Description: This hot-air rework station is great for professionals and hobbyists in need of tight temperature tolerances and large air flows. This unit displays a digital readout of the actual air temperature with a flow rate of up to 23L per minute. This very powerful unit can be used for multiple applications including standard SMD reflow/repair/removal, thermal IC stress testing, thermoplastic welding, and shrink-wrapping.
Dimensions: 224 x 126 x 110mm
Based on 8 ratings:
3 of 3 found this helpful:
I’m an experienced electronics hobbyist who’s done lots of through-hole soldering, but relatively little SMD stuff. (I built a SoftRock RXTX transceiver – which has quite a few SMD parts – using only a soldering pencil. It was a huge pain.)
After spending an evening using the 303D to solder some practice kits, I’m a believer. It takes a little practice, but it’s easy to use and produces great results. Surface tension and the solder mask do all the work for you.
Every tried to use a soldering pencil to connect an SMD part where some or all of the pads are completely underneath the part? Can’t do it. With hot air, it’s a snap.
Soldering an SOIC with lots of pads? Good luck not making bridges between adjacent pins with a pencil. With hot air, just smear a line of solder paste across the pads on the board, put the part someplace close to the right position, and heat things up. The solder mask will make the solder “bead” to just the places it should be, and the surface tension will actually pull the part into exactly the right position.
Need to desolder a surface mount IC with 40 pins, and still be able to use that IC when you’re done? Hot air is the only way.
The 303D heats up fast, is easy to read and adjust, and runs quietly. (There is some fan noise on the higher air speeds.) Note that I haven’t used any other hot air rework stations, so I can’t compare it to others, but I’m super-happy with this purchase.
Watch the SparkFun video – it’s helpful. I found the “middle of the dial” air speed setting a little too fast; it was blowing my 0402 resistors all over the bench. [Edited to add: I was using the smaller of the two nozzles shipped with the unit. In the video, they were using the larger one. That’s why I needed a lower air speed setting.]
If you’re on the fence, and especially if you’re struggling to solder SMD stuff with a pencil, jump on this. It’s one of those “Where has this been all my life?” tools.
1 of 1 found this helpful:
This thing is basically a magic wand that costs $115. You can wave it over an SMT component while barely tugging with a pair of tweezers and the component will come up, usually in reusable condition. You can do the reverse of that. You can make tiny grilled-cheese sandwiches. You can light cigars. I’m pretty sure that at 900 centigrade you can melt aluminum. Why pay more?
1 of 1 found this helpful:
These rework stations continue to perform day after day and have not let us down in the 14 months since we purchased the first one. We just bought the second station, and already have it working overtime.
I use to have to drive into work when I needed to do Hot-air work on the weekend. It gets plenty hot. With the digital display it is easy to get the same temperature again.
My only complaint is that it does not turn up the fan speed when cooling down. That is why only 4/5.
Pro tip: When soldering a QFN part, tin the pads on the part first and use flux. If you’re the one laying out the board, make the pads stick out from under QFN parts so you can get the heat under it.
It purrs and pumps out regulated hot air. I can remove a single component on a surface mount board quickly and easily without disturbing the components around it. The temperature setting is digital and it reaches temperature quickly. I prefer an electric skillet for re-flowing a whole board, but I can re-flow with this in a pinch. Changing a resistor or capacitor value is a snap.
Without a nozzle it’s great for heat-shrink tubing. I can set the temperature to activate the shrink without overheating things inside. I can use it in its stand so both hands are free.
It looks sharp too. I don’t know how they make it for the price.
Works as expected. Works fine using a 300W 220V -> 110V converter.
I started out soldering SMD with an iron. That was a nightmare of solder bridges and burning traces off of the board. After that I briefly experimented with the hot plate method that Sparkfun was advocating at the time, but found it too difficult to regulate the temperature and get a uniform heat transfer from the hot plate to the circuit board.
After that I moved on to the toaster oven and got good results by turning it on and off when it reached certain temperatures in a way that approximated the reflow profile provided by the solder paste manufacturer.
This product addresses certain issues that I ran into with the toaster oven method.
One is that it frees me from the need to populate the entire board before baking it. This can be a problem since I sometimes jostle a previously placed component while positioning another one, or cause things to become misaligned while sliding it into the oven.
Another issue is that the $30 toaster oven does not produce a uniform internal heat distribution, so some portions of the board become too hot in order for other areas to become hot enough. With this tool I can control the application of heat to each area and pull it back if it looks like something is getting too hot.
I recommend using the large nozzle for soldering and the small nozzle for de-soldering. The small nozzle produces enough pressure to blow away the solder paste. This is bad if you want the paste to stay in place and melt, but good for cleaning residual solder off the pins of a part that you intend to re-use.
Good luck in all that you do, Alexander W. MacFarlane IV Ph.D.