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Offline sn4k3

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[TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« on: October 15, 2017, 01:49:52 pm »
(Open Article, i invite everyone to participate and enhancement this post, based on real feedback and daily use)
(Disclamer: This article is not to discourage you from buying brand reputable tools or anything like that, this are alternatives for the price)

Recently i have seen people asking for the same: cheap/budget tools, problem is people tend to buy the cheapest or anything in the middle, resulting in waste, difficulty and demotivation (Is this my fault? Most of the time no, check your tool)
We all know good reputable tools are dam expensive and for some people are not easy to afford them, or even a purpose, ie hobby.
The truth is quality and performance come with a price, but to be honest in this age (2017) that tools are a bit overpriced, we pay a lot just for a 400ºc soldering rock, yes because they only have that function, we can't EEVblog with it...

Lets check a single solder station only (no handle or tips) for example (JBC, Weller, others):
Price Range: 250€-400€
What we get: Cheap ABS or other material enclosure, PSU, PCB and it components
All those things are dirty cheap for them and we pay for brand name, availability, multiple tools compatibility and others.
They can perform very well but are just like Apple products, you pay for outdated hardware and old tech, the hardware is there only for heat up a resistor and control the heater plus other features like stand by, hibernation that cost 0 multiplied by one hundred euros (courtesy of the software, nothing a 'if' plus a 'timer' won't solve)

JBC T210-A handle cost about 56€ and is the real thing, is what you should look, because this tool and the tip will do all the joints for you. So 56€ for a high-quality handle, that's cheap but it won't work alone. So you can do or buy a kind of station that can power the handle for half or less the price of the original. If it broke in a year or less you can buy another and still not touch near the price of the original station.

With all that in mind this article is to advice people with the best cheap tools money can buy (Discarding all trash) including clones from reputable brands and easy to source.
Also the listed tools can be used in a professional scenario

Soldering
Soldering stations and irons

TS100



Iron Price: 30€ - 50€
Tip's Price: 7€ - 9€ [TS-xx], Cheap
Tip's availability: Not many but the available ones are more than capable for multiple works, easy to source.
Tip style: Similar to Hakko T12 tips but the length is smaller and more optimized, heater element builtin inside tip
Tip hot change: Yes, don't screw the tip if you want to change while hot, it will stay in place without move, tight connection.
ESD-Safe: Yes*, require a PSU with earth connection
Max Power: 24V / 65W
Features: Portable, Can be battery powered, stand-by, hibernation, digital, configurable, firmware can be updated, open source
Good for: Portability, hobby, battery operated
My review: Very good tool for any job, it outperform the hakko clones, well calibrated, tips are long lasting and high performance, even smaller tips like TS-ILS and TS-I can melt solder at very bottom without wick solder up. I can say that iron can do better job than my ERSA i-con 2v with the i-tool using tips from 0.2mm to 0.5mm, all ERSA tips from that sizes will wick solder up and don't melt solder very well at tip. Only the new optimized 0.3mm ERSA tip is good, that said TS100 outperform a complete tool that cost me 680€ under that scenario. About the others perform just as well, heat up times are the same, maybe some milliseconds difference.
Ergonomics are good to me (Medium hand), the shape is odd at first view, but it fell right in the hand, still it can vary from people to people.
Be sure to use a good and capable power supply (12v to 24v) with earth connection, and if possible a soft and light DC cable to make tool light as possible.
It can easy replace a good solder station.

So, for about 50€ plus the power supply if you have to buy it, we got a full iron and a tip that (out)/perform just as better than tools that cost 250€-300€, that a joke...


Hakko T12 Clone



Comes in DIY or complete set. There's also an portable version and an OLED version.
Set Price: 30€ - 50€
Tip's Price: 2€ - 5€ [T12-xx], Cheap
Tip's availability: Very, easy to source.
Tip style: Similar/same to Hakko T12 tips. Heater element builtin inside tip
Tip hot change: Yes.
ESD-Safe: Yes/No depending on station you get
Max Power: 24V / 65W
Features: Small and compact, Can be battery powered (DIY), stand-by, hibernation, digital.
Good for: Hobby, fixed station, people who have lot of spare T12 tips
My review: Handle feels cheap plastic, if you shake it you will hear plastic noise but is easy to operate. Station not always awake from a stand by mode, you need to perform a hard movement for it detect the motion and awake, can't change the sensivity for this sensor. Factory calibration is bad most of the times and display temperature is not the real, you need to calibrate it first with a proper thermometer. Beside all that and if proper calibrated station work very well and can perform the jobs very easy.
Advice: Buy original handle and tips for a optimal experience. Clone tips may be not as good as originals. If use clones please heat up the tip gradually when you first use a new one or it will partial damage your tip.
TS100 is better than this in every spec and is easy to turn in a fixed station


JND DI3000 - JBC C245 Clone



Link
Set Price: 160€ - 170€ + Shipping
Tip's Price: 12€ - 100€ [C245], Expensive
Tip's availability: Very, easy to source.
Tip style: C245. Heater element + temperature sensor builtin inside tip
Tip hot change: Yes.
ESD-Safe: Yes
Max Power: 24V / 75W
Features: stand-by, hibernation, digital.
Good for: Fixed station, serious use
Advice: Buy original handle (Most optional) and tips for a optimal experience.

Full JBC clone, what can i say?

