Author Topic: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?  (Read 4147 times)

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Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #25 on: September 04, 2019, 03:52:28 pm »
@KL27x,

My FX-888 station was bought new, from an authorized distributor. It was a bit over $200, since I live in the EU.

I timed it and it takes about 22-23 seconds for heating to stop, which means the heating element has gotten to temp (330 C), not the tip. The T12 clone takes less than 10 seconds, like you also noted, and the element is fused with the tip (like you well know), so the lag is much, much smaller and thermal regulation is unsurprisingly better.

I would like to point out that the T12 clone you used in your tests looks nothing like mine, so like I said earlier, maybe you just got a shitty one. It's not unheard of for chinese clones to be absolute garbage. How are you so sure that your clones are perfect? Considering your test results, I'd say you just proved they're not.

There's a saying in my language: "If two people are telling you you're drunk, better go to sleep.". Considering the majority of people who tried them are absolutely excited about those T12 clones, is there any chance that YOU did something wrong, and not that everyone else is stupid and doesn't know how to set their temperatures properly?
The results with the T12 clones seem to vary a lot. Some people have good results while others are total shit. Some people have multiple units with either result. I've been bitten by a well regarded cheap soldering station before and regretted not spending a bit more on a decent and proven station.
 

Offline jadew

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #26 on: September 04, 2019, 05:47:56 pm »
The results with the T12 clones seem to vary a lot. Some people have good results while others are total shit. Some people have multiple units with either result. I've been bitten by a well regarded cheap soldering station before and regretted not spending a bit more on a decent and proven station.

Yeah, I mentioned that too in a previous post. I think this is an inherent problem with things that are built to BOM price + a little extra. There's no room for QA and no room for extra care, so you always get a rushed job (of an otherwise good design - maybe).
 
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Offline KL27x

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #27 on: September 05, 2019, 09:47:55 pm »
Quote
I would like to point out that the T12 clone you used in your tests looks nothing like mine, so like I said earlier, maybe you just got a shitty one. It's not unheard of for chinese clones to be absolute garbage. How are you so sure that your clones are perfect? Considering your test results, I'd say you just proved they're not.

There's a saying in my language: "If two people are telling you you're drunk, better go to sleep.". Considering the majority of people who tried them are absolutely excited about those T12 clones, is there any chance that YOU did something wrong, and not that everyone else is stupid and doesn't know how to set their temperatures properly?
You make very good points. I don't know all the clones, and I have never even see a real 951.

But let's say there was a guy stating that any T12 clone is better than any iron using obsolete technology by miles and it's not even close. And he used a particular clone called a Bakon. I bought the same one for this reason. I also bought one with a 24.5V PSU, since the Bakon is less; I think it's 19.5V.

Re 888, if I hadn't been on for the last 40 hours, I would test it right now to w/e temp you think is right for soldering. I still have a Bakon and one of the 24.5V clones, but since you suspect they're not good ones, maybe you can share what is your model you are so pleased with?

Quote
the element is fused with the tip (like you well know), so the lag is much, much smaller and thermal regulation is unsurprisingly better.
This part, though, I could debate is faulty reasoning, to jump to this conclusion.
Quote
I timed it and it takes about 22-23 seconds for heating to stop, which means the heating element has gotten to temp (330 C), not the tip.
I'm sorry, but you may have decided which one is better based on incorrect assumptions. What you imply, here, is revealing.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2019, 10:01:41 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline rsjsouza

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #28 on: September 06, 2019, 02:33:59 am »
I really like my old FX888 (not D) bought 7~8 years ago. Although the enclosure and colors are a bit weird, it is really easy to find it among all the mess that is my desk.  :-DD

I also use other Hakko stations and Metcal. I mention my experiences at:
https://www.element14.com/community/thread/65381/l/solder-station-selection?displayFullThread=true#247847

https://forum.allaboutcircuits.com/threads/what-soldering-station-up-to-300-should-i-choose-list-attached.162559/#post-1425339
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Offline james_s

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #29 on: September 06, 2019, 03:34:23 am »
I really can't figure out what Hakko was going for with the color scheme. I don't buy my tools based on cosmetic appeal, but just the same I look at their current product line and am reminded of Fisher Price or Lego toys, it certainly does not scream "professional tool".
 

Online Bud

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #30 on: September 06, 2019, 03:44:10 am »
My bet is that was what their CEO liked.
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Offline blueskull

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #31 on: September 06, 2019, 04:14:10 am »
I think this is an inherent problem with things that are built to BOM price + a little extra. There's no room for QA and no room for extra care, so you always get a rushed job (of an otherwise good design - maybe).

Depending on who's doing the QA and how much they are paid.

I've got bad QA from Keysight, repetitively, and so far only a very few items came without problems at all.

FFS their uber expensive PXI system came with a missing screw (in my case, M9111A SMU card).

Or scopes (a pair of M9243A) with bad active probe interfaces?

Or how about a CAT IV rated meter (U1461A) with faulty input MUX that reads 0V when input is hot?

Or how about logic probe grabbers (54620) came with cracked plastic parts? Not one, but virtually all the 20 pins.

To their credit, KS does offer exceptional services. No questions asked, replacement shipped or refunded right away even before I shipped the bad units.

I can't say the same for Tek. Tek calibration center shipped with my Fluke 289 (for calibration) a pair of leaky batteries and refused to pay for the corrosion repair???
 

