Author Topic: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia  (Read 1527 times)

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Offline DanP Aus

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Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« on: July 25, 2019, 01:42:45 pm »
Hi. Just signed up and first post. I am in the Wollongong area of NSW. Any Aussies on this forum from the gong?
I am in the process of setting up a bench for tinkering, experiments for my young boys (teaching them a little electronics) and small time repairs.
Its been a little while since I had a bench setup and I am slowly building up my tools again.
Just purchased a new Siglent SPD3303X-E power supply. Also purchased a new EEVBlog 121GW meter. The info and reviews here have been invaluable in helping me make informed choices.
I am currently looking at replacing my old 60W Hakko 936 station. It needs a new tip and I thought to replace it altogether and get the latest and greatest without going too crazy.
I know there has been a fair bit written about different irons that are currently on the market so my apologies for repeating.
However my purchase will come from Mektronics which sell the following brands:
Hakko, Weller, Metcal, Pace, JBC
I am currently looking at the Pace ADS200 (with setback toolstand) for $544 and the JBC-CD-2BQE for $581. They both do not come with tips.
The PACE is half the price of the JBC tips however the JBC has more range. Have not figured out from the forum if the JBC have a shorter life span?
I believe the PACE will come with the new firmware.
I am prob leaning more towards the PACE for the price but not completely sold.
What are your thoughts? What would you go with for all round versatility for small home hobbyist?
Also what tips would you recommend. Chisel size, conical? Any idea when the PACE tweezers will be released?

Lastly. I want to do a bundle deal with Mektronics and will need some lead free and lead solder and flux. What do you guys think:

https://www.mektronics.com.au/solder-wire-fluxes-wick
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2019, 05:22:00 am »
You should make a poll, so people can just vote their own personal preferences which might have nothing to do with your needs.

I think the forum is pretty much tired of arguing one marketing nonsense vs the other.
 

Online Shock

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2019, 05:36:01 am »
I am currently looking at the Pace ADS200 (with setback toolstand) for $544 and the JBC-CD-2BQE for $581. They both do not come with tips.
The PACE is half the price of the JBC tips however the JBC has more range. Have not figured out from the forum if the JBC have a shorter life span?

Welcome to the forums. From all indications Pace tips have more plating and as such can be expected to last longer. Aside from plating, durability depends on the frequency of use, solder/flux type, cleaning and if the tip is abused. I feel the Pace tips are the best value out there, currently about 62 tips available so far and that includes all of the common tips most people will use.

What tips you pick depends what you will be soldering, if you intend on doing rework, and if you want to improve your soldering. But a couple of chisels, a hook, a knife, a fine tip, a large thermal mass tip for heatsinks or larger thermal pads. Pace also sells flow soldering tips.

I believe the PACE will come with the new firmware. I am prob leaning more towards the PACE for the price but not completely sold.

It has been several months since the latest firmware was released but it depends if they have used up stock with the old firmware. If it's not 1-4 you can contact Aaron from Pace and he will send it out. It's a drop in replacement and not a big deal, but yes you want the latest firmware.

When it comes down to teaching children I'd choose the Pace station any day of the week. Not that it's designed for a child's hands or anything, it's just very easy to hold, control and operate. It's a good idea to teach them a light pressure and how to clean the iron, but if they butcher a few tips it won't leave you too far out of pocket.

What are your thoughts? What would you go with for all round versatility for small home hobbyist?
Also what tips would you recommend. Chisel size, conical? Any idea when the PACE tweezers will be released?

Well the Pace ADS200 has everything you need for soldering, fast heating, accurate and powerful and simple to operate. There are several design features I don't particularly like on JBC from an operational standpoint - the display angle and visibility, the attached stand, the grips on the iron, the tip swapping system, power switch on the backside of the station, having to enter or adjust for tip offsets.

Pace I feel has the better handpiece with a shorter tip working distance, it doesn't get hot to hold and is comfortable, it's made of aluminum rather than plastic and the silicon grip doesn't add any bulk to the handpiece like other brands. The handpiece is designed so you cannot over insert the tip, which could otherwise lead to wear, the strain relief is also built into the handpiece.

Swapping tips between the standard and ultra-performance tips do not require temp offsets or calibration to be entered into the station. This difference is a HUGE time saver, so just swap the tip and you are done. Other brands have several handpieces with different tip series to cover the same functionality the ADS200 has, it's just not required. Pace includes their tip tool tweezers to make tip swapping easier than using the included pad.

The Pace has no connectivity and a simple LED display, other brands may include all these "advanced" features but there are mostly just distractions from soldering. If you ask yourself, have you ever needed those features on the Hakko 936 to solder a joint, that should provide the easy answer. Despite that the Pace ADS200 is a fully featured advanced station, just most of the configuration is hidden from view. It's done during power up to make it virtually impossible for the operator to accidentally change settings. But overall less things to break on the Pace, more robust, easier to repair, way easier to use and similar performance (all things considered with regulation and plating differences).

Expecting to see the new Pace tweezers any day now, Dave will get one for review sent out to him. I have the Intelliheat series (current version) of the tweezers and they are great.

I have some double ups of a few tips and consumables spare. If you decide to get the station and interested send me a PM with your address details and I'll pop them into a small post bag for you.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2019, 07:45:04 am by Shock »
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 
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Online OwO

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2019, 08:27:59 am »
Personally I think both are overkill for hobbyist use, so between those two definitely go for the pace, you won't be missing out on anything. I have been using a $10 temperature controlled iron for several years for prototype and occasional production soldering, and I'm still on the original tip that came with it. If you use it properly I would expect either of those two to last you your lifetime.
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Offline DanP Aus

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2019, 12:08:14 pm »
Yes I believe you are all right in that people have their preferences. Its a matter of sifting through this info, good and bad, and working out what works for me.
I think I will go for the PACE as it will do all I need and more (prob is overkill).
Shock, sent a PM now
 

Offline GreyWoolfe

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2019, 12:55:51 pm »
If the 936 does what you need, why replace it?  Get some new and varied tips and have fun with the kiddos.  Chisels for tips, no conical tips, get a selection of sizes.  When I had mine, I went from .8 to 3.2 mm.  Take the extra money you saved from buying a new station and buy parts, hand tools, breadboards and kits for the kiddos to build.
That which doesn't kill you still requires a co-pay.
 

Online Shock

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2019, 03:17:01 pm »
It's hard recommending tips without knowing what you're soldering. My total selection of tips is fairly broad, I do repair and rework so am a habitual tip changer. If you were doing phones or just smd some of these tips may be of no use. But otherwise pick what you think you might use.

There are two series the 1130 standard and the 1131 ultra performance. The ultra performance tips are slightly more expensive. If a company had no need for that performance they could just buy the standard version cheaper. But from a usage point of view the more mass a tip has, the shorter it is, the greater the contact with the target, the better performance it will have.

Important: Since some tips are in both series order the correct one either the 1130 standard or 1131 ultra prefix.

I don't tend to use conical tips for larger work as I find the chisels have better surface area contact with pads. I previously used bevels which can have better performance but I find again it's the contact surface and angle. So I use chisels exclusively for through hole and anything down to an appropriate size.

1/32" 30° Chisel (0.80mm)
1/16" 30° Chisel (1.59mm)
3/32" 30° Chisel (2.38mm)

Flat blade (aka knife tip) and bent tip (aka hook tip) mainly for touch ups. They both can be used to drag solder in different situations. The conical special is a fine smd tip.

1/4" Flat Blade (6.35mm)
1/64" Conical Sharp Bent 30° (0.40mm)
1/128" Conical, Special (0.20mm)

Large chisels for large ground planes, I don't see any reason not to get these in ultra performance.
13/64" Chisel (5.15mm)
5/16" Chisel (7.95mm)

The miniwave is for drag soldering, check out the video it shows how they work.
MiniWave (3.05mm)



« Last Edit: July 26, 2019, 03:25:18 pm by Shock »
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 
The following users thanked this post: DanP Aus

Online Shock

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2019, 07:03:49 am »
If the 936 does what you need, why replace it?  Get some new and varied tips and have fun with the kiddos.  Chisels for tips, no conical tips, get a selection of sizes.  When I had mine, I went from .8 to 3.2 mm.  Take the extra money you saved from buying a new station and buy parts, hand tools, breadboards and kits for the kiddos to build.

He has some really nice gear as it is. The 936 still is fine as a second station but it's just painful swapping tips aside from the performance differences. The Pace ADS200 on the other hand is almost pleasurable in comparison.

But yes definitely get stuck into kits, get started with some soldering practice kits and if doing repairs that involve electrolytic caps I recommend assembling a Bob Parker ESR meter. It's not so cheap but leaves you with a decent tool that is useful for troubleshooting caps in tv, audio, power supplies, test equipment, vintage etc.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Offline DanP Aus

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2019, 01:33:30 pm »
Perfect. Thanks for all the advice on the tips.
I will have the hakko as a backup iron too
 

Online Shock

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2019, 05:43:47 am »
With solders and fluxes your options are rosin, water soluble, and no clean. Then you have leaded 60/40 or 63/37 eutectic and then lead free varieties. For leaded rosin based I use Multicore 362 60/40 with RA liquid flux that I have had forever. For both leaded and lead free solder I also have Kester 331 which works well with their 2331-ZX liquid flux. For tacky flux I use TSF-6502JCR which is no clean.

https://www.kester.com/products/product/331-flux-cored-wire
https://www.kester.com/products/product/tsf-6502jcr

I recommend around 0.5mm is a good size for general soldering but if you have large joints you can twist a few strands together. You can get flux pens and refillable flux pens for all types of liquid fluxes which are a little more convenient than using a brush applicator. Reel size is up to you but 0.250kg or less unless you are sure you want a lot of it.

I've not tried many of the products on the Mektronics website including the Multicore crystal series flux based solders. So might pay to post in the beginner forum or search previous threads. But the rosin based Multicore 60/40 I used looks like SKU: MC079.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 
The following users thanked this post: DanP Aus

Offline SteveyG

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2019, 06:41:00 am »
I've got some soldering info on my YouTube channel if you're interested.

If you can part with the cash, the Metcal stations are the finest out there in my opinion. Failing that, then you're looking at Pace/Ersa/JBC etc, but unless they've made updates recently they all just use plain resistive heating elements.
 
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Online Shock

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2019, 11:55:18 am »
I've got some soldering info on my YouTube channel if you're interested. If you can part with the cash, the Metcal stations are the finest out there in my opinion. Failing that, then you're looking at Pace/Ersa/JBC etc, but unless they've made updates recently they all just use plain resistive heating elements.

Been looking forward to seeing the rest of the solder wire results.

It's not as wide a gap as it was years ago. Pace have tightened temp regulation on the ADS200 and their unbuffered DC power makes the station quite quick responding. It also has the same features like the Metcal, calibration free tip swapping and the cool to touch aluminum handpiece, as well as setback and auto off.

I agree the MX-5200 series is a really nice station, it's achilles heel is always going to be consumables price compared to Pace and cost of running multiple tip temps compared to temp adjustable stations. If you want to run multiple temp rework tips, things get out of control fast.

Here are those videos for DanP on solder and flux.



Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 
The following users thanked this post: DanP Aus

Offline DanP Aus

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2019, 01:28:31 pm »
Wow. Thanks guys.
Great info. Helps a lot

Also, already decided on the PACE station.
 

Offline SteveyG

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2019, 10:20:58 am »
Wow. Thanks guys.
Great info. Helps a lot

Also, already decided on the PACE station.

There's another YouTuber that uses the PACE soldering station. He recommends getting the aluminium soldering handle as the normal one gets too hot to hold after a very short time.

Online Shock

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2019, 12:14:35 pm »
There's another YouTuber that uses the PACE soldering station. He recommends getting the aluminium soldering handle as the normal one gets too hot to hold after a very short time.

Their new 120W blue handpiece (and tweezers they are releasing) are aluminum and cool touch. They also made a silver handpiece the TD-100a to replace the older TD-100 plastic handpiece. The old TD-100 has a grip you can slide on, similar to what other brands do to dissipate a bit of heat, not as effective as an aluminum handpiece though.



« Last Edit: August 02, 2019, 12:42:56 pm by Shock »
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Online Johnny B Good

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2019, 03:35:51 pm »
Hi. Just signed up and first post. I am in the Wollongong area of NSW. Any Aussies on this forum from the gong?
I am in the process of setting up a bench for tinkering, experiments for my young boys (teaching them a little electronics) and small time repairs.
Its been a little while since I had a bench setup and I am slowly building up my tools again.
Just purchased a new Siglent SPD3303X-E power supply. Also purchased a new EEVBlog 121GW meter. The info and reviews here have been invaluable in helping me make informed choices.
I am currently looking at replacing my old 60W Hakko 936 station. It needs a new tip and I thought to replace it altogether and get the latest and greatest without going too crazy.
I know there has been a fair bit written about different irons that are currently on the market so my apologies for repeating.
However my purchase will come from Mektronics which sell the following brands:
Hakko, Weller, Metcal, Pace, JBC
I am currently looking at the Pace ADS200 (with setback toolstand) for $544 and the JBC-CD-2BQE for $581. They both do not come with tips.
The PACE is half the price of the JBC tips however the JBC has more range. Have not figured out from the forum if the JBC have a shorter life span?
I believe the PACE will come with the new firmware.
I am prob leaning more towards the PACE for the price but not completely sold.
What are your thoughts? What would you go with for all round versatility for small home hobbyist?
Also what tips would you recommend. Chisel size, conical? Any idea when the PACE tweezers will be released?