UniSolder 5.2 - Really universal soldering controller



Link
Set Price: DIY, +/- 150-250€
ESD-Safe: DIY
Max Power: 9V-28V, AC or DC
Features: stand-by, hibernation, digital.
Good for: Fixed station, multiple tools, learn and make your soldering station
Advice: Buy original handle and tips from your favorite brand (Compatible with the station)
My Review: This station is very capable, but is hard to build yourself, the BOM is complicated and some components are hard to find even on aliexpress, you can order everything from mouser but will come at a higher cost. There are some empty pcb avaliable over eBay and maybe a full build station. With this you will never run out of possibilities but it require time to make it well, still on development and there are things that can be improved. I will say just for JBC pencil and Microtweezers this worth a lot to have. When you build your first you can replicate easy but i advice to use quality components or it can fail easy.

Features:
- power: 9-28V, AC or DC
- 2 separate heater control channels
- 2 independent sensor inputs
- current source on any sensor input 3uA - 12mA, wuth 2 bands (x1, x16) and 256 steps per band
- flexible differential amplifier input selection
- amplifier gain from 0 to 750 in 256 steps
- negative offset selection in 1024 steps
- resistive instrument identification (upto 625 different instruments can be identified by 2 resistors on the connector)
- polynomial floating point voltage/resistance to temperature calculation
- wave shaping to filter out the inductive peaks from series sensor signal
- PID control with power limit
- isolated USB port for firmware updates and live data
- 128x64 OLED display with rich user interface.

Tested so far with:
- HAKKO T12/T15 (series TC)
- HAKKO FX8801 (PTC)
- PACE TD100 (series TC)
- JBC C245 (series or separate TC)
- JBC C210 (series TC)
- JBC Microtweezers (2 separate heaters, each with series TC)
- WELLER WSP80 (PTC) (This iron was sent to me by a reader of the thread for a previous version of the controller. Thanks, Jaroslaw)
- ERSA RT80 (series PTC/heater resistance)
- various chinese cheap irons with separate TC


ERSA i-con nano (0IC1200A)



This is one of the best branded stations you can get for the price from a well known and reputable brand: ERSA

Station Price: 160€ - 180€
Tip's Price: 6€ - 80€ [Serie 102], Cheap
Tip's availability: Very, easy to source.
Tip style: Serie 102. Tip only without any other components built in.
Tip hot change: Yes, can be changed by hand without tools or protection, still you must take care. (If you want the tool: 3N544)
ESD-Safe: Yes
Max Power: 80W, 150ºc to 450ºc
Heat up time in sec: ± 9s
Weight: 1.05Kg
Features: stand-by, hibernation, digital, configurable
Good for: Serious work, reability, long life tips
My review: This station is excelent for the price, beeing the most cheap and best station you can get from a reputable brand that not come from China. The i-tool (Soldering Iron) is one of the best irons i have used, very light and small, feels like a pencil and perform extremely well. Tip performance are great and the lifespan is one of the best i have seen. While ERSA have other expensiver models like I-CON 1* and I-CON 2* and even the Vario serie the i-tool is always the same on those stations and will perform as well as this one, as i told before the tool and tips are the most important thing. Note: That supeior stations can deliver 150W peak and able to heat up the i-tool faster, while heater is the same, nano powers heater from 16.5V but higher end I-CON stations from 24V. But if used with smaller tips there is no much difference between them. Only if using large tips and soldering something with high thermal capacity, the difference becomes noticeable.
My Advice: Buy tip sleeves (3IT1040-00 OR 3IT1045-00) for every tip you buy, change those things from tip to tip is hard and require some force, also if you have then already placed will allow you fast swap while hot, other way will be a pain to do that.
Buy the I-CON 1 if you found a very very good price if that justify, i brought mine for about 287€ from thier website, better look and more power.
Don't buy conical tips bellow (0.6mm - 0.5mm) they will perform bad for tiny SMD works and wick solder up, they will not keep solder at the end of the tip, however they fix that on new 0102PDLF03 0.3mm optimized tip and can do the work just fine leg by leg.
There's also an cheaper version of this station, the i-con pico. But i think this is a best buy for the price, however if you can only go for that you will not regret either.


Desoldering
Desoldering stations

ZD-8915



Station Price: 80€ - 90€
Tip's Price: 1€ - 2€, Cheap [0.8mm, 1.0mm, 1.3mm, 1.5mm]
Tip's availability: Not many, easy to source.
Tip hot change: Not recommended.
ESD-Safe: Yes
Max Power: 150W
Features: Digital
Good for: Through hole desoldering, hobby
My review: This station will perform good but require some maintenance after some use, good if if you ocasional need to suck solder and you are to lazy to use a manual pump. If you want to desoldering all day and continuously this tool is not for you.
Advice: Buy all tips they are cheap and some spare filters to future use.



