My brave old JBC Ironmatic soldering iron from… forty years ago is showing signs of fatigue: set to full power (500 °C), the temperature is struggling to reach 250 °C! As for finding parts… What’s more, the hot air gun I bought a year and a half ago is already out of action (with the promise of an out-of-warranty replacement still a long way off).
So I’m looking for a new combined station: soldering iron and hot air gun.
As is often the case, comparison websites are more like advertisements, especially for Amazon (I’m angry with them), than genuine technical tests. They simply repeat what the sellers write on their websites.
There’s no point looking at the famous brands, JBC, Weller, etc., because they’ll be overpriced. For example, the NASE-2A JBC TOOLS 70 W station, which does not include a soldering iron, costs around €2,000. With incomparable quality and equipment, I’m glad to say…
Here’s the result of a quick web search. It turns out that several stations have similar characteristics, so much so that some seem to have come out of the same workshops…
So I ordered the Yihua station from AliExpress. I chose the “package 3” with all the accessories, even though some of them are obviously of poor quality, or I already own them. But that doesn’t add much to the price and, as they say, you can always use it…
After 20 days, when the parcel tracking system had been frozen for 13 days, it arrived unannounced and without any external packaging! So the brand and contents were there for all to see…
The box before unpacking.
The contents of the package are as follows:
the metal (apart from the front panel) casing gives a good impression of robustness. There’s a main switch at the back, which is located to the top, so easy to operate blind. On the front, there’s a separate switch for each function, iron and air.
The 1 m long mains cable cannot be disconnected. The input is protected by a 5 × 20 glass 6.3 A fast fuse. The metal parts of the iron and the gun are properly connected to earth.
The instructions, in English, are fairly precise and correct in terms of language.
The 90 cm long cable is connected by a quality round connector, lockable by a threaded socket, but it holds well without it. It will be easier to disconnect the cable for storage.
Two screws are provided to fix the iron support above the enclosure. I tried it, but this is not practical, too high up. It would have been better on the side.
This gun is relatively easy to handle: the handle diameter is 32 mm. It is permanently connected to the control box. The cable is 85 cm long and fairly flexible. The gun is stored on the support permanently attached to the left of the control box. Once it has been placed — it’s easy — on its support, the gun is held securely and there is no risk of it tipping over. This is preferable…
The temperature displayed rises quickly, very quickly… So quickly that I’m thinking it would need an enormous amount of instantaneous power to achieve it. Odd…
With my multimeter fitted with its thermocouple, placed at the end of the tip, I noticed that:
The difference between the set temperature and the obtained temperature, which is sometimes enormous, is probably due to the fact that the iron temperature sensor is located in the heating element, not at the end of the soldering tip. Nevertheless, the manufacturer should take this into account.
Fortunately, it is possible to calibrate the temperature. We’ll see in the hot air gun test. However, if you don’t have a suitable thermometer, the temperatures obtained will be unreliable, to the extent that you won’t be able to melt tin alloy at a supposed 250 °C. In that case, you’ll have to proceed by trial and error.
The heating stops automatically when the gun is placed on its support (it’s a bit mysterious, I didn’t see any contact… Perhaps a reed switch?) A good point for safety. You can also press a small button in the centre of the case to put it into standby mode. As with the iron, the temperature rises fairly quickly, but not as much as the display claims. There’s a form of cheating here, let’s not be afraid to say it.
The airflow is adjustable, but not violent, even when set to maximum.
The thermocouple weld is placed in the centre of the nozzle. The air flow is set to maximum. I see a difference of +25 °C on average compared with the display.
Here, the display error is much more acceptable than for the iron. Nevertheless, I’m going to carry out a calibration, if only to test this function.
First, of course, you need to note down the actual temperature obtained. For example, here, for a setpoint of 300 °C, the value is 323 °C. To switch to calibration mode, press the two arrow-shaped adjustment buttons simultaneously for at least 1 second. The display will show the figures separated by dots. The desired temperature can then be set by pressing the same buttons. To return to the normal display, simply press the two buttons at the same time again.
Calibration done, the result is better, but there are still some abnormal points.
Different tests (going up or down) give (slightly) different results. It’s not perfect, but it’s very suitable for the applications planned, such as soldering or desoldering SMD components, or shrinking heat-shrink tubing.Warning: if you reduce the air flow, the temperature will rise above the set point. The regulation is far from perfect.
Is it possible to do multiple calibrations at different temperatures? I put the question to the seller, but I still haven’t received an answer three months later! I don’t want to start a new calibration only to find that the previous one is out of order… Temperature tests take long enough not to add to the work.
I haven’t used this soldering station intensively yet. For the time being, I’m happy with it, once I’ve corrected the setting faults, especially with the soldering iron.
Iron 65 W, hot air 800 W
Price 2023: €156
Iron 60 W, hot air 760 W
Price 2023: €101
at Ali Express.
Iron 60 W, hot air 650 W
Price 2023: €109