I do more soldering than the average person, but less than I’d like to. I don’t do as much as I’d like to because I don’t have as much time as I’d like to work on my projects.
An unfortunate side-effect of the two facts above, is that I sometimes rush my electronics and end up with the odd solder that I wish I hadn’t done. I also do a bit of scrounging (old printers, etc), which brings me across a number of soldered contacts that I wish to undo, to free parts of interest.
You ever tried to do a heap of desoldering with a manual hand pump and soldering iron?
It works, but it’s a bit of a pain. It never seems to remove 100% of the solder, which means that when it cools and solidifies half a second later, it holds the electrical component in place. I often end up running out of hands trying to pull the component out while I’m still holding the soldering iron against the contact.
Unfortunately, because I don’t do a HUGE amount of desoldering, I don’t want to spend a huge amount on a nice new desoldering tool. So I bought an electric vacuum soldering pump from Aliexpress. I was skeptical, and wasn’t entirely sure that I was going to receive a tool worth talking about. Because of this doubt, however, I decided that maybe it was worth talking about one way or the other, to help anyone else who is in the same position.
This is the S-998P, which has the following features:
- Dual-diaphragh vacuum pump (10W)
- 90W heating element (claims to head up to 350°C in 1 minute)
- Temperature control (claims to go from 350°C to 450°C)
- I got the 220V model, with Australian plug
Why did I choose this model? Continuous vacuum (via dual diapragm pump), high temperature and fast heating (via 90W heating element), and convenient package.
I won’t wax poetic, but my short review is:
- Extracted sufficient solder to allow components to be easily removed (although had some difficulties with smaller, precise solders, as commented on below)
- Has ample vacuum pressure/flow for my desoldering needs.
- Heats up quickly, and will melt a large solder connection in a few seconds.
- Temperature control works well enough for me (i.e. crank to maximum and leave it there).
- I got this tool with a 1mm nozzle, which is the smallest available, but still large enough to go over the legs of a through-mounted component.
- Easy to use and convenient, having all of the equipment inside the hand-piece.
The only issue that I have, is that it’s difficult to desolder small contacts on manufactured circuit boards. I think the main problem is that the nozzle couldn’t get enough contact on these precise solders to apply sufficient heat. I am sure I’ll figure out the right technique for this, but as it’s a function of the nozzle size, not necessarily the heat or vacuum applied, I don’t think I would’ve had better luck with a more expensive desoldering tool or full-on desoldering station.
All in all, I think this tool was worth the $AU135 that I spent on it, and will save me plenty of time on future projects.
For anyone considering one of the cheaper desoldering tools online, this one (S-998P) worked for me. It may or may not be suited for commercial work, but it’s definitely fine for a hobbyist (and you can’t argue with the price tag!).