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Reviews: Some people collect amps. I collect soldering stations.

post #1 of 64
Thread Starter 
Since I burnt a pad back in December, I went way off the deep end and bought a few more soldering toys.

Larger image

It's become a bit messy since then

Hakko 936 series
  • Hakko 936 ESD Soldering Station
  • Hakko 950 SMD Hot Tweezers

FM/FP Stations
  • Hakko FP-102 Soldering Station (discontinued)
  • Hakko FM-203 Dual Port Soldering System
  • Hakko FM-204 Digital Self-Contained Desoldering Station

FM/FP Handpieces & Accessories
  • Hakko FM-2027 Soldering Iron Handle
  • Hakko FM-2024 Desoldering Handpiece
  • Hakko FM-2022 SMD Parallel Remover <<on order>>
  • Hakko FM-2023 Mini Hot Tweezers

Hakko cordless
  • Hakko FX-901 Cordless Soldering Iron

Hakko accessories
Hot Air
Radio Shack
  • Radio Shack 64-2070C 25W soldering iron
  • Radio Shack (unknown model) light duty soldering iron with grounded plug
  • Radio Shack 64-2060 45W desoldering iron

Preliminary opinions

This is how I felt before this experiment started.
The FP-102 is the best tool of the bunch. It's fastest to heat a joint and easily handles the largest jobs I can throw at it. Heat application is the most precise of these stations: by that I mean I can rely on heat being delivered consistently in a repeatable way, so I know in advance exactly how and where to apply the iron and have it do what I want. Unfortunately, Hakko discontinued the 102.

The Metcal is also precise, but lacks the heat capacity of the Hakko stations. Since I only have a few tips, I need more experience before positing further.
We'll see how much my opinion changes as this experiment progresses. On the second day, I'm already starting to question.

  • Test #1 -- Bed of Nails Just do it! A simple test just to have something to solder.
  • Taking the temperature of thermometers There's no sense doing measurements without accurate tools.
  • Tweezers face off
  • Idle temperature accuracy.
  • Time to come up to heat.
  • Solder & desolder a screw wrapped with 18ga wire.
  • Solder & desolder smd resistor.
  • Solder & desolder through hole resistor.
  • Solder & desolder DIP, 8 and 14 pin.
  • Solder & desolder SOIC.
  • Build several sets of interconnects.

What else would you like to see?

Hakko FX-901 Cordless Soldering Iron
Portable AA battery powered soldering iron.

List Price: $30
Includes handle and conical tip.

Handles and Tips:
Quick-change composite tip (PN: T11-B style)
2 tips are available, conical and chisel.
The tips incorporate its own ceramic heating element.
Tips are priced at $16.

Temperature Control:
Soldering temperature of 600F
Runs on 4 AA batteries
Battery life: Alkaline batteries ~70 minutes, Ni-MH batteries ~120 minutes

Additional Features:
Protective safety cap turns unit off and covers tip

First Thoughts:
Only tried this on one or two joints. It's a lot better than a plug-in ratshack iron.

Hakko FT-700 Tip Polisher
Motorized tip polishing brushes and chemical paste to remove oxidation from soldering tips.

List Price: $150
Includes polisher and one tin of chemical paste.

First Thoughts:
Easily cleans oxidation, dirt, and rosin off the tip.
Shines and polishes dull tips.
Will not restore a used-up tip.

Metcal MX-500 Soldering System

List Price: Varies with accessories, from $610

Handles and Tips:
Quick-change tips.
Very large selection of tips.
A variety of handles and options are available.

Temperature Control:
Consumes 40W.
Unique heating system.
Temperature is controlled by selecting the appropriate tip: 500F, 600F, 700F, 800F.

Additional Features:
A large variety of options and accessories are available.

First Thoughts:
Excellent precision in applying heat.
Doesn't handle large joints as easily as its more powerful (higher wattage) rivals.
Tips heat in under 10 seconds.
Excellent selection of tips.
You need a separate tip for each temperature.
Acceptable temperatures range: limited to 500F, 600F, 700F, and 800F; not all tips are available in all temperatures.
Good choice as the basis of a complete system, since one station supports all available accessories.
Heating capability may be limited by its 40W maximum output.
No visible indicators except for a two color LED.
Has two ports, but only one can be operated at a time: this is not a huge problem because tips heat up so quickly.

Xytronic 626 Hot Air Station
Discontinued. Replaced by 850D.

