I started off with the classic Weller soldering gun
- too large to do much of anything but still occasionally useful. I upgraded a few years later to a cheap Radioshack soldering kit with a 35 watt iron - a great improvement. A few years later, I again upgraded; this time to a Pro'sKit iron as part of a tool kit required for a college course. Again, a few years later, I upgraded to a used Hakko 936 soldering station - I finally was in the world of temperature controlled stations. This setup served me well until I came across a great deal on my current Hakko FM-203
station. The FM-203
allowed me to get into cartridge irons and use Hakko FM-2023 hot tweezers
, both of which open up entirely new techniques.
Around the same time as the Hakko 936, I entered into the world of hot air rework stations for surface mount work with the Hakko 850 - a used monster of a hot air station that could get too hot to hold and was capable of going high enough to burn through just about anything. I upgraded to the Quick 861DW
around the same time as the FM-203
. The Quick
is a digital station with three presets, better air and heat control and is enjoyable to use. Combined with an AmScope Microscope
, these tools allow for board level diagnostic and repair through microsoldering. In conjunction with an infrared reflow oven, short production runs can be quickly and affordably completed.
You can find an article about more of the tools I use or recommend on the blog
In addition to these tools, I also have a comprehensive set of diagnostic tools: