20 Replies Latest reply on Dec 24, 2017 6:52 PM by rachaelp

    Hot Air Station suggestions?

      Hi All,

       

      I find myself wanting to do more surface mount work.

      While a toaster oven works pretty good for the whole board, I would like to try a hot air station.

      After looking at a Weller station at over $700 US, then looking at $50 stations on E-bay,

      I would like to hear from some actual users and their experiences and recommendations.

       

      So what is a reasonable brand of hot air station that will last for several years and not break the bank.

      (I.e. under $200US would be nice.)

       

      Thanks,

      Al

        • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
          kas.lewis

          I was looking for the same sort of solution. I ended up going with this from Tenma because it was under $150. The only down side I have with it the cabe to the iron, it's a bit stiff and so has a different feel than what yo get from a Weller. Other than that I have been happy with it

           

          Kas

          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
            peteroakes

            I have the Weller WXR 3000 workstation that includes  Hot Air rework and it is awesome, but as you say, it is very expensive WXR3003 - WELLER - Rework Station, Multifunctional, 450 °C, 120 V | Newark element14  , you can get the various parts separately and that will be way less money, for instance, just the Hot Air.

            I produced a few videos on it (Sorry but mine was sponsored to me by Weller themselves along with RS-Components, so RS Logos are in the video) but you can also get this from Element 14 using the link above.

             

            What I think is important to look out for is the following

             

            The FAN for the hot air is in the base, not the pencil, this makes it easier to wield and typically gives better range of Air flow. It is all too easy to simply blow away the part you're trying to re-work if the flow is too high. To go with this you also need a good range of temperature, especially if you also consider Lead Free Solder and big pads that double as heat dissipators.I have also a cheap EBAY Atten/SEIK  that works but is very temperamental with the Fan and will change speed as I rotate the hot air pencil. Now that i have tried the Weller, I see why paying more for good quality German Engineering is worth it.

             

            As a separate note. I have been using the same Weller Iron for close to 40 years and it is still going strong, paid more for it of course but never needed to buy another for all this time. Lets hope the new one will last as long.

            1 of 1 people found this helpful
            • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
              michaelwylie

              I know your plight. Which one you buy depends on how much you want to use it and what you want to do with it. The Tenma units are OK and I own one, but my biggest problem with it is it doesn't have an auto shutoff feature when you cradle the handle. If you are forgetful, make sure you get one that has the auto shutoff feature. I also have a Tenma soldering iron for my home and it has its quirks as well, like the tip coming loose after every thermal cycle. Basically I have to retighten the tip every time I use it.

              I don't know about every brand, but the previous guy I worked for bought me a X-tronic all-in-one station. This was the biggest piece of junk I ever used. The power switch melted the first time I used it - and I mean really melted to the point where the switch failed.

               

              Let's make a distinction - there is a difference between a hot air station and a hot air pencil. The station can deliver lots of heat and air and can ideally be dialed down to smaller flow and heat. The pencil is designed to target specific areas. If you are simply moving a few surface mount components or cleaning up the board a pencil is good. Pencils sometimes require another preheater to deliver enough heat for parts with large metal slugs on their underside. Pencils are good for reflowing boards with components that could melt. Hot Air Stations are harder to configure for reflowing boards with parts that could melt.

               

              I currently use HCT2-120 - METCAL - DIGITAL HOT AIR PENCIL, 100-450 DEG | Newark element14 ($500) and it works fantastic unless I need ore heat than a pencil can deliver.

               

              The Tenma is probably good, but if you already have an iron don't buy the combo unit. I think I own this one - 21-10125 - TENMA - HOT AIR REWORK STATION, 280W, 100V | Newark element14

              • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
                jw0752

                Hi Al,

                 

                I have the same unit 21-10125 - TENMA - HOT AIR REWORK STATION, 280W, 100V | Newark element14  that michaelwylie  has. When I got it I modified it to include a shut off in the cradle. I was pretty disappointed in the quality of the circuit board. I have seen six year old kids who can solder better than this. On the other hand, once it was modified to suit me it has gone on to work without problems for a couple years now. I do not know if this speaks to the quality of Tenma but if solder jobs like this bother you then perhaps paying a little more for quality is a good idea.

                 

                IMG_1414.JPG

                 

                IMG_1420.JPG

                 

                John

                  • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?

                    Thanks for the great responses everyone, my internet is pretty flakey tonight so bear with me.

                     

                    I have too many wants for the money I make.

                     

                    I saw some replacement heater elements on e-bay, has anyone had much luck with a DIY hot air station?

                     

                    With the price of components off e-bay and some of the new power IGFETS from Mouser, this should be a walk in the park, or am I missing something?

                     

                    How critical is the temperature regulation? On a standard iron it's better to be too hot than too cold, are we looking at the same principle here or does the temp need to be pretty close?

                     

                    I can just get away with a 900F (type J?) thermocouple yes?

