004 :: my old DIY soldering station

**update**the ROSIN flux is here !
30gram tin. made in china.
brandless, but retailer seems reputable. and it seems to
be working very well (seems better than the synthetics)

re-conditioning the HAKKO iron. it too suffers
from a slightly loose fitting between heater and
tip. added a small slip in piece of ALU (the tail
end trailing below)

the HAKKO heater + ALU sleeve addon

re-conditioning the GOOT iron. this 1 is tricky
shifting the K sensor now to the mid section of
the stem instead of the tip. to avoid anymore
contamination of tip with glue chemicals, the
hysteresis now widens up as expected however
this mod is aimed at soldering at lower temps of
under 270
˚C. the final hystersis 200-230˚C for a
250˚C setting, gives a error adjustment of + 20
in any case is still a usable mod.
after cleaning, heating test.

GOOT tip. after cleaning, re-tinning. good as new.
HAKKO tip. after cleaning, re-tinned and shiny like new.

**below this point are older posts, note especially mods that immediately enhances the corrosion of the solder tip and the fluxes**

safety note, please do not use glass fibre sleaves as i did
here. you are suppose to use a blue flame torch to singed
the fibres so they stick back onto themselves. broken
glass fibre dust are small and they are skin / lung irritant
So the way forward is to get a neutral PH flux. when specifying neutral, it does not mean "no clean", non rosin based chemical fluxes are most certainly to contain Zinc Oxide (likely to be mixed into vaseline, like GOOT). so i will be steering clear of all these except PH7 and rosin based fluxes for next round of mucking around. it is funny the only flux that is sold locally here is all made in china "BAKU-150" ? anyone?

The corrosive problems is deemed to be caused by the potent silicone acetic acid curing process. the felder flux also plays a part. the Felder flux 3.1.1C although is confirmed to be a genuine product sold in sim lim tower. this flux however is now confirmed to be the more acidic type used for brazing. so as of now, i can somewhat confirm that sim lim tower is no longer a complete electronics hobbyists supply centre.
It has been quite long that curly metal wool is promoted as an aid to scour the tip and clean it. but then again as advised by some veterans, this is a very bad, the steel wool scrapes the tip and damages it. so i will have to buy the usual wet spongie version. a complete revamp of my soldering station is in order.
Updated Feb 2015
ordered new high temp silicone (from RS components, costs about USD10 bucks) to re-attach K thermocouple properly.

item arrived a few days ago, in a package that led me to believe RS is selling burgers in a paper bag ... 

but hey look at the spec sheet ... ROLLS ROYCE aerospace approved !

 In cleaning out the rather new tip, i had also discovered previously there was a problem with the tip in contacting the ceramic heater element fully inside when sheathed. this led me to cut up a thick piece of aluminium and roll it up as additional contact metal buffer. the final sheathing was nice and tight. this improved heat flow tremondously between the tip and the heater, this improvement also helps in reducing the heating cycle hysteresis.

the new silicone works really well. although the procedure was done in a hurry to try this new product. a quick pull off the old goo and on goes the new goo. cycle a few 50degree rounds on the iron and it is up and running. the heating cycle hysteresis is somewhere +/- 7 degrees around the selected temperature. when soldering on a heat pad attached to heatsink, the selected 250degree temperature fell to about 235. and maintained. this test was done at approx 75% dimmer setting. previously i had to keep the dimmer at about 90%.

the K thermocouple assembly as i was heating up the entire iron was bound with soldering wire, and as it melts, the flux help itself to the "nice" artwork you see here all brown and "chocolatey" hahaha !

this silicone is very nice, so much faster to dry, and very very nice hold during cycling over the 250degree temperature as i desolder the previous PSU v4 test platform.

as you can see above, the product is silcoset 158, made in UK. thumbs up !

to be continued ...

**update Jan 2015 
my new GOOT replacement tip just arrived. TQ-77RT-3C, bought for about USD10. see this entry http://3roomlab.blogspot.sg/2015/01/058b-diy-temperature-controlled-goot.html

having some fun mucking around with some shots. subject, my home brew temperature adjustable dual soldering iron mini station.

this iron started as a cheap HAKKO 30w iron. previously i used to use GOOT.

notice the additional thermocouple temperature sensor tied down to the tip, which goes to a standard al cheapo temperature SS relay trigger module. the trigger module is about 40 bucks from ebay. but i bet it should be possible to grab some cool china temperature adjustable irons for around $100 these days, however, i wont be so sure about the temperatures being adjusted, so i thought just get a nasty thermocouple right up at the tip so it reads the temperature really well. i had previously tried to experiment with wrapping the iron heater stem using some thermal tape in order to reduce thermal lost thru air. that wasnt a very good attempt and hence that is why the iron looks really well "bruised".

the al cheapo station also comes with a bunch of al cheapo copper "sponge" iron wipes which costs about two bucks (it was meant for scouring pots and pans). a dual iron retainer twisted out of some stainless steel netting and tin can lids.

due to the slight wicking properties of the thermocouple assembly, the unit loves to smoke alot when fluxed.

it just smokes and smokes and smokes (still in the making is another al cheapo smoke extractor)

edit :: april2013, this pc of equipment died, after the K thermocouple tip recieved too much abuse rubbing in the wire brush dipper.

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