Hot Air

Hot air is hot air, but only a few can deliver reability air with good temperature control

Quick 861DW



Set Price: 250€ - 300€ + Shipping
Nozzle Price: 5€ - 40€ [NK-xx], Expensive
Nozzle availability: Very, hard to source.
Nozzle style: NK-xx.
Nozzle hot change: Yes but hard, need spare silicon pad.
ESD-Safe: Yes
Max Power: 1000W
Max Temperature: +/-500ºc
Max Airflow: +/-120L/m
Features: stand-by, digital, profiles, temperature calibration.
Good for: Fixed station, serious use
Advice: Buy quick nk-850 adaptor to use universal nozzles when needed. Buy JBC shields if you want/need to.
My review: For the price this station is the best you can get, unbeatable price/features/performance. Heat up times are very fast and able to calibrate the temperature output. The max airflow is already higher than other top notch stations and can be used to solder larger BGA chips. This station performs extremely well and can do any kind of job. Interface is clear, fast and easy to use. One thing that could be better is the amount of profiles, only three avaliable, they could turn this into six by using a double click behaviour but it's more than ok. You will never lost your money on this or regret the buy. A downside when new is the unpleasant plastic smell, but after a three or more days with good air circulation that will go away.


Microscope

When it goes tiny sizes there no way to repair without a magnifier tool, if you are in SMD world you need one of this. There are cheap tools like crap usb cameras but will be tedious to work with despite low frame rate and quality. You can use some kind of magnifier or even glasses but not pratical to work with, make sure you always have two hands that you can use.

AmScope SE400-Z



Set Price: 150€ - 230€ + Shipping
Stereo: Yes
Head: 45 degree inclined binocular.
Eyepieces: 30.5mm widefield WF10x and WF20x
Objective: 1X.
Zoom: Can't change, fixed with the Eyepieces (10x or 20x included)
Can ajust height focus: Yes
Can ajust eyepieces focus: Yes*, only on left ocular
Illumination: Yes, included in a goose neck style, ajustable position, 1W fixed
Diopter Adjustment: +/-5dp
Working distance:  +/- 9" (228mm / 22.8cm)
Interpupillary Distance: 2-0" - 2-15/16"(50-77mm)
Boom-Arm Stand: 12" arm (overall length: 17"), 13.5" high pillar, 7.5"x5.0"x2.5" steel base.
Accessories: eye-guards.
Good for: Hobby, small or moderate use
My review: One of best microscope you can buy with small money, easy to use, the quality is good and for inspection is more than ok, the included 10x eyepiece is what you will use all the time, 20x will not be that usefull, maybe  you can benefit from it in some occasion but you will be lazy to change that just for one scenario. It will allow you to solder leg by leg, for example you wouldn't have any difficulty to view and exchange a micro usb port pin by pin. The working distance is excellent, the 22.8cm give you a lot more freedom that other alternatives, you can solder under it and even use hot air in a low angle.
Advice: Put one or two dead acid batteries on top of the microscope to make it heavier to prevent accidents and falls, microscope base is heavy but not enough in my opinion. If you can, buy the 5x 10x version if avaliable. If you have the money and you are serious about repair and smd please buy the AmScope SM-4xxxx (See below), it worth all the extra.


AmScope SM-4TP or SM-4NTP



Set Price: 400€ - 550€ + Shipping [EU: 600-800€]
Stereo: Yes
Trinocular: Yes - Camera port
Simul-focual: Yes
Head: 45-degree inclined, 360-degree swiveling trinocular
Eyepieces: 30mm super widefield high-eyepoint (WF10X/20)
Objective: 1X, can buy an adaptor to 0.5X or 2X
Zoom: Ajustable 0.7-4.5X, Zoom Range: 6.5:1
Can ajust height focus: Yes
Can ajust eyepieces focus: Yes
Illumination: Sold separately or part of the kit
Diopter Adjustment: +/-5dp
Maximum Field of View: 1-1/4" (31.75mm)
Minimum Field of View: 3/16" (2.5mm)
Working distance: +/- 4" (100mm)
Interpupillary Distance: 2-3/16" - 2-15/16" (55-75mm)
Boom-Arm Stand: 20" double-arm (overall length: 30"), 17" high pillar, 10-1/4"x8-1/4"x2-0" solid cast steel base
Accessories: eye-guards.
Good for: Professional, heavy and serious use
My review: One of best microscope you can buy for the repair world, easy to use, lot of ajustments, the quality is excelent, and very heavy it will not go any where. The zoom knob is very usefull, you can change from varios zoom levels without the need to replace the eyepieces or objectives, you will find yourself ajusting the zoom for each situation you need to check. The improvement over AmScope SE400-Z is huge. If you have the money don't think twice.
Advice: Buy the SM-4NTP if you can, it have lockable zoom (No usefull feature) but it have some level marks at eyepieces to know the focus level for each side, the NTP cost the same as the NP and seens like newer model but both will perform equally.
Buy a 144 LED Ring from China, for low as 20€ or 25€, theres no need to pay the extra for original ones, they are very expensive for what they are.
Buy 0.5X objective adaptor it will cut de maximum Zoom to half and increasing the working distance to the double, while you will never use the max zoom you can benefit from more working distance and lower zoom levels to see more things at once. Some people say that lens can slight decrease the image quality, maybe they do maybe they not i use one and didn't notice that, make sure you buy the original AmScope len and not other brand that can have that negative effect. If you not go with that len buy the 1x len just to cover and protect main objective from damage or dirt, it is cost effective and you keep your scope protected from splash and fumes.
Buy only the version that have TP on the name, that mean is simul-focal and others aren't. Simul-focal allow you to view from every port at same time, mean you can use your eyes and a camera at same time without the need to switch the light hole entrance.
You will find very variants of this microscope, the difference will be in the included extras, just buy the base model and upgrade it with what you want. The extras are very overpriced and nosense, even included cameras are crap.


