Homemade Soldering Iron Questions

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Dr.killjoy, May 27, 2013.

  1. Dr.killjoy

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
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    I am using right now a Hakko 939 and I am really tired of having to pay several Hundred of dollars in order to buy a really good Iron. Has anyone every built a soldering station that is equal to JBC or METCAL ???
     
  2. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    Why are they better? If it uses a standard tip, standard heater element and has digital temperature control, how could it be better?

    It makes the right temperature and you replace the tip when it gets worn out.
     
  3. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
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    You can get a perfectly decent iron for <$50, even cheaper for a basic pencil-type, not temperature-controlled model.

    If you spent hundreds of dollars on a temperature-controlled unit and you need to buy a new one already, you're using it wrong. A basic iron, if used and cleaned properly, should last a very long time. Mine is a Weller from a good 20-25 years ago and it's still running like a champ. The only thing you ever really need to replace are the tips, which don't usually cost more than $7 each for high quality ones.
     
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  4. Dr.killjoy

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
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    The point of this was to build a JBC Station and use a Hakko 907 iron and have the same specs as JBC without the frills ..So basically you set the pot to what every temp and it will heat up in seconds ... Oh has anyone every taken apart a Hakko station and modded it or improved it's effectiveness???

    The JBC heats up in a couple seconds and has less recovery time between each joint ...
    Right now my hakko is using a cheap copy of a hakko element and I would love to replace it with a real hakko ... Is there any real ways to tell if you have a real or fake Hakko Iron ???
     
  5. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
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    Buy a real Hakko from Hakko, not a cheap Chinese crap knockoff seller.
     
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  6. Dr.killjoy

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
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    Believe it or not I took apart my copy 907 iron and was really surprised of the build quality... But I was wondering if I soldering the element out my 903 and place it in my 907 because It's a real hakko ...Think will it work or what ??
     
  7. DerStrom8

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  8. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    So does my cheap ebay iron.

    Assuming they are both temperature controlled, the only factor that gives fast heatup and recovery is the element wattage, which is why I use a 60W iron and constantly recommend 60W irons on the forum when people ask about buying 40W temp controlled irons.
     
  9. Dr.killjoy

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
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    My Iron is only 50 watts and the JBC is 140 watts on demand and the new HAKKO FX-888D is 65 Watts









    Oh ok cool because I play around with it some more last night ... I found out that my heating element is a 24V 50 watt Heating element and the element came out of the 903 iron which is a real Hakko element which I plan on soldering into my 907 because with the 903 heating element I have the calibration numbers printed on the side and it will be direct replacement and properly calibrated too.. Also I found out that the FX-888 series of hakko are 26v 65 watts so they won't work with my set up...
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2013
  10. strantor

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    I made my own soldering iron, sorta. 1KW "soldering iron". It wasn't cheaper than buying a hakko. But then I never saw a 1KW hakko for sale.
     
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  11. eKretz

    New Member

    Apr 21, 2013
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    That's right, but trust those who know. Your 60W iron can't hold a candle to a JBC or Ersa iCon soldering iron. They are both rated around 80W continuous and 150W peak (for up to 30 seconds continuous use). They both heat to full temp from the off state (room temp) to 350°C in under 8-10 seconds. They both have a standby function that backs the temp down to a user-definable level when the iron is at rest (mine is set to 200°C) and automatically ramps back up as soon as the iron is removed from the stand in 3-5 seconds. They both have a sleep function that turns the heater off (to room temp) after a user-definable time period, and wake up the same way as from standby if they are removed from the stand. This may sound like a silly extraneous feature, but it is very nice for extending up life. Both of these irons can also easily have their tips switched while hot.
     
  12. Stuntman

    Active Member

    Mar 28, 2011
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    I'm not going to discredit nice (read: expensive) soldering irons, but I can tell you that I have done everything from commercial power harnesses to small quantity PCB production with an $80 Weller iron.

    Before that, a cheap Fakko 936 (still works, but wand is about to give out) and before that, a plug in the wall and go $5 POS.

