Author Topic: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results  (Read 12152 times)

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Online KL27x

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T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« on: March 31, 2018, 12:07:51 am »
I know I'm weird. I'm so bothered by the continual BS I hear about "cartridge tip" vs the old ways of soldering that I decided to do some objective testing. My own side-by-side comparisons bewteen a geniuine 888 and two T12 clones showed no significant advantage
in this specific case. (I do a fair bit of production soldering, so I have used them for the exact same things, extensively, like with hundreds of repetitions. The kind of soldering where you don't care what brand of iron you are using, you just want it to be over with as fast and efficiently and painlessly as possible).

For reference, I have recently discovered Dave's "Soldering Iron New vs Old" video which demonstrates but doesn't quantify the thermal drop advantage between a JBC and an 888 using very grossly similar tips. I suggest if you are confused about why I am testing the way I do, then you might want to watch that video; the thread and further discusson can be found in the EEVblog section of this forum.

For the temp sensing I took my generic thermocouple tip tester (ala Hakko FG style but 1/20th of the cost) and I modified with a socket and switch to enable readings from an external sensor. Happily, the instrument came with 10 sensors, so I have plenty of spares to mess with. These sensors are wettable, thus they are specifically made for this kind of testing. If you have a thermocouple that plugs into a DMM, it probably won't be as consistent.


For the heatsink, I used a 2 oz double sided square of copper clad. I soldered the thermocouple to the copper clad in a shallow pool of solder. For testing, the tip of the iron goes over this solder blob, pressing the sensor against the board.



Then I took my Bakon 950D and my 888 and put what is my favorite tip on each iron, the T18-CF3 on the 888, vs the T12-BCF3 on the Bakon. If you have these tips, you would immediately notice that the T12 version is shorter and stubbier, and the "B" means it gets a tapered thick base. I felt like the Bakon would win this test, but I was curious if it would be significant.




To wit, I am 99.99% sure the T12 tip is a fake. Purchased on eBay and shipped from either Hong Kong or China. I buy my Hakko tips usually thru Amazon because I have Prime. I am pretty confident they are genuine, but who really knows?

For the test I decided to stick an iron on the heatsinked sensor and adjust the set temp until the sensor read 200C. Then do the same with the other iron. I swapped back and forth between irons until I was satisfied they were both hovering between 198 and 202, and that I was getting consistent readings and satisfied that I was sitting in front of two apples.  (BTW this took awhile because adjusting either of these irons by degrees is pure stupidity, lol).

FWIW (not much), the actual display temp on the Bakon read 313 at this point. The temp on the 888 read 323. Advantage Bakon, right? Haha, of course the display means nothing when I have a tip tester right in front of me.

Tested on the tip sensor, the set temp of the Bakon measured 323C. The hakko 314C. Swapped between each iron repeatedly until I was satisfied these readings were repeatable. These readings were rock solid, change of only 1 degree max between measurements.

Cartridge tech, woohoo! (Sarcasm)

If someone has a 951 they want to send me, I'll be glad to test it. But it would be much easier to just buy a thermocouple tip tester and do your own testing.

In case anyone is confused, in this particular test the 888 beats the T12 cartridge technology. Not that this much difference in thermal drop necessary amounts to any significant practical advantage. I don't think it's significant, at all; more the same than different.

I also have a Suhan 616 which has way more power than the bakon. But in this test, the max power is not a factor IMO. I also have about a dozen other T12 tip styles, all with an equivalent tip style in the 888. So if anyone has any other ideas for tests or is curious about this performance testing on another tip style, go ahead and shoot.






 
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 10:16:28 am by KL27x »
 
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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2018, 03:13:08 am »
Tested the 616 with the same BCF3 tip. I only have one stand*, anymore, for the T12 irons, so I did not have a 3 way test.

So I used the Hakko at the exact same setting. I added a little more solder to the test sink, apparently, and/or there is some variation in the readings from my cheap tester. I got reading of 195C on average with the Hakko. When the 616 was adjusted to produce the same temp, the results of the set/no-load temp measurements:

Hakko 888 318C
616 24.5V T12 clone 322C

It would appear to me that the analog control circuit of the 616 is pretty comparable to the Bakon in this test. 

*I ended up giving up my original Suhan to put to work in a different environment. But I have a spare unit. It's just so compact and dirt cheap, and I have a significant variety of T12 tips. But the bakon won by a skosh at my bench as a second iron, just because the narrowness of the unit. Especially with the thinnish integrated power cord, it was a slightly better fit for my bench and use as a second/portable station with an iron holder integrated onto the top of the station.

If anyone comes up with a specific task they want to claim their 951/T12 does better than an 888, I'll be glad to put my cheapo clones to the test along with some temp readings.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 04:11:52 am by KL27x »
 

Offline timelessbeing

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2018, 06:59:08 am »
Where are the photos of the setup? Where is a video? I don't see any tables or charts of the results.  :-//

All I see is a wall of difficult to digest text.  Sorry, but  :--
 
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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2018, 08:02:45 am »
Video will require editing. What you want to see? Same thing I just did, or did you have another test you want to see? I ain't gonna spend two hours for you to complain I didn't show this or that.

Photos of the setup? Sure thing. Coming soon. But I don't see anything wrong with words? Maybe you don't speak English as your first language. It takes much less time for me to write (and for you to read) the details of what I did. If you don't trust me, video won't help either, unless I can set it up to do it in one cut, using one hand, and that would be difficult to do for many reason and would end up with a long video that is very difficult to watch. Do you doubt Dave? In the video I mentioned, he claims he set each station to 270C. Of course you believe him. But he didn't even test the tip temp and only ends up with a slight subjective result... so what the heck does that even MEAN to begin with when a difference in calibration could be much larger than the slight difference noted as "the result?"


