Author Topic: Got my Ersa i-Con Vario 4!  (Read 6845 times)

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Offline JoeBean

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Got my Ersa i-Con Vario 4!
« on: May 01, 2015, 11:51:16 pm »
As some of you may recall I started a thread here a few weeks ago re: which soldering station to buy (at the time, I was looking at JBC) when TopLoser mentioned he had an Ersa i-Con Vario 4 available for a great deal.  So I bought it, and after some waiting on xe.com to set up my account to transfer the money (so as to avoid Paypal fees, which saved me hundreds of dollars, btw, so if you haven't set up an account with one of these email money transfer companies go for it) the station came today all wrapped up and ready to play with.  The only problem is it got here too fast - my transformer still hasn't made it up from the US!

Anyway, I said I'd post some info for those in North America that might be interested in this station and want more info.  Currently there are a very limited number of places to order from, but hopefully that'll change soon.

So here are some pics!

There isn't much printed documentation with the station.  Other than a warning flyer about not burning yourself or somesuch there's a 2 page quickstart guide (actually, there are several in different languages, but one is German/English/French) in the euro-style of simple graphical instructions (much like Dyson vacuum products, if you own any of them) and a CD that I haven't looked at yet:


The station itself is heavier than I expected, with a fairly heavy steel chassis with a 3-part plastic cover:



Note the 2 thin slots under the right edge of the 2 LCDs.  They're microSD slots for updating firmware, changing and saving settings.  Also, notice that all the tools (save for the vacuum or air connections) connect with XLR-like connectors. You push them in and turn the ring about 30 degrees to lock it in place.


Note the USB and serial connections on the back.  The USB connections perform the same function as the microSD slots as well as allowing "for transfer of customer specific data" - not sure what that means, but I'm guessing process compliance.  The serial connections apparently allow you to hook up a fume extractor or hot plate.  Not sure how active the communications protocol might be...


Want to see inside?  On the trip oversees the two LCDs came unclipped and I had to open it up to clip them back in. They're being held in place by clear plastic clips.  This is one area they should beef up before ramping up North American sales - the unit was very well packed and wrapped in a comforter on top of everything else and still these boards jostled loose.  It takes just a very slight touch to unclip them.


These are those LCD boards that came unclipped.  You can probably see why:



Here's the power supply.  If I had one other complaint about the unit it's that this really should accept 120V input, especially if you're going to use a C13 plug on the back!


Here are the 4 tools that come with it.  Note the 4 stands - the leftmost, the one for the desoldering tool, is made of metal.  The other 3 are rubber with ceramic inserts for the tools to rest on.  I'm not 100% sure if I'm going to like this, mainly because it seems like it'd melt if hit with a hot tool, but I do have to say it stays put. I hate when you're trying to put a tool away and the holder is just sliding across the table...


The desoldering gun.  You pull back that sliding clip in the middle (which contains the filter trap for the solder) and it clicks.  You can then remove the cartridge and service it and easily put it back in place.  There's a little blue button on the other side of the handle that then snaps it back tight for vacuum.  At first I didn't realize this and thought it was going to be the biggest PITA to get the cartridge back in (which it is if you don't have the vacuum tube locked in place first!) but looks like the Germans thought farther ahead than I did:


Here's the business end.  The metal plate on it's holder allows you to slip the desoldering tip over it (see the grooves on the very tip?) and pull one tip out then replace it with another, all without burning your fingers.  Much better than my Hakko gun with the stupid plastic unscrewing tool that melts!



This is just to give an idea of how thin and flexible the cords are.  I could have tied a tighter knot but I was chicken:


The soldering iron.  Seems crazy small.   How can this not get blistering hot when I have irons 4x as big that I can barely hold?  We'll see I guess.  Anyway, the black nut part out front unscrews and it and the tip come off together.  There's a little tweezer tool to help hold the tip but videos I've seen seem to indicate it's not needed - the black plastic nut will stay cool enough.


Tweezers!  I've never had hot tweezers so I'm probably more excited about this than anything else!!  The JBC I was looking at wouldn't have had this (and so far it would seem that it'd cost me an extra $1500 or so for the privilege), so that should be nice.  The length of the tips are individually adjustable by screwing the nuts around. I didn't know that and was playing with it, that's why one is way longer than the other:


This gives you some idea of what the rubber tool holder and ceramic support are like:


Hot air!  I'll be even fuller of that than I already am! :)  On a recommendation from nanofrog here I ordered a Quick 861DW for higher-power hot air jobs that should get here with the transformer.  I'm looking forward to that.  But for most of my work I actually think this will work better, especially if the temperature is more predictable.  Just last week I melted a flex cable while desoldering an IC with the same temp and procedures I've used hundreds of times. At first I thought it was me, but a quick checked showed the temperature had drifted to 80C higher than normal.  What!?!



Anyway, that's it for now.  Hopefully if I'm not too busy once I get the transformer I'll post some more.  In the meantime if anyone has any specific questions/requests about this unit post them here and I'll try to answer them as best I can.

And once again, a HUGE thanks to TopLoser for selling this to me.  Anyone over on this side of the pond that's ever looking to buy something from him rest assured he goes far out of his way to make sure everything's safe and secure and shipped properly, and he's an all-around nice guy.  Thanks again!
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Got my Ersa i-Con Vario 4!
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2015, 12:29:36 am »
Definitely pleasant to look at, and should also be nice to use.  :)

Damn, I'd be so tempted to hack a range or dryer cord to temporarily to get power to that new beauty to try it out.  :o  >:D

Can't wait for the performance review.  :popcorn:  :-+
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: Got my Ersa i-Con Vario 4!
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2015, 11:52:51 pm »
Looks good. I see a center tap on the primary but its not marked on the top text of the transformer, so probably not an option.
 