Offline scatterandfocus

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #32 on: September 06, 2019, 04:48:32 am »
Unfortunately that $30 fx-888d fell through.

So I have been looking over the recommended brands/models in this thread and elsewhere.  Trying not to get too far away from a $100 price point (remember, hobbyist), the fx-888d seems like it would be ok after setting the presets.  But if I need to dial up/down the temp a bit from the preset temp, the menu diving must be engaged.  And watching youtube videos of using the menu, I wouldn't like using it.  I would much rather just have a temp knob and avoid all that mess.  I never heard of Edsyn until this thread, and the 951sx looks well worth considering.  It has a good old temp knob, no digital controls.  The heater is rated at 95w vs. 65w for the fx-888d.  And it doesn't look like a toddler's toy.  And I don't care that much about the color scheme, but the overall design just seems anti-user to me.  At least the Edsyn tried to be space saving, which shows consideration in the design.  For just a little more money than the Hakko, I think the Edsyn would be the best option for me.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2019, 05:01:20 am by scatterandfocus »
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #33 on: September 06, 2019, 04:58:04 am »
Unfortunately that $30 fx-888d fell through.

Unfortunately I got it lost, maybe gifted or sold it at some point.

If you are looking for one notch up, ADS200 or a used Metcal are both good options.

I got my first Metcal for only $220 from a French forum member.

It's such a power house that I still use it despite having two $1200 JBC stations (HDE and NASE).
 

Offline scatterandfocus

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #34 on: September 06, 2019, 05:03:14 am »
Unfortunately that $30 fx-888d fell through.

Unfortunately I got it lost, maybe gifted or sold it at some point.

If you are looking for one notch up, ADS200 or a used Metcal are both good options.

I got my first Metcal for only $220 from a French forum member.

It's such a power house that I still use it despite having two $1200 JBC stations (HDE and NASE).

As I said in email, it's really no problem.  And in a way I'm glad that you didn't find it, because after taking a closer look at the fx-888d menu in use, I think that I wouldn't like using it.  It would annoy me.  I just want a temp knob, really.  But thanks all the same for the sentiment and looking for it.

When I had the Hakko 936, I just got used to rolling down the temp knob when I put the iron in the stand, if I were using it for any extended period of time.  It's just a small habit to get into.  And I could very well do the same with the Edsyn.

Also, I noticed some commenters in Dave's comparison video of low cost Hakko and Weller stations mentioning that the fx-888d gives slow updates of the temp readout.  That sort of thing causes me to put not much merit in digital temp displays.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2019, 05:25:20 am by scatterandfocus »
 

Offline jadew

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #35 on: September 06, 2019, 06:24:39 am »
I'm not a fan of the Hakko's FX-888 design either.

Regarding Metcal, yeah, I know a couple of people that have Metcal stations and they absolutely love them. Apparently there's another company making the exact same thing, called Thermaltronics - heard good things about this one too and they're supposed to be cheaper.

If I was getting my first station today and I didn't want to take any risks, I'd probably get either an FX-951 or a used Metcal, like it was suggested.

Quote
the element is fused with the tip (like you well know), so the lag is much, much smaller and thermal regulation is unsurprisingly better.
This part, though, I could debate is faulty reasoning, to jump to this conclusion.

What's faulty in that line of reasoning?

Quote
I timed it and it takes about 22-23 seconds for heating to stop, which means the heating element has gotten to temp (330 C), not the tip.
I'm sorry, but you may have decided which one is better based on incorrect assumptions. What you imply, here, is revealing.

There are no assumptions in that statement. Care to point them out?

I decided which one is better based on which one performs better. I too am soldering stuff and I can tell very well which one does better. Despite agreeing to the idea that your T12 station might not be as good as mine, and that's why we're getting different results, you still seem to imply that the most likely reason why I think the T12 station is better is because I'm stupid.
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #36 on: September 06, 2019, 06:15:55 pm »
Quote
What's faulty in that line of reasoning?
You have so far established your T12 clone warms up much faster from cold. The rest of your statement is not clearly supported. Perhaps your T12 clone is better at thermal regulation. Ok.* But you assume it is because the heater is in the tip; you assume this improves thermal regulation because of "lag." There are some improvements from putting the heater in the tip, but I don't think this is one of them. The heater/sensor setup in the T12 actually causes a new problem when it comes to regulation, which I can try to explain, but not right now.

Quote
Quote
which means the heating element has gotten to temp (330 C), not the tip.
There are no assumptions in that statement. Care to point them out?

You suggest that from a cold start the 888 sensor will reach/report the set temp significantly before the tip will reach the set temp. I assume the other way. Since you are concerned with the lag, well here it is. On a cold start, this is where I suspect an 888 will demonstrate the greatest lag, resulting in the most egregious overshoot. After the sensor's thermal mass is fully to temp, the system is now working in calibration, and overshoot is not a significant problem that needs to be solved (IMO). But on that first startup; there is your improvement. So to suggest what you did, I suspect you are counting your chickens twice.

Maybe sometime later this month I will have the time to test this. 

*which one is it, and what tips do you use?  Perhaps I will buy one for fun.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2019, 06:30:22 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline Tarloth

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #37 on: September 07, 2019, 02:34:22 am »
But if I need to dial up/down the temp a bit from the preset temp, the menu diving must be engaged.

