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Desoldering Stations

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Chris F., Feb 20, 2005.

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  1. Chris F.

    Chris F. Guest

    Can anyone recommend a good used desoldering station? I've been looking
    around on places like Ebay, and it seems even used ones can be pretty
    expensive. Weller, Pace, and Hakko seem to be the predominant brand names.
    I basically need something for general electronics - TV's, VCRs, etc.
    Something that can easily desolder a 64-pin IC, for example. I've been using
    a desoldering wick for years, it works but the stuff is rather expensive
    (and hard on the fingertips sometimes). I don't do any surface-mount work so
    I wouldn't need anything for that.
    Thanks for any advice.
     
  2. TimPerry

    TimPerry Guest

    for occasional use a small shop vac block the intake and insert a vinyl hose
    from the hardware store.

    get a cheap mechanical vacuum sucker and drill a hole in the side. glue in
    the hose. add a cotton ball in the body of the sucker to prevent solder from
    gumming up the tube.

    add a footswitch to the vac for a final touch.

    of course with this system you melt the solder with your regular soldering
    pencil then apply the suction.
     
  3. Chris,

    I'd have to recommend Hakko and recommend against Weller. No real experience
    with Pace stuff.
     
  4. Ol' Duffer

    Ol' Duffer Guest

    I've had good luck with Pace, but no experience with Hakko.
    Ditto thumbs down on Weller. They used to make good stuff,
    but when the Cooper group took over, they instituted a flurry
    of cost cutting that reduced most of their products to junk.
     
  5. NSM

    NSM Guest

    I still like the iron with the bulb on top, but for big IC's I'd go with an
    iron with a selection of tips that size.

    My 2 cents.

    N
     
  6. David Gersic

    David Gersic Guest

    I have a Hakko and like it. Picked it up used on eBay relatively cheap
    a while ago. Had to get some parts for it, though, as it was not complete.
    That probably helped the price.

    Flea markets may be better shopping for you, if you're looking for used.
    eBay tends to draw higher prices than local, if you can find somebody
    selling local that isn't asking eBay prices. Or, if you can find a place
    that deals in used gear, they may have a better price than you'll find
    on-line, and with the benefit of getting to see the thing before you
    buy it.
    They all do one pin at a time...

    A friend of mine has some recommendations on:

    http://www.marvin3m.com/begin/index.htm

    The Xytronic ($100) or MPJA sound like good prices, but the Tenma
    ($250 on sale) is probably your best bet if you're buying new.

    I used the cheap Radio Shack sucker for a few years, and for being a
    $15 tool it works pretty well. It's not a _good_ tool, but it's
    surprisingly good for what you pay for it.

    Whatever you get, remember that it has consumable parts (filters, etc.),
    and be sure that you get some spares, and that you'll be able to get
    spares in the future. Depending on the design, see if you can get a
    spare filter tube for it, so that when it fills up, you can swap in a
    fresh one while the full one cools. Emptying out a full, hot, filter
    tube while you're working kinda sucks.
     
  7. Jeff Walther

    Jeff Walther Guest

    If you want really cheap, get a heat gun with adjustable temperature and
    some modeling clay.

    Cover the surrounding components with modeling clay (so they don't blow
    away), set the heat gun to about 600F and apply to the target component
    until the solder melts and the components can be easily lifted or its pins
    pushed out of their holes. I use a dental pick to test the solder every
    few seconds to see if it's soft yet.

    This is not the most component friendly method, but I've been using it on
    home projects for several years, with very few failures.

    I've removed things as simple as 32 pin DIPs and as complex as 208 pin QFPs.

    For clean-up afterwards you may still need braid. But with the component
    removed you can use a wider braid (higher capacity per inch) and more
    powered soldering pencil and the braid's price seems to be constant per
    length regardless of width. Cleaning through-holes will be easier with
    the pins removed and can be done with the various air methods mentioned by
    others.
     
  8. N Cook

    N Cook Guest

    I can second that, used the following today to remove a 32 pinner
    but most often use it for salvaging ICs before discarding rest.
    No troubles with over-heating of the salvaged ICs.
    Just to emphasise practise on an old board of TTL or such
    before using for repair.
    I own an old Pace, i think, de-solderer but last time i used it
    was perhaps 3 years ago. The great advantage of the following is
    you're pulling from the other side and it is very rare to dislodge
    a solder pad/trace and extremely quick and cheap.

