We played with a couple embossing tools to see if we can do hot-air rework. It didn't work out very well.
If you have not heard of hot air rework, you are missing out! Hot air is my absolute favorite tool when working with embedded electronics. Hot air (checkout our hot-air rework tutorial) allows us to heat up multiple solder joints at once. This makes it much easier to remove problem voltage regulators, or turn a mis-mounted IC around, or replace a blown capacitor.
The problem is that most re-work stations cost $100-200. A high-end hot-air rework station will cost you >$1000. I cannot stress enough how great hot-air is, but you may not need to spend even $100!
A few people recommend these low cost embossing tools. The two pictured are Marvy Uchida
(purple) and Mini Heat Tool Model: MT-50
(blue). At $20, you can’t really go wrong. But I tried them, and I wasn’t too impressed. They do work. You can remove ICs, but they have a very large nozzle. This will cause a significant portion of the PCB to heat up rather that the specific IC you’re working on.
able to remove a TFQP ATmega168 from an old Arduino-Skinny board I had laying around. So if all else fails, these guns help. But for everyone but the absolute beginner, I would not recommend them for real IC/SMD rework.
Now if you need to heat shrink - these things ROCK! I have been forced to use matches to heat shrink at home. One of the above guns may
have fallen into my backpack and may follow me home.
Has anyone else found a better solution than a full hot-air station for SMD rework? A good low-cost solution that is completely DIY?