Incidentally.... Why does this require proof for anyone to believe it? But claiming T12 clone is better performance than anything you can do with the old ceramic heater? People saying it with nothing to back it up, this is totally accepted.

Anyhow, as I said, I will post some pics just to show the setup. In case anyone wants to try for themselves. A video I can do, but like I said. There are some challenges. But since I am motivated, I may be able to do it IF you are specific about what you wish to see. But please see the upcoming pics first, and please read the OP first, if you can do English. So you can make some suggestions, if you have any.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 08:12:48 pm by KL27x »
 

Online KL27x

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2018, 08:44:12 am »

My tip tester. I have had it for a year or two.

Here's the switch and socket I added for the external sensor.


Here's a pic of the inside. I'm using white kynar wire, lately, so I dunno what good this pic is.


This is what it the heat-sink-sensor setup looks like. Pretty much the way I described it with those pesky words.


Here's a closeup of the thermocouple soldered to the board


Here's a pic showing it is solidly soldered to the board


Here's a pic I stumbled across in my account of my bakon and my 888 from last year. Added to uh, I guess prove I have these and did not simply make this stuff up!?


So look. The little lcd display is pretty small on this tester. And it takes two hands to do the test, because solder melts and the sensor moves. And I would also apparently have to have both irons in frame the whole time for you to believe I don't have a helper changing the settings out of frame? And you'd need a closeup of the iron on the sensor to make sure I wasn't fucking with one of them? And see the LCD at the same time? Take a look and figure out for youself how hard this would be for me to do.

So before demanding video proof, if you think I'm a deluded biased fanboi of hakko 888 and trying to justify my massive 79.00 investment in these stations (US Fry's, thank you) you can go on ebay and buy a tip tester for $10.00 and try it for yourself.

If you want a vid, please be specific.





 

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2018, 08:53:08 am »
FYI, I can honestly say I solder, professionally. As in I save/make money by soldering. I can justify spending a significant amount of money on soldering equipment if I even think it may make soldering more pleasant or efficient in any way.

The money I spent on T12 clones was purely just for my own amusement. I never thought it would do anything better for me. But I WAS curious if it could solder to ground planes with little tips without bumping the temp, like people repeatedly SUGGEST about these T12 cartridge tips. And no, it's not even close. Not by a mile. Not remotely something anyone should be suggesting. If anything, I do just as good maybe better with T18 CF1 or CF15, soldering to ground planes.

At the time I bought these clones, members like STJ were talking up the T12 clones like they were a whole other level compared to an 888. I have found them totally competent. Certainly faster heat up (provided PSU voltage is high enough; bakon @19.5V has nearly the same cold start time as the 888). And certainly just as capable as the 888 for everything I have tried. But other than the cold start time, I have yet to figure out a single thing where they are any noticeable bit better.

If I actually needed to use a teeny tip to solder things en masse - which I don't*; QFN, SSOP, 0402s are my bread and butter, for the last half a decade; but the only reason I use tiny tips is for things like deadbugging these tight pitch IC's for proto or debugging - but if I DID, AND I wanted to be able to solder heatsinks and ground planes with the same tip/setting often enough to justify the size of the Metcal stations, I would buy a Metcal.

Yes, there are plenty of reasons to buy and recommend the 951 or T12 clones, but perhaps some of the claims are beyond objective? Maybe if others start sharing objective data to the contrary, I could be convinced to actually purchase a genuine 951 or JBC to see for myself. I understand and have seen the difference between hakko clones and the real 888 (which can be huge, and comes down to everything BUT the circuitry or what we like to think of as technology). But I know these T12 clones and knockoff tips are perhaps not as good. But from what I HAVE seen, I'm way too skeptical to lay down the dough for the real thing on the off chance the internet isn't as dumb and easily swayed as I think it is.

*At the risk of turning this into a rant - there is a lot of personal preference involved in soldering. At least for most people who might only tinker at it. If you do design or repair work or are an Arduino hobbyist, the soldering is only a very miniscule small part. It is NICE to be able to enjoy this moment. It's a break from the debugging. Use your BR tip, so you can enjoy the view. Use your hot air, if you like. You deserve it. You just spent two hours reading schematics and datasheets. And God-knows-how-long proofing code. That's what you get paid for. But anyone who has ever made the decision to change hats and deliver to a customer and needed to do this a hundred times for a good few hours a day? There is a lot less personal preference involved. When you discover more efficient and elegant ways to do things, they tend to stick.  And you learn to identify the deficiencies in your equipment, if any, by objective criteria. IF the station could do this, I could do THIS faster/easier.

So if I'm missing an obvious advantage of the T12 due to how/what I solder, I'd like to learn what I'm missing from your perspective. And I would try to put that to the test in an objective way, if possible. Soldering specific things. Desoldering even. Mobo, video card, something else? If I got it, I will fry it.

Hmm, I bet I could come up with some tiny heatsink for the cold junction.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2018, 01:40:04 am by KL27x »
 

Offline stj

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2018, 10:16:53 am »
for any beginners reading your setup, both the bakon and the hakko can be calibrated from the front buttons.
 

Offline Shock

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2018, 10:07:29 pm »
What performance were you looking at? Heat up time, thermal stability/continuous power, total power, calibration?

It sounds like you are testing calibration, which doesn't effect performance unless the unit can't be calibrated at a certain temperature or perhaps through a range of temperatures if you are using multiple operating temps.

Comparing two stations that are not showing the same calibration or offset (which could affect recovery)  would be a waste of time because they are heating at different temps. I've seen this mistake made in videos before, too many apples to oranges comparisons, also you should use genuine stations and tips or at least a genuine T12 tip to compare against a genuine T18. Hard to reproduce the results of a clone tip because there is no real guarantee they are consistent.

