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falter
January 18th, 2018, 10:02 PM
This isn't specifically a vintage computer thing but, if you're into vintage computers in a big way you're going to eventually run into a need for some kind of desoldering tool. Desoldering is something I absolutely hate. I'm not good with it, I frequently damage things in the process, and it just takes forever. Previous to today, I had been using those (not too cheap) Radio Shack blue and white plastic solder suckers. These are adequate for a little while, but the plastic nozzles are easily melted and deformed. And at $12 a pop (before The Source, our Radio Shack replacement closed).. they were getting a bit expensive.

I'm sure part of the issue is not the tool but the idiot handling it (me), but in reading around I find desoldering is definitely a chore few look forward to. Anyway, I went looking for a better mousetrap and settled on one of these Japanese 'engineered' solder suckers, and thought I'd share my experience with those who like me may not have much experience with this stuff.

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Okay, so they definitely put the 'engineer'ing into this thing. It costs $20.00 or so USD and it definitely feels like it should be. It is basically a solid piece of metal. The pushrod mechanism is very well built and strong. In fact, after a few desolderings, I had to take a break because it really tested the muscle in my thumb. Being metal through and through, the concern would obviously be solder getting stuck to the insides. The idea, as far as I can ascertain, is that there is a small silicone tube attached to the end. These take the brunt of the heat from the iron much better than plastic. I did about 30 desoldering operations and where my cheapo RS unit would have already been starting to get shaggy around the tip, this totally shrugged it off. As I mentioned, the suction is quite good. If you can get it right over what you're soldering it'll pull the solder right out of there, presto changeo. However, if you're not careful and going too fast, the thing can actually do the reverse and blow hot solder onto your skin! Anyway, the overall concept seems solid.

However.

I might be dense, but the silicone tube doesn't make much sense. The pushrod/piston/pin/whatever it's called doesn't extend much more than maybe 1/8th of an inch out of the end of the steel nozzle. You can't really make the tube longer than that.. otherwise solder just gets stuck in there. Where my RS units would take a big honking gob of solder with ease, this thing can only handle little nuggets, as much as can fit in about 1/8th an inch of silicone tube. As delivered the unit comes with a tube attached that is three times that length - solder simply gets stuck up in there. It also comes with some spare tubing to replace the tip as it wears out. It's quite possible there's something I'm doing wrong, of course. But I don't think so. As I mentioned, the suction is very strong - a few times it sucked the solder way past the tube and into the body of the unit itself, which is a problem.. because the solder sticks to the metal inside and requires Herculean force to dislodge. And I found because I couldn't cut the tube evenly, it was a bit tricky getting it positioned in such a way to get maximum suction on the solder.

So is it worth it? Well, I think it did save me quite a bit of time. I've been desoldering my first TVT boards (because I made them too small) and it is a painful and arduous task with my RS unit. With this guy, it's still a bit of a pain because of the limited amount it can handle, but it does really pull a lot more solder off. I probably got the job done in about half the time vs the cheap RS unit. It does come at a cost of tiring out your hand more quickly though. I give it an A on overall quality, a C+ on functionality, for a B grade overall. To get to an A, they'd need to figure out a way to get the tube a bit longer for more capacity.. probably wtih a longer pin to push all the way through it. This would be useful in situations where you're taking on significant amounts of solder. Maybe they could teflon it inside the barrel to help solder that gets stuck up in there free more easily? I'm not sure. Like I said, I may be using it wrong. The instructions are in Japanese which makes it a bit of a challenge. But I think I'm using it correctly.

Anyway, not a bad buy. Not a great one either, but not bad.

Chuck(G)
January 18th, 2018, 10:32 PM
Pardon my reaction, but--feh.

If you want a really functional solder sucker (not everyone likes them) get the original big Edsyn DS017 (http://www.edsyn.com/product/DS017.html). If you prefer one with anti-static features, get the DS017LS (http://www.edsyn.com/product/DS017LS.html). The standard blue one lists for about $20; the anti-static one for about $28. You can probably find them discounted with a bit of searching. The tips are PTFE, not silicone and are replaceable.