Microscope Cameras C-Mount

If you need to show your work, record, teaching and others under a microscope you will need a camera. There are a lot of cameras out there, you will choose the right one for your needs and for your equipment.
Please note the light you use will have a large impact on image quality, for example the led rings will create big reflections on board, a angled light source is prefered.

1080PHA
Sensor: Sony IMX236(C)
Resolution: 1080P FullHD
Recording: 1080P FullHD 30FPS via SDCard, USB, HDMI + Capture Card
Live image: Yes via HDMI 60fps scaled from 30fps, via USB 30fps, both can be used at same time
Other features: Built in software over HDMI and Mouse, settings can be ajusted such as auto exposure, colors and others
Price: +/- 280€
(Read article whole description for more information)



720PHC
Sensor: SONY Exmor CMOS Sensor IMX222
Resolution: 720P HD
Recording: 30FPS via SDCard (1920x1080), USB (1920x1080), HDMI + Capture Card (1280x720). Note: FullHD resolution is scaled from 720p
Live image: Yes via HDMI 60fps scaled from 30fps, via USB 30fps, both can be used at same time
Other features: Built in software over HDMI and Mouse, settings can be ajusted such as auto exposure, colors and others
Price: +/- 160€
(Read article whole description for more information)

There are also other better cameras with best sensors and image quality but they are very expensive and lack of HDMI connection. For commodity HDMI is a must have in my opinion. This cameras are also USB3.0 and will require a PC with USB 3.0 ports to decode image in good frame rate.
My recommendation would go to 1080PHA and 0.35x adaptor, but if you have a less margin is ok to go with 720PHC (Less resolution and worse sensor but is OK!)


0.35X focus adjustable C mount adapter for New type of Amscope's Trinocular Stereo microscope
This is very important to have with the camera, the included stock c-mount port from Amscope is not good, hard to sync with eyes and camera focus at same time, it will rotate easy and dust will enter inside your trinocular port, or use some ugly tape!. The adaptor i recommend for who goes with Amscope trinocular and these cameras, it will firmly secure your camera and have a horizontal knob to ajust focus, very easy to sync with eyepieces, a must have, don't ignore this!


Tools

Thermometers

Don't spend a fortune on this, cheap equipement will be as good as expensive ones.

Hakko FG-100



Price: 10€ - 20€
Resolution: 1°c / 1F
Range: 0~700ºc / 32~1300F
Sensor Type: K(CA)Thermocouple
Sensor availablity: Easy to source, cheap
Tolerance:  ±3C(Range300~600C) ±5C(Othertemperature range) ±6F(Range572~1112F) ±10F(Othertemperature range)
Power source: 9V Batteries (recommended: alkaline batteries)
External dimensions: 68(W)×140(H)×38(D)mm
Weight: 115g(Does not contain batteries)
Operating Temperature Range:   0~40C, 20~90%RH,No condensation
Good for: Iron tips, gun tips, desoldering gun tips, other equipement that require direct contact. A must buy tool for every station to make sure the temperature is real

TM-902C K-Type



Price: 4€ - 10€
Resolution: 1°c
Range: -50~1300ºc
Sensor Type: K(CA)Thermocouple
Sensor availablity: Easy to source, cheap
Tolerance:  0? to 500? ±(0.75%±1?) 500? to 750? ±(1%±1?) / 0? to -20? ±2? / 750?~1000?(-3?~0?) / -20? to -40?:±3? / 1000?~1370?(-5?~-3?) / -40? to -50?:-3?
Power source: 9V Batteries (recommended: alkaline batteries)
External dimensions: 68(W)×140(H)×38(D)mm
Weight: 68g (Does not contain batteries)
Good for: Hot air stations and guns, IR Stations, BGA Replacement, Reworks, other no direct contact.
My Review: Temperature is accurate, LCD update very fast but poor view angles. A must buy tool.

(To be continued, i will write more on my spare times)
Add your personal reviews
« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 07:28:02 am by sn4k3 »
 
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Offline sn4k3

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2017, 01:52:13 pm »
(Reserved for changelog)

[21/11/2017]
- Added Microscope cameras and adaptor

29/10/2017
- Added AmScope SE-400Z and SM-4TP microscopes

23/10/2017
- Added ZD-8915 desoldering station

17/10/2017
- Added ERSA i-con nano Station

15/10/2017:
- Added UniSolder 5.2 Station
« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 07:24:28 am by sn4k3 »
 

Offline ebclr

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2017, 04:58:51 pm »

A-BF 205H 220V 150W High-frequency soldering station

Power:150W
Output Temperature:200°C ~600°C
Temperature Stability: ±5°C
Heating Element: High Frequence Eddy Heater
Standard Tip: 500-T-B

USD 124,70

 
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Offline sn4k3

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2017, 01:40:31 am »
I have seen many stations like that but never tried one.
How does it perform? Can solder SMD tiny pins one by one? How perform the finer tips? Stand by? Hibernation?
600ºc seens a overkill and a tip killer, it is even well calibrated?
« Last Edit: October 16, 2017, 01:45:04 am by sn4k3 »
 