When you need to touche the temp "a bit"?. I f you need to touch 2 degrees for a better soldering it's a mistake or something else, generally when any temp it's not sufficient, then increment 10 or 20 degrees it's necessary. It's the next point of the presets and access it by one button. I not know any professional solder that touch the temperature "a bit", or the temp it's OK or move up or down almost 10 c degrees. I prefer the dial too, I use it for two decades, but using the preset it's not a problem to me.

Quote
I never heard of Edsyn until this thread, and the 951sx looks well worth considering.  It has a good old temp knob, no digital controls.

I never heard of it and it's more expensive that other complete tested solder stations of well knowed brands. Technology seems to me the same than the 936, that was OK 20 years ago. I not know the quality of the tips but seems not so good for me and again, technological oldest or same than the 888. I'm wondering why are only few recent reviews and all of them was by hobbyst.

Quote
And it doesn't look like a toddler's toy. [/quore]

But isn't a toy, A yellow ferrari seems to me ridiculous but is still a ferrari.


Quote
And I don't care that much about the color scheme, but the overall design just seems anti-user to me.  At least the Edsyn tried to be space saving, which shows consideration in the design.  For just a little more money than the Hakko, I think the Edsyn would be the best option for me.

Everyone has their opinion about their own tastes, I bought the European FX-888D (silver design) because I don't like yellow in general . But if this Edsyn welding station were cheaper than a Hakko or Weller, I would think so, but being 60% more expensive, I would buy without hesitation something more modern or buy a brand with more trajectory more reviews and user experience. Why not ask in this forum if somebody uses it and evaluates how much answer obtain?
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #38 on: September 07, 2019, 05:37:27 am »
Quote
When you need to touche the temp "a bit"?. I f you need to touch 2 degrees for a better soldering it's a mistake or something else, generally when any temp it's not sufficient, then increment 10 or 20 degrees it's necessary. It's the next point of the presets and access it by one button. I not know any professional solder that touch the temperature "a bit", or the temp it's OK or move up or down almost 10 c degrees. I prefer the dial too, I use it for two decades, but using the preset it's not a problem to me.
I used to adjust my analog 888 without looking at it. But punching in the temp is actually useful and practical for production soldering, and once you get the hang of it, it gets you dialed in faster and is repeatable in case you have some recurring job in a production cycle. I will fidget with temp down to 5 degrees C, at least.

It is also useful for noticing problems sooner. Say when your tip is starting to oxidize and needs a good cleaning. You can't argue with a number. With a dial, you might shrug, bump the dial up a bit, and carry on crippled, just masking some other problem.
 

Offline Tarloth

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #39 on: September 07, 2019, 07:30:39 am »
I calibrate all of my soldering stations in the last 30 years once a month aprox. At the beginning using the eutectic point as reference and few last years an clone of Hakko thermometer. When I doubt I calibrate all of them again with the eutectic point or a laboratory calibrated TC in a solder bath.

When I working if need some extra heat touch the preset to next, when I finish this defiant joint,  I touch to down one preset.

I miss the dial because I'm getting older and remember my years   when the 936 was gorgeous and solder a euroconnector was the challenge. But really, to be fair, I not need dials any more. 98% of the time I have the temperature setting to 300 if use PB or 350(325 for tiniest smd) if use Pb free. My presets are (always) 275/300/325/350/400 centigrade degrees and really few times in 20 years I did need to use it higher than 400 degrees. In fact, few time a year I need to use the last preset.

I change tips geometry all the time but not the temperature, because of that I really not understand the obsession for change the temperature all the time or fancy interfaces.
 

Offline scatterandfocus

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #40 on: September 07, 2019, 04:24:42 pm »
On the Hakko FX-888D, it does still seem like the best positioned soldering station at a  hobbyist price level for the quality.  But I really don't like what I have seen of the interface, personally.  Hakko went from a good functional design (936), to a somewhat uglier but still good enough design (FX-888 non-digital interface), to the worse interface design of the FX-888D.  And if I bought an FX-888D anyway, that sends a signal to Hakko that a customer is ok with a bad design choice.  Probably the only way that manufacturers will correct bad design choices is if customers don't buy those products until the corrections are made.

I did look at the various T12 compatible and other newer tech (JBC, etc.) clones, but I kept running into users talking about problems with those stations.  Safety problems due to poor design, other circuit level issues, firmware issues, and poor quality issues.  Again, if I were to buy one of these stations, that sends a signal to the manufacturers that these sorts of issues are acceptable.  And given that these clones are much lower cost than the originals designs, if I buy one that sends a signal to the manufacturers that a customer is ok with poorer quality in trade for a lower price, including potentially dangerous design choices.  Losing sales to lower quality clones sends a signal to the makers of the originals that lower cost is preferred over acceptable quality.  And nearly all of those issues seem so trivial for manufacturers to correct, but they don't seem very concerned with doing so vs. selling more units without the issues corrected.  Also, these low cost clones seem to have hidden costs, where many users of these stations mention poor quality of the included irons, tips, and stands, recommending upgrading these items in order to get the benefits of the newer tech.  And some of them don't include power supplies and stands at all.  So overall to me, these stations seem less like finalized quality made tools ready to put to use and more like hobbyist projects in themselves, where the game is trying to beat out prices of the original designs in trade for lower quality.  I'm struggling to come up with a good description for this, but I guess I would call it, design quality noise.

