suggestions for a Hot Air Rework Station

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Lestraveled, Mar 26, 2016.

  1. Lestraveled

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
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    Hello everybody, I have a question about hot air rework stations.

    I, like everyone else, am having to deal, more and more, with surface mount devices. I have a good soldering station and I am OK with soldering SOIC package ICs with .050" pin pitch. Some future projects will require me to solder ICs with a .025" or a .o20" pin pitch.

    I am looking at hot air rework stations and I want to get your input on them. I see prices that range from below $100 to almost $1000 for apparently the same function.

    Here are some stations I have been looking at:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/968DB-SMD-S...173630?hash=item2eed44537e:g:8WYAAOSw9N1Vjms4

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/898D-2in1-T...410106?hash=item56842821fa:g:JAgAAOSwQjNW9b~E

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hakko-850B-...649540?hash=item25b53fd5c4:g:ttAAAOSwoydWoUwP

    Could someone with hands on experience with hot air stations share their experiences and equipment inputs with me.

    Yes, I have already listened to the EEVblog on this topic.

    Thank you
     
  2. Picbuster

    Member

    Dec 2, 2013
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    I do use aoyue 852 cheap and works correct however you have to buy smd special air nozzles @5-6$ each.
    It comes with 5 round ones only.
    picbuster
     
  3. MrSoftware

    Active Member

    Oct 29, 2013
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  4. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
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    All my experience comes only from a training period I got on SMD. It made evident in the station used, the lack of small nozzles that could have made for a localized application of heat.

    Desoldering a specific big IC meant every time, affecting several small ones around.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
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  5. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
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    I use that 898D and think highly of it. I wouldn't use it for every day production work as it doesn't seem that durable, but for smaller projects it works quite well.

    Both the conventional iron and the hot air tip are replaceable and the sub assemblies are available on EBay. I keep one of each on hand as spares.
     
  6. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
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    I use the 898D too... Its cheap in every way BUT does the job just fine..
    The first day the plastic closest to the "hot end" started to melt a bit but after that its worked just fine.. Never used the iron portion of it..

    For a DIY'er its totally fine but if I had to use one day in and day out I'd spring for a "better $$" name brand one..
     
  7. SLK001

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2011
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    At work, I had a Hakko hot air rework station and I literally hated it. It was difficult to get the heat and the air flow correct for any part. I ended up using a Weller heat gun, like this one below:

    WELLER.jpg

    With it I was able to solder and remove a wide variety of SMD footprints with ease. Even today, I use my trusty Weller to both remove and install all my SMD parts.
     
  8. Lestraveled

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
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    Interesting. No one has recommended a high dollar station. Two votes for 898D.

    @ErnieM Thanks for bring up replacement parts/tips. Another factor to think about.

    Thank you all for your inputs.
     
  9. Dr.killjoy

    Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2013
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    What are you looking to do ??Like are you looking to reflow small parts or big bga parts ??
    For production items I would look into a DIY reflow oven which makes life really easy when set right ..
     
  10. Lestraveled

    Thread Starter Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
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    I am being forced to design with surface mount parts more and more. So, I need to expand my skills to deal with finer and finer pitch spacing. The chip manufacturers don't care that I am getting old and I need new tools and magnifying lens to soldering those microscopic parts. If I want to use those really cool new chips, I got to get me some more stuff, namely a hot air rework station.

    Still looking for inputs..................
     
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  11. cmartinez

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 17, 2007
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    I just hate that market tendency of producing some rather important chips only in SMT versions. This makes it a lot more difficult for the semi-professional to develop circuits on his own. A few months ago I bought a syringe of bismuth-alloy solder, and found it quite hard to work with the thing. The only technique that more or less worked was pre-coating the PCB's traces with it before actually soldering the part...
     
  12. SLK001

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2011
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    Why did you think that you needed low temp solder for SMT devices?
     
