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Solder Peak SP-1010DR (ZD-915 rebrand) teardown

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jonatanrullman:
Hi everyone,

I've been wanting to do this teardown for several weeks now but other things have gotten in the way. I apologise to those I have kept waiting.

The SP-1010DR desoldering station is basically a ZD-915 with a different name on the front and a different colour. I am not aware of other differences but I have heard that there may be slightly different internals between these rebrands, so here are a bunch of photos with my comments and you can judge for yourself.
Note that I have tried it out a bit before taking it apart. Sorry Dave, I did turn it on.

Photo #1 shows the front of the unit. No surprises here. The layout is identical to the ZD-915.

Photo #2 shows the back of the unit. Nothing special here neither. Notice the ESD-sticker though. The 915 comes in an ESD and non-ESD version. This is the good one. The power connector has a 3.15A fast fuse.

Photo #3 shows a measurement from the tip to the earth pole of the power connector. Didn't bother to zero my leads though so subtract 0.2 ohm or so. Seems like a pretty good earth connection from the tip.

Next we go inside the unit with photo #4 and 5. I was surprised at two things here. First that everything was this tidy and well heat shrinked.
The second thing was that it has what looks like a switch mode power supply. I was expecting a transformer bolted to the bottom, possibly not even rectified before going to the heater element. Although it's most likely a terrible one. Also note the properly bolted and color coded earth wires.

Photo #6 and 7 shows closeups of the heatshrink on the motor and the power connector. Looks pretty well done.

Photo #8 shows the back. A 24V dc fan and a small box which must be the 5V buck converter. One end goes into the power supply and the other to the control board, so it can't be much else.

Photo #9 is the front. I didn't want to tear everything apart too much so please forgive me for only having this rather bad picture of the most interesting part. Note the earth wire going to the gun. Down on the right side is the main power button. The lower control board is for the other buttons and the upper one seems to be the logic and display. The soldering looks alright to me. You can see that one joint on the middle board is terrible. But the rest looks fine although with a little too much solder. If anyone desperately want closeups of the boards I could take it apart further.

One thing I don't like is how the wires to the gun have been squashed between the front cover and the metal bracket. Why is there a matching hole if not to be used? I think this is a assembly screw up. Might take it apart and fix that at some point.
It should also be noted at this point that the entire unit is in metal, except for the front which is plastic. As you can see most of the things are bolted to the front cover, except for the power button which is bolted to the metal bracket. Probably because it is live. Wouldn't want a 230V button in a flimsy plastic mount.
In general the unit feels very nice, everything is bolted properly. Except for the front cover, which is just terrible. It is bolted to the base and outer cover but it was very loose and no, just no. It feels cheap. Which indeed it is.

Moving on to the gun we have photo #10 through 12. Again, nicely heatshrinked and very good strain reliefs. Nothing much to complain about except for the wires to the heater which are sort of squashed and at odd angles. I'm afraid they might fray and cause a short. Or the core might just break. I'm also not a fan of the design for the glass tube. It is pretty hard to get in place and even harder removing. But it works.

Photo #13 shows the accessories supplied. All three available nozzle sizes and matching cleaners was a welcome inclusion. The nozzles are pretty dirty because I tried it out a few times and didn't care too much for the first two when messing around a bit. The middle one was mounted when I got a major clog which meant I had to disassemble the entire gun, at which point I figured that I might as well do this teardown. Rest assured that I will clean them properly in the future. Also included was no less than three sets of filters. The unit takes one ~20mm filter in the front and one ~16mm filter in the gun.
You can't see it but one thing I can't recall from Daves review of the 985 is a small metal plate which goes between the spring and the filter. It means the tension from the spring is more evenly distributed as well as taking the bulk of the removed solder. It's a nice addition which will spare the filters a lot I think.

The last photo, #14, shows the gun stand. It mounts to the side of the unit, although not for long. I could tell you what to do with it, but I fear that some would take offence at such brutality against innocent (generally speaking) Chinese engineers. Suffice it to say that it is complete and utter crap. Beyond description in fact. It. Does. Not. Work. I will be replacing it with one of these coil stands which can be had on ebay for a few bucks. I think it will work infinitely better.