Lastly. I want to do a bundle deal with Mektronics and will need some lead free and lead solder and flux. What do you guys think:

https://www.mektronics.com.au/solder-wire-fluxes-wick

 I realise it's been a month since you posted your request for soldering iron advice but, in view of the surprising lack of any reference to the KSGER T12 Soldering station, I thought I'd post my own thoughts to make up for this unconscionable oversight.  :)

 After viewing several youtube videos on these KSGER soldering stations (they come in many flavours, including build it yourself kits, often priced higher than a ready built unit  :wtf:), I finally decided on putting an order into Banggood the evening before going off on a ten day cruise holiday with the XYL to maximise the benefit of our holiday (the XYL is the big fan of these cruise holidays - me, not so much).

 To my great surprise, the package had managed to arrive just a couple of days before we returned so it was simply a question of plugging in my trusty 25W Antex and putting my philips screwdriver to work - I'd learned a thing or two from all those videos (and I'm also now a fully qualified and accredited FY6600 modder  ;)  ).

 In short, my advice would be to watch the first half dozen of those videos which run for 15 or more minutes, concentrating on the ready made Oled display based units built into the aluminium case, running SW ver 2.10 firmware with 2.1S hardware.

 I chose this particular option specifically for the T12-9501 handle and the T12-K "starter" tip - most other options exclude any such tip :-

 https://www.banggood.com/KSGER-V2_1S-T12-Digital-Temperature-Controller-Soldering-Station-Soldering-Iron-Tips-T12-K-p-1338117.html?rmmds=search&cur_warehouse=CN

 Since the shake sensor in the handles saves the need for a special iron holder electrically connected to the controller to trigger the standby and sleep functions, you can use whatever holder you like (or even no holder at all). However, since I thought the ex-GPO clamp on iron holder I'd been using with all of of my Antex Irons, ranging from 15 to 25 watt mains voltage irons and the original 35W 50v iron it had been designed for, was a little cumbersome for the job, I'd added this little beauty to the order:-

https://www.banggood.com/Soldering-Iron-Stand-Welding-Holder-for-FX951-T12-Soldering-Station-Handle-p-1156336.html?rmmds=detail-top-buytogether-auto

 Into which the T12-9501 iron handle fits perfectly (it's almost as if it had been made for a T12-9501  :)  ).

 I'd also purchased the DANIU Heavy Duty wire wool tip cleaner which also nicely fits into that soldering iron stand :-

https://www.banggood.com/DANIU-1-Pcs-Heavy-Duty-Soldering-Solder-Iron-Tip-Cleaner-Steel-Wire-With-Stand-Set-NEW-p-1182609.html?rmmds=detail-top-buytogether-auto&cur_warehouse=CN

 I highly recommend the above "extras" if you don't already have anything suitable. I'd also recommend buying set of T12 or T15 tips and, if you don't already possess one, a soldering iron thermocouple thermometer to calibrate the tips. I bought a pack of ten T12 tips and the DANIU FG-100 turning what was originally a £39.05 order into a 76 quid order. ::)

  Whilst the pack of ten tips offers a useful selection, it's not the best selection but for the money, it was a "Quick ,n, dirty" way to remove total dependence on the single K tip supplied (which I now think has an intermittent fault - the K tip in the selection pack seems fine... so far).

 If the Hakko 70W 'Direct drive with thermocouple sensored tip system' meets your requirements but you don't want to pay Hakko prices for a bulky station with a badly laid out user interface, these KSGER T12 soldering iron stations are a superb alternative at just the fraction the cost of an original Hakko setup. However, avoid all those mini stations using a 3 digit 7 segment LED display and the ridiculously tiny Oled versions designed to be powered off of a 24V 5A power brick or battery pack unless space on the bench is extremely tight and you happen to have to hand (or can buy ridiculously cheaply) a suitable power brick or battery pack.

 Just be prepared to warm up your existing soldering iron before unpacking the kit - the videos gave a pretty good idea of what to expect. BTW, if you get a unit that's been preset to Chinese, it's option 15 in the main menu (long press - 2 or 3 seconds - on the rotary encoder). That pointless and troublesome R10 on the controller board had already been left off in my unit which explained the full 3.18v reading from the plug in CR2032 coin cell which had been stuck to the side of the diode heatsink rather to the top of the transformer where it had caused the lid to bend the smpsu board down in some of the earlier examples that had been reviewed.

 Mine also had the smpsu board where the diode heatsink makes a mockery of the slots and holes in the PCB designed to separate the mains from the low voltage DC side of the board. Apart from reworking the solder joints in the handle and plug and reflowing two or three suspect joints on the smpsu board, I wasn't happy with the control unit's electrical safety until I unsoldered the diode heatsink (using a 180W Parkside copy of my now long deceased 120W Weller soldering gun) to file away material off the last three fins at the mains voltage/ 350vdc end to improve separation to a less hazardless state.

 Even then, I wasn't entirely happy until I wired the metal case, via the 5 pin DIN socket's shell by soldering an earthing wire wire onto to it from the PE pin on the C14 socket - much scraping away of anodising around the socket hole and ditto the front and rear panel screw holes. Now, at least, if mains voltage or 350vdc contact to the diode heatsink fault occurs, one or both safety fuses should blow rather than leave the case silently live with an electrocution hazard.

 For anyone with experience of Chinese made cheaply priced mains powered kit, this is all SOP and the price paid for such low monetary pricing. For anyone with any soldering experience at all, such remedial work is on the whole, a quite trivial task to render that bargain buy completely safe for use. Quite frankly imo, anyone who neglects to check the electrical safety of such Chinese bargains almost deserves to pay the ultimate price for their "Bargain Buy".  >:D

 As for my thoughts on this iron's actual use, soldering is far less fraught now I don't have to consider whether I should switch my Antex off between each bunch of solder joints I'd be working through on a given assembly and soldering up project where I'm not sure whether that ten minutes prep work for the next bunch will be 5 to 15 minutes or whether it will be more like 2 to 3 hours, possibly interrupted by "Real Life" events imposed by the XYL or 'natural breaks' and so on.

 I've currently configured it to 'idle' at 120 deg C when it goes into standby after 3 minutes of inactivity from which it can recover to 330 deg C within 7 or 8 seconds of 'shaking it' when removing it from the stand (or off the workbench). Of course, it takes a little longer (10 to 13 seconds) when recovering from room temperature after allowing it to go to sleep (15 minutes setting) for more than a few minutes.

