Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cordless Soldering Irons: Hakko FX 901 & Weller's BP645

I bought this cordless Soldering Iron called ColdHeat some time back. As, long as I was not bothered with messy soldering, this was okay. Recently, I had to do some real soldering. Now this is where it got real ugly. ColdHeat is a pain. One cannot form a good drop of solder over the joints. One has to have the solder between the tip gap for it to melt. Does not work with thin solder. Heat is produced when the gap between the tip is short circuited by the the solder. If you have expensive milli-volt components - The thought of the high current frying these components may send chills down your spine. And to top it all off I managed to break the special alloy tip into 2 (the plastic separating the pieces just melted!!). Its not me, these tips are supposed to be brittle! Now a replacement tip costs half the price of the iron itself. Moreover concentrating on holding the solder between the tip separation and also concentrating on soldering just did it for me.

Realization - there is no replacement for the "True Heat" soldering irons. You can literally let a perfect drop of solder spread around your connections with a little practice (heaven). Now the hard part -- cordless and "True heat".

I narrowed down my search to Hakko FX 901 and Weller's BP645. Both are still no replacements for true "corded" soldering irons but are good enough for ordinary PCB work. I recommend you use rechargeable NiMH batteries. Weller's is smaller and uses 3 AA batteries where as Hakko uses 4xAA. Hakko is prettier. You can find good "objective" reviews here and here.

All-Spec: Hakko FX 901
All-Spec: Wellers BP860MP (It appears Weller's BP645 has been replaced with the newer BP860MP ...Took forever to arrive )


Karen Nakamura said...

I have the BP645. It's pretty useless for anything except for very thin gauge (think 22 gauge or 24 gauge) wire. It can't do thick PCBs or 14 gauge wire -- the tip doesn't get hot enough to melt the solder, so you get a cold solder joint.

Dev's Lab said...

I think neither is a replacement for a proper iron. Yes, both only work with thin wires and not with thick wires. I guess that is what should be expected from low wattage (~5W) irons like these. Definitely useless for bigger tasks. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

thank you