Then look at the price of a Bakon 950D compared to a Hakko FX-888D, and in different markets. The ease of tip swapping between the units, range and working distance, total power. These factors should all be taken into consideration.

About cartridge tips in general I've always pointed out they have a higher cost of ownership (talking genuine tips) especially when you want to use a range of tips it gets damn expensive. Aside from wearing out a tip normally the first thing to go is the element/heater, a cartridge tip solves this problem easily and if you have a spare tip your station is not rendered inoperable.

Anyway, I've just splashed out for the new Pace ADS200 with a pile of cartridges, I prefer the handle and style over the Hakko FX-951 and the Pace is spec'd for 120W with their Ultra Performance tips. My point is that Pace has cheaper cartridges at about half the price of the Hakko T12 series and their station is cheaper as well. So T18 to T12 tip performance testing might be a moot point.

The other matter is comparing which stations are ESD safe and not all the T12/T13 clones are.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2018, 10:12:21 pm by Shock »
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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2018, 10:18:27 pm »
Quote
It sounds like you are testing calibration, which doesn't effect performance unless the the unit can't be calibrated at a certain temperature or perhaps through a range of temperatures if you are using multiple operating temps.

Comparing two stations that are not showing the same calibration or offset (which could affect recovery)  would be a waste of time because they are heating at different temps. I've seen this mistake made in videos before, too many apples to oranges comparisons...
Shock, no.  I am measuring the temperature when the iron is pressed to a specific heatsink. Then I'm measuring the no-load/set temp without the heatsink. But to take out any inconsistency in sensor readings (while holding the cold junction between my fingers) or other factors like heat sink temperature, etc, I went the further distance to swap irons back and forth several times to make sure I was comparing apples to apples best as possible.*

Calibration has no effect on this test. In fact, I did not even care what the display on the stations read at any point in the test. All measurements were done on the tip tester. (I only NOTED the final temp on either display as a matter of curiosity). I adjusted both irons until the heatsinked sensor read 200C. I had no idea which one was the winner until I tested the no-load temp. Whatever was on the actual stations' display is irrelevant. Only at the end of the test did I see the calibration was different between irons. But that does not matter and actually makes the test more valid, if anything. The 200C mark is a bit arbitrary. It could be anything, but keeping it practical makes the results more practical. Lead solder melts at 183-188C, and I figure you need to reach at least 200C at the interface in order to practically solder to a ground plane. And 200C is a nice round number that is easy to remember.

I do not claim the test to be highly consistent. It was a bit janky. Nor do I claim the 200C reading done on the heatsink and big blob of solder is absolutely accurate. This is not how the sensor/instrument was designed (but yes, the solder blob was mostly melted at this temp reading). But as a relative measurement performed side-to-side between irons, I am confident it is worth a lot more than empty boasts and speculation based on a single theoretical advantage with zero quantification.

Quote
What performance were you looking at?
Watch the EEV video, Soldering Iron Power Delivery Explained. This explains what I'm measuring: thermal drop between sensor (set temp) and the interface between tip and board when the tip is applied to a thermal heatsink. Notice that it is DAVE's test which is in all likelihood enormously affected (completely invalidated IMO) by difference in calibration between the two stations. When you set them both to 270 relying on the stations' displays, one is invariably going to be different than the other unless you won the lottery.

In my opinion, thermal drop is one of the main reasons why you have to adjust the temp on an iron to solder larger heatsinks/groundplanes. (But in reality, even if the tip could maintain set temp at it's very surface no matter what, you would still need to set the temp a fair bit higher than 189C, unless you only wanted to melt a tiny layer of solder on top of a blob).  It is universally suggested that cartridge tips perform better in this regard, but my own experience specifically with 888 and T12 CLONES says otherwise. If there's a significant advantage to the T12 tip due to the cartridge sensor/heater arrangement, then there were other compromises made which nullify it. In fact, the "advantage" might need a negative sign in front of it. No, I don't have genuine T12 tips or 951 station.

FWIW, I have previously found the bakon and 888 to warm up in about 17 seconds from cold, using large bevel tip, anyway. Bakon runs at only 19.5V. 24.5V Suhan warms up in about 10 seconds. (I have also weighed these tips, and I don't have an exact figure because I don't have a broken tip to weight just the shaft. But based on the weights and the balance point of the T12, I believe the T12 version is less than half the mass, which adequately explains the difference in cold start times).

Yes, the T12 clones work very well. If I was in a country where the 888 cost $200.00, I would be pretty darn happy with T12 clones. I can't imagine buying a more capable station for $25 to $50. And I'd take almost any T12 clone over any 936/888 clone I have ever used.  I'm just not thrilled when people parrot/promote marketing wank without any (appropriate) validation/testing (especially when it turns out to not be true/significant... possibly even a measurable disadvantage).

Warning. Physics ahead.
If you could get the sensor right at the tip, it might be significant. But getting this sensor closer to the base of the shaft on the tip doesn't appear to be that significant, to me, vs the conventional way. The main impediment you are removing is the bit of contact fit/air gap btn tip and sensor in the conventional arrangement... but the interface between heater/sensor and tip in the conventional irons is made large enough in surface area, and the sheer mass of copper between this interface and the base of the tip shaft where the cartridges get their "head start" is enough to do the job. The thermal resistance between the base of the stalk/stem of the tip and the actual working surface is going to dwarf any improvement that you can make in the back. IOW, even the theoretical improvement you can make is pretty close to squadoosh. In EE speak, you're moving your sense trace from one end of the 10 foot 0.5AWG copper cable to the other. But it's still on the wrong side of that 10 ohm resistor.