 Considering just how long my much abused Antex soldering bits have survived being left on in the iron holder for more than 90% of my 'soldering time', including times when I've forgotten the simple precaution of turning it off when popping out of the workshop for a "quick five minute" excursion that's turned into a half day's absence, I'll be very surprised if the Chinese have managed to make their 'fake' Hakko T12 tips so cheap as to actually burn out inside of a year's hobby level use. No more such absent minded abuse, whoopee!  :)

 Just one final word to the wise. When changing to a new tip for the first time, you can expect the controller to keep issuing errors whilst it adapts before the new tip settles down (or 'burns in') so don't go straight to the 'top of the shop' with 450 and 480 degree settings when changing to a previously unused tip.

 Choose 300 deg to start with and let it settle itself down, usually just a minute or two before it stops bleating and flashing "Error" in the display, then go up in 50 deg steps a minute or so at a time if you need more than a 300 to 350 deg C setting. Once you've cycled the new tip between standby and working temps a few times, it'll be worth going through the calibration process to fine tune the control algorithm for that tip. However, such calibration isn't vital, especially if you rarely change tips, since you tend to go by the feel of which setting seems right for the job you're doing and knowing the actual temperature value will be immaterial in this case.

 This extra complication is the only downside compared to more traditional soldering irons absent any form of temperature control (or cursed only by a crude form of control) but, in view of the advantages of greater soldering bit/tip life and all the fine tuning options on offer, it's a downside I'm more than happy to accept (it's only an issue when commissioning a new previously unused tip anyway).

JBG
« Last Edit: August 31, 2019, 12:18:06 am by Johnny B Good »
 

Offline DanP Aus

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2019, 12:00:04 pm »
Hi JBG. Just saw your post now.
Thank you for the very comprehensive info on this model of station.
I had already decided on the PACE brand and got the ADS200 model before you posted.
So far I am very happy with it.
However if I had known about this model I may have considered it as it is far less expensive and would have been well sufficient for my need from what I can see.
Maybe this info will help someone in my situation out there.
 

Online Shock

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2019, 02:10:55 pm »
Unfortunately the Chinese outfit behind the Kser station have been shipping these stations using an unsafe SMPS design and the enclosure is not safety grounded either. There are a few other issues such as temp stability and the parasitic voltage problem which flattens the backup battery before it arrives, so it doesn't come problem free.

The T12 cartridge they use is a Chinese ripoff of the Hakko design that they sell with their cheap clone stations. The station overvoltages the cartridge to make it perform slightly better but ultimately it's a copy of the same cartridge used in Hakko's 70W iron. The stand he recommends is a Hakko fake as well, it's a bit more annoying to use than most as you have to hook the lip of the iron into the wire retainer.

Admittedly it would be nice if the US and Euro made stations were slightly cheaper in Australia, but the Pace (and JBC) are high power stations that are a level above the T12 clones (and Hakkos offerings), specifically with Pace's handpiece and calibration free technology it's the best I've seen on the market. Transformer based stations are just a tried and tested safe design and deliver decades of trouble free usage.
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 87V, 117, 27/FM
Oscilloscopes: Rigol DS1054Z, Phillips PM3065
 

Offline snoopy

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2019, 01:53:56 pm »
Unfortunately the Chinese outfit behind the Kser station have been shipping these stations using an unsafe SMPS design and the enclosure is not safety grounded either. There are a few other issues such as temp stability and the parasitic voltage problem which flattens the backup battery before it arrives, so it doesn't come problem free.

The T12 cartridge they use is a Chinese ripoff of the Hakko design that they sell with their cheap clone stations. The station overvoltages the cartridge to make it perform slightly better but ultimately it's a copy of the same cartridge used in Hakko's 70W iron. The stand he recommends is a Hakko fake as well, it's a bit more annoying to use than most as you have to hook the lip of the iron into the wire retainer.

Admittedly it would be nice if the US and Euro made stations were slightly cheaper in Australia, but the Pace (and JBC) are high power stations that are a level above the T12 clones (and Hakkos offerings), specifically with Pace's handpiece and calibration free technology it's the best I've seen on the market. Transformer based stations are just a tried and tested safe design and deliver decades of trouble free usage.

I like PACE stuff but unfortunately the ADS200 is too expensive in Australia and it will cost about $600 AUD by the time you add a few tips :(

I've modded both of my KSGER's to make them safe by trimming the offending heatsink at the relevant place and raising it off the pcb by a mm or so just to make sure ;) Also hardwired a solid ground wire from the incoming earth across to the negative supply pin on the 24V output of the power supply. It's a lot safer than what is was. I'm getting another one of these KSGER's and will take some photos of the mods for anyone else who is interested.

The other thing that you have not mentioned is that the KSGER allows you to calibrate each tip and store it in a database so that you can precisely match up the calibration data for each tip. This is great for calibrating non genuine tips which may not be made to hakkos spec.  I don't see this being offered on any other soldering station so for the beginner on a very limited budget this soldering station along with appropriate mods to make it safe could be a good addition to the bench ;)

cheers



 

Online Shock

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2019, 03:25:46 pm »
This is great for calibrating non genuine tips which may not be made to hakkos spec.  I don't see this being offered on any other soldering station...

The Pace ADS200 station is actually calibration free, so you just insert the tip and no need to do anything in a menu. Speaking of things not being offered... the first video of the new MT-200 tweezer handpiece was posted on youtube a few days ago.
 
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
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Online Johnny B Good

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2019, 09:31:12 pm »
Unfortunately the Chinese outfit behind the Kser station have been shipping these stations using an unsafe SMPS design and the enclosure is not safety grounded either. There are a few other issues such as temp stability and the parasitic voltage problem which flattens the backup battery before it arrives, so it doesn't come problem free.

The T12 cartridge they use is a Chinese ripoff of the Hakko design that they sell with their cheap clone stations. The station overvoltages the cartridge to make it perform slightly better but ultimately it's a copy of the same cartridge used in Hakko's 70W iron. The stand he recommends is a Hakko fake as well, it's a bit more annoying to use than most as you have to hook the lip of the iron into the wire retainer.

Admittedly it would be nice if the US and Euro made stations were slightly cheaper in Australia, but the Pace (and JBC) are high power stations that are a level above the T12 clones (and Hakkos offerings), specifically with Pace's handpiece and calibration free technology it's the best I've seen on the market. Transformer based stations are just a tried and tested safe design and deliver decades of trouble free usage.

 Wow! I thought this thread had died a death and I'd stopped monitoring it some three weeks back. :)

 All that you say is pretty well true (except for the over-volting[1] and the Stand[2]) but I'd already covered those issues, including mention of the fact that the 10kR "series" resistor they'd placed in parallel with the battery has been removed from the pick and place list, leaving the R10 location unpopulated in the later models.

 Whilst all of these Chinese defects recommend against its purchase by soldering virgins who have yet to discover which end of a soldering iron to hold, as far as the hobbyist looking to upgrade a well worn basic soldering iron to a soldering station setup, none of the required remedial work should be a problem to carry out in rendering this "Sow's Ear" of a soldering station bought at a "Sow's Ear" price, into something more like a silk purse at a "Sow's Ear" price for just a modicum of time and effort.