    The board packer for the company I work for uses metcal irons. I've used them, and they worked great. But I can't say they made my job any easier, or did anything I was not perfectly capable of doing with my much lower cost unit.

    For hobby use, and even the medium duty at work, I really never looked twice at the pace/metcal grade irons.

    Food for thought: Most top end irons use tips with integrated heating elements (part of the reason for faster warm-up times). These are considerably more expensive than the standard tip for your more conventional irons. I would expect this would push many hobbyists to stock fewer tip sizes and use them longer past their useful lives. Worn out tips and incompatible sizes, IMO, will be more of a detriment to your soldering quality (and time) than the more abundant heat fluctuations and recovery times of the lower cost iron.
     
  13. eKretz

    New Member

    Apr 21, 2013
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    I don't think anyone's debating whether a hobbyist needs such an iron. Hell, if we had to we could still heat a piece of copper in an oven and use that. For me at least, it's more along the lines of enjoying its use and getting the benefit of extended tip life. I also got my Ersa iCon-1 for not much more than your Weller, by shopping smart and buying used. The tips are not integral to the heater in this iron, (I-Tool) so they are quite reasonable. That being said, my previous iron's tips never needed replaced and I used them for several years quite frequently. I only use about 4 different tips and I am hoping never to need to replace them. The way the iron drops the temp helps reduce oxidation a lot. Ersa tips are fairly well regarded in terms of longevity, and they are known to use a thicker iron plating than most tip makers.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2013
  14. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    Thank you Ekretz that's some great info on why the expensive iron is better.

    I've never had a need for 150W on a fine tip iron, my 60W is plenty (22 second heatup from cold). And if I'm soldering sheet metal or something big I have a huge old electric iron for those jobs.

    The auto idle cooldown features seem nice, but is that really needed? I get excellent tip life from my cheap temperature controlled irons already.

    And I already do tip switching when hot, I just undo the ring with pliers and remove the hot tip with pliers.

    So I'm still questioning how much is gained from a real expensive iron? Not much for me.
     
  15. eKretz

    New Member

    Apr 21, 2013
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    Well, the nice thing on these "super-irons" is that you don't need any other iron for high wattage work, you just change the tip to something with more mass. In many cases, due to the extra power, you can even get away with using a fine tip for high wattage work, where with a 60W iron you would not be able to solder at all and would have to switch irons. This is great for doing work from fine SMD all the way up through through-hole stuff with massive ground planes. One of the demos the iron makers do is using a fine conical tip to solder a solid copper penny to a massive ground plane. Another is soldering a stack of copper pennies together by only heating the top penny. This last test uses a tip with more mass though. These irons can handle pretty much anything with a tip change and in many cases without.

    The tip life is definitely increased by the standby temp decrease, but this is really only going to show a dramatic difference for those who don't care well for their tips. I remember seeing a user on another site complaining about a faulty soldering iron that he had to return because it wouldn't melt solder and take a tinning. He finally posted a video of the non-working iron, and the tip was black. Upon initial heat-up, the tip oxidized before he got around to tinning it, so wouldn't melt or take solder. The oxidation layer basically acted as an insulator and wouldn't allow the tip to hardly melt the solder. When it did, it would of course just roll right off. In my experience there are a lot of people who don't treat their irons well. As I said in another reply, my last iron was without this standby feature and the tips lasted several years with proper care. The iron died before the tips did. The iron plating used on the tips these days to prevent lead-free solders from eating the tips is easily oxidized by the elevated temps, and the more often this happens the faster the plating is eaten up.

    As to cost, again, I reiterate that the cost is not that high if one shops eBay. I am much happier with my used Ersa than I would have been with a new basic iron. It really is a pleasure to use, and makes everything easy, even when working on something that really sucks the heat out. I understand that some people will see it differently, and many don't like buying used equipment. For me though, it was a good purchase and makes soldering much easier, more convenient and enjoyable.
     
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