A while back My 25+ year old Weller WTCPT Soldering system died a quiet, yet pungent death. I was not a fan of having to change tips for heat settings, but as 700F usually fit the bill I did not gripe much as I only needed 800F once in a while. TO replace it with the same exact Iron/Base was almost $200.00 so I had to use an old Radio Crap 20watt iron while I searched for a replacement, or the $$ for the Weller.
I saw the Hakko 888D with the Digital temperature adjust and said looks good. It was $107.00 as opposed to $177.00+ for the Weller and took up a little less space on the bench. I ordered it and three days later It arrived.
I should have sent it back.
Yeah it's nice, but the little iron is, well , THIN. It actually hurts to use during long soldering sessions as my hand cramps up. At first I thought this might be a sign that I need to take a break, but it turns out there was another reason....TIME.
Time? Huh? What does time have to do with soldering.
Simple. This little iron cannot keep the tip temperature constant. Even on 800F+ the connections on a DIP package look horrible after three pins as the joints go cold so you have to rework them or go VERY SLOWLY. Which means it takes MORE TIME to do the same job, and in the process the parts get very hot, and ones hand cramps. I shudder at the thought of building another one of those 900 T-1 LED clocks with this little unit. The Weller with a 700F conical tip flew through the job. I wouldn't DARE try to solder heavy pro audio 1/4" or XLR connectors with this thing. I think it would pass out.
I had to solder 5 M328's in TQFP package two days ago. King Samperi gave me a really great tip on how to solder them and get machine like results, but it requires an iron with a good tip and the ability to get solder braid hot fast to work. Well the Hakko with a heavy tip and 800F just could not cut it. Made a mess out of the job and I went and dug up a Radio Crap 60watt iron to clean things up with the solder wick because the Hakko couldn't get it done. Very Sad.
I inspected the heater/tip assembly and I can see that the ceramic element is right at the end and the tip slides over it. Which is the correct way to mate them, but I see no temperature sensor anywhere near the tip of the heater. It appears to be at the back where it always stays hot. No wonder this thing cannot regulate!
A while back I had a thread about hot air soldering stations and I purchased an inexpensive unit that came with a small SMD soldering iron that mated to the base. It has a better temperature regulating capability than the Hakko and the whole unit was under $60.00usd compared to the $107.00 I paid for the HAkko.
Now I did read the reviews on Amazon(I did not buy it through Amazon....dumb move) and the overwhelming majority gave it 5 stars, but the ones that gave three or less complained about the temperature regulation issue. Makes me wonder if the folks that gave three or less are the ones who make a living using a soldering iron and the 4+ raters are "sometimes solderers". I should have went with the pessimists on this one.
So now I am going to have to save up the $200.00+ to replace what I had for many trouble free years. Why $200+ since the iron/Base is only $177.00? I threw out all the spare tips I had purchased as I didn't think I would need them as I had this revolutionary new solder station.
Thee are times when the old, Analog ways of the Jedi are what makes the Force so powerful.