  13. cmartinez

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 17, 2007
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    Because I have to work with some ADC chips that are extremely sensitive to high temperature (avobe 450°F) soldering. I know they're sensitive because I've already damaged quite a few of them :(
     
  14. MrSoftware

    Active Member

    Oct 29, 2013
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    I don't know if it would apply here, but I saw a technique on youtube where a guy was replacing SMT transistors in a damaged amplifier and fortunately the PCB that held the multiple transistors came out as a module. He bought himself an electric skillet and warmed it then placed the PCB's on the skillet to pre-warm the PCB's. I don't remember what temp he said, but it was cooler than solder melting temp. BUT with the board already warm, he was able to use his iron to successfully mount the new transistors since it didn't take nearly as much heat energy from the iron to get things melted. Maybe something similar would help with some of these temperature sensitive components? Warm the PCB to a warm but safe temp, then since you'll have less local heat losses maybe you can use less energy (less peak temperature) to solder your parts!?

    In my very limited (almost insignificant) hot air work, it seems that it's nearly impossible to not also heat the nearby components almost as much as the component you intend to heat. So if the PCB is tightly packed, it becomes a difficult situation. So if you're building PCB's with more than a couple of SMT parts, then maybe a home reflow oven would be best.
     
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  15. recklessrog

    Member

    May 23, 2013
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    I recently had to replace the mini usb socket in a sat nav. and to prevent heat from affecting too many other parts, I got some cooking aluminium foil, made a cut out big enough to expose the old socket (shiny side up) and tucked down the edges, then with my hot air gun with it's smallest nozzle, removed the old socket without even melting the plastic in the old socket!
     
  16. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
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    There are lots of hacks you can get away with for a while when soldering.

    Once I reflowed an entire new build PCB by leaving it on my solid surface stove top burner.

    This is not a recommended practice.
     
  17. Tonyr1084

    Active Member

    Sep 24, 2015
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    Don't know if you can make this idea work, but many years ago I messed with one of those Halogen Projector lamps, the kind you put over your sink or shine on a picture on a wall. The focus of the beam makes a crossing point where all the light is intensely focused. I used to use that to shrink tubing. I don't remember flowing solder with it and I don't know if the beam would be hot enough, but when I worked for MacDonald Douglas they had a high intensity lamp that was used to join solder butt splices with shrink tubing. You had to wear sunglasses but the solder would flow and the sleeve would shrink. That's where I got the idea to use a focused beam of light. The focal length (if my memory is worth anything) was about 3 inches. I DO remember the light getting hot enough that you couldn't hold it with your bare hand.

    Think I'll give it another shot. Been fussing with different methods to shrink tubing. The lamp did quite well - that much I DO remember quite well.
     
  18. SLK001

    Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2011
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    I've heard of 500W halogen work lights being used as a reflow "device". I've been meaning to build a "light oven" to try it out.
     
  19. Tonyr1084

    Active Member

    Sep 24, 2015
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    I THINK my rig was a 12 V 50 W focused beam used on a stereoscope. Used for inspecting electronics. Did that sort of work for over 30 years. Seen LOTS of "Bright" lights. Fortunately I've never been compelled to move toward the light.

    ˚J˚
    ˘
     
  20. Stuntman

    Active Member

    Mar 28, 2011
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    I have a cheapo brand "all-in-one" style air gun, soldering iron, and through-hole solder sucker. Save your beans and buy just the air gun if you can. I desoldered a ton of parts in my day using something like this (this is probably their updated model of what I used):

    https://www.circuitspecialists.com/csi825a.html

    I'm sure there are other models at other places for potentially cheaper. It seems to me, most of these are manufactured from the same place, just different labels and some feature changes. As I hinted before, the soldering iron on my unit is visibly poor quality and the solder sucker has yet to really ever work right. I don't remember using the vaccuum pickup tool, but it may have worked fine. I personally use a "popper" for removing IC's and a pair of tweezers for lining them up.

    Just a side note, I really only use the hot air when removing and replacing a chip. When I am packing a board, I often just use drag soldering techniques, even on fairly fine pitch parts. I generally try to stay away from BGA and super fine parts if I am to build the board myself. However, sometimes you don't have a choice. Just to give you an idea, a board I have been building recently uses a LQFP64 and it is no problem to solder by hand and a little practice. Not saying to go without hot air, just realize it is not always necessary.
     
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