And what the heck is up with Weller not putting fuses in their stations?  Good on Dave and others for pointing that safety issue out.  It seems like it would be such a trivial matter for Weller to correct this issue, making their stations a decent option for hobbyists, but they just don't do it.  Even the lowest cost no-name stations have fuses.

On the Edsyn 951SX, I think they aren't aimed at the hobby level.  They seem to be aimed at production.  At $160 price point (station price + shipping), it probably isn't the best option for a hobbyist station.  But I found a used 971 station for half the price of the 951SX (which is 25% price of a new 971), which makes taking a gamble on it much more sensible.  If it arrives with a functionality problem, I can always send it back.  And if it works as it should but I end up not liking it, I can always resell it.  The product descriptions of the Edsyn stations seem a little vague to me, but from what I could gather, the 971 should have faster heat-up and recovery times than the 951SX, and the iron accepts a wider range of tips than the iron that comes with the 951SX.  And I did find some radio and amp repair guys recommending Edsyn soldering stations on other discussion forums, as well as other miscellaneous recommendations.  If it arrives in good working order, I'll open it up and take some pics of the guts, in case anyone is curious.  And I'll see if I can work out a way to test the heat-up and recovery times.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2019, 04:59:06 pm by scatterandfocus »
 

Offline Johnny B Good

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #41 on: September 11, 2019, 03:55:02 am »
The results with the T12 clones seem to vary a lot. Some people have good results while others are total shit. Some people have multiple units with either result. I've been bitten by a well regarded cheap soldering station before and regretted not spending a bit more on a decent and proven station.

Yeah, I mentioned that too in a previous post. I think this is an inherent problem with things that are built to BOM price + a little extra. There's no room for QA and no room for extra care, so you always get a rushed job (of an otherwise good design - maybe).

 I know it's been a few days since you wrote that (I've resurrected threads that had come to a standstill months earlier - this is an 'early intervention' by my standards :) ) but you've hit the nail squarely on its head regarding all those KSGER T12 soldering stations that Banggood had been dishing out willy nillly to every celebrity Youtube reviewer in sight over the past 12 months or so.

 The only good thing about this being the fact that most of the reviews were honest appraisals despite one or two failures to spot the glaring safety issues in the controllers which were later corrected for in follow up reviews. Suffice to say that I could see the good side of these KSGER soldering stations and knew all I needed to turn yet another Chinese "Sow's Ear"[1] into a silk purse (both in terms of electrical safety and excision of the more mundane "accidents waiting to happen" poor quality workmanship in the wiring of the handles) when I ordered one from Banggood on the strength of all those reviews.

 I know there are some idealists who argue that we shouldn't reward such shoddy design and workmanship by choosing such Chinese Junk over the more expensive western manufactured 'junk' (unfused Weller soldering stations anyone?) but we don't live in an ideal world were such "Protest by not buying" could possibly work.

 As far as I'm concerned, I'm living in a world where I seem to be outnumbered a million to one by people who don't give a shit how things work, just as long as they work (whether by technology or black magic - it's all the same to them) to provide them with today's modern version of Ancient Rome's "Bread and Circuses".

 I'm not claiming I'm any better than the uncurious majority of my species, just stating how it is. It's a lot more complex than what I care to expand upon, suffice to say that it's now very obvious that human civilisation (is there any other kind?) is now inexorably headed to Hell in a handbasket of its very own making and the best we can do as we each continue life's journey is to make ourselves as comfortable as possible for the rest of our journeys to the grave (in other words, "Business as Usual").

 That being said, I'm more than happy to accept such cheap Chinese technological marvels, "warts and all", safe in the knowledge that I can render them not only fully functional but acceptably safe to use in regard of the risks of electrocution and/or any threat of fire they may pose.

 At least I have the comfort of knowing by personal inspection (and, where needed, intervention) just how safe and functional they are, unlike the case with goods of western manufacture where we only have the assurance of conformance to government mandated/enforced safety standards to place our faith in, aided by a free press to ensure these standards are applied and maintained. :-DD I'm not a very trusting person when it comes to matters that concern my own safety. ::)

 Yes, these otherwise excellent KSGER T12 soldering stations do have some serious safety issues (along with the more mundane issues of poor workmanship in the assembly of their various soldering handles) so I definitely wouldn't recommend them to complete novices looking to buy their very first soldering iron. You need a collection of soldering irons and the skill to use them to rework these soldering stations into safe and functional devices before you can even chance trying them out without at least the protection of thick rubber gloves.

 For those of you with a hobby level interest (professionals with access to soldering kit costing thousands of dollars need not read any further), this KSGER soldering station is your chance to (effectively) monetise your skills, perhaps even justify the expense of that 180 watt Parkside soldering gun you bought a year or two back and only used once in anger by making good use of it now in sweating the diode heatsink off the PSU board to file the end fins down so they clear the solder resist mask that was their only protection against contact with a circuit trace carrying (in my case -UK mains voltages) the 340 volt dc on the big mains rectified supply smoothing cap right next to that end of the heatsink.

 It could also be useful in soldering an earthing tail to the soldering iron socket as a means of earthing the metal case without having to drill a hole and fit an earth terminal (the iron itself was the only bit of touchable metalwork that was actually connected to the earth pin of the C14 mains socket).