So if the difference between a power-controlled iron and a conventional temp-controlled iron is X, the difference between that and a cartridge is a very small fraction of X. At least until they can put the sensor right under the skin of the actual tip (without plugging up the transmission of power with the sensor/leads; talking micro/nano technology perhaps). The current status of cartridge tech is not there, yet. Does this lure look any better to the fish? No. It looks sexier to the fisherman. But don't worry. For today, we have RF stations. Aside from the marketing aspect, the manufacturers also win by being able to reduce the size of the heater/sensor-to-tip power coupling/interface. This means less copper needed for the manufacturer and faster cold start times for the consumer. But as far as thermal gradient/drop, the advantage is not necessarily expressed/significant/real/practical.

*What I recognize to be the significant factors in the test: tip surface area of contact with the solder blob. I used same 3mm TFO bevel tip on each iron and tried to get complete contact between solder iron and solder blob. I applied a dot of flux between tests, I was careful to keep the sensor centered on the tip, and to keep the tip level, and I swapped irons back and forth several times without shifting grip on the tail end of the sensor cold-junction (which did not noticeably get hot to my fingertips during the testing). Basically, I did the same thing, alternating several times between the irons, keeping everything as same as I could. I waited several seconds, maybe 5 to 8 seonds, until the temp bottomed out. As long as max power consumption is not reached (i.e. heatsink so big that the heater hits 100% duty cycle on one or both irons), I don't think there are any other important considerations. But if I missed something, let me hear about it.



« Last Edit: April 02, 2018, 04:01:57 am by KL27x »
 

Offline Shock

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2018, 07:59:50 am »
Shock, no.  I am measuring the temperature when the iron is pressed to a specific heatsink. Then I'm measuring the no-load/set temp without the heatsink. But to take out any inconsistency in sensor readings (while holding the cold junction between my fingers) or other factors like heat sink temperature, etc, I went the further distance to swap irons back and forth several times to make sure I was comparing apples to apples best as possible.*

Ok so you are testing the stations ability to keep a heat sink a certain temperature. I assume that you allowed them fully to cool down between tests to notice if it took one iron substantially longer. Did you happen to measure the heat up times from say room temp?

Quote
Watch the EEV video, Soldering Iron Power Delivery Explained.

I watched it briefly I'll check it again.

Quote
It is universally suggested that cartridge tips perform better in this regard

I don't think people universally suggested that without reservation, did they? Especially when it comes to clone T12 tips. I know the element in the 907 iron can deliver a ton of heat. I've not seen your test done before, but it's 65W vs 70W if comparing the genuine irons without taking into consideration design/controller/power supply etc.

Quote
No, I don't have genuine T12 tips or 951 station.

I think that is a better test to confirm the performance of the technologies involved. Do your same test but after you get what controller setting each station requires, start timing them once everything returns back to room temp and the stations turned off. Plus try and reduce the human element as even squirming the iron around to get melt, or if a thermal bridge was made will change the results.

Quote
But based on the weights and the balance point of the T12, I believe the T12 version is less than half the mass, which adequately explains the difference in cold start times).

Yes which is why you want to look at the whole picture, it's no always about startup. I understand though you are trying to use similar tips between stations. If you believe the manufacturers possible hyperbole on performance you could come to an easy conclusion that the clone tips from China have had far less attention paid to them. They may look the same but be very different material wise.

Quote
I'm just not thrilled when people parrot/promote marketing wank without any (appropriate) validation/testing (especially when it turns out to not be true/significant... possibly even a measurable disadvantage).

Understandable but I think there is a little more to it testing wise.

I've held off buying any T12 clone and a genuine Hakko FX-951 (which is $460 here) for home use mainly because there is better iron handles out for around the $100 range for the genuine article. Since I use two stations for convenience that is a $200 minimum spend plus you have to DIY a controller which is hardly a recommendation you can make to most people. I also prefer linear supplies and one that is ESD safe but also which I can optionally float if I need, and without the concerns of safety from a dodgy SMPS.

There is no doubt in my mind the Hakko FX-888D is the most reliable in that price bracket, but cartridges still offer advantages. Aside from the fact you would be hearing everyone who owns a Hakko FX-951 complain that their FX-888D or 936 was better. :D

Quote
If you could get the sensor right at the tip, it might be significant. But getting this sensor closer to the base of the shaft on the tip doesn't appear to be that significant, to me, vs the conventional way.

Interesting you say that, in the Pace ADS 200 (which has the new AccuDrive system in the TD-200 iron) uses a K type thermocouple right in the end of the tip, reportedly to give +/- 5 degrees accuracy. They also mention their high thermal mass tips can take double the time to heat up, so that goes back to what you said earlier and proving there is different things at play.

But does the testing really matter, do we really need to know? I mean here and in Europe the Bakon 950D is FAR cheaper than a genuine Hakko FX-888D but I wouldn't call it a super nice station.

I try not to spend too much money on Made for China crap, and I think people dropping $100+ on single Chinese born stations is pretty sad, that is me personally, good on you if it works for you. I have around 8 different irons by the way, they all solder joints well.
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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2018, 08:26:12 pm »
Quote
Ok so you are testing the stations ability to keep a heat sink a certain temperature.
This ability is not in question. I feel like ANY station (with at least a true 30W or 40W that make it to the tip) can keep this specific spot on this specific heatsink at 200C with a fatty 3mm bevel tip. What I'm measuring is how much higher than 200C the set temp must be set to in order for either iron to hold the heatsink at 200C.

Quote
I assume that you allowed them fully to cool down between tests to notice if it took one iron substantially longer. Did you happen to measure the heat up times from say room temp?
No. I am setting each iron to the point where the steady state temp is 200C. To this effect, I kept either iron on the heatsink for several seconds until this steady state is reached. When I swapped irons I did not wait for the heatsink to cool down. But it doesn't matter which one I tested first. I swapped several times (and made several adjustments to each station) to verify apple is apple. The temp would initially START higher than 200C and drop. I kept either iron on there long enough until a steady state was reached (and the board nice and warm to the edges). I'm not testing the ability of the iron to heat up a thermal mass, which would require very accurate TIMING. I'm using the heatsink to sink heat. Once up to temp at 200C exactly in the center and stable where the in equals the out, it is sinking heat at a very precise and repeatable rate. It is an ambient air-cooled radiator. Once steady state is achieved, you can take a pic with a FLIR, and if you don't move anything, you can take another pic an hour later, and it should look identical. In this way, the only variable that I need to control is 1. the mass of the heatsink; I can't put a huge glob of solder on there for one iron, and remove it for the other, and 2. The size of the interface must be consistent between the two irons. This is why I used 3mm bevel on both irons. If one iron contacts the heatsink over a larger area than the other, then it will have better thermal coupling to the heatsink. I tried to keep this consistent between irons, to keep the thermal load consistent. I want the FLIR pic to look as identical as possible between the two irons, as well. The ultimate goal is to dissipate the same wattage out of each iron and end up with 200C at the working surface. To maintain this condition probably only takes something south of 20W.

Quote
I don't think people universally suggested that without reservation, did they?
Dave draws conclusion that JBC is better than his 888, in this aspect, based on what appears to be a faulty test. And really no way to attribute the result to cartridge tech, specifically.
I just recently watched Louis Rossman video where he states he would take any knockoff T12 station over anything using the old technology.  And he uses a Metcal graph to make his point. I have found Rossman's review videos lacking in any objectivity, in general.
I find recently people asking for advice about certain stations, and they say "but cartridge tips are better, right."

At the time I bought my first T12 clone, I was finding lots of posts saying some really, really hard to believe stuff about the T12. Part of me bought the clones just so I could correct them. (Eventually. I was quite patient, waiting 2 months and soldering thousands of connections with them before jumping to any conclusions).

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Interesting you say that, in the Pace ADS 200 (which has the new AccuDrive system in the TD-200 iron) uses a K type thermocouple right in the end of the tip
I find this curious to eventually see. The problem with this is that the sensor and its leads takes up a certain amount of space. So wherever it goes you are creating a dead spot in the iron which has significantly lower thermal conductivity than copper. In many of the finer tips I use, there seems to be no room for any actual copper to begin with.   

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I also prefer linear supplies and one that is ESD safe but also which I can optionally float if I need, and without the concerns of safety from a dodgy SMPS.
True this. My 888 is modified to have 10 Mohm connection to ground by default.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2018, 11:00:18 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2018, 08:54:23 pm »
Thanks for doing this testing, it is great information.

One thing that isn't being tested here is thermal response time, I think you'd need a data logger of some sort to generate useful data though.

FWIW, I have previously found the bakon and 888 to warm up in about 17 seconds from cold, using large bevel tip, anyway. Bakon runs at only 19.5V. 24.5V Suhan warms up in about 10 seconds. (I have also weighed these tips, and I don't have an exact figure because I don't have a broken tip to weight just the shaft. But based on the weights and the balance point of the T12, I believe the T12 version is less than half the mass, which adequately explains the difference in cold start times).

Suhan seems significantly faster to warm up, if you do further testing it would make sense to use this station.
As you said your thermal resistance testing here shouldn't be affected.
 
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Offline Prizmatic

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2018, 04:52:20 pm »
Well that's answered all the questions I had about clone T12 tips, thanks KL27x. I'd like to see a re-run of this test with a genuine Hakko T12 tip for completeness. These cheap t12 units/kits are everywhere, would be interesting to see if dropping in a genuine tip justifies the additional cost.
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2018, 06:50:09 pm »
These cheap t12 units/kits are everywhere, would be interesting to see if dropping in a genuine tip justifies the additional cost.
FWIW, plating thickness is heavier on the genuine article based on 900/T18 tip comparisons, which is critical to its lifespan (i.e. users report years of service with genuine Hakko tips).

In terms of the tip's ability to transfer heat only (T12/T15), probably no perceivable difference when comparing the same shape (same amount of copper). This is likely why the free-air initial heat up times look similar between a genuine Hakko FX-951 or T12 clone stations.

As Shock mentioned, we'd really need a comparison between genuine Hakko's using both the T12/T15 v. the T18 series' tips to see the effect of the tech across their current offerings.

Interestingly enough, another member, GreyWoolfe owns both a Metcal (13.56Mhz version) and genuine Hakko FX-951. And has stated in multiple threads that the performance is similar between them, and either are a HUGE improvement over the genuine Hakko 936 he used to own (888's daddy).

Seems to fit with the lack of complaints from genuine Hakko T12/T15 based station owners (or JBC or Weller for that matter) in terms of cartridge tip tech just being marginally better performers on high thermal draw joints like ground planes at any rate.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2018, 07:55:48 pm by nanofrog »
 

Offline Prizmatic

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #14 on: May 06, 2018, 07:19:06 pm »
Thanks for the info' nanofrog re: reliability/longevity being the benefit of a genuine T12 tip. As a hobbyist who does mostly ugly/deadbug prototyping lots of joints go to bare copper. On the lookout for an iron with more thermal capacity that won't break the beer fund (using an RS 936 clone). Still not sure if these T12 clones fit the bill.
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #15 on: May 06, 2018, 08:32:28 pm »
Thanks for the info' nanofrog re: reliability/longevity being the benefit of a genuine T12 tip. As a hobbyist who does mostly ugly/deadbug prototyping lots of joints go to bare copper. On the lookout for an iron with more thermal capacity that won't break the beer fund (using an RS 936 clone). Still not sure if these T12 clones fit the bill.
I'm not so sure the T12 clone stations will be better than what you're using either.  :-//

Unfortunately, the gap in the UK/EU is terrible between clones and anything decent (new). Seems Ersa offers the best value in the EU these days (Nano at a minimum, but better an i-Con 1). Really good performers and reasonable tip costs (simple plated tips, but last a long time). Plenty of info from owners in the forum if you're interested.