 There are plenty of review and tear down videos on Youtube for a prospective purchaser to gain an accurate idea of exactly what they'd be buying into with one of these cheap KSGER T12 stations. Spending a bit of time looking at a few of the more informative videos (fast forwarding will help you eliminate the "Time Wasters") will pay a handsome dividend should you be persuaded, despite any unfounded prejudices about "cheap plastic" soldering handles that might persuade you to go for a less lightweight, more bulky and unwieldy monstrosity with a retaining collet. >:D

 Even the most  trusted of  reviewers are capable of spouting bullshit at times but that's all right; you're allowed to form your own opinions from those videos regardless of whatever opinions may be offered by the reviewers. After all, opinions are just like arseholes, everybody has one. >:D

 The problem with the clone/fake Hakko tips seems like it may be due to residual moisture that the clone manufacturers couldn't be arsed to 'bake out' in a final test and drying out phase, electing to place that burden on their cash strapped market demographic whom they see as being more prepared to deal with this in exchange for the 90% reduction of price over that of original Hakko tips.

 I'm planning on wiring three of my pack of ten unused clone tips in series across a 36v transformer secondary to condition them three at a time prior to first use with my fettled KSGER soldering station to check whether this hypothesis of mine has any basis in fact.

 If this does overcome the issue of galvanic interference with the TC's mV level signal caused by electrolytic action through the use of a DC voltage which eventually drives out all the moisture to kill off such galvanic interference, then connecting each unused tip to a 12 transformer for this final drying out phase should pretty well eliminate the production of any electrolytic corrosion products which could otherwise shorten the life of the heater/TC element in these direct drive cartridge tips.

 TBH though, I suspect the reduction of electrolytic activity during the relatively short drying out phase will make little difference to the life of these tips in view of the many other ways they can fail to meet the quality standards of original Hakko tips. The main benefit will be more a case of the hobbyist being able to condition each year's batch of clone tips without having to disrupt use of their soldering station in more productive soldering work. Still, this is an idea I have yet to put to the test.

 Having said all that, I have to say that, after a modicum of intermittent use of the BC3 tip during the past week or so, it seems to have nicely stabilised. It will now quickly settle on a set temperature of 480 deg with no fuss whatsoever. I haven't bothered testing with a 100 deg boost setting since even a brief sojourn at 480 deg is more abuse than I care to subject my clone T12-BC3 tip to, let alone an utterly insane 580 deg setting.

 All the indications so far in regard of this "New Tip Syndrome"(NTS) being that it's purely an issue with the T12 tips themselves rather than a shortcoming with the KSGER STM32 T12 soldering stations. I suspect that genuine Hakko tips don't suffer NTS simply from the absence of any reports of this phenomena by those using a genuine Hakko FX-951 soldering station with genuine Hakko tips, despite the use of rectified unsmoothed AC to drive the heater which allows continuous thermocouple monitoring 100 or 120 times per second at each zero crossing point with virtually zero impact on maximum power delivery.

 The STM32 based T12 soldering stations use of a 24 or 25 volt DC from an efficient lightweight (if sometimes downright lethal) smpsu involves some reduction in maximum power delivery, depending on how often the power is cut for the required one millisecond sampling period in each second - my KSGER seems to do this at around 5 times per second, so 0.5% reduction of maximum power delivery. A ten times per second sampling interval would cost a one percent reduction in maximum power delivery. In view of the ponderous nature of thermal inertia in direct drive cartridge tips, I doubt there's any requirement to sample more often than this anyway.

 Residual damp and DC power make very poor bed fellows indeed and the ensuing issue of NTS with clone/fake T12 tips had been my only real concern with regard to these wonderfully cheap STM32 based T12 soldering stations. Recent experience confirms what the several reviewers who had noted this NTS effect had discovered in regard of it being a short lived phenomena only observed in the initial commissioning of brand new unused clone T12 tips.

 Regardless of whether my 'electrolysis' hypothesis is pure bullshit or not, it seems an effective way to complete this commissioning process is simply to heat cycle them with a 12vac supply from a 24VA or higher rated transformer through several heating/cooling cycles before presenting them to the soldering station for the very first time.

[1] Overvolting: If you're referring to the 24.5 to 25.5 volt variation, typical of the smpsus used in these soldering stations (a few 'outliers' had been measured as high as 26.5 volts), whilst strictly true compared to the 'nominal 24ac' transformer supplies used in the Hakko soldering stations and specified for the T12 and T15 nominally 8 ohm heater cartridge tips, is hardly an overvoltage in the sense most would think of.

 Putting this into perspective, the typical legal obligation of the PSUs (Public Supply Utilities) prior to the European mains voltage supply harmonisitation exercise, of maintaining the nominal supply voltage to within +/-10% introduces the possibility of even higher voltages being applied from the 24vac transformer supplying the soldering tips. In the case of a soldering station intended for use on the American 120vac standard, the heater voltage could get as high as 26.5 volts ac before the PSU would be in breach of the regulations (in the UK, under the 230v harmonised voltage supply rules, this would be a more modest excursion to 25.3vac).

[2] The Hakko clone stand that I mentioned is a perfect fit for the clone Hakko 9501 handle. However, I do despair at the lack of imagination on the part of a distressingly large number of those reviewing this "Better than the original" Hakko clone soldering iron handle stand. The lack of imagination in visualising just how much more effectively it could perform its task if only that thin springy wire folly over the top of the horseshoe were to be unclipped and put to one side (perhaps there is an iron handle somewhere on the interweb of shops which would give such a weirdly shaped springy bit of wire it's raison d'etre - you never know).

 Strangely, the bit of springy wire fitted to mine doesn't interfere with its primary function so I've never felt impelled to completely remove it. I've tried fitting it the other way round but it's not a very good fit and it makes no sensible improvement to the stand's function as far as I can see (nor does it do harm to leave it in place but mine seems a different shape to the various alternative forms I've seen these accoutrements take).

 In most cases, it seems simple removal would fix the perceived problem. In my case, it can act as a 'backstop' should the handle become slightly dislodged from its resting position, an event that's only happened by a deliberate action to test this, supposed on my part, 'backstop' feature.

 There should be a couple of attached images, showing how the iron rests in the stand. If not, I'll try to post them again (I'm not sure attachments are possible using the edit an already sent post feature).