 If you'd bought the cheaper plastic cased version, this obviously doesn't apply (and quite possibly in this case, there's a fair chance of it using a slightly different design of PSU board free of this defect). My concern is with the better quality extruded aluminium cased version which I'd chosen specifically for both this and the fact that it was supplied with the "cheap 'n' nasty" plastic soldering handle which I preferred for its simple push fit tip changing feature, light weight and, most importantly, its very short tip to grip working distance which trumps all other considerations imo, oh, and not forgetting its "starter" T12-K tip which most of the alternative options either left out or else cursed with a small collection of tips provided simply as an excuse to inflate the price.

 The user interface seems to have been well thought out imo. A rotary encoder with click stops and a push operation being the sole interface input control provides a compact and usable interface. No hunting for the 'right button' to press and no complex to navigate menu system for normal use.

 For those of you who haven't viewed the many youtube reviews on the KSGER and have expressed a strong dislike for the way some 'updated' soldering stations have had their 'new fangled' digital interfaces (badly) implemented, here's a brief run through of "normal use" with the KSGER unit:-

 Dialing the temperature up and down in increments of your choosing, a simple push to take it out of sleep or standby to your preset temperature (which you can adjust up and down in preset increments of your choosing), a quick twist three clicks to the left to put it straight into standby, if you don't wish to wait for your programmed timeout to expire and do this for you at a setback temperature of your choosing, another three clicks left from there to take it straight back to sleep if you don't want to wait for your programmed timeout to expire and do this anyway, a similar three clicks to the right if you want a timed temperature boost of your choosing with a similar leftward twist to cancel it early - what's not to like about this little soldering station?

 For anyone who hasn't already seen the many youtube video reviews on these KSGER units, I can only suggest that it would be worth taking some time out to watch a few of them. It's not all 'sweetness and light' even after all the safety and wiring issues have been addressed.

 There does seem to be a peculiar need for each brand new tip to be submitted to a "burn in" process before you can achieve stable temperature control over the tip. However, once "burnt in", they seem to perform just fine thereafter.

 There is obviously some initial change taking place with a new never before used tip, when it is used for the very first time, which destabilises the PID control algorithm during the first few minutes of attempted use. With a dialled in temperature of 300 deg C, it only takes 2 or 3 minutes to settle down sufficiently to be usable. I have noticed, however, that selecting higher temperatures (350 or 400 deg), the instability returns again at these elevated temperature settings, requiring an even longer period to settle down.

 Unfortunately, trying to speed this "burn in" period by selecting 480 deg doesn't seem to be any help (you can see the power percentage alternate between 0 and 100 instead of settling at or around a sane average such as say, the 18 to 28 percent mark seen at the lower 300 deg setting.

 Whilst I've done a modest amount of soldering at the 300 deg setting during the past 4 weeks that I've had it in my possession, I haven't had much chance to experiment with this "burn in" process to the higher temperatures with my remaining unused tips to come to any definite conclusion as to how severe an issue this would be in practice.

 I did notice, after persuading a tip to stabilise sufficiently at around the 450 deg setting, that running the tip sensor calibration process would improve the situation somewhat but I still felt the need to re calibrate again before seeing sufficient stability at the 450 and 480 degree settings, settings I don't plan on using on a regular basis, if at all, anyway simply to avoid unnecessary stress on tip life.

 One thing I did learn (the hard way - how else!) was that when checking tip temperatures with one of those thermocouple thermometers designed for this job, it's all too easy to mistake the variations in temperature for poor thermal contact when checking a brand new tip that hasn't yet stabilised.

 You land up feeding it fresh solder attempting to get an improved thermal contact and stable reading when the problem all along is actual temperature variation of the tip itself so you find yourself playing a futile game of "Chase Will o' The Wisp".

 In this particular game, it's "Five strikes and you're out!" rather than the more common three strikes so beloved of American baseball fans and that of their legal system. I'm now down one thermocouple - it fell apart on me. >:( Never mind, at least I've still got another four left to burn out. ::) At this rate, I'll be adding a pack to my next Banggood order within the next month or so.

 Unfortunately, this makes calibrating a new tip next to impossible until it has achieved some level of stability at the 450 deg mark since this is the starting point for the calibration process which also uses 350 and 250 degree calibration temperature points to complete the procedure. Whilst a calibrated tip seems to achieve improved stability more quickly, it's a bit of a "Catch 22" situation.

 Anyhow, this is the only troublesome aspect of my improved KSGER soldering station. It could simply be an issue that afflicts only the clone T12 tips but I'd have to invest just about what I paid for a ten pack of these in order to buy just one genuine Hakko tip to test this hypothesis so I'll persevere for now. In the end, it may come down to splashing out on a genuine Hakko tip but I'll save that option for later consideration.

 Of course it's quite possible that this "burn in" characteristic has always been a feature of the original Hakko tips but was never noticed on the more conservatively responding Hakko soldering stations and is only now being revealed by the use of the KSGER's more aggressive PID control algorithm.

 KSGER may even have decided that, since it's a relatively short lived phase of the tip's total service life, it would be best to take the long term view and not to try to accommodate this initial short lived behaviour and let the end user deal with this minor inconvenience of having to 'burn in' new tips.

 Needless to say, I'd be very interested in seeing a video review where brand new Hakko tips are tested in one of these KSGER soldering stations for just such behaviour. It could save an unnecessary expense on my part (and no doubt many others if the same behaviour is revealed with genuine Hakko tips).

