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Cheap T12 clone soldering stations

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bd139:
My usual daily driver iron is a relatively new Weller TCP station. I use this for just about everything and it just works. I've used the same type of iron for about 25 years. However I fancied a go at one of the T12's as discussed on the TEA thread, mainly because they look pretty simple, are very cheap and deliver a lot of power in a tiny handpiece. It'd be nice to see what a station 13x less cost than my TCP is actually like. So for the measly price of £16 ($4 discount) I nabbed one of these from Aliexpress just to see. I'll drive it off a spare Lenovo 20V 90W charger I have lying around. It's a few steps above the old Hakko 936/937 clones which weren't particularly wonderful but did the job.

I grabbed: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/MINI-T12-OLED-soldering-station-electronic-welding-iron-2017-New-design-DC-Version-Portable-T12-Digital/32839523934.html

What should I expect?  Any hints, tips, gotchas etc?

Intention is to play with it to start with, knock up a couple of boards and see how it goes. Possibly get a genuine Hakko tip for it rather than a clone one if they suck.

stj:
the best tip i can give is to junk the handle.
it's a converted 900series and the ergonomics are terrible.

get an fx9501 handle - you can find them on ali for as little as $5 without any cable.
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/SHEVCHENKO-T12-950-Handle-Digital-Soldering-Station-FX-9501-Handle-Soldering-Iron-For-HAKKO-912-Handle/32835065313.html

bd139:
Thanks I suspected as much. I assume the 9501 handle is just a case of swapping the cable over?

(After working out pinouts etc)?

stj:
yes, just as well you have another iron!  :-+
something i always tell people who dont have a backup, after i learned the hard way when my first iron needed a new element.  |O

bd139:
Yeah been there. Once I had just an Aoyue 937 and the element went pop. That was fun  :palm:

Have Weller and Antex irons now. I like the look of the T12 as it has decent, cheap tips suitable for SMD work.

Have ordered that 9501 handle kit. Costs about 15 cents more than it'd cost for just the postage to send the kit in the UK!  :-+

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