JBG
« Last Edit: September 29, 2019, 11:02:43 pm by Johnny B Good »
 

Online Johnny B Good

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2019, 09:33:36 pm »
 Here's the first of the two images I was trying to send:

[EDIT] The 2nd image shown above in my previous post includes a shot of a blue rubber band on top of the soldering station control unit. This is the key ingredient to securely fitting the black Daniu wire wool tip cleaner into the "Damp Sponge Holder" in the clone Hakko stand. Just thought you might like to know. :)

 Prior to coming up with that fix, I'd simply relied on back pressure from the main spring which I have now adjusted to stop it pressing against the back of the wire wool tip cleaner housing as it once conveniently did. The rubber band trick is a neater and more effective solution imo.

JBG

« Last Edit: September 29, 2019, 11:07:21 pm by Johnny B Good »
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #22 on: October 01, 2019, 12:40:02 am »
Quote
despite the use of rectified unsmoothed AC to drive the heater which allows continuous thermocouple monitoring 100 or 120 times per second at each zero crossing point with virtually zero impact on maximum power delivery.

 The STM32 based T12 soldering stations use of a 24 or 25 volt DC from an efficient lightweight (if sometimes downright lethal) smpsu involves some reduction in maximum power delivery, depending on how often the power is cut for the required one millisecond sampling period in each second - my KSGER seems to do this at around 5 times per second, so 0.5% reduction of maximum power delivery. A ten times per second sampling interval would cost a one percent reduction in maximum power delivery. In view of the ponderous nature of thermal inertia in direct drive cartridge tips, I doubt there's any requirement to sample more often than this anyway.
Combined with your testing method from the other thread, it seems like maybe you don't get it. Measuring at the zero crossing, woo hoo. Don't need to turn off the heater. No, this doesn't mean anything. Higher duty cycle, no this doesn't mean anything. Unless you correct for sensor coupling, you can have all the power in the world. But the station is not going to use it when it should. The only improvement will be to cold start times.

To correct for this takes some combo of off time and ADC resolution. The actual max duty cycle doesn't technically matter. If you want more power, you use higher voltage. Although there is a practical limit if you want to use cheap FET driver circuit.

Changing gears:
Quote
Whilst all of these Chinese defects recommend against its purchase by soldering virgins who have yet to discover which end of a soldering iron to hold, as far as the hobbyist looking to upgrade a well worn basic soldering iron to a soldering station setup, none of the required remedial work should be a problem to carry out in rendering this "Sow's Ear" of a soldering station bought at a "Sow's Ear" price, into something more like a silk purse at a "Sow's Ear" price for just a modicum of time and effort.
Actual regulation aside, many people must rely on their soldering equipment. If and when it fails, they don't have time to teach their techs how to fix this crap or to unelectrocute themselves. Problem with the station? Read a model number, add it to a cart, and check out.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2019, 12:59:17 am by KL27x »
 
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Online Johnny B Good

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #23 on: October 01, 2019, 06:58:27 pm »
 I'm not sure what "My Testing Method" from the "Hakko still the best option for a good quality hobbyist soldering station?" thread has to do with my advice here in this "Soldering Iron Advice in Australia" (for a hobbyist soldering station replacement) thread we happen to be posting to.

 However, you do seem to have noted the point I was making over the 'benefit' of (rectified unsmoothed) AC power in minimising the effect of interrupting power to the heater in order to sample the TC voltage versus the 'downside' of interrupting a steady 24vdc to grab a series of TC voltage samples at 5 to 10 times per second as being an insignificant factor.

 It was good of you to point out that even longer duty cycle disruptions of power could simply be compensated for by a modest voltage boost (in this case a 5.5% boost from 24v to 25.3v would allow the use of 100 one millisecond sampling interruptions per second to be used with no loss of peak heating power performance).

 BTW, if you've ever wondered about just how compact and how close the heating element is to the business end of a T12 tip but couldn't afford the luxury of a high resolution thermal imaging camera to find out, there's a simple way to visualise this if you can afford to sacrifice a T12 tip - just power it directly off a 24v supply and examine the yellow to bright orange glow with the MK I eyeball. If you're not too keen on wasting a T12 tip like this, you can just take a look at the following video to satisfy prurient curiosity.  :)



 Jump to the 4 minute mark if you want to 'cut to the chase'. When I saw that, my first thought was, "Well, I don't need to beg borrow or steal myself an infrared camera now, :)". If you're going to pause at each current/voltage setting to calculate resistance values (as I did), don't forget to allow approximately half an ohm resistance for the croc clipped test leads and be mindful of the innaccuracies in both the test bench supply readings as well as the guy's interpretation in announcing them (the voltage and current display goes out of focus after he zooms into a close up of the tip).

 As my free admission that I would probably have been less impressed if I'd been able to monitor the actual tip temperature whilst applying it to the two pence coin I was using as a 'difficult' test joint, I was acknowledging the fact that it was a less than perfectly scientific test. Nevertheless, it was still a useful test to see how the controller would respond to such thermal loading on a BC3 tip.

 Whilst we may both have an understanding of the thermal gradient issues at a basic level in such a temperature control system (sensor sandwiched somewhere along this temperature gradient between the heat source and the heatsink - hopefully in this case, nearer to the heatsink than to the heat source) we both admit to a lack of detailed knowledge of the processes taking place within these T12 tips and the difficulties this presents to the PID control algorithm in maintaining a reasonable semblance of tip temperature accuracy during soldering operations.

 Where we seem to differ is over the need for a 17 bit ADC used in the Pace controllers versus the 12 bit ADC's built into these cheap Chinese STM32 controllers. Whilst I can see the benefit of the extra 0.02 deg C resolution in detecting temperature trends quicker to reduce the effects of lag in preempting variations in heatsinking effect at the soldering iron tip, I have my doubts as to whether such small temperature changes can be picked out from the noise fast enough to be useful in this endeavour but, of course, I'm no expert in the technology of sensing such small temperature changes in the context of a soldering iron environment.

 With regard to your "Changing gears;" reference, I've no doubt that Pace's target market demographic are breathing a huge collective sigh of relief that there even is a solution to soldering temperature consistency available at an affordable thousand dollar price to equip their production workshops with to justify such excellence in soldering station technology, after all, "Time is Money" and in this context, a thousand dollar soldering station must be a wise investment (else Pace wouldn't have a large enough customer base to remain a viable business).

 Such a 950 dollar price differential between Pace and these cheap Chinese offerings is hard to justify by the typical hobbyist who will be thankful simply to have a better alternative to the classic 25W Antex (the best in its class, imo) relying as it does on simple thermal equilibrium between the soldering bit sleeve and ambient air temperature to limit the maximum tip temperature to somewhere around the 430 to 450 deg C mark.

 These cheap Chinese, STM32 based, soldering stations which can keep the upper temperature limited to less than 400 deg at a 350 deg setting and provide the additional benefit of idle timed out setback of temperature to extend tip life with a shutdown sleep mode time out to guard against operator forgetfulness in switching the whole thing off at the end of the day (especially useful when the end of the day is lunch time on the Friday of a long weekend holiday break) are a boon to the typical hobbyist who will be quite appreciative of the fact that they're now selling for little more than the price of that classic 25W Antex.

