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Author Topic: Time for a new iron  (Read 4803 times)
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I love my fx-888.  Before it I was using varius RS unregulated pencils and a 260 watt weller gun.  I still use the gun when it is the right tool but the 888 has replaced ALL my other irons.
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Wow, you state it was the 1960's, but even back then it's amazing that someone could get away with selling a commercial product that could fail in such a spectacularly dangerous way during normal and expected use!  It's a good thing you didn't point the iron toward's your other arm, or anything else you want to keep functional, when you picked it up that time.

The crux of my objection to your post is that the product spectacularly dangerous nature was tolerated...

So while soldering you've never, even momentarily, had your other hand or arm in straight-line path of your soldering iron?  I don't mean just right in front of it, it could be on the other side of PCB or inches away grabing a solder wick, etc...  

No I haven't.  Doing so is simply careless, and hence risky, even if the hot iron doesn't fail as described.

Recall that Doc mentioned the heating cartridge's final resting place was the ceiling, if he was in a room with standard height ceilings that cartridge had plenty of energy to hurt someone.  Also while losing a chunk of a hand or arm isn't fatal, it's something most people generally want to avoid.

As a young engineer I remember throwing pencils into the ceiling on light afternoons...  Doesn't take much energy and as such I doubt the problem made the device spectacularly dangerous.  I also have no doubt that the problem was fixed when it was discovered.

All of that is really besides my main point however... The Ungar soldering iron in question was not only potentially unsafe, it was completely unnecessarily so.  Some risks are innate and intrinsic to an activity or device, the "nature of the beast" as it were.  However, as previously stated, if an electrically powered soldering iron has a chance of any part of it exploding during ordinary usage it is seriously flawed.  Even an inexpensive hobbyist type of electrically powered soldering iron that is decently treated should have no more chance of explosion than a well made and properly used hammer has of falling apart in your hands.  Finally, setting aside the danger it might mean to the user, why is it so unreasonable to demand that a soldering iron not violently destroy itself in the course normal usage?!?!

There is a world of difference between potentially unsafe (of which almost everything is( and spectacularly dangerous

I don't expect life to be to completely safe, not only is that impossible it would be boring as well.  However in my experience, reasonable people don’t usually take unnecessary risks.  If they choose partake in activities that have innate risks, they also mitigate them to the extent it’s practical to do so.  That’s not being risk adverse, that’s being smart!

People take unnecessary risks all the time.  The problem is that people refuse to take responsibility for those risks, hence claiming a defect iron is "spectacularly dangerous" when in proper use, even the defect wouldn't cause personal harm...

Ok now I’m starting to think you are just trolling me, either that or you are letting unchecked nostalgia seriously delude you.  
Here’s why, we are having this discussion on an internet forum dedicated to artists, hobbyists, and various other non-professionals (although there are professional engineers posting as well) from across the entire globe using palm-sized microprocessor boards that are many orders of magnitude more computationally powerful than most computers existing during the 1960’s.  Furthermore, the people on this forum are using these devices to improve or change any almost conceivable aspect of their daily lives, or just for the heck of it.  You can read about numerous home automation projects, robotics, remote sensor networks, computerized telescopes, home weather stations, etc… even high altitude balloons and rockets with multiple sensors and telemetry!  What more do you want flying cars, jet packs?  Spend 15 minutes with Google and you’ll probably find someone, somewhere, at least attempting any manner DIY project you can think of, you just need to open your eyes a bit.

The problem with comparing the creative output from today to what was done in the sixties, is like comparing the relative genius of the person who created the first transistor and someone who wires up some off the shelf devices to make a "computer"...  The level of achievements that arose from those risky days, is not something that we are achieving any longer.  Granted there are still roughly the same number of genius's producing astounding work, but given the sophistication of the the tools now available, the amount of the astounding work should be orders of magnitude larger than it is, when in fact it hasn't increased much at all, and frankly has likely gone down on a per capita basis...  In my opinion, one factor is people complaining about products that are unsafe...  I for one truly miss that I can no longer purchase the types of chemistry sets, and other material for my grandchildren.

And while that might be partially nostalgic, unless your old enough to have lived through that time period (which I doubt from the references you post) you really do not posses an appropriate frame of reference to make that judgement...
In any case, I doubt continuing this digression will have much further use or interest to anyone.
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I kind of like the look of this rig:

http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9672

Good price too...
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That is a Hakko 936 clone from China.

That model is a retired product  It's not for sale any more...

This is it's replacement Hakko 926 clone from China, perhaps you meant this: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10707
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That is a Hakko 936 clone from China.

That model is a retired product  It's not for sale any more...

This is it's replacement Hakko 926 clone from China, perhaps you meant this: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10707

Sorry, that's the one I meant. I'll probably pick one up next week.