Offline ciccio

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2017, 06:11:08 am »
Interesting suggestions. Thank You.
a question: where is the JND Advanced - JBC C245 Clone station available (at the reported price)?
I could find only one obscure site listing it a abot 250 USD and another one at more than 500 USD.
Regarding the Hakko tip thermometer, you show the original one, but the price you report is for a clone unit. The original is priced ad about 100 USD, that is really too much.
I have a clone that works perfectly and I believe is as good as the original, but the Hakko logo is absent..
Recntly I built an Hakko T12 clone kit, and I'm really satisfied. For me the tip to handle distance is not a problem (I have a Weller WS81, but the barrel is too large for some of my applications, and the clone T12 tip is smaller.
There is a BAKON station, model 950D,  that is a T12 clone with a different handle, and like the original HAKKO keeps more of the tip inside the handle, reducing the distance. It is also really cheap (a little more than the kit, but it is ready built...)
Best regards
« Last Edit: October 16, 2017, 06:21:12 am by ciccio »
Ciccio

Strenua Nos Exercet Inertia
 

Offline sn4k3

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2017, 06:26:52 am »
Interesting suggestions. Thank You.
a question: where is the JND Advanced - JBC C245 Clone station available (at the reported price)?
I could find only one obscure site listing it a abot 250 USD and another one at more than 500 USD.
Regarding the Hakko tip thermomter, you show the original one, but the price you report is for a clone unit. The original is priced ad about 100 USD, that is relllay too much.
I have a clone that works perfectly and I believe is as good as the original, but the Hakko logo is absent..
Recntly I built an Hakko T12 clone kit, and I'm really satisfied. For me the tip to handle distance is not a problem (I have a Weller WS81, but the barrel is too large for some of my applications, and the clone T12 tip is smaller.
There is a BAKON station, model 950D,  that is a T12 clone with a different handle, and like the original HAKKO keeps more of the tip inside the handle, reducing the distance. It is also really cheap (a little more than the kit, but it is ready built...)
Best regards

Theres a link below JND image named Link to aliexpress, please check. Postage will be expensive depending on your country because this will ship using express delivery - EMS, Fedex, DHL, etc. Heavy to send as normal post.
Hakko thermomter is a clone of course, the photo i show is also from a clone, the tools i post you can easy found on Aliexpress or eBay, while a clone theres no science on that as is just a k-type sensor + a pcb that read the value and report back, 100€ for such unit is a waste in my opinion.
T12 lenght is not a problem you can also buy a slave to cover most of the tip.
I know about that BAKON, need to investigate them and maybe post them as alternative too.
You can also do your T12 review, i will add to main post
Thank you for your output.

Regards
 

Online nctnico

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2017, 06:36:10 am »
Sidenote: I'm surprised to see the JBC clone and I'm wondering whether you can use original replacement tips with it. I'm not a fan of JBC because their tips will be FUBAR when left on for a day but they are not bottom of the barrel either so it may be a budget way to get a decent soldering station if you can use the original tips.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline sn4k3

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2017, 06:39:57 am »
Sidenote: I'm surprised to see the JBC clone and I'm wondering whether you can use original replacement tips with it. I'm not a fan of JBC because their tips will be FUBAR when left on for a day but they are not bottom of the barrel either so it may be a budget way to get a decent soldering station if you can use the original tips.

You can use original handle and tips without a problem. Precision handle will also work.
I only dislike tip price  ^-^
PS: I will add other station capable of run many different tools, inc. JBC and micro tweezers
« Last Edit: October 16, 2017, 06:42:30 am by sn4k3 »
 

Offline ciccio

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2017, 06:54:26 am »
You can also do your T12 review, i will add to main post
I've ordered some spare tips, because the kit is supplied with a single large blade shaped tip the is not fit to to most of my work needs.
Waiting for the tips I'm working on a new case for the station, because the plastic one supplied is too small for the power supply unit I bought.
I Hope in two weeks to have everything ready for a review. In the  past week I've used the station for some work, with good results.
 
Ciccio

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Offline sn4k3

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2017, 06:56:30 am »
You can also do your T12 review, i will add to main post
I've ordered some spare tips, because the kit is supplied with a single large blade shaped tip the is not fit to to most of my work needs.
Waiting for the tips I'm working on a new case for the station, because the plastic one supplied is too small for the power supply unit I bought.
I Hope in two weeks to have everything ready for a review. In the  past week I've used the station for some work, with good results.

Yes, always check what is included, tips are dam cheap always buy some spare in different shapes.
I like the metal cases, but i had a 3D printer, unlimited cases :D
Nice good to hear that.

Main post updated with more alternatives
 

Offline Cyberdragon

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2017, 10:22:43 am »
Any advice on a cheap vacuum pump desoldering station?
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Offline sn4k3

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2017, 10:47:18 am »
Any advice on a cheap vacuum pump desoldering station?

Hello, i was about to post about that.
You have the ZD-8915 [+/-85€], you can look at. That should be better than the previous ZD-915
« Last Edit: October 19, 2017, 10:50:54 am by sn4k3 »
 

Online wraper

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2017, 05:13:44 am »
Quote
While ERSA have other expensiver models like I-CON 1* and I-CON 2* and even the Vario serie the i-tool is always the same on those stations and will perform as well as this one, as i told before the tool and tips are the most important thing. Note: That supeior stations can deliver 150W peak and able to heat up the i-tool faster, still i-tool is limited to 80W.
i-tool is not limited to 80W. It's 150W peak. The difference between nano and higher end stations is that, while heater is the same, nano powers heater from 16.5 V but higher end I-CON stations from 24V. Some time ago I measured heater resistance and calculated that power should be a little bit over 150W if powered from 24V. But if used with smaller tips there is no much difference between them. Only if using large tips and soldering something with high thermal capacity, the difference becomes noticeable.
http://www.kurtzersa.com/electronics-production-equipment/soldering-tools-accessories/tools-for-soldering-stations/produkt-details/i-tool-1.html
http://www.kurtzersa.com/electronics-production-equipment/soldering-tools-accessories/tools-for-soldering-stations/produkt-details/i-tool-nano-1.html
« Last Edit: October 28, 2017, 05:17:39 am by wraper »
 

Online wraper

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2017, 05:29:00 am »
Power rating for quick is not correct.
 

