Follow up review: S-998P, Cheap Desoldering Tool

Some time ago I posted about a desoldering tool that I had purchased online; the S-998P. Since then, I’ve used it on and off, however it’s only recently that I got a chance to really use it in anger.

In an effort to tidy the house and organise the garage, I decided to finally address my “scrounge cabinet”. As I’ve said before, I’m a scrounger from way back. Part of it is me wanting to reuse things that would otherwise end up at the rubbish tip (reduce, reuse, recycle)… Go Planet!

… Captain planet, anyone? Why hasn’t that been remade yet?

… Oh, whatever. Don’t judge me.

Anyway, another, probably larger, part of it is that I like free stuff. Anyway, a great source of free electrical components is old appliances, like:

  • Printers
  • Microwaves
  • Photocopiers
  • Etc

So whenever I get my hands on these items (normally on kerbside collection weeks, or from the bin outside my nearest photocopier repair shop), I put them in the garage until I’m able to get the screwdriver onto them and dismantle them. Once dismantled, the circuit boards and mechanical components go into my Scrounge Cabinet (and entire filing cabinet which, until recently, was bursting at the seams with Stuff).

The problem is, I hadn’t gotten around to removing the individual components that I wanted from the much larger assemblies (i.e. a few high current resistors from a 20cm square circuit board). Enter the S-998P.

So I spent some time in the garage desoldering large and small components, probably a total of at least 400-500 soldered connections. And how did this process go? Really well!

The good:

  • Near complete removal of solder, allowing removal of components with negligible effort
  • Very easy to empty waste solder from the waste canister.
  • Very easy to keep the inside of the barrel clear using the steel cleaning tool that cane with the desoldering tool… once I realised that I needed to.
  • Easy enough to tap a thin nail into the barrel to force out a 2cm long obstruction that formed in the barrel, before I realised that the barrel needs cleaning every now and then.
  • Very fast melting of small and medium size solders
  • Vacuum pump performed well at all times.

The not-so-good:

  • When desoldering large contacts, the tool needed to be pressed firmly against the solder for a while before it melted. And when doing medium sized contacts, I would need to let the tool have a break for several seconds, between each component, to build up some heat. A little more power would have been nice.

All in all, I was very happy with the S-998P’s performance, and would happily recommend it to a friend. I’d be interested to see what new and improved versions are available, and what they have to offer.

Happy scrounging!

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Cheap Desoldering Tool: S-998P

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?

manual desoldering pump

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.

S-998P

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!).