One of these babies will last you for years, if your dog doesn't get hold of it.

http://www.edsyn.com/mm5/graphics/00000001/ds017lp.jpg

commodorejohn
January 18th, 2018, 11:32 PM
I haaaaaate those spring-loader solder-sucker tools simply for the fact that the solder's always solidified by the time you remove the iron, get the solder-sucker in place, and fire it off. What I prefer is the design which has a rubber bulb at the end of a suction tube bolted onto a full-fledged heating iron, so you can do the entire job with one tool and avoid the swappery, but I've only ever seen the damn things at Radio Shack, and they're going out of business...

KC9UDX
January 19th, 2018, 12:45 AM
I could send you mine. I hate the thing. The only thing I like about it is if I'm removing a needed chip from an unneeded board, I can just squeeze the Dickens out of the bulb and just spray the solder around.

My only issue with Soldapults is that they clog easily and they tend to spit solder back out just when you don't want it. Otherwise, that and braid is all I use.

Now, if I had one with constant suction, I'd probably use that. That's one of those things I've always said I should get but never do.

gertk
January 19th, 2018, 03:45 AM
I haaaaaate those spring-loader solder-sucker tools simply for the fact that the solder's always solidified by the time you remove the iron, get the solder-sucker in place, and fire it off. What I prefer is the design which has a rubber bulb at the end of a suction tube bolted onto a full-fledged heating iron, so you can do the entire job with one tool and avoid the swappery, but I've only ever seen the damn things at Radio Shack, and they're going out of business...

You can hold the soldering iron on one edge of the pad and put the solder-sucker on top of the pad at the same time. The 'plastic tip' is in fact made of Teflon and can withstand the heat of the soldering iron for quite some time.

I used these 'sucker' for many years but found out that even the cheap Chinese desoldering sets (for example the Zonghdi) are working much better: heated tip and a real vacuum pump which is activated bij the press of a button. Of course if you have the cash and lots of desoldering to doo: buy a real brand desoldering tool.

1944GPW
January 19th, 2018, 04:07 AM
I have one of those solder sucker things from the late 70s that I bought in Japan. It has a teflon tip and it works acceptably, wouldn't say it was brilliant though. I've unclogged it countless times.
Here's a picture of one of a number of Ungar soldering irons from my dad's IBM CE toolkit from the 1960s, perhaps late 1950s. It's fitted with a copper desoldering tip, the top end has a thread and I'm guessing some tubing going to a squeeze bulb was on there. A long time ago I recall this iron had a fragment piece of high-temp translucent rubber on it - it seemed like silicone tubing, but very old, and I think I may still have it somewhere. I don't ever recall any evacuation pump though. I've never actually used this iron myself, but have for the other old Ungar irons he had that have more conventional tips.

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Dwight Elvey
January 19th, 2018, 05:20 AM
I'm with Chuck I have an old sucker like that. The smaller ones like RS used to have were too small. I used to have one with the uncovered plunger but those were considered hazardous and you can get them any more. When it starts spitting the solder back out I just take a break and clean it.
I've never had any luck with the smaller metal ones, like you see often. They just don't have enough suction.
When I worked at Intel they had a vacuum pump and a heated tip with a hole like the Ungars. The only problem with it was that the tip never stayed tinned on it at the opening. The rework lady that used it would often pull pads because she'd used the force method to transfer the heat. That was in the late 80's. I suspect with something like a Metcal tip that only heated when you needed it, it wouldn't have oxidized as fast.
I wish I had the money for a good Metcal iron but I use an old style Weller with the fixed temperature tips.
My favorite tip is the small wedge tip. I don't much care for conical tips as they don't like to stay tinned at the small tip end. I don't know why. I think it has to do with the surface tension of the solder. I tends to pull away from the tiny tip.
Dwight

glitch
January 19th, 2018, 07:47 AM
I keep one of the standard spring plunger types on the bench -- even with the Hakko 472D, I find the spring type just more convenient for removing solder around a really big pin than swapping tips on the Hakko. Now, the way to really give these things vacuum power, at least in my experience, is to take the thing apart and clean it, then grease the O-rings. Add high temperature grease to both the O-ring on the plunger and the one that seals the tip to the barrel. I use Lucas Red 'n Tacky, which I use on basically everything from tractor grease fittings to wheel bearings to floppy drives. It does *not* attack the rubber O-rings, I've been using it in my solder sucker for at least 5 years. It also reduces the friction on the way down, so it wears your hand out less quickly :)