My conclusion.
Having only used the device for a few minutes before I managed to clog it up so badly that it took me half an hour to clear it I'm really not in much of a position to review it. Basically you get what you pay for. Or as Alan Cooper (I believe) puts it, you don't get what you don't pay for. This unit is cheap, I paid in the area of $100-120 shipped with UPS and that included some 20-25% VAT.
The quality of the unit is fair. It does sound awful when it is cold and the plastic front cover looks and feels as cheap as the unit is. But in general the quality is fine. It could have been a lot worse for sure.

The unit, while it works, is a treat to use. It heats up rather slowly, like two minutes or so, but since it is desoldering I don't think I'll be in as much of a hurry as when soldering. So that is just fine. The gun is light, feels good in the hand and both the hose and the cable to the gun are very flexible. Suction is more than adequate and thermal capacity is alright. Large ground planes and really major soldering joints takes time but it works. I desoldered a joint on a very heavy (several kilos) transformer from a receiver and the leg itself was like 1mm in diameter and the solder around it was just vast. It took half a minute to heat up but after that it removed the solder perfectly and the board dropped away after all legs had been done.

So for the money, well worth it I'd say. Here in Europe I think this unit from TME might be one of the better deals since it is shipped with UPS, comes in black (let's face it, beige is f-ugly) and is the ESD version. I'm not sure if all 915's come with all three nozzles and three sets of filters. If not, then this one is probably worth a few extra bucks just for that reason.

Cheers

Gyro:
Nice teardown.

That's the unit that Farnell / element14 sell as the Proskit SS-331, just in black. It is superior to most of the ZD-915 clones... Glass solder chamber, SMPS etc. I don't think anyone has found this one before, they're mostly the cheaper ones.

That black plastic box at the back just contains a couple of power resistors to drop the voltage for the vacuum pump motor. You can quieten it down (a lot) by fitting it with a cheap ebay 24V 3d printer fan in place of the existing one. Instructions here:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/beginners/decent-desoldering-ironstation/25/

mos6502:
Cool stuff man. I've had my ZD915 for a few years now and it's still going strong. I see they're using a 24V fan now - mine had a 12V fan, running off of the 18V supply, it was screaming and spilling its lube everywhere. Sadly, that seems to be the only improvement on the shitty construction choices. Here's the mods I did to make mine usable:


* cut out the fan grill since it was heavily restricting the airflow and causing a lot of wind noise
* removed the "shielding" from the SMPS. Why the hell is that crap there? The station already has a grounded metal case. All that this shielding does is restrict airflow and make the PSU die quicker.
* removed the resistors from the black box. No, it's not a DC converter - it's just two of 1 ohm resistors to drop the 18V from the PSU for the 12V motor. Now, this method is retarded, especially for electric motors. An electric motor draws most of its current when it's starting - this is exactly when the resistors are going to drop most of the voltage, making the startup wayyy slower than it could be. This is really stupid, because in a desoldering station, you want the vacuum to occur as quickly as possible, to get that "vacuum kick" to suck the solder out of the hole. I replaced the resistors with five 1N5406 diodes in series.
* the motor is switched directly by the microswitch inside the handle. Again, retarded, because you have the resistance from the wires (ridiculously thin "shanghai special" chinese wire, probably copper coated iron) and the contacts slowing down the motor, see above why this is a big problem. I stuck a relay next to the motor and wired the switch to switch the relay, which then in turn switches the motor (using decent gauge hookup wire). Also, I added a flyback diode to the motor to keep it from frying the relay contacts. It probably would have fried the microswitch contacts rather quickly - on the other hand, maybe they used that thin wire on purpose, you know, as a snubber, so they could save a diode ... :-//
Also: don't bother buying filters. You can just cut a circle out of a cotton pad. Works just fine.

And be sure to check all the soldering connections _under_ the heatshrink tubing.

For reference: I paid around 70 european pesos and it came with 3 nozzles and I think 2 or 3 large filters and 4 or 5 small filters.



mos6502:
Forgot to mention, I had the same problem with the glass tube. I ground mine down on a diamond hone. Something like this:



Shortened it by 1 or 2mm. It's much easier to mount/remove now.

Gyro:
Wow, you really went for it didn't you!   :o

I like your diode mod, I thought it was a different PCB for a minute.

... and there's me, still trying to work up the energy to saw out that hopelessly obstructive fan grill!  :palm:

Thanks for sharing.

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