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Old 02-21-2018, 04:24 AM   #1
Dannyx
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Default Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

Good day folks. Having worked in the field of electronics for a while now and having only used my shop's tools, I decided it's time I bought my own soldering station so I can carry on doing projects and repairs at home, now that I'm more confident in doing them.

While I have an above-average selection of tools compared to most people (my old man himself being passionate about crafting and the likes) these mostly include "hardware" stuff like screwdrivers, spanners, power tools, etc and not so much tools for electronics, much less so fine stuff like SMD. What I currently have is a soldering GUN....not an IRON, but a GUN You know one of those things where a copper wire loop heats up and melts the solder ? Well that's more than enough for soldering two wires together and even through-hole stuff, but it's nearly impossible to do SMD stuff with it, plus you run the risk of passing some voltage through the part itself and damaging it, so it's time I "graduated" from that.

What I use at work is an assortment of "Bakku" tools (a Hakko rip-off obviously), which also includes two soldering stations. They both have a hot-air gun and a soldering iron (actually one of them has TWO soldering hand pieces, but that's beside the point, since they're identical anyway).....they get the job done and seem decent enough, at least for what I use them. They served me well all these years and they're still going strong. So far there hasn't been a job which was too much for them - neither too big or too small. The only thing that's to blame at the end of the day, if anything, is skill, not the tools.

Not sure whether I should get one of these myself for home, from the same store where the shop bought ours, our invest in something better...with tools, the general rule of thumb is that expensive means better, but it's not always like that, case and point: one of these Bakku thingies costs way less than other stations out there which cost a fortune and it doesn't feel like I'm struggling with it....then again, it could just as well be because I haven't laid my hands on something top of the line which would blow my mind and make these things look like trash I certainly don't want to spend a fortune, especially since it won't see THAT much use at home, but at the same time I don't want to get a piece of junk either.

Question is, what exactly should I be looking out for in a soldering station ? The main difference that I see seems to be the typology of the hot-air gun: some are pump-based while others are fan-based, meaning they have the fan in the hand piece itself. The Bakkus I have are both fan-based. Not having seen a pump one before, I'm not sure which one is better and strangely enough, there aren't many tutorials or tips for purchasing soldering stations out there...or perhaps I didn't dig deep enough. I'm mostly interested in noise, airflow, stuff like that...any thoughts ? Another brand which seems fairly popular here is Gordak, though again, it seems favored by the european market and there aren't many reviews out there. Cheers and thanks.
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Old 02-21-2018, 09:13 AM   #2
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

get a T12 based soldering station, and a cheap $40 858d hot air unit.
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Old 02-21-2018, 11:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

I second this recommendation.
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Old 02-21-2018, 12:15 PM   #4
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

That 858 deal looks exactly like what I have on my workbench at work right now - the handpiece that is. I reckon it goes by many brands. It's the same thing as getting the 2-in-1 version which also has the iron. The iron is slightly different though from what you suggested, but the end price might be the same thing.
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Old 02-21-2018, 01:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

I think there is a difference in the 858 and 858D. The 858 is 400W and the 858D is 700W. I recently bought the 858D for 35.00USD. It was a good buy. I purchased this especially to try on a LG LED TV 43LW5700. The symptom was standby LED kept non-stow slow-glow in red. The standby LED should go blue once the TV is ON. I self tested the PSU and determined the Main Bd was the issue. I can't find a Main Bd anywhere. I can get Main Bds with the same board No. but different Part Nos. Anyway I decided to get the 858D as I wanted one a long time now. Removed the heatsink on the BGA and fired it up with the Hot air station. The TV worked and now I am counting the time to see how long it would last.
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Old 02-21-2018, 01:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

I'm into the same boat. I want to buy a somewhat good soldering station and hot air gun for hobby use (about 2h/week max) but without the price tag from Weller, Hakko, etc.

There are plenty of chinese brands. Is there any that actually differs on quality from the rest (positively, of course) for both soldering station/hot air gun?
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Old 02-22-2018, 05:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

I scour the second hand market, mainly my investment in soldering is mostly Pace sensor-temp along with intelli-heat. These are a MBT 250 three channel controller, a pair of sx80 solder extractors, a TD100 and PS90, a Thermo jet I think that's a tj70. Several thermo tweezers tt65 make up the remaining pace equipment, I use a Hakko FR802 for the heavier smd reflow work and a Weller WPS80 hand-piece and controller which serves along side the TD100 for micro soldering.