    Other tips on
    http://homepages.tcp.co.uk/~diverse/

    De-soldering ICs
    Use a hot-air paint-stripper,1400W,500 degree centigrade,with 2 level heat
    control to prolong element life. Activity may appear fearsome but it is no
    worse than a flow-solder bath.Pre-heat for one minute then apply to
    pcb,make
    extractor tool to pull ic from component side. Make an IC extractor from an
    old large pair,10 inch, of
    circlip pliers,the jaws need to open out enough to clip around the ends of
    up to 64 pin
    ICs with enough force to overcome the mechanical force of the situation
    where all
    the pins are angled relative to the PCB holes.Forge around both of the
    original circlip
    pins,one joggle at right angle to clear the heigth of the ICs and a slight
    inwards joggle
    to make purchase on the underside of the IC,grinding a wedge angle to the
    points
    helps particularly where there is no clearance between IC and pcb.
    [ Because of these joggles this tool is also useful for depressing the rear
    grippers
    and releasing of that type chassis mount fuseholders and switches when
    internally surrounded by other
    components ]
    Use this technique for salvaging (working order) up to 64 pin ics ( when
    practised ),other
    components, sm and even repair (tracks are not dislodged).For repair work
    beware of
    spatter of molten solder causing solder bridges on adjascent compoents
    because if you
    are doing the job properly,ie not dislodging pcb tracks the IC must be
    pulled out with
    some force and the board tends to flex so possibility of flicking solder.
    The secret is to be as quick as possible,idealy the body of the extracted ic
    will
    be just about handleable rather than too hot to touch.Try practising on a
    board
    with close packed TTL chips or similar and aim for an extraction rate of
    something like one every 2 seconds.Between boards keep the hot air gun
    running on
    low power setting (not switching off).Don't rest the gun against the board
    when heating
    as vibration seems to affect the element life also don't allow the board to
    flex back onto the gun for the same reason.Hold the gun so airflow is angled
    to the board
    as solder spat directly into the nozzle can kill the element.
    About the only components that cannot be removed with this technique are
    parts
    moulded in soft plastic,e.g. crystal sockets,rf coils with plastic former
    (IF coils usually OK)
    some DIP switches. Even these are desolderable intact if the body of the
    component is previously
    cooled with a blast of aerosol freezer spray.
    SAFETY NOTE:- ensure good ventilation, use safety goggles because trapped
    water etc in the capaillary structure of glass fibre reinfiorced PCB can
    super-
    heat to steam and jet out molten solder,also it is possible to overlook
    small
    electrolytic capacitors on the solder side of the board which of coarse
    explode
    with the direct heat of the hot air gun and beware of very
    slight risk of combustion of adjascent flammable parts especially where
    components have extra (un-noticed) mechanical bonding leading to extended
    duration of heating activity.

    Hint for de-soldering surface mount ICs.
    Use a hot-air paint-stripper,1400W,500 degree centigrade,with 2 level heat
    control to prolong element life.
    Form a ring of silicone covered wire around the IC{to isolate the remaing
    components on the pcb.Push a thin piece of wire
    under one side of the IC and form a loop around the IC,repeat on the other
    side;this is to remove the IC when the solder melts, tug on these wires
    while
    heating up to ensure minimum heating contact time.
    Place a slab of PTFE with right size hole cut into and
    clip pcb and slab together with clothes pegs/Bulldog clips etc.
    If the IC is for re-use then cover body of IC with heat insulating material
    or blast IC with freezer spray.Allow the hot-air gun to get up to heat{say 1
    minute}
    before applying to IC.
    For more crowded boards make "conical" shrouds to surround the IC. I used
    some PTFE strip that i had but thin paxolin or similar but drilled and wired
    together would probably do. Cut 4 small trapezoids from the PTFE strip.
    Fixed together with all long edges one side and short edges adjascent on the
    other side. Fixed together with paper staples but for the smallest shroud
    for 8 pin SM had to wire together the final join. Forms a sort of truncated
    cone in shape. Tie to the PTFE cone (to stop the blower blowing it off) with
    copper wire or temporarily solder to distant points.
    When practised the heated contact time should be less than
    2 seconds - no board distortion or collateral damage surprisingly.
    If you can't get the tugging wires under the IC then pass
    under a few pins at each corner.
    Because this tugging frees the IC at the earliest moment, the solder
    on the board is not fully melted and leaves a profile for localising
    the new IC in place and then solder pin by pin.
    SAFETY NOTE:- ensure good ventilation, use safety goggles,and beware of very
    slight risk of combustion.
     
  9. Chris F.

    Chris F. Guest

    One other little question - is there any advantage to "pulse-vaccuum"
    systems?
     
  10. M.Joshi

    M.Joshi Guest

    I don't know if this question is relevant here but is a de-solder wic
    better and easier to use than a de-solder pump? I haven't had muc
    luck using a de-solder wick. They seem to just get clogged and you en
    up putting the solder back on the connection instead of removing it.

    Am I not using it correctly?
     
  11. You might find that adding some solder flux makes the wick pull the solder off
    the connection much better. When the end of the braid gets tinned with solder,
    it's time to cut it off and start with clean wick end and more flux. Going
    through lots of solder wick is a down side of this method.
     
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