Offline ciccio

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2017, 06:51:48 am »
T12 clone kit preliminary test results:
As I posted before, I builta a T12 clone kit, bought from Bangood.
I received the power supply board (also from Banggod) and installed everything into an Hammond extruded aluminium enclosure I had on one shelf, never used.
After completing the wiring I fired up the station, and discovered a big problem: if I ground the tip to PE and the enclosure body, the display is unstable: it randomly jumps from 370 (stable set temperature) to 250 for 1 second, then 370 for 10 seconds  then another value for 1 second, and so on.
It is also difficult to enter the configuration menu.
Please note that is the current temperature reading that is unstabe: the real temperature is stable, as shown by the thermometer and by actual use....
If I  unground the tip  (disconnecting it from PE and from the case), the display is rock stable.
For now, I have no time for further experiments, but I think that as soon as possible I will add two Y caps to the power supply, because it has only one X cap.
Not sure this will be a solution, but It is a simple and inexpensive test.
I  fear that part of the problem is due to the very thin gauge of the wires in the supplied cable.
A question for all:
somebody can explain me the operaion of an Hakko T12 clone?
The tip temperature is measured with a sensor inside the tip, or by checking the resistance value of the heater?
For what I see, the tip (let's name it "cartrige") has 3 contact, labelled plus, minus and earth.
If there is a separate sensor (in my kit's instructions there are mentions to a thermocouple) how is it wired?
On another forum thread some forum member says that he grounded the plug/socket body with no problems. I think that this is not my case: I tried, but the instability remains.
For now I will use the station with the tip ungrounded: first impressions are very favourable: lots of heating power, stable temperature.

Edit to report about the  last results of the test:
Grounding the tip seems impossible: even with an external, linear DC supply the reading remain unstable.
The spare tips  bought on Banggod have a crap coating, like the one supplied with the kit. I'm not sure they will last a long time.
I will search for an original Hakko tip and see the results.
I used the kit  for soldering some boards(about 600 joints)  and the operation, and the results, are very good.
I like it very much. For the price it is an incredibly good unit.
The firmware allows to configure some parameters (sleep time,  power off time, temperature compensation, etc, but you must be very quick to read the (some times obscure) instructions and modify/accept the paramete's value, or it  will automatically exit configuration. This is annoying, but you'll do it only a few times.
Actual use is simple.

Edit to report final modifications
After reading sn4k3 post in the dedicated T12 clone discussion, I followed his suggestion and increased the gauge of the two wires from power supply to control board. It was simpler to solder two 0.7 mm2 wires to the pads of the power connector and connect them to the PSU, leaving the original wires in place.
Now the final equivalent gauge is about 1 mm2. (original about .35 mm2 in parallel with added 0.7 mm2.
I shorted GND to negative. The Original GND wire is connecte to case and PE.
Reading is now stable up to more than 400°C, and the tip is grounded :) :) :)
This soldering station is now working very well. Next step will be to buy an original HAKKO cartridge.



« Last Edit: November 22, 2017, 08:07:15 am by ciccio »
Ciccio

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Offline sn4k3

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2017, 07:21:11 am »
Quote
While ERSA have other expensiver models like I-CON 1* and I-CON 2* and even the Vario serie the i-tool is always the same on those stations and will perform as well as this one, as i told before the tool and tips are the most important thing. Note: That supeior stations can deliver 150W peak and able to heat up the i-tool faster, still i-tool is limited to 80W.
i-tool is not limited to 80W. It's 150W peak. The difference between nano and higher end stations is that, while heater is the same, nano powers heater from 16.5 V but higher end I-CON stations from 24V. Some time ago I measured heater resistance and calculated that power should be a little bit over 150W if powered from 24V. But if used with smaller tips there is no much difference between them. Only if using large tips and soldering something with high thermal capacity, the difference becomes noticeable.
http://www.kurtzersa.com/electronics-production-equipment/soldering-tools-accessories/tools-for-soldering-stations/produkt-details/i-tool-1.html
http://www.kurtzersa.com/electronics-production-equipment/soldering-tools-accessories/tools-for-soldering-stations/produkt-details/i-tool-nano-1.html

Thank you for clarify, i have updated the text with your words.


Power rating for quick is not correct.

Thats true, i have corrected, dam copy paste  |O
 

Offline ebclr

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #16 on: October 28, 2017, 11:41:25 am »
"somebody can explain me the operaion of an Hakko T12 clone?"