If you're dead set on a cartridge station, Weidinger sells an analog JBC for less than the digital versions (here). Cost wise of the station, it sits between both of the Ersa's. But be warned, the tip costs will probably clean out your cupboard, drink all your beer, and leave the empties strewn all over the place.   :o :-DD

There's the used market to consider as well (I know, it's not wonderful in the UK). BUT, there's currently a used Ersa i-Con 1 (full setup) starting at 140GBP with no bids). So if you can swing it, I'd suggest putting in a bid and waiting it out. There's also a Weller WD1 (full setup for 205GBP BIN).

Oh, and I use the same model Weller.
 

Offline Prizmatic

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #16 on: May 06, 2018, 09:32:49 pm »
JCB tips.. I need both kidneys.  ;D Its looking like auction trawling, or 2 dry months for a Xytronic LF-3200.  :palm:
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2018, 10:57:16 pm »
JCB tips.. I need both kidneys.  ;D Its looking like auction trawling, or 2 dry months for a Xytronic LF-3200.  :palm:
152GBP for that station is nuts IMHO.  :palm:

Might want to consider medical donations then. At 100GBP for a blood or plasma donation of 600ml, you could cut that down to 1 month. ;) Or keep it to two months and keep the beer.  >:D
 

Online KL27x

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2018, 11:24:53 pm »
Quote
Interestingly enough, another member, GreyWoolfe owns both a Metcal (13.56Mhz version) and genuine Hakko FX-951. And has stated in multiple threads that the performance is similar between them, and either are a HUGE improvement over the genuine Hakko 936 he used to own (888's daddy).
Interesting, indeed. I have only used a Metcal a few times. I assumed if they went through all that trouble, it was because there was a significant improvement. But when I recently saw the insides of an actual Metcal tip, posted by another member, I'm not so sure, anymore. Just like with the cartridge tech, there seems to be a significant limit to how close you can get the sensor/heater to the actual tip. Before seeing the actual tip, I had erroneously believed that curie tuned alloy made up the bulk of the tip. But I think that is wrong, and that the heater "pellet" at the back of the tip must drop in temp before the curie effect causes increased high frequency skin resistance of only the heating pellet, and that heat is then conducted to the tip through copper. So it's really not any different than a cartridge tip other than the very tiny delay of signal processing and switching going on in the convetional types of stations. There is still going to be significant thermal gradient between the pellet and the tip when that tip is pressed against a heatsink.

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would be interesting to see if dropping in a genuine tip justifies the additional cost.
The cost of the genuine tip I tested happens to be more than I paid for either of these clone stations So that's not going to happen, lol. (edit: wrong... found this tip for only $10 and change on Teq) Based on my understanding of basic physics and thermodynamics, and unless I'm missing something (which is quite possible), I don't see how a cartridge tip will significantly outperform a regular soldering iron in regards to this thermal drop. AFAIC, the majority of the thermal drop is going to happen where the tip gets skinny. And the heater and sensor don't go up there, AFAIK. They are in the back of the tip, like with the metcal, like with the 888, like with pretty much all irons.


THE IMPROVEMENT OF CARTRIDGE TIPS:
This is not to say that cartridge tips are not a major improvement over regular irons. The major improvement is higher efficiency in the heating.* In the transfer of heat from a ceramic element to the tip, there are higher losses; hence, there is more heat going into the handle. In high heatsinking, high duty cycle soldering, the T12 cartridge can output that heat without warming up the handle. Example: when using a knife tip to batch solder a bunch of QFN chips in a row, my 888 can get hot enough to be uncomfortable or even burn at the very front lip of the handle. The T12 clones can do this nonstop without significant issue. I noticed this when going back to my regular 888 after 2 months of using T12 clones, exclusively. And as far as I can tell, this and warm up time are the only definitive improvements that is not subjective or related to ergonomics. For the average dude who doesn't assemble things for a living, this is not a major concern. Most people don't solder the same thing over and over, nonstop, for several minutes at a time.

*Now, you'd think that if the 951 is 70W and the 888 is 70W, the 951 would have greater effective power output because it is not heating the handle as much. In experience, they are about the same. In 2 months of using T12 clone, I had to bump the temp up just as high when trying to solder a big heat sink with a small, thin tip. 

   

 
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 07:14:08 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2018, 01:22:10 am »
Quote
Interestingly enough, another member, GreyWoolfe owns both a Metcal (13.56Mhz version) and genuine Hakko FX-951. And has stated in multiple threads that the performance is similar between them, and either are a HUGE improvement over the genuine Hakko 936 he used to own (888's daddy).
Interesting, indeed. I have only used a Metcal a few times. I assumed if they went through all that trouble, it was because there was a significant improvement. But when I recently saw the insides of an actual Metcal tip, posted by another member, I'm not so sure, anymore. Just like with the cartridge tech, there seems to be a significant limit to how close you can get the sensor/heater to the actual tip.
The stations Metcal introduced were a noticeable improvement. That was also 36 years ago, and other companies have caught up in recent years. Surpassing it in some cases.

Take a look at the following image shows some tricks to get the sensor closer to the tip's contact surface using current tech. The left-most illustration is cartridge tech, while the center and far right are just plated tips + separate heaters (i.e. tech used in the WXP120 and WSP80/WP80 respectively).



