Upgrading my soldering setup

Discussion in 'Modding and Hacking - Consoles and Electronics' started by Jord4n313, Feb 22, 2018.

  1. Jord4n313

    Jord4n313 Member

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    Hi all, I searched around and have not found any recent threads on this topic. As I am moving deeper down the rabbit hole of retro collecting, I have found myself increasingly reliant on soldering for anything from preservation recaps, to RGB output mods, to modchips and region mods. For many of these I have had to contract out because they are beyond my tools and skill set, but I would like to improve both - especially for the maintainence and preservation side of things.

    Right now I have a basic variable wattage soldering iron and a hand operated solder sucker. Are there any recommendations on a temperature controlled soldering station, desoldering station with vacuum pump, and hot air rework station?

    For the desoldering station imparticular, if it exists as a quality product, I would like to find one that uses a pen style. I have seen video of people using a desoldering station that has what looks like a regular pen style soldering iron that has the hot tip like a soldering iron but with a hole in the tip where it sucks up solder via vacuum pump upon pressing a button, but in my initial search I seem to only find gun style vacuum pump desoldering stations. I can find pen style soldering irons and pen style hot air rework stations but not the pen style vacuum pump desoldering stations.

    Of course, I am unsure about which brands are any good either so recommendations are appreciated.

    Thank you
     
  2. Zeigren

    Zeigren Robust Member

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    I really love my Metcal iron, definitely the best purchase I've made as far as electronics go. Something like their MX-500DS would be both good as a regular iron and for desoldering. Part of the "magic" of their stuff is that the irons automatically adjust themselves which you can learn about here. Unfortunately I think all their desoldering irons are the gun style. Maybe JBC makes a pen style one?

    EEVblog just did a video on the Quick 861DW Hot Air Rework Station I don't personally have it, but I do have a similar one to what he is comparing it to and it seems to be much better than it.

    However all this stuff is $$$$. To save a couple of bucks you could try out a hot air rework station like this, depending on what you do with it you might want to get different nozzles. As for saving some money on the iron you can pick up a used one on eBay. I bought one that was just the power supply and then bought a brand new handle along with some tips. You could of course go with the crowd favorite, the Hakko FX888 to save even more. Considering that the handle for my iron cost more than the entire Hakko FX888 kit.

    It's one of those things where it really depends how far down the rabbit hole you want to go. You can save money long term by getting nicer stuff right off the bat, instead of gradually buying more and more expensive stuff as things break or just don't work as well as you would like. You'll also "probably" break less stuff with nicer gear, and waste less time.

    I will say that my Metcal, as old and beat up as it is, is like 3x better than the temperature adjustable iron I had before. Also from what research I've done it seems like all the non-professional desoldering irons are pretty much junk. As for the hot air rework station the cheap one is decent, but that Quick one is much "quicker" which could save you from inadvertently damaging stuff from overheating it. If you end up doing a lot of hot air rework you'll want some kind of preheater for the board, using something like an electric griddle is a decent cheap option. Ideally with a hunk of metal under the board to dissipate the heat more evenly. You'll also want a thermocouple to monitor the temperature of the board to make sure it's not getting too hot.

    Also places like www.tequipment.net are a good place to look at more professional gear.

    Oh and as a general rule avoid gear that tries to do more than one thing. Like those three in one stations, they're usually just bad at everything.
     
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  3. -=FamilyGuy=-

    -=FamilyGuy=- Site Supporter 2049

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    This is a godsend, if you have the budget, can find a used one, or can find a similar device for cheaper.
     
  4. Jord4n313

    Jord4n313 Member

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    Wow thanks for the great replies!
     
  5. Bearking

    Bearking Konsolkongen

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    A little over a year ago I upgraded my soldering iron to a Weller combo of WSD81i power supply and the WSP80 soldering iron. It's a pretty expensive set, but well worth it if you solder regularly. Having owned 3 or 4 other soldering stations in the past, of varying price points, there really is no contest.
    The Weller's superb heat transfer floors the old ones, and makes all soldering a breeze. I also like the special stand you can get for it that allows you to change tips while it's hot, that comes in handy a lot more than you would imagine :)
     
  6. zzattack

    zzattack Spirited Member

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    Another vote here for one of the real deal brands. Personally I emptied my pockets on a weller wx1 some 3 years ago and I've been more than happy with it. My upgrade path was $15 RadioShack iron, $50 clone hakko, to $200 Aoyue (Chinese) all in one station over the course of about 2 years. I no longer have any of this stuff, gave it away because it's all been replaced and I'ld just never see myself use it again.

    Honestly I think none of the professional brands would disappoint. My choice for weller stemmed from experience at work where we could still easily obtain replacement parts for 30 year old gear. But the JBC linked earlier is looking at least as awesome.

    For hot air, the quick 861 is unparalleled in value for money. I've used mine near daily for 2 years straight and it's never let me down. Always gets the job done. Might wanna consider getting an aoyue adapter nozzle so you have an incredibly large and cheap selection of nozzles to choose from.

    For desoldering the gun style stuff isn't bad at all. Don't bother with anything Chinese, I've encountered 2 that broke within a year. Of course spare parts or any help from the manufacturer couldn't be obtained.. That said, my hakko fr300 works wonders. Be sure to maintain it well, and it's an invaluable tool.
     
  7. amace

    amace Active Member

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    I just bought a Hakko FX-888D online (From a reputable seller, so shouldn't be a fake), was about $100. For the price, and the reviews on the thing, it seems like that's the absolute best bang for your buck for a variable wattage soldering station. Only complaints seem to be about the interface. Currently, I've got a couple pencil-style crap chinese irons, which work, but they're hardly good. I have an old weller SP-40 40 watt soldering pencil, which seems to be alot more consistent, so I'd just stay away from any of the knock-off style Chinese brands altogether.

    I'll update when I get my Hakko and can test it a bit. I'm not a big solderer, but I'll use it probably once or twice a week to try and repair systems or mod stuff. The one downside I've noticed, is that the genuine T18 tips for the Hakko FX-888 are fairly pricy. Around $10 each, which hardly breaks the bank, but is considerably more than some older Hakko or Weller replacement tips. Supposedly they're better, but it remains to be seen.
     
  8. rso

    rso °

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    Bit late to the party, I know, but... imho the sweet spot between stingy/quality would be a Hakko clone with the shitty heating element replaced by an original. It's what I'm using (most of the time at least, though I still keep an old unregulated Weller iron around too, just because the 'Hacko' doesn't have a lot of thermal mass).
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2018
  9. Dr.Funk

    Dr.Funk Lost Media Enthusiast

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    My fx-888 is the best soldering iron ive used. So enjoy it it really makes a diffrence. Also any one know a good hot air station. Ive been meaning to get one but i dont know which one to get.
     
  10. LeHaM

    LeHaM Site Soldier

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    Buy a genuine Hakko FX888 or 888D
    get some good tips
    there are even hot tweezers for it
     
  11. amace

    amace Active Member

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    I've had the chance to use it a few times, and it really does make a difference. I've had a couple cheap chinese crappy soldering pens, which suck. I've got an old Weller 40w soldering pen, which is notably better than the chinese crap, but this Hakko puts them all to shame.

    Heats up in seconds. Out of the box, it comes pre-set to 750, and it reaches the temp within 20 seconds. I used to have to wait a few minutes for my other ones to heat up.

    The stand is very nice and sturdy too. fits the pen perfectly, and comes with a sponge and brass sponge for cleaning.

    So far, I highly recommend it.
     

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