 Other than that downside with the need to run in new tips, this KSGER soldering station seems to function very well. Indeed it seems to offer better performance than the original Hakko soldering stations were able to offer with the T12 and T15 tips.

 Bear in mind that I've only actually had experience of the basic Antex soldering irons, an ancient 120W Weller soldering gun, long since burnt out and now replaced with a cheap Parkside 180W soldering gun that looks like a Russian knock off of that ancient Weller. The rest is simply what I've gleaned by watching youtube review videos and taking note of their comments.

 Going from my own experience, this is a vast improvement over my previous Antex based soldering iron usage where I now no longer have to agonise over whether to switch the Antex off to save wear on its tip and heating element whilst it roasts itself to an early demise keeping a soldering iron holder nice and toasty in between soldering activity when I spend the next "10 to 15 minutes" prepping the next lot of joints to be soldered which typically takes a lot longer than anticipated, or else switch it off and risk the need to solder another joint or two just after it has cooled down and be forced to allow it more time than it really needs to get back up to its unregulated soldering temperature. I reckon my irons have spent more than 90% of their on time just idling away in the iron holder, literally burning themselves up for no productive purpose.

 Being able to stop worrying about leaving an iron running hot and idle is the main bonus I'm getting with this soldering station. The temperature control and almost threefold power rating over my 25W Antex is the icing on this particular cake for me. :)

 Others more used to a 70 to 120 watt soldering station setup, otoh, may not regard this as much of an improvement, especially when you take into account the need for so much electrical safety remedial work being required to make it sufficiently safe for peace of mind. That business with the need to 'burn in' new tips could prove to be the "Last Straw" as far as anyone considering it as a cheap alternative to a brand named replacement for their venerable soldering station setup that's seen better days.

 Of course, anyone with a set of genuine Hakko T12 or T15 tips might regard this as an attractive alternative to their existing bulky and klunky soldering station(s), especially if the thought of reworking the PSU to resolve the safety issues holds no terrors for them (and likewise for the handles).

 Anyway, those are my observations and views on the cheap Chinese made KSGER Soldering stations for what they might be worth. If you haven't already done so, you can find more information by checking out the several video reviews of the various KSGER soldering station options on youtube.

JBG

[1] I've had plenty of experience of Chinese 'skimping' during the last nine months or so with the (in)famous FY6600 arbitrary wave function signal generator manufactured by Feeltech (now rebranding themselves as "FeelElec"). Not so much electrical safety, although there was an element of this with regard to the floating grounds carrying the inevitable half mains live 'touch voltage' common to all Class II smpsus fitted with the mandatory EMC reduction Class Y capacitor which represented an element of ESD risk to any device being tested. It was more a case of overcoming "Bean Counteritus" where the accountants are given more control over design and manufacturing than sanity would otherwise dictate.

 Although the problems with the KSGER unit looked typically Chinese in character, what was novel was the fact that such safety issues in an item intended for sale to Western Civilisation should be so blatantly overlooked to the point they were. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed such disregard for safety was even possible, not even by the Chinese. Of course, I'm a little older and wiser now so such shoddiness by the Chinese will be assumed until verified otherwise from now on with any further purchases of electrically powered Chinese manufactured goods.
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #42 on: September 11, 2019, 04:21:29 am »
If a good quality Chinese station is the goal and you don't want to trust someone unknown messing with mains connection, why not getting a TS series and get a good, known brand AC adapter?
 

Offline GreyWoolfe

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #43 on: September 11, 2019, 01:44:50 pm »
I did look at the various T12 compatible and other newer tech (JBC, etc.) clones, but I kept running into users talking about problems with those stations.  Safety problems due to poor design, other circuit level issues, firmware issues, and poor quality issues.  Again, if I were to buy one of these stations, that sends a signal to the manufacturers that these sorts of issues are acceptable.  And given that these clones are much lower cost than the originals designs, if I buy one that sends a signal to the manufacturers that a customer is OK with poorer quality in trade for a lower price, including potentially dangerous design choices.  Losing sales to lower quality clones sends a signal to the makers of the originals that lower cost is preferred over acceptable quality.

One thing my dearly departed father taught me is to buy a tool right and buy it once.  In everything, it seems people are only interested in price.  A cheap price for almost good enough is fine.  NO, it is not.  No one thinks about total cost of ownership.  How much is your time worth to modify your product to work better, be safer, etc?  How much is your time worth to repair your product sooner/more often due to shoddy workmanship/sub par quality parts?  How much is your aggravation worth when it under performs?

I get it that we have a lot of advantages on this side of the pond.  I have what I have, a Hakko FX-951 and a Metcal MX-500 with wand and tweezers, because Mrs GreyWoolfe let me clear out the garage of stuff we weren't using.  Otherwise, I would still have my Hakko 936.  Save your spare change in a big jar until you have enough to get something better and something that will last a long time.  I am not going to debate what to buy.  There are too many fanboys here.  I love my Hakko and Metcal, Shock almost sounds like a distributor for Weller :-DD.  Read the spec sheets, watch videos and read reviews, always taking them with a grain of salt.  You will learn to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Then make a plan to save what you need to get to where you want to be, it is worth the wait.  Instant gratification isn't long lasting.  I spend a lot of time researching everything I buy, no matter how small and then I buy with confidence I purchased well.  I almost never return anything because I did my best to make an informed purchase.  Usually, when I make a snap decision to buy, I get burned.  However, I should have listened to Mrs GreyWoolfe and bought the commercial paint sprayer for $60 at a yard sale.  It would have worked far better than the Wagner paint sprayer I have. |O |O
I am of the age that my brain no longer says "maybe I shouldn't say that" but "what the heck, let's see what happens"
 
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Offline martin1454

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #44 on: September 11, 2019, 01:51:53 pm »
One thing my dearly departed father taught me is to buy a tool right and buy it once. 