Other tricks I've noticed are increased power into the tip based on the temp differential when first touching the joint (i.e. 150W in the case of Ersa's i-Tool iron or 140W for JBC's T245, otherwise run at nominal levels approx. half that or so), a faster control loop (faster sense & response to reduce the temp gradient between heating cycles), and adjusting tip mass (stored heat in the tip itself). It's a balancing act, and I suspect the increased availability of thermal imaging and better thermodynamic simulation software has significantly helped this along in the back half or so of the aforementioned development gap.

...[snip]...I don't see how a cartridge tip will significantly outperform a regular soldering iron in regards to this thermal drop.
They can and have gotten the sensor closer. The copper mass can be adjusted as well for high demand joints. Pace's tips for the new ADS200 clearly bear this out, as do some of JBC's (wide chisels and/or high mass versions of smaller shapes, usually with a copper sleeve that encompasses some of the exterior of the stainless steel shaft on a cartridge).



Same goes for non-cartridge tips, which are well illustrated by Ersa's 102 series (few examples).
*Now, you'd think that if the 951 is 70W and the 888 is 70W, the 951 would have a much greater effective power output. Based on my experience and testing with clones, this is not the case.
The highlighted bit seems to be the key factor in your disappointment with cartridge tech, as GreyWoolfe's posts didn't indicate that to me at all.
Another possibility might be take up a collection to buy him a T12 clone and ask if he'd do a write-up.

Actual YT soldering videos with it didn't either (FM-102 or FM-203 use the same iron & tips). John Gammell's drag soldering video would be one such example (he does solder training for a living).


 

Online KL27x

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2018, 09:25:59 pm »
Quote
Take a look at the following image shows some tricks to get the sensor closer to the tip's contact surface using current tech. The left-most illustration is cartridge tech, while the center and far right are just plated tips + separate heaters (i.e. tech used in the WXP120 and WSP80/WP80 respectively).
In this picture, you can visualize a clear difference in the distance between the sensor and the point of the tip. The one on the left has a much shorter distance.

But if you chop all three tips off at the point where the leftmost tip has the sensor, you will see the extra distance on the other two occur over a relatively thick diameter of copper.

In scenario #1, you have a power supply 100 feet away from your house. You carry the current to your home through 90 feet of 2AWG wire. And the last 10 feet you reduce the diameter to 20AWG.

And in scenario #2, you bring the power supply 90 feet closer to your house, but you still bridge that ten feet with 20AWG wire. 

You're cutting out the thick wire, but the vast majority of the voltage drop is happening over the 10 foot section of thin 20AWG wire. And you have not improved that.

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The highlighted bit seems to be the key factor in your disappointment with cartridge tech, as GreyWoolfe's posts didn't indicate that to me at all.
I was making a statement on the power rating on the station. If you measure the resistance of a genuine tip, is it not over 8 ohms, like the clones? I find it improbable that with the average T12 tip is drawing enough peak current to reach 70W dissipation when to temp. I bet this 70W is a max rating that is only reached by special tips. Not saying that average tips actually need all 70W. It seems to me that the T12 tips are more efficient... losing less power to the side effect of heating up the handle?**

John Gammel or GreyWolfe can be very happy with their 951's. There are a lot of reasons to like it. No doubt John Gammel knows how to solder. But I don't see how that is either here nor there. I never said the 951 wasn't as good as the 888; in fact, it is better in a couple of ways. But maybe the improvement is not what people typically ascribe to it. What I hear ad nauseum is akin to "do you have to crank your station up to 400C to solder to those big ground planes? This is why you need to upgrade to cartridge tech." Between 888 and 951 (clones) I don't see a significant improvement in this particular aspect.  The 888 goes beyond the 936 by increasing the voltage of the power supply. But it is now limited, perhaps, by the heat loss into the handle. The T12 removes this limitation, but at least with the average tips, it doesn't appear to me to move the bar much if at all, in regards to increasing power delivery or reducing thermal drop (diff between set temp and joint temp). It seems to be content to be at least as good in these two aspects while reducing the heating up of the handle.

**edited to add:
powered directly from bench psu I was pulling 2.5A while melting solder. So yeah, that's over 60W, anyhow. I'll edit out any erroneous information in my previous post. Effectively, the resistance is around 9.6R when up to temp, if it draws 2.5A at 24V DC, which is the most reliable measurement out of these all as pertains to peak power. (edited out hot "resistance" readings, because the thermocouple interferes when there's a temp differential across it). I don't really want to run my 888 off DC, but at a true cold resistance of 3ish ohms vs 8 ohms, I would expect it might draw more current at temp. Of course the positive thermal coefficient is probably higher.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2018, 10:33:13 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2018, 10:42:21 pm »
In this picture, you can visualize a clear difference in the distance between the sensor and the point of the tip. The one on the left has a much shorter distance.

But if you chop all three tips off at the point where the leftmost tip has the sensor, you will see the extra distance on the other two occur over a relatively thick diameter of copper.
Yes. This was what I was trying to get across. To get enough heat into the joint in a timely manner with the older tech, they have to use more copper (more thermal energy gets stored to handle high demand joints).

In the case of Hakko's T12/15 tips using less copper, they're relying on a faster cycle combined with that closer sensor (sense + heat). To do this, they have to run at a higher frequency.

In the case of JBC, it's 2x the wall frequency, so 120Hz here in NA. Not sure what it is for the Hakko, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's much different (if at all). JBC just took things a bit further by being able to pour in more power into the element (2x in fact) than the Hakko T12/T15 stations can deliver, followed by some high copper mass tip shapes. This allows them to produce more thermal energy per cycle + store more of it in the case of high mass tips.