Have a thermocouple  inside the tip, The measurement is made while power is off on PWM cycle, since the thermocouple is is series with the resistance
 
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Offline KL27x

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #17 on: October 28, 2017, 05:16:20 pm »
^To expound on that:

Center ring is the positive
Middle ring is the negative
Outer ring in the ground/sheath

I believe the thermocouple is designed as the leads to the heater. Between the positive contact to the heater is say metal A. And between the heater and the negative contact is another kind of metal B (perhaps with a little bit of metal A on both sides of the heater). So the heater is actually just stuck right in the middle of the thermocouple, AFAIK, and the contact end of the T12 tip is the actual cold junction. I should take one apart, eventually.
 
« Last Edit: October 28, 2017, 05:31:03 pm by KL27x »
 
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Offline ciccio

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2017, 10:09:12 pm »
Thank you for the explanation, but I actually do not understand very well.
I used thermocouples for years in one of my prevuous jobs, and designed TC amplifiers, including cold junction compensation and related problems.
In your decription I cannot find where the the actual thermocouple junction is...
When I'll get the time, I'll take apart one of the cartriges.
Best regards
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Online Nusa

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2017, 12:03:39 am »
The TM902C can be found powered by either 2x1.5V AAA batteries or 1x9V battery. Most of you WANT the AAA version for FAR better battery life. If the listing doesn't specify, it's probably the 9V version.

If you already have a 9V version, they work fine, but the battery life is way shorter than it should be because a lot is lost in the 3V regulator. They're pretty easy to convert to 3V if you get an AAA battery holder for the battery compartment. Simply replace the 9V input with 3V input. Then optionally remove the regulator from the circuit, as it's no longer needed.
 

Offline sn4k3

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2017, 12:39:41 am »
Don't know if is T12 tip or other but i found this:



You can also view this video:

It explains the thermocouple  inside tip and how to handle it (JBC)
 

Offline progrock

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2017, 09:17:18 pm »
Great recommendations... already in the process of building a UniSolder 5.2, hopefully it works out.  Trying to hold back on ordering a TS100, since I technically don't need it... but it does look pretty nice for what it is, and obviously really portable.

The reason I am posting is actually because of your Microscope recommendations.  I'm very tempted to grab one... but while I'm sure the SE400-Z is a great microscope for the money, as you basically point out, it's pretty limited, and not much you can do with it as far as upgrades.  The SM-4TP definitely seems like a very good choice... besides already being a great trinocular with Simul-Focal, it has tons of upgrade potential... definitely not a dead end.  I'm still not fully sure about the difference between the SM-4TP and SM-4NTP... you recommend the NTP?.. though at least by going off of price, the TP appears to be the more expensive, higher end component... seems somewhat strange.  Also, after looking through Amscope's website thoroughly, I started to like the articulating arm that comes with the SM-8* models.... which seemed to be more expensive, usually a lot more.  But after searching, I found the same microscope head as on the one you recommend (http://www.amscope.com/accessories/microscope-head/7x-45x-trinocular-zoom-stereo-microscope-simul-focal-head.html) for $279 and the stand I liked for $200, coming to $479... just about $20 more than the SM-4TP (and technically I think you could save a few more dollars ordering from amscope on aliexpress).  I also found this trinocular parfocal head for $350 that looks really nice (http://www.amscope.com/accessories/microscope-head/6-7x-45x-ultimate-parfocal-trinocular-stereo-zoom-microscope-head.html) ... I think no simulfocal, but seems like the parfocal's are usually a lot more, and could be pretty nice to use.

Anyway, I both wanted to post this to give other people a heads up that there are other ways of ordering this microscope, while still getting pretty much all the benefits of your recommendations.  I also wanted to see if you may know something I don't and would not recommend either of the "upgrades" I might choose (so far leaning towards at least the different stand... undecided on the Microscope, need to learn more).  I'm not seeing any real benefits of the dual arm boom stand vs the one I linked to... I suppose it's easier to move, since it has a base instead of a clamp... BUT I don't really think I'll be moving mine out of reach of where I'm thinking of clamping it, PLUS it would be pretty cheap to purchase a weighted base with the right size pole to mount the arm on that if I ever wanted to upgrade (and while I could get it from Amscope, I assume that any base that weighs enough and has the right diameter pole, would be just as good if not better, and likely cheaper).  Your thoughts?
 

Offline sn4k3

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #22 on: November 21, 2017, 08:34:25 am »
Great recommendations... already in the process of building a UniSolder 5.2, hopefully it works out.  Trying to hold back on ordering a TS100, since I technically don't need it... but it does look pretty nice for what it is, and obviously really portable.

Thank you  :-+
UniSolder 5.2 is a good station if you wan't multiple tools, it also have some mods to put bigger lcd and other improvements.
TS100 for me is a must have, not because portability, not because of pencil size, not because can be battery powered, only because it perform very very good and at that price is unbelievable! Not the best shape ofc but you will never know once you try it, for me fells right in the hand :)

The reason I am posting is actually because of your Microscope recommendations.  I'm very tempted to grab one... but while I'm sure the SE400-Z is a great microscope for the money, as you basically point out, it's pretty limited, and not much you can do with it as far as upgrades.

As i told if you do lot of microsoldering or will use a microscope alot, go for SM-4** model or similar, SE400-z is more for quick jobs or when you use it from time a time and don't require much from a microscope to be fair the SE400-z image quality is good as SM-4** but without the variable zoom and upgrades


The SM-4TP definitely seems like a very good choice... besides already being a great trinocular with Simul-Focal, it has tons of upgrade potential... definitely not a dead end.  I'm still not fully sure about the difference between the SM-4TP and SM-4NTP... you recommend the NTP?.. though at least by going off of price, the TP appears to be the more expensive, higher end component... seems somewhat strange.