One that I have learned and started to use a lot is:

Buy the cheap one at first and use that - If it breaks, then it means then you can go buy a expensive since it means that you used it to a degree where a better one is needed.

On the otherhand, I often have to use a tool like 1 time every 5 year, and for that, the cheap one will never break
 

Online Shock

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #45 on: September 11, 2019, 02:54:42 pm »
There are too many fanboys here.  I love my Hakko and Metcal, Shock almost sounds like a distributor for Weller :-DD.

Weller? how dare you :). Hakko, Pace and Metcal are the only stations I recommend. The Hakko FX888D, Pace ADS200 and Metcal MX5000 would be my "beginner", "prosumer" and "money bags" choices.

In the past I've also recommended the FX951 a few times, this was prior to the Pace ADS200 being released. I have no problems recommending something (even though it's not for me) as long as it's reliable and good value for people.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM     >>> Fluke 51/52 Thermometer Parts Required <<<
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Offline Johnny B Good

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #46 on: September 11, 2019, 03:23:36 pm »
If a good quality Chinese station is the goal and you don't want to trust someone unknown messing with mains connection, why not getting a TS series and get a good, known brand AC adapter?

 The price? :)

 Seriously though, to some extent I love getting hold of a "bargain" that I know how to easily fix so only the "Good" remains. I'm a retired GPO/BT engineer with more than a passing interest in electronics and technology and science and plenty of time on my hands to pursue my interests.

 This interest of mine in repairing stuff, broken by design (broken by "beancounteritus" in reality) goes back half a century with Japanese and European goods - China is just the latest manufacturing country to join this club started by PT Barnum with his false, misleading promises to the great (unwashed) consumer over a century ago, kick starting the whole advertising industry with its abiding principle of "Never give the sucker an even break" (a paraphrasing of, I understand, a quote misattributed to this famous showman).

 Make no mistake, the whole business of selling is psychological warfare and we, the consumer, have been on the losing side ever since PT Barnum demonstrated the effectiveness of such salesmanship. The Maddison Avenue lot must be offering their tame psychologists the highest salaries such experts could ever hope to attain.

 The consumer is fighting a losing battle they mostly aren't aware of being participants in, thanks to the cunning use of psychological tricks to disguise this fact. The advertising execs are so confident of this, they even openly refer to their advertising as "campaigns", a description taken from the dictionary of military expressions.

 If everyone took to my point of view, the whole of human society would collapse and we'd belatedly stop polluting the world's oceans and atmosphere. Belatedly because we've allowed our technological prowesss to outstrip our ability to deal with the consequences and I have no ideas as to how we can fix this. It's easy to spot our mistakes in hindsight but far harder to have taken corrective action in time. Keeping tabs on all the inventive ways we can sleepwalk our way into extinction is rather like herding cats.

 However, I digress. With regard to that wonderful mix of danger and delight represented by the KSGER soldering stations (getting back on topic), I'm rather impressed by the way it so cheaply improves on the old mains powered soldering iron technology with its pragmatic choice of uncontrolled heat somewhere between just hot enough for the job and just cool enough not to go into meltdown when parked in a soldering iron holder between soldering operations (I'm easily impressed).

 As for my interest in such cheap, readily repaired gear that's been pre-broken by "beancounteritus" afflicted design, that's simply my way of amusing myself to retain some semblance of sanity between now and my ultimate fate, the efficacy of which is somewhat debatable. I offered my thoughts on the subject as to the question of whether the "Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?" which boils down to this:-

 The Hakko direct drive tips are a good choice whether cheap clones or expensive originals but, in view of a refurbished KSGER controller or similar unit designed for the T12/T15 tips doing a better job than the original Hakko controllers and so cheaply, I'd say go for the Hakko tips and use them with a KSGER controller instead.

 At less than 30 quid for the model I was describing (I'd paid ten quid more for mine just four weeks ago), I'd say it's well worth taking a punt if you're prepared to do some basic remedial work to render it safe and fix any bad soldering in the supplied handle. At worse, you land up with a spare second best soldering station control unit for your genuine Hakko soldering station setup.

JBG
 

Offline rsjsouza

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #47 on: September 11, 2019, 03:44:08 pm »
One thing my dearly departed father taught me is to buy a tool right and buy it once. 

One that I have learned and started to use a lot is:

Buy the cheap one at first and use that - If it breaks, then it means then you can go buy a expensive since it means that you used it to a degree where a better one is needed.

On the otherhand, I often have to use a tool like 1 time every 5 year, and for that, the cheap one will never break
I learned what GreWoolfe said as well, but over the years seeing some needs for equipment that would be rarely used, I ended up adapting to the "cheap when scarcely used" model as well. 

