Author Topic: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations  (Read 26366 times)

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Offline sentry7

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Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« on: March 29, 2015, 04:29:21 am »
Hey,

I'm looking to built a cost-effective setup for SMD work. My budget won't allow me to purchase both a high brand soldering iron and hot air station, and since I would eventually need both tools for SMD rework, then I guess I'll invest in low end budget tools.

I've been doing research on the various off-brand rework stations that go under names like Kendal, Yihua, Standig, and WER. So far, I've seen mixed reviews. Some say that they've had their unit for years and never had a problem, while others got units DOA or snapped within a period of months (how is it that that the performance results can be so spread out?)

Are these quality budget tools, or are they just not worth the money? If they can get the job done, I will consider them.
 

Offline evb149

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2015, 04:46:49 am »
I don't know those brands / models, sorry.  But if you can afford them and find them competitive with the others you're looking at (I did not check the prices on those) you could consider the HAKKO FX-888D iron, and the Aoyue 852A++ for instance.  I think there are a couple of lower priced Aoyue units than that one also.

Depending on the kind of SMD you're making you could consider other alternatives -- if just components with fairly accessible leads/pads like MLCC, SMD resistors, SOT-23 transistors, SOIC, TSSOP, QFP, and similar then you could certainly build with those with either just an iron or just hot air.  If you're doing a substantial amount of rework or are working a lot with QFN, BGA and similar components that are more difficult to solder with an iron, you could use just a hot air station without an iron for the time being.

If you just want to efficiently build PCBs from scratch, many find a "reflow toaster oven" or "reflow hot plate" to me more efficient and effective than a hot air tool or a soldering iron.  Particularly the hot plate is a nice option for small to medium size (small enough to fit on the hot plate with room left over) PCBs with components mostly on a single side.  The toaster oven is nice for somewhat larger PCBs though the ability to interact with and monitor the process is more limited, and it is not so useful for doing disassembly / rework in any case.

If you look at what places like MCM electronics carries, they have TENMA and other similar "value priced" equipment that may be worth considering.  In particular there are several combination units of iron and hot air rework station that may be woth looking at from various suppliers and vendors.

For SMD, particularly, I would suggest using an iron with digital temperature control since it is nice in my opinion to be able to solder at a consistent and low temperature when working with the fine components and having less risk of damaging the PCB or the component.

For hot air, you really have to get one with an acceptably small or large nozzle to suit the size of your component to some degree, and you have to have at least enough control of the air velocity that you don't blow your components away.  They often have a vacuum pick up attachment as well which is handy, and, if so, you should find one that is well designed and suited for your size / type of parts.

If I was just getting started and wanted to focus on SMD, I'd get some fine stainless steel tweezers, a medium performance / quality hot air + vacuum station, a suitable hot plate, and whatever lighting / magnification you need of whatever sort is sensible for you. 


 

Offline android

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2015, 05:44:14 am »
You might be interested in a combo unit like an Atten 8586.

I picked one up recently for about AUD 90 just for the hot air - but I was pleasantly surprised by the soldering iron that came with it...and it takes the same tips as my Hakko 936  :D. All in all I'm very happy with it.
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Offline Kappes Buur

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« Last Edit: March 30, 2015, 04:58:16 pm by Kappes Buur »
 

Offline cs.dk

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2015, 10:48:34 am »
I've got one of these; (Yihua 882D+) http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Yihua-882D-Soldering-Rework-Station-Hot-Cold-air-rework-gun-ESD-safe-Lead-free-/181680843781?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_15&hash=item2a4d05ac05

I can highly recommend it. Actually i'm quite surprised over the thing. Specially the sondering iron. It is way more powerful than my Weller WHS40D, and heatup-time is 1/3, which really surprises me.
 

Online blueskull

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2015, 10:54:15 am »
I have a Weller WES51 from Amazon, about 80 bucks.

Also, I have a Quick 957DW from Adafruit, about 100 bucks.

I use them with Senju 0.4mm SAC solder wires and SRA SnBiAg solder paste.

Works nicely from heavy wires all the way down to 0.4mm SMD.
 

Offline Michaela Joy

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2015, 02:45:30 pm »
I bought this station:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/X-TRONIC-4040-HOT-AIR-REWORK-SOLDERING-IRON-STATION-/180672745995?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a10ef520b

It works quite well, and they provide a nice set of tips and accessories. I have no complaints, although I'd like to see an adapter that allows me to use the hot-air wand for shrink tubing.

:MJ
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Online blueskull

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2015, 02:56:22 pm »
I bought this station:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/X-TRONIC-4040-HOT-AIR-REWORK-SOLDERING-IRON-STATION-/180672745995?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a10ef520b

It works quite well, and they provide a nice set of tips and accessories. I have no complaints, although I'd like to see an adapter that allows me to use the hot-air wand for shrink tubing.

:MJ

Seems to have quite decent quality. I wish I could know this before.
 

