any safe power supply giving output power of 70W: 12V@6A - 24V@3A
- Some switching mode power supplies have quite high leakage current which may be a problem without a proper grounding and ESD protection
- I would consider the [chinese] switching power supplies using the mains voltage UNSAFE that are sold with some of the T12 soldering iron kits with the aluminium enclosure

I have tested this configuration successfully with a lab power supply, done basic measurements, monitored for any heating problems and done basic soldering job. At this point I am very happy with the purchases. Now I have a fairly inexpensive, fast iron with a temperature control suitable for a SMD work with a good selection of different tips that can be changed in seconds.

I am still in the process of getting a proper power supply. The target is to find a switched mode 90W - 120W laptop power supply with very low leakage current. The other option is to purchase a 100W medical grade transformer with output voltage in range of 12 V - 24V which should provide only very little leakage current.

In summary: This is one possible option to get a nice hobby soldering iron station with a decent performance in $30 - $50 price range. If you have the tools for building a nice enclosure and already have a suitable power supply, you can get the described soldering iron station for $30 or less. With the (optional) DC-DC-converter the soldering station can be powered from the 12V car battery if needed and still get the 70W heating performance.

Disclaimer: I have not tested the controller and the DC-DC-converter thoroughly in long term use, so please keep in mind that there may be some possible problems that I haven't discovered yet. Also, I do not know how well the controller behaves or what happens if it fails to "always on"-state powering the handle with a constant voltage of 24V. Please consider adding a timer relay which will power off the soldering station after specified time period.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2016, 05:46:38 pm by Kalvin »
 

Offline mstoer

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Re: Soldering station buying advise..!!!
« Reply #38 on: February 20, 2016, 04:53:04 pm »
Hakko is not that easy to get in Canada (I assume Gurpeet wants something "local" as a source).  I bought a WESD51 and it's OK.  I've used much better like the WX series rework station, so it's hard to use say the WESD51 is very good. I think it's good value for the money though.  One thing to remember is that you will need a variety of tips and be able to source replacements now and then (and not mail order everything).  That makes Weller a better choice, since it's easier to find a the parts.  If Hakko was easier to get here, I likely would have got one.
 


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