I never said the 951 wasn't as good as the 888; in fact, it is better in a couple of ways. But maybe the improvement is not what people typically ascribe to it. What I hear ad nauseum is akin to "do you have to crank your station up to 400C to solder to those big ground planes? This is why you need to upgrade to cartridge tech." Between 888 and 951 (clones) I don't see a significant improvement in this particular aspect.
I get what you're trying to say. But keep in mind, those that have used both genuine Hakkos (i.e. 936, 888 vs. 102, 203, 950, 951) say the cartridge tip versions perform noticeably better.

The point I'm trying to get across is the differences between genuine Hakko stations and the T12 clones comes down to the differing electronics. Specifically, that the clones are running at a slower sense + heat cycle, delivering less thermal energy per unit time for the same tip shape, joint conditions, and temp settings.

And as you've only experienced T12 clones, you've NOT seen how the T12/T15 cartridge tip tech can truly perform (what it can do in a genuine Hakko).

Seriously, I'd like to compare the T12 clone designs to that of one of the genuine Hakko cartridge tech stations.
 

Online KL27x

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #22 on: May 07, 2018, 11:04:40 pm »
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The highlighted bit seems to be the key factor in your disappointment with cartridge tech, as GreyWoolfe's posts didn't indicate that to me at all.
I'd like to, as well. One day.

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In the case of Hakko's T12/15 tips using less copper, they're relying on a faster cycle combined with that closer sensor (sense + heat). To do this, they have to run at a higher frequency.
I refute the "faster cycle time" as being better. Just because the 888 heater clicks on/off slowly, this doesn't mean it doesn't respond as fast. It just means the hysteresis is higher because the designers decided it doesn't really matter. It's a difference of do you want to blink your left turn signal at 1 Hz, which is fast enough. Or at 6Hz just to be annoying.

The higher thermal mass of the 888 tip is necessary because you have to couple the heater to the tip with a higher surface area interface in order to do the same job. Yes, this adds thermal mass and slows the change in temp of the tip when you touch a heatsink. This is not good nor bad. If it was smaller in mass, the heater would kick in faster. If it was larger in mass, the heater would kick in slower. But as far as you are concerned making joints, it doesn't matter one way or the other whether the heat going into the joint in the first fraction of a second is being supplied by electro-thermal engine or what is stored in thermal mass. "Faster recovery" is misguided. This is only the case where you are soldering to a heatsink that sinks more heat than the heater can actually supply. At any job that demands less than the max power, which should be all of your jobs else you need a more powerful iron, it doesn't matter one way or the other.

And IF you want to solder things beyond this limit, which do you think will work better? A tip with twice the thermal mass, which you can supercharge to 400C to make one joint? Or a tip with half the thermal mass, heat that up to 400C, then have a heater kick in marginally faster... a heater which isn't powerful enough to do the job and can only slow the rate of temp drop?


For now, I did another measurement on my 888 and want to stack things up.

888 heater resistance when set to 335C, unplugged and immediately recorded: 7.3R.
At 26V power supply, I'm going to adjust for the 1.2Vish drop across the triac, because the T12 clones use DC and FETs. And I dont' know how a real 951 works.
So 24.8V and 7.3R is 3.4A draw and power of 3.4A * 24.8V = 84W. Well, let's remove 2V for the TRIAC, and we still get 79W. I'm actually not exactly sure how to do this because it's AC.

The high voltage clone is almost 25V. So previous figure of 60ish W, we can boost to 65W for the Suhan clone, using 9.6R as the heater resistance while at temp. I assume the Suhan has a more powerful PSU than a 951, which is known to be 24V. I am not sure, but I think the 951 would run on AC and use a triac, too.

Just by pure power consumption, the 888 is more powerful than a 951 using clone tips. Of course it spends more of that power to heat the handle than the 951.

If anyone wants to measure the COLD resistance of the genuine T12 tip, that would be nice. The clones are about 8.0R. Note that the tip must be completely cold. If you reverse the DMM leads, you should get the same reading. Once there's a temp differential across the thermocouple, you will get a low reading one way and a high reading in the other.

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And as you've only experienced T12 clones, you've NOT seen how the T12/T15 cartridge tip tech can truly perform (what it can do in a genuine Hakko).
I believe that there may be a big difference in the real 951 algorithm. In the tips, the thermocouple is attached to the heater. This means in the Suhan clone, for instance, you can see the heater switch on/off very rapidly even when the temp is still well below set temp. As soon as the heater turns on, the sensor is very quickly over the set point even though there is still a long ways to go. It would be curious to see if the 951 uses some sort of algorithm to improve on this.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2018, 11:46:54 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2018, 12:21:44 am »
In regard to specifications, the FX-951 is rated at 75W total power consumption, with 70W of it is for the iron (runs ~24VAC). Not huge difference in the element power consumption between them.

If the performance was on par however, I'm pretty sure someone on the forum would have called the FX-951 out on this. Not seen this though. So something must be going on that is improving its performance without requiring increased power.

And I'm more than just curious at this point.   ;D

 

Offline thm_w

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Re: T12 clone vs 888, practical test results
« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2018, 10:29:47 pm »
If the FX951 is rated 70W that almost guarantees to me the tip resistance would be the same 8 ohms as the clones, cold at least.
That's slightly disappointing, but it would explain how a 40W Metcal is easily in the same league as a "70W" 951. As the effective power under load is similar.

I tested with my Quicko clone, heater resistance was 8 ohm cold to maybe 12 hot. Power supply is 24VDC.
Initially its pulling 72W and then drops down to ~10W idle or so. If you bump up the temperature or try to solder to a big chunk of brass, then it will pull 40-52W peak.
 


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