Kada 852D SMT Solder Station Review

The Kada 852 SMT Solderstation

Time to try it out.

I have never hot air soldered before, so I was not sure what to expect.  My first victim then had to be something that I did not care to much for.  I had a broken PC PSU that I have already robbed of its aluminium heat-sinks and metal case.  So I thought I would have a go at harvesting some components. 

Plugging the unit in was aware of a quite electrical hum emanating from the unit.  The manual mentions that the unit draws current if plugged in, even when the Hot air tool and the solder tip are not switched on.  The manual recommends unplugging the device when it is not in use.

I tried the hot air tool first, fixing the narrowes of th nozzles to it with its jubilee clasp style fixing.

Kada 852D hot air nozzle

 The hot air tool is activated by n on off switch at the front.  You then dial in the temperature you wish with a rotating knob.  The ideal temperature you dial in is displayed on one of the 8 segment LED displays.  The green display is easy to read.  I followed the instructions and dialed to 300c with a low flow of air.  

Working on the underside of the PSU board, I was finding it slow going,  However I was trying to melt huge gobs of solder.  Eventually I dialled in a higher temperature and a higher airflow.  Soon solder was melting away rapidly and it was easy to prise free components from the other side of the board.  

I must stress how new I am to this tool.  I think that lots more practice on broken circuit boards will be required before I get good.  What surprised me was how easy it was to "pop" the laminated  PCB of the power supply.  The heat from the nozzle only needs to be held too long and it goes.  I suspect though that I will get better with practice at setting the airflow and temperature to just right.

mangled pcb

It was I have to say good fun harvesting the board.  My junk-box has gained some transformers that I would never have been able to extract with just a soldering iron.  Smaller components can be just picked out from the board with the heat applied to the solder side.  You can see some scorch marks in the bottom corner of the picture.  As I worked my way over the board, I got better at removing the components without toasting the PCB.

The hot air tool heats up very quickly to its operating temperature.  The great thing about this is that you don't need to leave it running for long to heat up and it is not a bind to switch it off between solder jobs.  That is good from a safety point of view as well as on an energy efficiency basis.  I was also very pleased with the comfort of using the tool.  The component is very light and easy to maneuver.  The speed that i could work at was immensely better than when using my old house burner iron.  This is a very efficient tool to work with, albeit it wont do the detailed stuff so accurately in my novice hands.

The Kada 852D is a pretty quite performer when the pump is working.  It is audible, but is not much louder than a normal PC in operation.  The noise is consistent and I would not think that I would become annoyed by it, even after a prolonged soldering session.  It is also worth noting that it smelled a bit when first started and gave off a little smoke.  However the manual had warned to expect this, and after a few minutes it had stopped.  I was luck though that my partner was out.  She would not have been best pleased to have a burning smell in the house.

When switched of the Kada 852D smt solder station maintains the airflow for a while afterwards to cool the heating elements down evenly.  This should maintain the health of the part.  A spare was included with the station, but hopefully it will be a while before it is required.

My next victim was to be a Sure tripath amplifier.  I wanted to remove a smt diode from the board.  I tentatively tried this using the heat gun, but found that the tightness of the board coupled with my newbie nervousness meant I was getting nowhere fast.  Instead i used the soldering iron and some flux to remove the diode and replace it with a wire bridge.

 

Again the heat up time on the soldering iron was very good.  It was at operating temperature in what felt like around 20 seconds (no I'm not sad enough to time it, even if my commodore watch is capable of doing so!).  Using the iron is so much better than using my well worn Antec iron.  The detailed tip quickly transfers heat to the used solder to melt it.  Soldering a couple of pieces of component lead to bridge the pads on the PCB left by an unneeded diode was made easy.  One the solder tip remained at ideal temperature throughout soldering, and secondly the light weight and fine tip made the detailed work easier.  

sure tripath bridged diode

Again with a little more practice I think that my skills will improve.  I also  ran out of flux cleaner, this will look a lot neater when I clean it up.