I recently purchased a Hakko FX-951 for home soldering. I was considering the FM-203 in case I ever wanted SMD tweezers, but the cost difference just didn’t add up. But, I knew that the Hakko FX-888D supported a SMD tweezer upgrade for less than $200 in case I ever needed them. But, I didn’t need the whole station, and the cost of the whole thing ($100 or so). To eBay I went, and found a “as-is” base for less than $40. It was missing the power cable, but showed to power up, and showing the “S-E” error. But it also didn’t have an iron plugged in, so that error makes sense (“S-E” is sensor error, claiming it can’t see the temperature of the iron)!
Wanting to get into more modern device repair, and realizing that my WEP 858D wasn’t up to the job (I had terrible luck getting it to remove really anything), I decided it was time to get a “real” hot air station. Now, I’m not normally one for vanity, but I do like using one company for things. It’s why I’m an Apple user for the most part, and why nearly all my modern gear is Rigol. So, I decided I wanted to get a Hakko station. Especially since the JBC option was HORRENDOUSLY expensive. The FR-801 is no longer made, but the FR-810B is, and on eBay I found an older FR-810, new, for $700. While more than I would have liked to have spent, the unit gets pretty good reviews, has a lot of tip options, and seemed simple to use (more on that later). While the FR-810B has the integrated vacuum pick-up, this just seemed like something that could break, and honestly, tweezers work. So I bought the unit, and waited for it to arrive.
The unit arrived amazingly quickly (ordered Friday, showed up Monday), and well packed (original box). The unit was easy to unbox, and set up, with a few issues. The space I have for the unit is not quite the right size for the wand holder to fit on the side of the unit. I instead removed the holder from the plastic clip, and bolted it directly to a shelf rail “below” the unit. It still functions the same, it’s just lower than the rest of the unit. The other issue is the unit came with the N51-01 nozzle, which is only a 2.5mm opening. This is extremely pointless for most work. Not enough air flows to really heat anything larger than very small packages, and even then, the board generally won’t heat enough to melt solder without a lot of time. Thankfully, I also had ordered the B5058 adapter so I could use standard “screw on” nozzles. I happened to have a 4mm nozzle that works great.
The interface on the unit is a bit convoluted, but very powerful. In general, you just set temperature, and airflow. This is done with up and down arrows on the unit. But, if you wanted to use this unit for more accurate reflow, you can set up to five profiles, and then timers between each of those. So, you can set up preheat time, soak, re-flow, and cool-down stages, and tell the unit to do all of those in a row, automatically. Sure, you’d probably want some kind of stand/holder to do this, but it’s nice that the option exists (could be very useful if you’re into reflowing PS3 CPU/GPUs).
Testing some SMD work with it, I can say without a doubt, it works WAY WAY WAY better than my old WEP. And, of course it does. It’s a name brand, high quality unit vs a cheap import. The airflow is significantly better, and I don’t constantly have to remind myself not to cover the fan intake. Really, I’d love to see it compared to the JBC. I will note that from watching videos with the JBC featured, the JBC has a MUCH longer hose from the base to the handset. I’m also a bit curious about disabling the auto-off when placed in the holder, so that I could tell the unit to heat up while it was still in the holder. But, that’s for a later date.
I really like the unit, and I will try to test it more on some real SMD work (Macbook logic board, probably) in the coming months.
I have three GE “Wink” light bulbs, and a GE Wink “Link” hub. In general, it works fine, but the GE Link hub is pretty limited in it’s abilities. It doesn’t seem to have any firmware update, nor does it seem to be able to update the firmware of the bulbs (According to Wink, at least, the Link hub has been EOL’d since Quirky declared bankruptcy). Also, it doesn’t work AT ALL with non-GE bulbs (I found this out when I tried a Cree bulb, and wasted over an hour before finally finding a non-GE page somewhere that stated this limitation).
Anyway, this has been annoying. So when I was recently on eBay, I found a cheap Wink Hub to purchase ($25). I know these were blown out a while back at Home Depot for about that amount, but I wasn’t in the “know” at that time. I bought the hub, and it showed up relatively quickly. Out of the box, it was running a VERY old firmware. Getting this to update took a bit of work, requiring a couple resets, and moving the unit around the house until it apparently had a good enough wireless signal to download and install. Once that was done, and the Wink app was working, I tried pairing my GE bulbs (I had to reset them first). None of them would pair fully. They would flash like they were paired, but the Wink hub would never finish and confirm they were paired. I emailed Wink support, and within a couple hours they got back to me and after confirming I had done the basic stuff, they did a reset of the Zigbee chipset. After a power cycle, the bulbs fully paired. =) Well done Wink support (I don’t see any way I could have done this on my own).
I did have to completely recreate all my schedules with the move to the new hub, sadly. But after that was done, things seemed to work. I do notice that the GE bulbs seem to respond very slowly to commands with the new hub, but they DO respond simultaneously. With the Link hub, a dim command for all bulbs would happen one at a time, kind of (you could see one dim before the other). Now, they all dim, turn on, turn off, simultaneously, which is nice.
And because the Wink Hub does so much more than GE bulbs, I’ve since purchased 2 LeakSmart sensors, one of which lives in my Shed, and the other in my Garage, and I hope to work on some API calls to pull logging info and see how the temperature of my Shed and Garage change throughout the year. At some point maybe I’ll get actual temp/humidity sensors instead. I’ve also purchased a GE outdoor “outlet” to control some string lights we have.
All and all, once Wink support helped out, I have been very happy. I have heard the Cree Zigbee lights work faster than the GE ones, so I may have to try those at some point, but for now, I’m very happy.