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Home made, DUAL Hakko FX-951 station

Notes about making a home made base for dual FX-951 soldering tips.

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After having access to a Metcal MX5200 with the full 2 soldering pencils, the lion kingdom became aware of its limitations & advantages.  The mane problems: changing temperature required changing tips & having the right tip.  There wasn't enough room for 2 stands.  Most of the time, only the copper wool in 1 stand would be used for cleaning while the other was behind a pile of cables.  The connection to the base station was also constantly glitching out.  The smartheat/curie point system is all but obsolete, nowadays.  

It was luxurious having tips that fine.  It was much easier to pick & place surface mount parts with 2 fine tips.  It could heat ground planes effortlessly.  The base station was a very compact way to power 2 tips.  Unfortunately, it was a loaner.

The lion kingdom's previous irons were the Hakko FX-888, Weller WES51, & for the 1st 15 years, the $8 Radio Shack iron.  The Hakko FX-888 was the duck's guts in 2012, for soldering 0603's & bigger, but its mane problem was the lack of any tips for it as small as the Metcal.  The finest tips were conical.  These required turning up the heat to get the very end hot enough & risking burning up components. 

The quest for an affordable & modern alternative to the Metcal revealed this Jeri Ellsworth video showing 2 JBC stations.

Dual JBC's were obviously a sign of someone who had arrived.  That was what people were using for the newest components.  The next step was figuring out what made a JBC better & trying to clone it in a smaller, dual iron package.

 The thermal inertia of a very fine tip is too low to rely on a wide heater separation.  To make the tip finer, the heater has to be closer to the end.  The curie point was the original way of doing it, but better manufacturing has proven good enough to use active temperature control.

The lion kingdom really needs a single controller feeding 2 tips & a single stand for holding 2 tips with 1 copper cleaner.  There's no commercial solution at any price.  The idea of making your own soldering station didn't exist 7 years ago when the FX-888 arrived.  It only seems to have appeared in the last 3 years.

The Hakko FX-951 is the cheaper version of the JBC & uses T-12/T-15 tips.   It has an impossible user interface.  They have a thermocouple in series with the heater.  The thermocouple makes a voltage when the heater is off, which is proportional to the temperature difference between the copper leads & the heating element.  It's heated by 24V AC.

Cold junction compensation:

https://www.maximintegrated.com/en/app-notes/index.mvp/id/4026

They're basically measuring the temperature where the copper connects to the thermocouple with yet another thermister & using a table that factors in the copper temperature.  The trick is a thermocouple only senses difference between the copper & the alloys while a thermister senses absolute temperature.  This is not actually used anywhere but internet comments.  Assuming the copper temperature is 72F has proven good enough.

Chinese pinout diagram:

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/hakko-t12-pinout/

It's quite clear that the internet doesn't really know what the pins do.  They all just copy the same wiring diagram from China.

Universal solder controller with typical voltages & wiring patterns for the various tips, but no functional description:

... Read more »

  • Soldering with the T-12

    lion mclionhead01/27/2019 at 00:43 0 comments

    It starts up much faster than the MX-5200 & comes out of sleeping much faster, but thermal regulation isn't as fast.  Soldering a ground plane is still painful.  The LED goes out, indicating its thermocouple is at the required temp, but the tip is still cold.  It's an incremental improvement from the FX-888, but nowhere close to the Metcal.

    Conical tips on the T-12 are incrementally better but still suffering from FX-888 problems.  The point tends to stay cold, while the heat comes from the side.  Temperature has to be increased to get a hot tip.  Never did measure the Metcal's temperature, so it might have relied on a hotter temperature.  It might have always been 340C.  Lions use 280C as much as possible, to avoid lifting a pad & burning flux.

    The rattling of the motion detecting switch is bearable & it's sensitive enough to keep it on with normal motion.  The tip being longer than any other iron ended up not being noticeable.  They might have done that to get a cold side for the thermocouple.

    We've traveled far, in the last 30 years.  The 30W Archers & Wellers are long gone, though the very 1st stand from the lion kingdom's 1st Archer kit is shown.  Lions spent a lot of time grinding down the Weller tips as they eroded.  Time to discard the 15W.  Lions never got burned after switching to the regulated ones, because they had real stands.  

  • Complete bench in a box

    lion mclionhead01/03/2019 at 21:14 0 comments

    It took 6 weeks for the boat to arrive from China.


    Bang shiny before they're used.  The legendary hoof tip finally arrived.

    Step 1 was fabricating the power supply.  2 Rudung buck converters & a direct 25V connector powered by a single 300W.  The Rudungs have independent grounds, but the lion didn't try shorting anything yet.

    There was much tinning of 14 gauge silicone wire.  It was a better wiring job than anything money could buy.  There's room for fans on the Rudungs, but no plan to need high current until the next major LED project.  With pixies now available,

    The irons could be fired up.  It was easiest to hot glue the boards on the outside.  Forget about using jumpers to connect the connectors.  Just solder them into the boards.

     Still need a stand, since they don't fit in the Hakko stands.  Tested it at 280C with the Fluke & the temperature was already calibrated in the factory.  Not sure how high the Fluke can go before it melts.  

    The soldering station used just the cheapest soldering & a wall wart to weigh it down.  The tips were grounded to each other but not to Earth.

    The 2 irons heat up bang fast on 25V.  The power supply fan briefly spins up when it heats up or solders something.  It's quite a powerful feeling, making a fan spin up by soldering.  It could run on a 12V battery, but there wouldn't be a fan.

    Absolutely none of the buttons or switches ordered were used.  The switches were failed short circuiting switches from the mastech which the lion kingdom repaired.  The Mastech may be used 1 more time in the lion kingdom's lifespan.

  • Bench in a box begins

    lion mclionhead01/03/2019 at 07:18 0 comments

    1 month after ordering, parts started arriving from China, manely top of the line RUIDENG DPS5005 50V 5A's  with communication support.

    What Dave couldn't do was done.

    Revealing it was 2 boards soldered together with 2 pin headers & a display on a 3rd board, itself soldered by a 1 pin header.  Its only attachment to an enclosure was the liner.  The standoffs were loose fitting.

    16 pins with conformal coatings ensnared the 2 boards.

    So there would be no replacing the display or the buttons with any ease.  It was already decided that the bluetooth & USB support wasn't worth it.  That was only ordered in case someone needed to test a voltage ramp.  At least there's alternative firmware.

    https://github.com/kanflo/opendps

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David H. wrote 01/23/2019 at 17:13 point

I remember seeing someone comparing these T12 controllers and the one pictured with the segmented LED display wasn't the best, for a bit more money, you can get a completed OLED T12 mini station without the PSU and if one's on a budget, the one without the LED display performed better.

https://www.banggood.com/Quicko-T12-942-MINI-OLED-Digital-Soldering-Station-T12-907-Handle-with-T12-K-Iron-Tips-Welding-Tool-p-1326151.html?rmmds=search

https://www.banggood.com/616dev-V5_5-DC-12-24V-Mini-Temperature-Control-Board-LED-DIY-for-T12-Soldering-Iron-Station-p-1167382.html?rmmds=search&cur_warehouse=CN

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