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)!
Well, I finally did it. After years of soldering with an old Weller WTCPT, and an equally old Hakko 936, I decided to upgrade to a modern FX-951 (kit), and the Micro-soldering hand-piece (FM-2032). I’ve been doing more and more SMD work lately, on multilayer boards, and there just wasn’t the thermal capacity in my previous irons. And while the JBC stations looked appealing, they didn’t look $450 appealing. Also, the thought of finding parts, tips, etc wasn’t overly appealing. Where I know Amazon and even Fry’s stock tips for the Hakko.
I ordered the unit from tequipment.net, my usual source for this kind of thing. They offer the best education discounts, as well as one for eevblog members, and often will discount even more if you’re buying a lot of equipment. Sadly, I didn’t buy my FR-810 at the same time. I did buy the FX-951 Kit, the curved tip (T15-J02), and the Micro-Pencil curved tip for it (T30-J). Oddly, the T30-J shipped separately, but meh.
Once I had the unit, I also had purchased the T15-D08 tip at Fry’s earlier, and was able to immediately switch it it (the unit came with a conical tip, which are generally useless). The unit fit perfectly on my bench, and the feel of the iron is great. Some basic soldering tests showed it had a HUGE amount of thermal capacity. I was able to solder easily to ground planes, and thermal “pads”. Heck, I was even able to do some chassis soldering that previously required my giant Weller D650 soldering gun.
The best part of the unit, though, is swapping tips. I bought a couple extra “sleeves” when I ordered the unit so I could swap tips, and indeed, swapping them is crazy easy. Just unclip, drop into holder, and clip a tip in. The worst part, though, is the incessant “beep” when the tip is unplugged, but thankfully, you can disable that via the info in this document.
I love the iron. Much like switching to Ubiquiti for wireless, and never wanting to go back to consumer wireless, I am not sure I’ll ever go back to a consumer soldering iron. =)