                     

                    Al

                    • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
                      jbundock

                      Hi John,

                       

                      I ordered the same unit 21-10125 - TENMA - HOT AIR REWORK STATION, 280W, 100V | Newark element14

                      I probably wouldn't have if I saw your post first.  Anyway I noticed the description as "100V" after I ordered it.  Is that a typo

                      or does this thing require Japan standard 100VAC or does it come with a standard 120V standard USA plug? I've seen

                      models with the same part number specified for 220V and when I look on the TENMA website for the manual it throws

                      an error.  What manufacturer would have the exact same part number for devices that have different power requirements?

                       

                      Regards,

                       

                      Jim

                        • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
                          jw0752

                          Hi James,

                          My unit runs on 120 volts just fine. Once I closed the case and stopped looking at the solder job it has continued to work well and properly. I have had it for about three years now and I have had no problems. Yours will probably have a better solder job than mined did as I can't believe things could have gotten worse.

                          John

                          1 of 1 people found this helpful
                      • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
                        COMPACT

                        Although out of your price range.

                        For hot air I use a JBC Air Tool. It has thermal profiling output and does a fabulous job.

                        For IR I use a PDR ChipTool. It does a fabulous job for small BGAs.

                         

                        As Scotty Montgomery says - "Use the right tool for the right job!"

                         

                        When using cheaper tools you'll find that the temperature regulation is absent and risk burning things and causing unwanted collateral damage.

                        1 of 1 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
                          mcb1

                          I have the same unit as kas.lewis referred to Tenma  21-1013021-10130

                          it has the cutoff feature when you place the handpiece down, and the picture doesn't show it, but includes a temperature controlled soldering iron.

                           

                          I've stopped using my Wellers and use this as the main soldering iron now.

                          I haven't had any issues.

                           

                          The other item to add to your wish list is a preheater.

                          http://www.newark.com/tenma/21-19640/quartz-preheater/dp/47Y6405

                           

                          It acts to bring the board up to temperature before adding the rework gun to melt the solder.

                           

                          Mark

                          3 of 4 people found this helpful
                            • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
                              jbundock

                              I followed your link to the preheater and noticed that Tenma had a sticker that gave a voltage range of 100-130V on the back.

                              I'm hoping this explains the "100VAC" specified on Newark's website for the hot air station I ordered ...

                              21-10125 - TENMA - HOT AIR REWORK STATION, 280W, 100V | Newark element14

                               

                              100VAC is the Japanese standard, so I thought I might have inadvertently ordered a station suitable for Japan or require

                              a step down.  I wish the "specification section" actually showed the specifications .  Sigh ...

                                • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
                                  mcb1

                                  I wish the "specification section" actually showed the specifications .  Sigh ...

                                  Agreed. They suck.

                                  For what it's worth the Tenma site is just as bad, and the links to the manuals are broken ....

                                   

                                  Mine came from England and is 220v, so I didn't have the same issues.

                                   

                                  Mark

                                • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
                                  Jan Cumps

                                  I'm using that Tenma pre-heater too (thank you Shabaz) when using hot air. I put on paste and place components with the board on the switched-off heater. When all is placed I turn it to 120 degrees for a few minutes, then start reflowing with hot air.

                                  4 of 4 people found this helpful
                                    • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
                                      mcb1

                                      The rework machine at work is Infrared based.

                                      It can even do pick and place, but the price tag is a little beyond any hobbyist.

                                       

                                      It surprises me that we aren't seeing more Infrared preheaters, like this has.

                                       

                                      It seems to me that this is a few rows of elements, that you turn on or off depending on the size and amount of heat required.

                                       

                                      Maybe someone need to build one of these types of preheater.

                                       

                                       

                                      Mark

                                      3 of 3 people found this helpful
                                      • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
                                        rachaelp

                                        I have a 24V heated bed PCB I designed for a 3D printer attached to a spare metal shelf from my Rayburn oven. I use my meaty 420W power supply with a 4-wire connection to ensure the heater gets the full 24V. I paste up the board and place the components along with a thermocouple an put this on top of the plate then switch on and cover with an insulated cover to increase the heating speed. Once it’s been soaked at 110-120C for a few minutes, off comes the cover and out comes either the hot air pencil or my main iron. This technique helps a lot with regular soldering too if you have lots of planes in a board and components without thermal relief connecting to them. You do have to be careful not to frazzle yourself on anything though!

                                         

                                        Best Regards,

                                         

                                        Rachael

                                        3 of 3 people found this helpful
                                    • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
                                      dougw

                                      I use an Aoyue because it was low cost, but it works fine for my needs. I use it for rework (chip removal) and small heat shrink tubing.

                                      • Re: Hot Air Station suggestions?
                                        COMPACT

                                        One of the most time consuming parts about SMT is component placement.

                                        This is how to do it easily yourself.

                                         

                                        There. A thousand times easier!

                                        3 of 3 people found this helpful