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S-993A desoldering pump review

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Skyfox:
Hi all,

Well, I finally pried open the wallet and splurged on an electric vacuum desoldering pump for myself.  I had a bunch of repairs planned on my Commodore 64 boards with removal of large DIP chips and bad sockets and knew the old red squeeze bulb wasn't going to cut it.  I just wanted to put up a bit of a review for anyone wondering whether they should give it a try, considering the reviews online are mostly positive with some negatives, and those aren't always helpful since they're usually no more than a sentence or two.  Do note that I've never owned a vacuum desoldering pump before so I have no experience to compare it to a Hakko or any other brand/model.

What I bought was the S-993A desoldering pump, easily found all over Ebay.  After 20+ years of using the red squeeze bulb desoldering thing, this pump is a million times better.  In under an hour I desoldered three 40-pin chips and another three 24-pin chips, which probably saved me a couple weeks worth of work with the squeeze bulb (and saved me a whole bunch of damaged pads and traces as well).  As with any old electronics it does require putting some fresh solder on the pins before desoldering, and as expected not every through hole sucks clean on the first try.  On a row of 20 pins, 2 or 3 will be stubborn and need to be resoldered and sucked out again.  For the most part the pins desolder cleanly and are either completely loose, or if a trace of solder remains it easily snaps free with a jiggle with tweezers.

You do have to keep up with cleaning and can't just put it away full of solder gunk, but it's quite easy to clean.  The reservoir pops off and disassembles easily, and what doesn't dump out can simply be brushed away with a small brush.  The vacuum seems to have plenty of suction, and as far as noise goes it's not much louder than an electric shaver.

So far I've only had it about a week and used it for desoldering jobs on 2 boards, so I don't yet know what the long term review will be for durability and such.  Overall this desoldering pump gets a big thumbs up from me and I'd definitely recommend it for the electronics hobbyist, particularly those who repair and restore electronics and/or do a lot of salvaging of old components and so have to do a lot of desoldering.  I really can't think of any negatives to say about this thing, so if anything comes up in the future I'll update this post.  At half the price of a Hakko I'd say it's completely worth it.
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edpalmer42:
I also have the S-993A.  I bought it a couple of years ago and it's had light usage since.

So far, the 110V heater has burned out once.  It's sealed up so I can't inspect or repair it without destroying it so I don't know the failure mode.  I find it odd that replacement heaters are so easy to find - both 110V and 220V.  Are they such poor quality that they are expected to burn out frequently?  I recommend purchasing a spare so that you've got one on hand.

I bought a set of 3 tips of various sizes.  The different sizes are important because the iron works best if the tip just fits over the component lead.  A tip that's too large might have trouble getting the hole clean enough to free up the lead.  My tips had a copper color on the inside so I thought they were a copper alloy, but they're all magnetic so they must have an iron core.  There's a small ring around the tip that solder will stick to and a seperate tube through the center that solder doesn't stick to.  One of the tips had such poor quality threads that I had to run a tap through it to get it to thread onto the iron properly.

One thing I find annoying is that other than heaters and tips, spare parts are hard or impossible to find.  In particular, I've never seen a replacement for the glass (?) tube that holds the solder that's removed from the board.  If you break it, good luck finding a replacement.  I've seen a few replacements for the rubber pieces on the ends of the glass tube, but the price on them is ridiculous (US$ 25 - 28 for a set of two).

There are a few video reviews on Youtube that are worth watching.  I picked up a few hints and tips on how to operate this unit.

In general, I think the unit is worth the price.  For light use it should provide good service for a long time.  Heavy users would likely find that it wears out quickly.

Ed

Skyfox:
Where did you find tips and replacement parts?  I asked the seller about replacement tips and their reply was, "sorry friend, it can't replace, Best regards."

fkfaraz:
I have got an aoyue 8800 desoldering gun.. Used it daily for desoldering..
i agree on the electric vacuum desoldering to be better then any other kind of desoldering method...

edpalmer42:

--- Quote from: Skyfox on January 16, 2022, 04:11:35 pm ---Where did you find tips and replacement parts?  I asked the seller about replacement tips and their reply was, "sorry friend, it can't replace, Best regards."

--- End quote ---

There are lots of tips (also called nozzles) on ebay and aliexpress.  I should have checked on aliexpress before I posted my previous message.  Turns out that there are spare parts there.  So they are available at last - they weren't a year or so ago when I last checked - although they're a bit on the pricey side.

Ed

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