I have contacted amscope when i first saw NTP, they can't anwser my questions pointing out only the specs, but i think is a newer model, it have lockable zoom (You can lock zoom and it will not move) a useless feature for me and 99.999% of people, but NTP got eyepiece focus marks (1,2,3,4,5) look at images, you can ajust the focus level easy and change fast if you renember the numbers. TP otherwise you spend some time trying to put both eyepieces correctly and at same level, i spend lot of time with that and never seens at same level, so for me make sense the NTP, these look the only differences to me both simul-focal and confirmed by amscope by contacting them.

3: Single stand Simple (Avoid that)
4: Dual Boom Stand
N: I don't know what means
T: Trinocular
P: Simul-Focal
X: Barrow len included 0.5x (0.35x-45x)
Y: Barrow len included 2x (0.7x-90x)
Z: (X+Y) 0.35x - 90x
144: 144 LED Ring
30WY: 30W Dual Gooseneck
30WR: 30W Led Ring
FRL: Flurescent Light
3M: 3MP Camera (Crap)
5M: 5MP Camera
10M: 10MP Camera
14M: 14MP Camera
....
....

For me the best combination is 4NTPX OR 4NTPZ, all other extras are overpriced

And you have other letters with meanings for lights and cameras.

Also, after looking through Amscope's website thoroughly, I started to like the articulating arm that comes with the SM-8* models.... which seemed to be more expensive, usually a lot more.  But after searching, I found the same microscope head as on the one you recommend (http://www.amscope.com/accessories/microscope-head/7x-45x-trinocular-zoom-stereo-microscope-simul-focal-head.html) for $279 and the stand I liked for $200, coming to $479... just about $20 more than the SM-4TP (and technically I think you could save a few more dollars ordering from amscope on aliexpress).  I also found this trinocular parfocal head for $350 that looks really nice (http://www.amscope.com/accessories/microscope-head/6-7x-45x-ultimate-parfocal-trinocular-stereo-zoom-microscope-head.html) ... I think no simulfocal, but seems like the parfocal's are usually a lot more, and could be pretty nice to use.

You can always buy the head alone and a articulated arm, thats ok, you have to decide what best fit your workbench or your case. Articulated have the advantage of moving fast and ajust at any position, is good if you need to work nearby but in different places. The disadvantage can be with image, it will shake easy and for recording may not be that good. Also arms can loose streng over time (get loose).

Dual Arm stand is very strong and heavy, will not go anywhere, easy and fast to use, always calibrated, good if you always use that position to work. You can ajust head rotation and arm length very quickly too without unfocus.

In my case i like stand more, when using articulated arm you have to fix it anywhere and that can be in the way of something, maybe good if you fix-it far behind or top

If you have the time view and listen this video:



Anyway, I both wanted to post this to give other people a heads up that there are other ways of ordering this microscope, while still getting pretty much all the benefits of your recommendations.  I also wanted to see if you may know something I don't and would not recommend either of the "upgrades" I might choose (so far leaning towards at least the different stand... undecided on the Microscope, need to learn more).  I'm not seeing any real benefits of the dual arm boom stand vs the one I linked to... I suppose it's easier to move, since it has a base instead of a clamp... BUT I don't really think I'll be moving mine out of reach of where I'm thinking of clamping it, PLUS it would be pretty cheap to purchase a weighted base with the right size pole to mount the arm on that if I ever wanted to upgrade (and while I could get it from Amscope, I assume that any base that weighs enough and has the right diameter pole, would be just as good if not better, and likely cheaper).  Your thoughts?

Dual arm stand have very benefits, the head is heavy if you use weak stand it will tilt easy and can fall.
SE-400z for example can be easy knockout and standy is heavy... I recommend use a dual acid battery in top of that stand. With dual arm you are always safe and lot of ajustments. You can put the microscope at your side, upside you, downside whatever it always have a ajustment to meet your eyes.

As for upgrades you can go cheap with led ring from china, the main disavantage is light is pointed straight and it will create reflections on board, you will have to put the board in a 45ºc angle to read a ic reference for example. To overcome this problem use low light from ring or use Dual Gooseneck light

Thank you for your input, it's a plus for everyone  :-+
« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 10:51:45 am by sn4k3 »
 
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Online Nusa

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2017, 09:26:20 am »
Re: Louis's video above, which is fairly recent. He's now reverted to using his old single-boom stand instead of the articulating one. I can only guess that the shaking for the video stream drove himself and/or the viewers crazy.
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: [TIP] Best budget/cheap soldering stations and tools
« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2017, 09:50:45 am »
^Another one of his reviews, he is grossly upset that a more expensive scope doesn't have SimulFocus compared to a lesser expensive one.

AFAIK, SimulFocus is not a matter of "this is an upgrade over that." Having the camera port share real estate with the eye pieces all the time means that some of your light is going to a camera you might not be using. And vice versa, when you're using the camera on a SimulFocus, a lot of your light is going to both eyepieces. Switching the trinocular port in with the left eyepiece is potentially an upgrade, depending on your usage.

I think of it as a permanent cable splitter vs a switch. One is splitting up and degrading the signal all the time, even though you can't actually look thru the eye pieces AND a monitor at the same time.

« Last Edit: November 21, 2017, 09:54:15 am by KL27x »
 


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