Offline sentry7

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2015, 06:14:12 pm »
I think I might settle on the Aoyue 937 (http://www.ebay.com/itm/120545542541); the only problem is finding extra tips. Does anyone know if the tips are compatible with Hakko's models.
 

Offline Guni

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2015, 06:42:59 pm »
I have YiHUA-852D+ for over 3 years and it works very, very good. Tips are easy available and cheap. Hotiron is also available for few bucks as other spare parts. But I use it quite intensively and I did need to replace anything.  It's very popular rework low budget station.  It will be hard to find something better for this quality/price ratio.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/YiHUA-852D-Dual-Display-Soldering-Station-Hot-Fire-Gun-Soldering-Iron-Kit-/121607098033?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c50590eb1
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2015, 04:51:24 am »
Given the fact you live in the US, you'd be a fool to opt for a Chinese made soldering station (quality is poor as a general rule), particularly as a brand name can be had for under $100 shipped. Hot air OTOH, brand names tend to be way too expensive for hobbyist use, even used.

So for a soldering station, you'd want go for either:
  • Hakko FX-888D (toss in some tips to meet/exceed $99, and you'll qualify for free shipping  :-+ ; there's even a discount code - PM sent on this)

The Hakko has digital controls (buttons), while the Weller is analog (knob/dial to set the temp). Hakko makes better tips than Weller, but there are also 3rd party tips available if you've problems (i.e. Plato/Techspray brand tips).

For hot air, Chinese tends to be the only viable option due to cost (i.e. MSRP on a Hakko FR-810 is $749). Do keep in mind, they're not used as often as an iron, which further justifies opting for a less expensive option IMHO. Most aren't all that wonderful of course (build quality or usability), but there are a couple of makes with decent build quality.  :)
 

Online McBryce

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2015, 08:50:13 am »
My two cents: Don't buy a combi (two in one) device. One of them will break first and leave you with a broken part hanging off a still usable device. Spend more on a soldering iron, go for a brand name where you can be sure you will still be able to get new tips for it in a few years. Personally I'm a fan of Ersa (I mainly use an Ersa iCon Nano), but any of the brand names will serve you well.
For hot air, there's not a huge difference between a good quality Chinese brand and a "known brand", definitely not enough to justify the prices that brand names sometimes command.

McBryce.
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2015, 10:55:29 am »
Given the fact you live in the US, you'd be a fool to opt for a Chinese made soldering station (quality is poor as a general rule), particularly as a brand name can be had for under $100 shipped. Hot air OTOH, brand names tend to be way too expensive for hobbyist use, even used.
I agree. I once bought an Aoyue soldering iron but the tips are alergic to solder. Better stick with the better brands like JBC or Ersa (Weller is not on that list because their tips wear out too quickly). I have no experience with Hakko so I can't comment on that brand.

Hot air is what is is: hot air. I have an Atten 858D+ hot air station which works just fine. I bought a second one just in case the first breaks. They are that cheap  8)
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Offline ManateeMafia

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2015, 11:37:17 pm »
I have been happy with my BlackJack Solderwerks BK4050. This is my first hot air station but it has been easy to use.

My tweezers were bought at Harbor Freight. I never expect much from HF but the kit of tweezers are better than I expected. I do find that many components are easier to remove with the hot air station and easier to install with a soldering iron.

I agree with having a dual setup. Sometimes bench space is at a minimum and I prefer to remove parts and then move the hot air station out of the way.

 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2015, 12:50:09 am »
For hot air, there's not a huge difference between a good quality Chinese brand and a "known brand" ... [snip].
There is IME (quite a bit actually), but it's not feasible to justify the cost for hobbyist use regarding a hot air rework station either IMHO. So as a general rule, hobbyists will have to deal with a less than stellar unit for this particular product.

As it happens however, there are a couple of manufacturers that seem to be doing quite a bit better than the average cheap hot air station; Quick and Pro's Kit in particular (there are photos of the innards of a Quick 861DS and Pro's Kit 969 here in the forum).  ;)
Quick 861DS (scroll down; from the solder/desolder/air station -> Turned to Hakko FR300 / FX888D, Pro'sKit SS-969B thread).

Few models you might want to take a look at:
 

Offline LEDAero

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2015, 01:16:57 am »
For what it's worth, I've got a YiHua 995D 'rework station' and it's been perfect.

Heats up fast, seems accurate, temperature-wise (checked against my IR temp gun) and feels well-made.

It was pretty cheap: http://www.aliexpress.com/item/YIHUA-995D-LCD-rework-station-with-hot-air-gun/1477320527.html but not ridiculously so.

I have used the hot air gun for everything from disassembly to heat-shrink and it's been fine. It starts when you pick it up and shuts off when you put it down. It has a 'cool-down' cycle so it doesn't sit there threatening to burn your arm if you are unwary.

Couldn't be happier with it.

I'm sure that everyone will tell me I'm throwing my money away and how crap Chinese stuff is, but quite frankly, it does exactly what I want and was the price I wanted to pay.

