For a long time I’ve needed a decent vacuum desoldering tool, as I do much stripping of old PCBs for random parts.
Solder wick works well for most things, but it’s expensive & can be fiddly. It also doesn’t keep very long as the copper braid oxidises & after that point it never seems to work particularly well, even when soaked in fresh flux.
As usual eBay to the rescue! I managed to pick this one up for £80.
Removing the lid reveals the internals. Front & centre is the vacuum pump, with the mains supply behind it. There’s also a very noisy cooling fan at the back. Not sure why since the unit never gets warm enough to actually warrant a fan.
On the other side is the PSU. This is an 18v 12A rated SMPS, with a bit of custom electronics for controlling the iron element. Mounted to the back case is a small black box, more to come on this bit.
Cracking the case of the PSU reveals a pretty bog-standard SMPS, with a surprising amount of mains filtering for a Chinese supply. The DC outputs are on the right.
From the rail markings, this is clearly designed to output some more voltage rails – possibly for other models of unit. In this case though, a single 18v rail is present. The iron’s element connects directly to the supply, controlled via an opto-isolated MOSFET.
As both the fan & the vacuum pump motor are 12v devices, some provision had to be made to reduce the 18v from the power supply to a more reasonable value. Inside the black plastic box are a pair of 1Ω 5W power resistors, connected in series. The output from this connects to the fan & vacuum pump. Because cheap, obviously.
Finally, here’s the controller PCB, the main MCU is an 8081 derivative, with a Holtek HT1621B LCD controller for the front panel temperature readout. Iron temperature is achieved by a thermocouple embedded in the heater, I imagine the potentiometer on the left side of the PCB is for calibration.
Finally, after a couple of weeks wait time, the fan controllers for the power supplies have arrived. They’re small boards, which is good for the small space left inside the case of the supply.
Here they are. I’m not certain what the pair of potentiometers are for – there’s no mention of them in the documentation. Possibly for calibration.
Beepers are supplied so an alarm can be heard if the fan fails – very useful for this application.
Here’s a closeup of the PCB. Options are set with the DIP switch bank on the left, details for that below. The main IC is a STM8S103F3 flash microcontroller.
The only issue at the moment is that the temperature probe leads are much too short. I’ll have to make a small modification to get enough length here.
Here’s all the details on the boards, more for future reference when they undoubtedly vanish from eBay 😉
Circuit load capacity: maximum current per output 5A, the bus currents up 9A
Output Range: The first channel 20% -100%, or 40% -100% (TFL = ON)
The second channel and the third channel 10% -100%
(Note: Above range only for PWM range, the actual control effect will vary depending on the fan.)
Temperature probe parameters: 50K B = 3950
Thermostat temperature zone error: error depending on the temperature probe, generally 3-5%
Stall alarm minimum speed: 700-800 rpm
Function setting switch Description:
TFL (No. 1): The lowest temperature channel PWM setting, when ON state FAN1 PWM minimum is 40%, when OFF the minimum PWM of FAN1 is 20%.
TP1 TP2 (No. 2,3): Temperature channel control temperature zones are interpreted as follows (need to used with the temperature probe):
Full speed temperature
When the temperature lower than the accelerated temperature, then output at the minimum rotation speed; when it exceed over the full temperature, then always output at full speed.
BF1 BF2 (No. 4,5): corresponds FAN1 FAN2 stall alarm function switch, when the corresponding open channel fan break down, the controller will alarm with soundand light (works with buzzle), alarm will automatically eliminated when the fan is rotated recovery . If BF1 and BF2 both are open (ON), the FAN1, FAN2 have any one or both stops, the controller will alarm!