I need to get some low cost hot air reflow equipment. I need to move remove and place ceramic baluns on a Zigbee radio. I also need to be able to assemble and rework small chips like a QFN 48, 0402 or possibly 0201 passives on a small, less than 2” x 2” board, I will also need to assemble low quantity prototype boards. I have nice soldering irons that can do 0201 passives, but some things just need reflow. I would prefer something that can control the airflow rate and temperature. Suggestions?
The Atten 858D+ is an entry level heat gun that provides flow rate and temperature control.
Does what is says on the tin and it’s pretty cheap. There are great many clones on the market so be sure of where you are buying it. Other than that, it should get you over the line with typical lab work.
I wanted a combined hot air and normal iron, so I went for the YIHUA 853D for my home office. Price varies depending on where you get it, but I found it here for just above $70 https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32914469314.html
It has a builtin power supply/usb/measuring capability that never worked for me, but the soldering part of it has been working solid for 3 years.
But maybe you want one of those stations with hot air + IR heat from underneath? Whe have a YIHUA 853AA at my local hackerspace that is used quite a bit, but it’s not the most solid build. It works, but it’s not very powerful https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32893713700.html
it is also good to have a pre/under board heater for this sort of work too, i often see people not using them. very useful and not that expensive.
I have a “853” type hot air tool from about 20 years ago. Nothing special, but it’s been working well for me over the years.
A few years ago, I built a preheater using a spare heater from a 3D printer, with some pyrogel insulation material that I had on hand to go underneath so that I can easily use it on my workbench.
I just use a bench supply and dial in about 35 watts of power.
I placed speed bugs (just bits of painters tape) on the front panel to set the airflow and temperature to my preferred default. Once I turn it on, I give myself enough time for the tool to heat up and stabilize before I go to work.
If you have a board that you’re worried about damaging, get some ChipQuik to bring the melt temperature way down. Just be sure to clean up fully afterwards.
The BST-863 is excellent value for money, I don’t think that you can find something to match it’s performance for the same price. I have done a review of it on my yt channel.
This is a semi-generic Chinese model available with different name plates. I have one that is from “Quick”. I bought it as an emergency overnight shipment to replace a hakko station that went kaput. It’s just as good as the hakko, and much cheaper.
I used to have something like the BST-863, with a big air hose, but have since replaced it with a heater-in-handle type, which I now greatly prefer due to its longer and more flexible power cord and faster heat-up. This is very inexpensive ($50), decently-made, and works well. Be sure not to switch it off immediately after use - just put it in the holder and it will shut itself off automatically after cool-down, as it has a built-in motion detector. Be sure to throw away the tweezers and cutters that come with it, as they are garbage, although the solder sucker isn’t too bad
For pre-heating I use an electric skillet.
It’s true, one downside of the BST-863 is the rather short hose at around 75cm long which probably means you will need to place it at bench level pretty close to the working area. That works OK for me but may not be ideal for all setups.
Every hot air system I’ve ever used or seen has the heater in the handle, although the air pump can be in the housing.
I’ve used simple systems a lot like the one you posted, and my verdict is that they are not ESD safe (despite advertising), but your mileage may vary. low to moderate noise isn’t always a major issue.
My bad; “blower-in-handle” would have been more precise. The point is you get a long flexible power cable and a smaller unit on the bench instead of a big short unwieldy air hose and a big heavy bench unit. I haven’t had any ESD issues but honestly I don’t use air all that much, only when doing QFNs, which I try to avoid.
I have this: YOUYUE 858D Hot Air Gun Rework Station SMD Solder Soldering Digital 110V 700W https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P8Z4RPG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_ICU1Eb0QPJG4V
I think this is the one that comes under a million brands.
It was great up until it developed an intermittent connection in the cable. Now it runs at full air speed regardless of the know setting unless I bend the cable just right.
Actively looking for a replacement.
One thing I would do with any of the cheap knockoffs is spend some time examining the line side power connections before you plan on using the unit.
A distressingly high percentage of the knockoffs I’ve seen have dangerous wiring failures. My $70 Hakko hot air tool knockoff was a bundle of errors - it had a fused neutral and no fuse in the hot side. Even worse - both neutral connections went to one terminal on the fuse and the neutral went straight to case ground.
I had a fully integrated one piece unit that was wired correctly. It was under powered and the plastic softened when it heated up. It literally fell apart after two uses and was not really useful before it fell apart.
A lot of the cheap stuff is wonderful, but you’d do well to buy from somewhere that supports returns. A significant percentage is junk.
Simple and cheap (~USD $60). Buy an extra nozzle and reduce the diameter to work with smaller SMT. Spend time getting to know it by melting parts off a junk board.
Practice is essential advice I should have given and forgot to offer.
Oz (in DFW)
I got one of these CSI 825A++ recently when I had to rework a few boards at home. My previous employer had one and I used it quite a lot
It’s got a better quality diaphragm pump and a vacuum pickup (although I’ve never really used it).
Definitely echo the comments about preheating and practicing on scrap boards.