If you can budget for it and find second hand examples I would thoroughly Pace
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Old 02-23-2018, 08:59 AM   #8
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

What about a Hakko 888? I can find those for about US$140 here (both digital and analog)
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Old 02-23-2018, 09:59 AM   #9
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

888 is junk compared to T12 based irons or a TS100
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Old 02-23-2018, 11:20 PM   #10
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

Also avoid any iron/station with 900M -stype tips, unless you know 100% it's truly a genuine Hakko. The cheap 900M tips are GARBAGE! That said, even a genuine Hakko 900M tip will pale in comparison to a cheap station with T12 tips. So I second/third the notion of stj and Th3_uN1Qu3 to go with T12.

As for hot air, I'd say go for one with the fan-in-handle. The stations with an air pump are louder and also not that easy to source parts for them if/when the pump fails. Granted my KADA 852D+ I still happily running along. But I don't really use it that much anymore. In fact, it's hardly seen any use in the past 3-4 years.
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Old 02-24-2018, 02:57 AM   #11
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

another couple of problems having the pump in the base,
the hose getting kinked where it leaves the base or sliding off the fitting - makes the damed element overheat before the electronics react!!
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Old 03-02-2018, 10:48 AM   #12
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

Quote:
Originally Posted by stj View Post
get a T12 based soldering station, and a cheap $40 858d hot air unit.
My HAKKO 936 soldering station went missing during my move. Where do I get a T12 based solder station? And the 858d hot air unit? Thanks for this, I have several boards needing attention an no solder station except an old HAKKO 926 that seems down on power.
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Old 03-02-2018, 01:01 PM   #13
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

858d = ebay

T12 is the element/tip cartridge, there are many stations - what's your budget?
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Old 03-02-2018, 03:22 PM   #14
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

Quote:
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858d = ebay

T12 is the element/tip cartridge, there are many stations - what's your budget?
I'd like to keep it under $100CDN = $75-$80 USD.

Loved my Hakko 936, the only ones offered now on Ebay are Chinese knockoffs at $70USD with free shipping.
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Old 03-02-2018, 03:39 PM   #15
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

the knockoffs are more like $20 or less.
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Old 03-23-2018, 04:57 PM   #16
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

There is a LOT of T12 implementation on Aliexpress. Most of them seem to use a STM32 microcontroller. Some have the revision (up to 3.0, which accepts saving profiles since there's a battery on those, I guess), some with a simple 7-segment LED indicator, others with OLED for full info. I'm tempted to grab one of the later, like this one:

https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pro...7982e148pfhwRF

I wonder why some almost identical ones have a higher price:

https://www.aliexpress.com/store/pro...7982e148pfhwRF
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Old 03-24-2018, 06:08 AM   #17
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

While I agree these T12 you guys recommend look fairly professional, I think I'll stick with the Bakkus in the end. For one thing, I'm used to their "feel" and how they handle, though this is certainly not the main reason since it's like driving a car and you can/SHOULD always be able to adapt to a different one at any point.

Another aspect is the tips: the T12 seem to use like a rod that slips into the handpiece somehow, as opposed to the ones I'm used to where the tip is a short sleeve that slips over the heating element. It's much easier for me to source these latter types of tips locally and I already have a pretty good selection of them on hand, having ordered multiple ones for the Bakkus I have at work. Just about every soldering iron I've seen uses these, crap or not, so it's not a problem to swap them around. With the T12 ones, I'd have to order various tips individually (haven't looked at the prices though) and wait a lot for them to arrive...another thing I thought about just now. I'm not sure how compatible they are with other soldering irons of that kind.
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Old 03-24-2018, 07:28 AM   #18
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

T12 slips into a socket with 3 spring contacts.
it wont fall out, if that's what your thinking!

T12 tips are about €3 each or cheaper in sets.
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Old 03-24-2018, 07:49 AM   #19
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

No I wasn't concerned about it falling out, I was thinking about availability and convenience of getting them.
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Old 03-24-2018, 08:51 AM   #20
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Default Re: Soldering station thoughts and guidelines

it's fast becoming the "standard" for soldering,
you can get them anywhere and there are lots of clone makers too.

i dont expect any problems finding them - not for another decade probably.
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