Online TopLoser

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Re: Got my Ersa i-Con Vario 4!
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2015, 12:33:03 am »
JoeBean has been a perfect buyer from the start, and it was so considerate of him to spend the extra time to set up an alternative payment method to PayPal. It's amazing how much PayPal and their extortionate fees and punitive exchange rates rob us of significant amounts of money for no real benefit when dealing with people we trust.

I'm quite excited to see how this bit of kit performs, I love it when I can find a new home for some quality stuff :) Makes a change from the last 'Deadly dangerous CIF reflow oven' thread!!!

Bit pissed off that I found a suitable 110/220 isolation transformer the day I after I shipped it, I would have included that for free...

Thanks JoeBean

 

Offline JoeBean

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Re: Got my Ersa i-Con Vario 4!
« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2015, 09:02:21 pm »
The transformer got in but I've been crazy busy this last week so I haven't had much chance to play with it.  Besides regular business I'm in the process of building a new storefront/workshop and rebuilding a Corvette for my father, so I'm swamped.  I did hook it up and turn it on, though, but just for a couple minutes.  The x-tool was actually throwing an error (heating element) but someone else on here had the same problem and found it was a loose connection.  So I reseated everything and the error went away.  I was drinking some icewater and sank the i-tool (iron) into a piece of ice to see what would happen to the temp.  With the tip set to 250C it dropped to 220C almost immediately, then rose to 230C and stayed there for a second or two till the whole ice cube was melted :).  The response of the temp controls is very impressive and it certainly seems to be up to snuff power wise.

I did find it a little weird when you'd pick up a tool and it would automatically change to it.  At first I found myself clicking the rotary encoder to get it to switch, thus switching BACK to the now-standby tool.  But I'm sure that will just take a little getting used to.

Other than than, I played with a few settings.  Oh, and I got Quick hooked up as well.  I've actually used that on a couple jobs already.  It's a lot nicer than I expected for the price.  I especially like that it has standby mode too (now that I'm spoiled :) ).  And it puts out a LOT of heat. 

I'll do more in-depth writeups in the future once I get a chance.  I'll probably start a separate thread re: the Quick. 
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Got my Ersa i-Con Vario 4!
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2015, 01:09:08 am »
I did find it a little weird when you'd pick up a tool and it would automatically change to it.  At first I found myself clicking the rotary encoder to get it to switch, thus switching BACK to the now-standby tool.  But I'm sure that will just take a little getting used to.
Nice to have features like this, isn't it?  ;D

I got Quick hooked up as well.  I've actually used that on a couple jobs already.  It's a lot nicer than I expected for the price.  I especially like that it has standby mode too (now that I'm spoiled :) ).  And it puts out a LOT of heat.
Another convert.  >:D

For it's price range, it's an amazing piece of equipment. Feels like a professional unit IME. It even has more features than an entry level unit from a major brand, such as the OKi/Metcal HCT-900 (weak @ 320W, and I've read has reliability issues; not a good tool actually). Weller also offers one with a knob to control it, but at least it does work well.

I'll do more in-depth writeups in the future once I get a chance.  I'll probably start a separate thread re: the Quick.
:-+

I never did one on the Quick 861DW. My bench is beyond a mess right now as I still haven't quite finished assembling shelves, power, and drawers, as it means moving a bunch of furniture to storage alone to finalize it all.  :-[ So such a thread would be nice to see, particularly given the performance & value this particular station offers hobbyists (definitely cheaper than a Hakko FR-810).  ;)
 
It would actually be nice to get someone to do the same with a Quick 957 & 957D, as it's right around the 65 & 100USD price point respectively IIRC.
 

Offline TiN

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Re: Got my Ersa i-Con Vario 4!
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2015, 11:29:10 am »
Glad to see another ERSA thread. Using ICON1 myself, never stops to amaze how nice and powerful can tool be. Proper tips which don't degrade/die is everything as well..
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Offline JoeBean

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Re: Got my Ersa i-Con Vario 4!
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2015, 10:20:18 pm »
Sorry to be so late with a reply...and I still don't have full reviews (swamped with work - which I guess is good!)

Loving the Ersa - it's already paid for itself in time savings!  I need to get some tips and I want to check on the VAC-TOOL pricing so I've been trying to get a reply from atlantechusa.com but so far I've sent an email and no response.  I'll call when I get the time...

BTW for anyone who doesn't have hot tweezers if you do any work with 0603 and smaller components DO get one, and make sure that you have the option to pinch-to-open or pinch-to-close.  The Ersa has that and it's a treat.  I shake like crazy and it makes it sooo much easier to steady your hand with your other hand and pinch to release once the solder flows.

Also, the Quick station - I can't say enough about this thing.  If any of you repair tablets this thing cut the time for me by at least 30% just by virtue of the sheer volume of energy transferred.  Heats up the adhesive in seconds.  And I don't know how I lived before with a hot air station that didn't automatically go to standby when you put it in the stand.  An old Aoyue I had actually melted my scope cover one time! 

Hopefully soon things will slow down and I'll write a more in-depth review of both.
 


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