It seems to be have good reviews.
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I have been away for a small time... I built a new computer... 6 Core AMD @ 3.3 Ghz W/8 gigs of ram case and 600 watt power supply All for 491.00 (Minus drives)... My Hakko 926 has been a great iron for many years... It was the Ungar Imperialite iron that used to fail, Only occasionally The heat cartridge had 2 pins to plug into the handle and when sometimes the iron would fail the element would vaporize internally and the gas pressure was enough to shoot the cartridge across the room. it was standard practice to unplug them when not in use. Only had the one time that it went off in my hand out of 7 years of using those irons daily 6 or 7 days a week I had three fail in that time. I was in my late teens working in a television repair shop and the customer was right there when it happened. I left the iron where it was as it was in the corner of the shop... It fell out of the ceiling about an hour later. As I remember the Imperialite's were pulled for that reason... They were very good soldering irons except for that minor failing, heated quickly and were well balanced and they were among thhe first to use a 'plated' tip (no filing the tip like all the rest of the irons). For those of you that might own a Hakko, Bosity on Ebay has an assortment of Hakko 900 series (926) tips 8 or 10 different styles for 9.95 and since they aren't the Weller type of thermal controller (a magnetic "Curie point sensor" and IMO junk as the switch fails frequently at a cost of about $9.00) I don't see where I could really go wrong since the tips are 4.95 and more in the US. Of All the exploding things perhaps the most interesting was an old motorola black and white TV... All the cheap tv's in those days used a voltage doubler instead of a power transformer and with this particular TV the input filter would fail... The cabinets were made of a paper epoxy material and when this part failed it would blow a hole in the top of the cabinet and you found the capacitor case somewhere in the room. It was standard practice for that part to fail so we replaced that part anytime one came in for service. The Hakko tips are described here ($9.45)
10pcs 900M-T Soldering Solder Iron Tips for 936 937 Station Set Rework Welder. If these are the larger tips I will buy the larger barrel and nut but I don't think they are as one of the tips is a 45deg knife tip which id GREAT for 'flipping' SMT parts off the pads they are soldered to.

Doc
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Doc, I enjoy reading your posts, anecdotes, etc. Especially stuff relating to exploding things  smiley-razz but...

Could you PLEASE hit the return key every once in a while. My eyes aren't what they used to be and it's just d@mned hard reading a big block of text. I really like your contributions but you make it tough to read.
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That is a Hakko 936 clone from China.

That model is a retired product  It's not for sale any more...

This is it's replacement Hakko 926 clone from China, perhaps you meant this: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10707

Sorry, that's the one I meant. I'll probably pick one up next week.

It seems to be have good reviews.


I recently bought the one (the product number 10707) from Sparkfun.  After a few months of use on spare-time projects I'm quite pleased with it.  It heats up reasonably quick and it works well even with non-lead solder.
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There is an Ebay store, Bosity that sells tips for that iron.. $9.45 for 10 assorted tips. I ordered a ste and next week when they arrive... I'll comment on the appearance and apparent quality of the tips.

Doc
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Well, I want to work on a project this weekend and hate to wait on shipping... My old iron works OK it's just really BIG and it makes it hard to get into tight spots. Plus the cord is really stiff.

This is my old one:

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062750&filterName=Brand&filterValue=RadioShack

I got one of these for $79:

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3132686

I've just tinkered around with it this evening and so far so good. I'm thinking about ordering a chisel tip for it just to try it out. Any input on this?
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Chisel tip has alway been my favorite, even for delicate work. That is, since I built my MITS Altair 8800 back in 1976.   smiley-wink
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Here's a video review (Not mine):



I've used it for a few hours so far and I really like it.

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The Hakko site shows that the FX-888 is made in other colors like black/silver, does anyone know where to find them? The purple and yellow one looks like vomit, I'd prefer to avoid that.
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That is a Hakko 936 clone from China.

That model is a retired product  It's not for sale any more...

This is it's replacement Hakko 926 clone from China, perhaps you meant this: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10707

Sorry, that's the one I meant. I'll probably pick one up next week.

It seems to be have good reviews.

I got that one from sparkfun and been using it for a couple months and it works very well.
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Two comments,
 First ANY Hakko iron clone or not is in my eyes a great soldering iron, I've used one for damn near 30 years and it has been the BEST WORKING and Lowest maintenance iron I'vve Ever used... I think that the Weller stuff while working is still second class.
Second... About the "Exploding" Iron "Stuck" in the ceiling was an extremely rare occasion ( about 1 in 1000), I had one fail that way and two others just wouldn't get hot anymore and they sounded like there was loose sand inside. Part of my comments on the Imperialite iron was other comments from people in my business. For several years I worked out of the trunk of my car and I used the Imperialite because it would heat and cool quickly... I'd go from tv shop to tv shop asking to fix car radio's... I used to get $10 - $15 dollars a piece I usually could get two a shop and I had 4 or 5 shops I "worked"... Typically I made about $100 / day... VERY good money for the middle 70's and If I didn't feel like working... I didn't... My rent for a Big 2 bedroom house was $250/month.

Doc
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“The solution of every problem is another problem.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I do answer technical questions PM'd to me with whatever is in my clipboard

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