 I suspect that the clone T12 tip manufacturers are relying upon their use with such controllers to get away with thinner platings over the copper core to provide sufficient service life in such hobbyist use. At just a small fraction of the price of a genuine Hakko T12 / T15 tip, I don't mind that so much.

 In any case, it's not as if I'm precluded from spending the extra cash on a Hakko tip should I find the clone offerings so poor that ,even under such benign conditions of hobbyist use (90% of their time spent idle in an iron holder - now at 150 deg rather than the 430 deg typical of a 25W Antex), they wear out after just one year's use.

 These cheap Chinese clones don't have the quality of a thousand dollar Pace or JBC soldering station but, for hobbyist use, do they need to when they outperform the more traditional 25W Antex soldering iron for little more than the cost of such (and even less when the purchase of a couple of spare Antex bits is included)?  :)

JBG
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #24 on: October 01, 2019, 07:34:11 pm »
Quote
BTW, if you've ever wondered about just how compact and how close the heating element is to the business end of a T12 tip but couldn't afford the luxury of a high resolution thermal imaging camera to find out, there's a simple way to visualise this if you can afford to sacrifice a T12 tip - just power it directly off a 24v supply and examine the yellow to bright orange glow with the MK I eyeball. If you're not too keen on wasting a T12 tip like this, you can just take a look at the following video to satisfy prurient curiosity.  :)
Yeah, that's about what I figured. The heater/sensor is obviously at the back of the tip, not anywhere closer to the tip than in any other iron. And you can see on this fatty tip, the temp drop largely happens within the last 5mm of the point. This is in free air. On a heatsink, you would watch that contrast increase, the tip going darker. This is what we live with with all modern soldering irons. A T12 iron can live with this and still work as well as the "obsolete" 888 tech. But mine exhibit additional sag beyond this.

Quote
As my free admission that I would probably have been less impressed if I'd been able to monitor the actual tip temperature whilst applying it to the two pence coin I was using as a 'difficult' test joint, I was acknowledging the fact that it was a less than perfectly scientific test. Nevertheless, it was still a useful test to see how the controller would respond to such thermal loading on a BC3 tip.
You should not be impressed at all, IMO. When you put the iron on a 2 pence coin, the duty cycle increases, and you think this is impressive?

Quote
Whilst we may both have an understanding of the thermal gradient issues at a basic level in such a temperature control system (sensor sandwiched somewhere along this temperature gradient between the heat source and the heatsink - hopefully in this case, nearer to the heatsink than to the heat source) we both admit to a lack of detailed knowledge of the processes taking place within these T12 tips and the difficulties this presents to the PID control algorithm in maintaining a reasonable semblance of tip temperature accuracy during soldering operations.
To heck with PID. I just want to see the T12 iron that works as well as the 888. I know full well how I would do it. I would correct the sensor coupling error/sag, and then i'd make it work by thermostatic control with nothing else fancy.* I don't know what's going on inside of a microcontroller or how "they" actually do it. That's why test. The clones I have do not achieve this.

You have a clone you are pleased with. You have spent many hours playing with it and modifying it. You have a tip temp tester, FG100 style, I believe? You just need to buy some spare thermistor sensors for it and wire one to your temp tester with flywires. (The third connection where the two metal wires are twisted together is only to hold the sensor in place; it does not need to connect to anything. It's dead weight; the thermistor wires make connection inside the solder-wettable crimp block). Then you could do an actual meaningful test with the real temperatures. You have time to write text walls to rival mine  >:D, so you would think you have time and inclination to do this test. If we had some standardized heat sink, we could share/compare notes. Say some size of double sided copper clad with 1 oz copper and standard 0.064" thickness.

Quote
Where we seem to differ is over the need for a 17 bit ADC used in the Pace controllers versus the 12 bit ADC's built into these cheap Chinese STM32 controllers. Whilst I can see the benefit of the extra 0.02 deg C resolution in detecting temperature trends quicker to reduce the effects of lag in preempting variations in heatsinking effect at the soldering iron tip, I have my doubts as to whether such small temperature changes can be picked out from the noise fast enough to be useful in this endeavour but, of course, I'm no expert in the technology of sensing such small temperature changes in the context of a soldering iron environment.
As do I; I don't suspect it is a cake walk. But if this is the case, the Pace ADS uses a 17bit ADC purely for show. And all T12 irons are pretty sucky at temp regulation and have significant sag, as do my clones. I would bet this isn't the case; I doubt Pace uses 17 bit ADC unless they managed to get an actual performance gain out of it.

*Well, if you could accurately measure the sensor error, you could do better than just correct for it. You could "boost" the set temp above and beyond in accordance with the amount of correction done, because the sensor error will be proportional to thermal load. And base to tip gradient is also proportional to thermal load. So if your readings can be accurate enough, and the station can identify the tip that is on there, it could actually attempt to compensate for base-tip sag and perform better than a traditional iron. This makes me more intrigued to try the PACE ADS. I'm not that optimistic, though. I would imagine some ADS user would have posted to the effect "holy cow, I just soldered an entire PCB at 275C set temp!"
« Last Edit: October 01, 2019, 09:10:04 pm by KL27x »
 
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Online Johnny B Good

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Re: Soldering Iron Advice in Australia
« Reply #25 on: October 02, 2019, 12:44:28 am »
Quote
BTW, if you've ever wondered about just how compact and how close the heating element is to the business end of a T12 tip but couldn't afford the luxury of a high resolution thermal imaging camera to find out, there's a simple way to visualise this if you can afford to sacrifice a T12 tip - just power it directly off a 24v supply and examine the yellow to bright orange glow with the MK I eyeball. If you're not too keen on wasting a T12 tip like this, you can just take a look at the following video to satisfy prurient curiosity.  :)
Yeah, that's about what I figured. The heater/sensor is obviously at the back of the tip, not anywhere closer to the tip than in any other iron. And you can see on this fatty tip, the temp drop largely happens within the last 5mm of the point. This is in free air. On a heatsink, you would watch that contrast increase, the tip going darker. This is what we live with with all modern soldering irons. A T12 iron can live with this and still work as well as the "obsolete" 888 tech. But mine exhibit additional sag beyond this.

Quote
As my free admission that I would probably have been less impressed if I'd been able to monitor the actual tip temperature whilst applying it to the two pence coin I was using as a 'difficult' test joint, I was acknowledging the fact that it was a less than perfectly scientific test. Nevertheless, it was still a useful test to see how the controller would respond to such thermal loading on a BC3 tip.
You should not be impressed at all, IMO. When you put the iron on a 2 pence coin, the duty cycle increases, and you think this is impressive?

 What impressed me was that it actually did what it was supposed to do, specifically that part where it limits the overshoot (a quite modest 10 deg C) upon removal of the tip from the heat sapping effects of my test joint but then I'm easily pleased after some sixty years' worth of soldering experience with basic soldering irons no more sophisticated than a 25W Antex. :)
 

Quote
Whilst we may both have an understanding of the thermal gradient issues at a basic level in such a temperature control system (sensor sandwiched somewhere along this temperature gradient between the heat source and the heatsink - hopefully in this case, nearer to the heatsink than to the heat source) we both admit to a lack of detailed knowledge of the processes taking place within these T12 tips and the difficulties this presents to the PID control algorithm in maintaining a reasonable semblance of tip temperature accuracy during soldering operations.
To heck with PID. I just want to see the T12 iron that works as well as the 888. I know full well how I would do it. I would correct the sensor coupling error/sag, and then i'd make it work by thermostatic control with nothing else fancy.* I don't know what's going on inside of a microcontroller or how "they" actually do it. That's why test. The clones I have do not achieve this.

 Unless I'm very much mistaken, those Hakko 888's (or at least the 888D) employ some form of PID control to compensate for the limitations of a basic thermostatic control mechanism. Having googled for Hakko's own advertising copy on the discontinued FX-888 and the FX-888D and the FX-951 which fails to mention the use of PID control (which they're more or less obliged to use with a composite T12/T15 tip), I'm forced to conclude that I am very much mistaken after all in regard to the FX-888 at any rate (and probably the 888D as well). :(

 Although the replaceable heater elements in the 888 system include a temperature sensor (thermocouple?) wired separately from the heater circuit, it obviously is no better placed between the tip end and the heater element than in the combined cartridge T12/T15 tips used by the FX-951 stations.

 I'm guessing Hakko must have decided they might as well combine the TC and heater circuit into one simple series arrangement and use a more sophisticated PID based controller to separate out the functions and provide an improved control algorithm for their 'next generation' of soldering station.

 Even in a system with the heater and TC on separate circuits, a PID algorithm can provide better control over a basic proportional control of the heater to hold the sensed temperature at a constant value as I presume to have been the case with the obsolete FX-888 system (with the 888D probably being the same but with a micro-controller added on to accept keyed in settings and to generate a digitally displayed temperature read out).

 If Hakko went to the trouble of patenting the system embodied in the FX-951 (which coincidentally, expired exactly a week ago), there's obviously merit in the use of PID control of soldering iron tip temperature. If it there had been any practical way to improve sensor to tip coupling, I'm sure Hakko (and others) would have done so rather than resort to a sophisticated PID control algorithm to overcome this issue. TBH, I'm not at all sure how you can correct the sensor coupling/sag without using some form of PID algorithm.
 

You have a clone you are pleased with. You have spent many hours playing with it and modifying it. You have a tip temp tester, FG100 style, I believe? You just need to buy some spare thermistor sensors for it and wire one to your temp tester with flywires. (The third connection where the two metal wires are twisted together is only to hold the sensor in place; it does not need to connect to anything. It's dead weight; the thermistor wires make connection inside the solder-wettable crimp block). Then you could do an actual meaningful test with the real temperatures. You have time to write text walls to rival mine  >:D, so you would think you have time and inclination to do this test. If we had some standardized heat sink, we could share/compare notes. Say some size of double sided copper clad with 1 oz copper and standard 0.064" thickness.

 I like your thinking (and you're right about my spending the time I should be using to get on with my GPSDO project, instead of writing these massive missives - sorry but I'm still waiting to take delivery of a Mustool G600 microscope:- AJR Syndrome, a Red Dwarf reference ). That's just the sort of cost saving that appeals to my sense of 'cheapness'. :)

 I do have a clone FG-100 and since I took delivery of a pack of ten TCs a week or so back, I can well afford to repurpose one to this task. I also have some single sided copper clad board that I'd bought about 8 or 9 months ago from an Ebay seller when I was considering the option of building my GPSDO project "Dead Bug" style but I've no idea what weight of copper, nor the composition of the base.

 I'll have to check my purchase history to see whether any of this had been mentioned (in view of its intended use, I hadn't been concerned about these particulars at the time). I can probably identify the base material by sight and smell (drill a test hole or two) and, from a thickness measurement, work out the weight of the base material and subtract it from total weight to calculate the copper (oz per sq foot is it?).

 Before I do that however, I'll repurpose a TC to perform an initial test with my two pence piece and let you know before we decide on whether we both possess matching copper clad board and how much of it to sacrifice. I think I may also have some very old stock of copper clad board tucked away somewhere which might help to create a matching test board if the new board is too cheap to match what you have to hand.
 

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Where we seem to differ is over the need for a 17 bit ADC used in the Pace controllers versus the 12 bit ADC's built into these cheap Chinese STM32 controllers. Whilst I can see the benefit of the extra 0.02 deg C resolution in detecting temperature trends quicker to reduce the effects of lag in preempting variations in heatsinking effect at the soldering iron tip, I have my doubts as to whether such small temperature changes can be picked out from the noise fast enough to be useful in this endeavour but, of course, I'm no expert in the technology of sensing such small temperature changes in the context of a soldering iron environment.
As do I; I don't suspect it is a cake walk. But if this is the case, the Pace ADS uses a 17bit ADC purely for show. And all T12 irons are pretty sucky at temp regulation and have significant sag, as do my clones. I would bet this isn't the case; I doubt Pace uses 17 bit ADC unless they managed to get an actual performance gain out of it.

*Well, if you could accurately measure the sensor error, you could do better than just correct for it. You could "boost" the set temp above and beyond in accordance with the amount of correction done, because the sensor error will be proportional to thermal load. And base to tip gradient is also proportional to thermal load. So if your readings can be accurate enough, and the station can identify the tip that is on there, it could actually attempt to compensate for base-tip sag and perform better than a traditional iron. This makes me more intrigued to try the PACE ADS.

 Well, I'm sure this is exactly what the PID control algorithm is doing its best achieve in the FX-951 as well as in all these Chinese STM32 based soldering stations. The TC is a very low impedance voltage source with just the 8 ohms of heater wire in series to spoil this perfection.

 Even so, an 8 ohm signal source is a very low impedance compared to the more typical 600 to 10KR impedances we usually associate with low level audio signals. Since I doubt we need to worry about signals higher than 100Hz or so in this case, the use of an extra 4 or 5 bits of resolution might actually be a practical proposition after all in spite of my reservations over possible noise pollution. As I said, I don't have any expertise in this particular field so I could be 'over-thinking' this issue of noise. Instincts can sometimes be misleading.

 However, even with less than perfect performance over control of the tip temperatures in these cheap Chinese soldering stations, they're still a vast improvement over my previous experience with simple plug into the wall socket soldering irons (did I mention I was easily pleased :)).

JBG
 


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