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Soldering Iron power supplies ... repairs etc.

Discussion in 'Troubleshooting and Repair' started by Journey11, May 22, 2020.

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  1. Journey11

    Journey11

    62
    0
    May 23, 2018
    Hi All,
    I am wondering if there are any of you out there familiar with the el cheapo Chinese made solderind stations. Particularily , say ones that are temp controlled. I have had a couple stations go down and saw that one of them had a cheap ceramic heating element. So found a guy on uTube who does upgrades to use HAkko style nichrome wound elements to replace a burned out ceramic.
    Both of the stations that went down have a vert similar power supply setup. Both have 5 pin plugs ... One for tip ground ... 2 for the heater and 2 for the temp sensor.
    My question here is this ... Of the 2 sets of connections for the heater and the temp sense ... which of the 2 are connected through the triac ? I'm gonna guess the heater is run by/off the triac since it requires the most power to get the heat. I am also wondering if this voltage/currnet is AC or DC. As far as I can tell it's AC, about 32 volt-ish. In both units there doesn't seem to be much of a rectifier to supply the DC for the LM324 and the TRIAC controller, UPC1701C (NEC). The voltage running the LM324 is about 32vdc, as far as I can tell. BUt like I say there is not much for rectification or regulation either.
    Hope someone has had some experience with these absolutely cheap cheap trashy Chinese clones.
    One station for sure is gonna get an A1321 replacement element if it will work ... that uTube vid shows ya how.
     
  2. Cirkit

    Cirkit

    124
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    Oct 28, 2015
    If you are serious about electronics, why not invest in a good quality soldering station?
     
    Harald Kapp likes this.
  3. Harald Kapp

    Harald Kapp Moderator Moderator

    10,586
    2,360
    Nov 17, 2011
    Truly worth each penny you spend.
    I have a Weller and an Ersa iron, both haven't let me down for many years so far.

    Even my cheap old Antex iron from GB has worked for I think 40 years or so. When it finally gave up lately, I ordered one of these cheap Chinese irons, mostly because I will use this one for tasks where I don't want to risk my good ones (e.g. "soldering" plastic). Let's see how long this one is going to last.
     
  4. Journey11

    Journey11

    62
    0
    May 23, 2018
    I have purchased a new all in one system and is a BGA work station but unfortunately it is a cheap Chinese one. It is currently on a slow boat from China and is all I can afford at the moment, unfortunately. The reason I jumped on this one is because of the BGA rework table. It was cheap and I come across some repairs that come my way that may require a BGA reflow so I had to have it.
    The one thing I can say as a drawback to these Chinese made stations is the hot air max temps are too low. I couldn't find one that goes above 480C. Most of the irons max out at this temp as well. This could possibly be rectified by replacing the element and tweaking the power supply a tad.
    I have looked into getting a brand name soldering pencil station but even used ones are very expensive still. Close to or over $1000 on ebay USED !.
    I'd kill to own the Hakko pencil & hot air station I used when I worked at a manufacturing plant as a troubleshooter. The hot air unit retailed for about $1500 and the iron was somewhere around $1000 I think..

    The reason I wanted to know about these Chinese ones is because they are clones of the good ones and would nice to know some ins and outs of how the supplies work. Wouldn't be a problem if I had a schematic. It wouldn't be difficult to CAD it up with KiCad since they are single sided brds and not much to them. Just would take some time to do it.
    These 2 stations power supplies turn out to be just fine anyway. The irons heating coils are both shot. The cheap knock off's almost always come with ceramic heater elements and burn out rather fast. When replacing them you can get the good nichrome elements that they use in the brand name irons. After that they are just a s good as the real McCoy. As far as I can tell so far the power supplies for the clones are well manufactured as I have spent several years working in manufacturing at a medium sized company here in Canada and we had top notch quality and these look well made. I did notice on one of them that the pcb isn't very sturdy as some pads have started to come loose. At any rate, this post was more of a fishing expedition for knowledge on how the power supplies were set up for the power that heats the element.
     
  5. Journey11

    Journey11

    62
    0
    May 23, 2018
    Just for future reference when your cheapy station goes down ... depending on which brand the clone it is modeled after ... you can replace the heating element with a good nichrome one as I mentioned in my reply to the other poster here. You can get them cheap from AliExpress. You know what was ironic ? When my iron burned up I needed an iron to troubleshoot it so I borrowed a friends and a week later it went down too. Needing a soldering iron to fix a soldering iron ... kinda got into a catch 22 there.
     
  6. Cirkit

    Cirkit

    124
    10
    Oct 28, 2015
    I find with the cheaper/clone soldering stations that the tip temperature does not accurately match the set temperature. Some of the more expensive brand soldering stations track the tip temperature and provide additional power to account for loss of heat into the joint.

    You may want to check the temperature of your tips and adjust the calibration of your station as necessary.
     
  7. Journey11

    Journey11

    62
    0
    May 23, 2018
    Cool ... thanks good to know ... I guess that's why the good brand names are not so cheap. Sure would be nice if I could afford the better equipment. If I could ramp up my repair business with a flood of clients ... I would invest for sure. Maybe if I keep an eye out on ebay for some used stations ???
     
  8. narkeleptk

    narkeleptk

    31
    9
    Oct 3, 2019
    Not gonna lie, I have both cheap rework stations and ones that cost a pretty penny. Not all that much difference once you give them a nice tip and then continue to practice good tip care. I see no reason to get all fancy if your just starting out or a hobbyist.The $50 852 type stations are plenty good enough.
     
  9. narkeleptk

    narkeleptk

    31
    9
    Oct 3, 2019
    Xtronic USA makes good stations that are not so pricey. They are pretty much the same as many of the Chinese brands you see but the quality control and build process seems a lot better.
     
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