I really don't care that a 'genuine' whatever is going to heat up 5 seconds quicker and will last till I'm 99, I am not going to be soldering for the next 30 years. It's a hobby, one that's getting more and more difficult as my eyes get worse :)

 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2015, 01:38:46 am »
Perhaps but wait until you experience the difference between a cheap Chinese iron and (for example an Ersa).
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline pickle9000

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2015, 02:18:39 am »
http://www.ebay.com/itm/FULL-PACK-GQ-5200-2-in-1-SMD-Rework-Station-Hor-Air-Soldering-Iron-USA-Brand-/261022185604?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3cc6227884

Uses the same soldering iron as Hakko FX888-D, so tips are easy to come by.

If going for a Chinese one this one is not bad (I have an older one), the seller is good as well. If your starting out get one but plan to get a better iron in the future. Having two or three irons on a bench is very useful one with a high mass tip and one with a finer tip. Very convenient and a backup to boot. Another good option is to have a spare handle with another tip loaded in it.

I like the diaphragm pump for the hot air, they hum but are very consistent.
 

Offline KA3YAN

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2015, 03:10:13 pm »
My first delve into hot air rework was with the X-TRONIC 4040.  Wanted a reliable low-end combination unit.  The reason for me was one of space on the bench and obviously cost.  I was immediately happy with the hot air side of the device, but could never really love the soldering iron.  For Christmas last year I received a brand new Hakko FX-888D iron and fell in love.  One thing I noticed though was how similar the irons were between the Hakko and X-TRONIC.  Interestingly the tips were interchangeable.  When I put a genuine Hakko tip on my X-TRONIC iron, the difference was immediately noticeable. 

The cheap X-TRONIC tips were much lighter weight and didn't have the thermal capacity to handle the more demanding jobs, while the genuine Hakko tips were just fantastic!!

So now I have two great irons and a hot air reflow station and couldn't be happier.
 

Offline james3

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2015, 08:32:19 am »
You might be interested in a combo unit like an Atten 8586.

I picked one up recently for about AUD 90 just for the hot air - but I was pleasantly surprised by the soldering iron that came with it...and it takes the same tips as my Hakko 936  :D. All in all I'm very happy with it.

Hello could you compare the ATTEN 8586 iron to the HAKKO 936 one ? Are there big differences ?
 

Offline android

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2015, 12:31:44 am »
@james3

They're almost identical. The Hakko has a ceramic heating element enclosure, a more textured grip, and a silicone rubber cord assembly. The Atten cord is just plastic - i.e. you can melt it.
Apart from those things I can't tell the difference in operation. Here's a pic:
The one on the bottom is a 12 year old original Hakko and the Atten on the top was bought in 2014.

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Offline Rasz

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2015, 02:14:07 am »
You might be interested in a combo unit like an Atten 8586.
it takes the same tips as my Hakko 936

maybe if your hakko is a chinese clone too? :) those tips are awful and need a metal shim just to stay in place = heat transfer is terrible

+1 for QUICK 861DS/DW/DE if you need serious tools (1KW, 120L). Used one in a busy service center where it was running 10h a day 5 days a week. Its build to last. If its for home use get the cheapest hotair you can find (858 = $30-40),  they work just fine and will almost certainly not burn your house down (if you unplug them from the wall after use).
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Offline android

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2015, 01:03:08 pm »
Quote
maybe if your hakko is a chinese clone too?

hmmm...you've got me worried now  :-\ ... was I really happy with a clone all those years  :( ... it never occurred to me in 2003 that clones were something to watch out for.
Perhaps someone could post a photo of their 100% genuine Hakko 907 for comparison?
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Offline krivx

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2015, 01:39:45 pm »
You might be interested in a combo unit like an Atten 8586.
it takes the same tips as my Hakko 936

maybe if your hakko is a chinese clone too? :) those tips are awful and need a metal shim just to stay in place = heat transfer is terrible

+1 for QUICK 861DS/DW/DE if you need serious tools (1KW, 120L). Used one in a busy service center where it was running 10h a day 5 days a week. Its build to last. If its for home use get the cheapest hotair you can find (858 = $30-40),  they work just fine and will almost certainly not burn your house down (if you unplug them from the wall after use).

Has any tried putting some shim stock in there? I have a clone that works pretty well but there is definitely play between the tip and heater.
 

Online Shock

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Re: Low-budget soldering irons and hot air rework stations
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2015, 03:38:55 pm »
Has any tried putting some shim stock in there? I have a clone that works pretty well but there is definitely play between the tip and heater.

Yes people have, but there is no reason to, it's by design, so you don't break your heaters and I bet it has something to do with even heat distribution as well.

Don't listen to the pundits. If you want it to perform like the genuine article you can buy Hakko tips and do a heater mod. It will be close but never work exactly as the Hakko stations as the clones use different heating circuits in the stations themselves.

Comparing the Hakko $5 tips and 907 design to more expensive stations is pointless as well. Some models tips cost more than the entire station does.

A case of too much emphasis on the tool rather than the skill of the operator. The truth can hurt.
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