If you're into electronics sooner or later you will need to desolder something. Also, if you don't have the proper tools or skills you'll damage a component or two or even the PCB. Been there done that – desoldering braid, cheap one-shot mechanical pumps, running the soldering iron from one pin to another … until one day I decided to look for a good professional desoldering tool. First I purchased an all-in-one system that among the soldering iron and hot air, had a desoldering funtion. The pump was in the main unit and the desoldering iron was connected by a rubber tube. As it turns out these units have a typical design flaw – because the pump is so far away from the desoldering iron tip the suction is somewhat weak. Keep in mind that air is flexible so the longer the tube the more pressure is lost along the way. So if you're buying such a unit make sure the pump is really strong and has a gauge that will allow you to monitor the pressure. That unit has been returned and I am not even going to mention its name ! Then I came across Hakko 808 and until this day this is one of my favorite tools in my workshop. The suction power of this tool is amazing, easy to handle , heats up quickly , not very expensive. It requires regular maintenance (it's almost like a pet), but if you take care of it you'll save hours of work and many components and PCBs. Here is an example of what it can do, I received this LiPo charger with some terminal headers that I wanted to replace with different ones:
Here are close-ups of the before and after desoldering:
As you can see desoldering something is really easy, and you get a really-really clean result with this tool.
There are few things to take care of though:
– do not touch the PCB traces for more than one second, this tool is hot and if you heat up the pads for too long it will suck them up
– buy several tip sizes for different jobs , i got 1mm (comes in the kit) and additionally I got 1.8mm and 2.3mm tips
– clean your tool regularly. The most replaced items are the ceramic filters so stock up on those, when they harden from the flux it's time to replace them.
Source: Hakko 808 Manual (Download PDF)
Hakko 808 Kit comes with a carry-on case and few spare parts. What is missing is a holder, that you can buy separately (Hakko 633), however the tool will lay on it's side on the table without touching the surface so that will suffice if you don't have a holder. Another feature that is missing is a an on/off switch, unplugging this from power outlet is not convenient especially if you have to crawl under the table with a hot tool on the table :)
Overall Hakko 808 is great tool , worth every penny, and I would buy it again if it breaks, speaking of which it is nicely build and has spare parts available so self-repair is possible and even encouraged and explained in the manual.