A Quick Look At My New Soldering – Rework Station
I’ve been hankering after a hot air rework gun and a soldering station for some time. The main problem is that most rework stations are hundreds of pounds. I don’t really need an ‘industrial strength’ one, so when the most recent CPC Tradesman offers came through the door, two items by TENMA caught my eye.
One was a simple soldering station for about £30 (+VAT), the other had both soldering iron and hot air gun for £99 (+ VAT). In the end, I opted for the combined model (SDO174105). I ordered it on Saturday and it arrived Monday afternoon. I knew CPC were quick, but I wasn’t expecting it until Tuesday.
Is It Any Good?
First impressions are good. It works as it’s supposed to. Here’s a little close-up video of me using the hot air gun to remove and replace some surface mount resistors on a pre-release board which should hit the market soon.
If you’ve never seen reflow soldering with solder paste before, it’s actually pretty cool. This is how the majority of electronic items are assembled these days, but factories use large ovens instead of hot air guns to melt the solder paste.
Obviously, at this stage I have no idea how long it will live. Only time will tell, but I’m very happy with it all so far.
The instruction manual is a bit ‘Chinglish’ though, but real hackers don’t look at the manual anyway. ;)
I’m certainly glad I bought it.
Update 17th March
Sadly the soldering iron part has developed a fault on the temperature sensor. I’m waiting to find out if CPC can supply a new soldering iron part or if the whole thing has to go back. They offered a replacement, but it seems silly to ship big boxes about if it’s only a small part. Should find out on Tuesday…
…So on Tuesday it transpires that the best way to handle this is to send me a new one and collect the old one. That happened on Wednesday, and I have yet to open the box and try out the replacement. On Thursday I did try it out and it seems OK so far, but I haven’t used it a lot. I’ll keep you posted.
Having used the soldering station quite a lot in the last few days, this one appears to be OK.
Excellent demo, Alex – thanks. That was a much better result than I was expecting. One of those is now on my ‘bit pricey but could be worth it’ list.
Am I right in thinking the solder paste has a short(ish) shelf life?
They say keep it in the fridge, but I think it’s several months rather than weeks. My solder paste has lived in my garage since October and it’s perfectly happy. It’s basically lots of little tiny spheres of solder in a flux mixture. A syringe full is about £20, but it’s awfully convenient. I used shortened (dremel) blunt needles I already had from refilling ink-jet cartridges.
Nice review, thanks Alex…
Good job, Alex.
when i first saw your rework station, i thought it was Atten 8502D which I have been using for several month. they look identical.
Thanx again for the review.
They do don’t they? I’ve seen others on ebay, but I wanted one from a reputable company that it would be possible to get a no quibble return if it went wrong or I didn’t like it :)