List Price ($650 -- discontinued)

First Thoughts:
Haven't really figured out how to use it yet.
I can flow some things but not others.
I hope to figure out how to use this properly. So far I find it useful for opening grado cans to recable them.
post #2 of 64
You sir, is one of a kind!
post #3 of 64
Seems like an awesome collection
But someone's gotta say it... "This thread is worthless without pictures?"
post #4 of 64
Originally Posted by gadgetman View Post
Seems like an awesome collection
But someone's gotta say it... "This thread is worthless without pictures?"
I second that, I was speedily scrolling through in hopes of a picture of an array of solder stats.
post #5 of 64
So, what do you do with all of your nice toys? Pretty good collection, there. I'm thinking about picking up one of Hakko's desoldering guns to go along with my 703. It has the pencil shaped desoldering tool, but the gun might be more useful for a few of the bigger projects I have cooking.
post #6 of 64
Hmm, interesting thread. I was just doing some research the other day since I need a new solder station (newbie, but broke 2 radioshack solder irons already because they are a pos). So is the Hakko 936 a good station for someone starting out in DIY or is there something you can recommend for around $150 or less?
post #7 of 64
Pics please

Very nice review One of a kind
post #8 of 64
Hey have you tried one of the Hakko clones and see if performance wise they are the same also? Not just appearance.

post #9 of 64
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback. Picture added. Will get more up later.

I admit posting this without more data is kind of a troll thing to do, but without you guys yelling at me, I'd never get it done. I plan on updating this with real data, but it'll take time. Still trolling for ideas on how to actually compare them without just going by feel.

About Hakko clones... My biggest worry about the usefullness of this thread wasn't about not having pictures or detailed info, but that most people here are interested in the less expensive gear, which isn't included. Might have to borrow or pick up a few used inexpensive things after my wallet recovers

The Hakko 936 is pretty good. The main shortcomings with it are (1) the heating system isn't as good as the more expensive Hakko & Metcals, and (2) there are no specialty tips. For $150 you could get a used FP-102 and some tips. They go for around $100 with station, handle, and stand. It can operate their 2024 desoldering handle, but you need to supply your own air and filters. There's usually one on ebay every week. Maybe it's the same one. The downside is it's discontinued, so parts might not be available forever. (I promise not to compete and bid for a spare for a couple of months.) You can't operate the tweezers at all with it. If you get one, make sure it comes with a key. Meanwhile, I'll find out if all the keys match, and if they do, I'll post a template.

What do I do with them? What a silly question. I collect toys.
post #10 of 64
Very nice!

(looking at my Weller WLC-100 as it slowly ducks under the table...)
post #11 of 64
Thread Starter 
Test #1 -- Bed of Nails

Larger image
Left to right: Metcal Mx-500, Hakko 936, Hakko FP-102

The test is to apply solder to the iron and let it flow over the wire. The joint is considered heated when solder placed 1/6 the way around the nail melts and flows through the wire. Each iron was only tested once. Consider this a trial run. At this point, I'm more interested in getting the format right.

The wire is 18 ga copper wire composed of 7 strands.
The nail is 0.12" of unknown composition.

Metcal MX-500 with STTC 036 (2.5 mm chisel 600F)
Expected temperature: 600F
Measured temperature: 700F
Time: 15 seconds

Hakko 936 with 900M-T-2.4D (2.4 mm chisel)
Expected temperature: dialed to 700
Measured temperature: 700F
Time: 25 seconds

Hakko FP-102 with T15-D24 (2.4 mm chisel)
Expected temperature: 700F
Measured temperature: 730F
Time: 16 seconds

Skipping over the temperature differences, the Hakko 102 and Metcal were very close. Both joints are clean and well flowed. The Hakko 936 flowed well enough, but not quite as cleanly and the solder didn't flow all the way through, which hopefully shows in the images. Although not visible in the pictures, the Metcal flowed a little more consistently through the strands. With the Hakko 102, a tiny blob of solder appeared where the nail touched the wire and I had to hold the iron there an extra second for the solder to flow cleanly through the strands. I don't know what to attribute that to. For the record, solder doesn't stick to the nail.

Is it necessary to use the same temperature with each station when running these tests? The way I understand the Metcal tips, a 0xx should be 600F, not 700F.

Note: When I originally ran this test, I used an old Hakko 191 thermometer, which was clearly out of calibration. The temperatures have been updated with measurements from a new Hakko FG-100, which appears to be more accurate. See Taking the temperature of thermometers for more.
post #12 of 64
impressive collection
post #13 of 64
I tried running an RMAA test on my soldering iron but the xlr connector kept melting!

I bet I need a heatsink.

post #14 of 64
This makes me feel like I need to buy a new iron. I am on the extreme low fi end of soldering irons.
post #15 of 64
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by linuxworks View Post
I tried running an RMAA test on my soldering iron but the xlr connector kept melting!

I bet I need a heatsink.

Yes, but how does the iron sound?
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