 
Vbe - vídeo blog eletrônico http://videos.vbeletronico.com

Oh, the "whys" of the datasheets... The information is there not to be an axiomatic truth, but instead each speck of data must be slowly inhaled while carefully performing a deep search inside oneself to find the true metaphysical sense...
 

Offline AngusBeef

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #48 on: September 11, 2019, 04:34:21 pm »
One thing my dearly departed father taught me is to buy a tool right and buy it once. 

One that I have learned and started to use a lot is:

Buy the cheap one at first and use that - If it breaks, then it means then you can go buy a expensive since it means that you used it to a degree where a better one is needed.

On the otherhand, I often have to use a tool like 1 time every 5 year, and for that, the cheap one will never break
I learned what GreWoolfe said as well, but over the years seeing some needs for equipment that would be rarely used, I ended up adapting to the "cheap when scarcely used" model as well.
If it's something you will use all the time, buy the highest quality you can afford

If it's auto parts, buy mid grade

If it's tools and parts that mostly sit on a shelf, find the cheapest that works
 

Offline Johnny B Good

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Re: Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?
« Reply #49 on: September 11, 2019, 04:43:02 pm »
I did look at the various T12 compatible and other newer tech (JBC, etc.) clones, but I kept running into users talking about problems with those stations.  Safety problems due to poor design, other circuit level issues, firmware issues, and poor quality issues.  Again, if I were to buy one of these stations, that sends a signal to the manufacturers that these sorts of issues are acceptable.  And given that these clones are much lower cost than the originals designs, if I buy one that sends a signal to the manufacturers that a customer is OK with poorer quality in trade for a lower price, including potentially dangerous design choices.  Losing sales to lower quality clones sends a signal to the makers of the originals that lower cost is preferred over acceptable quality.

One thing my dearly departed father taught me is to buy a tool right and buy it once.  In everything, it seems people are only interested in price.  A cheap price for almost good enough is fine.  NO, it is not.  No one thinks about total cost of ownership.  How much is your time worth to modify your product to work better, be safer, etc?  How much is your time worth to repair your product sooner/more often due to shoddy workmanship/sub par quality parts?  How much is your aggravation worth when it under performs?

I get it that we have a lot of advantages on this side of the pond.  I have what I have, a Hakko FX-951 and a Metcal MX-500 with wand and tweezers, because Mrs GreyWoolfe let me clear out the garage of stuff we weren't using.  Otherwise, I would still have my Hakko 936.  Save your spare change in a big jar until you have enough to get something better and something that will last a long time.  I am not going to debate what to buy.  There are too many fanboys here.  I love my Hakko and Metcal, Shock almost sounds like a distributor for Weller :-DD.  Read the spec sheets, watch videos and read reviews, always taking them with a grain of salt.  You will learn to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Then make a plan to save what you need to get to where you want to be, it is worth the wait.  Instant gratification isn't long lasting.  I spend a lot of time researching everything I buy, no matter how small and then I buy with confidence I purchased well.  I almost never return anything because I did my best to make an informed purchase.  Usually, when I make a snap decision to buy, I get burned.  However, I should have listened to Mrs GreyWoolfe and bought the commercial paint sprayer for $60 at a yard sale.  It would have worked far better than the Wagner paint sprayer I have. |O |O

 Your father's advice was spot on at the time but, sadly for us all, it's a rather different world today as a result of the ever increasing pace of technological development, the consequences over which we have increasingly less control. These days, we now have to temper that sage advice with a dose of pragmatism.

 I've never used anything more sophisticated than an Antex 25 watt mains powered soldering iron with no temperature control beyond mains voltage excursions and an ancient, now long defunct, 120W Weller soldering gun so can only go by what I've seen in youtube reviews of Hakko soldering stations which now seem to be obsolescent technological 'Dinosaurs' compared to the cheap 'n' dangerous KSGER units with their slick and sophisticated user interface and quick response PID control algorithms and all encompassing user preference tuning options.

 The only downside to which that I can see is that their end of life repurposing as door stops won't come anywhere near as close to the efficacy as such promised by the Hakko units should they eventually fail. The trouble with your father's advice today is that you may find yourself investing a lot of your hard earned in something that's destined to outlive its usefulness. Sad but essentially the truth of the matter.

 Obviously, that advice still applies with non electronic tools such as hammers, chisels, screwdrivers and such but anything more sophisticated will be prey to the effects of modern day planned obsolescence and, as such, introduces an element of pragmatism into your purchasing decision, especially when money is tight.

 In a cash strapped hobbyist context, the advice to buy a cheap example so you can "Suck it and see" to get a better idea of your requirements with the later option of making a more informed purchasing decision of a better quality version is today's new "Sound Advice". In a professional or semi-professional context where your employer or your business foots the bill, a totally different set of considerations apply.

 There are no hard and fast rules in this game. A well informed cash strapped hobbyist might well elect to skip the 'cheapest possible' option and go straight for the 'best bang for his buck' choice in spite of its "at first sight, exorbitant price", aided no doubt by the knowledge that he's avoided wasting a small chunk of his money in a 'waste of space cheapy'.

 These days, a lot of tools can be treated as disposables with fewer and fewer being regarded as longer term capital investments. I suspect that even for a lot of cash strapped hobbyists, these KSGER units fall into the 'disposable' class despite the ready availability of spares to keep them going if needed.

JBG
« Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 04:53:28 pm by Johnny B Good »
 


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