Chuck(G)
January 19th, 2018, 10:03 AM
What glitch said--you have to keep the thing clean and lubed. Two-handed operation for even clumsy me, is not bad, as long as you have a board holder, such as a Panavise--iron in one hand, cocked Soldapullt in the other. The amount of solder that it will remove in one go is surprising. I've never had trouble with clogging or spraying solder around.

As I said, this is the big Soldapullt, the DS017. The smaller ones are a waste of plastic. Heck, I even have smaller metal one that was made in Sweden. It ain't no Volvo...

KC9UDX
January 19th, 2018, 02:10 PM
I clean and grease mine regularly too. I'm not sure what you guys do different. But just about every time I use it I have to completely disassemble it and clean and lube it. Else little bits of hard solder tend to leak out at the most inopportune times. And upon removing a lot of solder, it will clog to the point of not being able to "reload" it.

It's not the end of the world; the full Mason jar I use to empty it proves that it works. And I always get the job done.

Mine is an AS196. I bought that after wearing out two DS017s. Maybe the problems I have are inherent to the AS196. I don't recall having these problems with the old ones. But it's been a couple of decades, so I could be wrong.

Chuck(G)
January 19th, 2018, 02:32 PM
According to the Edsyn website, the AS196 is pretty much a plated DS017 and is advertised as being equivalent in performance. It seems that it's not the case, in your situation. Maybe the plating causes the solder to cool and solidify before it clears the nozzle. Dunno.

falter
January 19th, 2018, 05:08 PM
So the one you were referring to Chuck - the tip on it is not regular plastic like the ones on the RS units? The ones on the RS units appear to just be normal plastic and warp *very* easily.

lowen
January 19th, 2018, 05:23 PM
What I prefer is the design which has a rubber bulb at the end of a suction tube bolted onto a full-fledged heating iron, so you can do the entire job with one tool and avoid the swappery, but I've only ever seen the damn things at Radio Shack, and they're going out of business...

Look for an ECG J-045-DS (one supplier: https://www.parts-express.com/ecg-j-045-ds-45-watt-desoldering-iron--372-202?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=pla) I have one of the Radio Shack relabels of this unit that I've used for years, and another one new in its package, and I owned a third one thirty years ago that finally broke (I was trying to get some solder out, and I broke the tip from the heating element).

I've also used the little rubber bulbs with the PTFE tips, with reasonable results.

paul
January 19th, 2018, 05:44 PM
After trying out desoldering braid I could never go back to those atrocious things.

falter
January 19th, 2018, 06:10 PM
I've tried desoldering braid but I just can't figure out how to make it work.. I always end up with solder stuck in the pads.

Chuck(G)
January 19th, 2018, 06:27 PM
Not as far as I can tell--the tip material appears to be "waxy". I haven't melted mine (yet).

And I do use braid as well, but mostly when I'm soldering SMT devices like TQFPs and need to clean up excess solder. It's also useful where someone's gone overboard and you need to clean solder bridges between traces. The trick with braid is to use a clean, tinned iron that has enough heat to heat the braid and the area being cleaned--and then remove the braid from the surface without removing heat. Of course, it's a bad idea to use very old braid, as it won't absorb solder well due to surface corrosion.

There's probably a YT video on using soldering braid.

KC9UDX
January 19th, 2018, 06:28 PM
I find that braid has its uses, but at least for me sure isn't good for most things.

KC9UDX
January 19th, 2018, 06:31 PM
According to the Edsyn website, the AS196 is pretty much a plated DS017 and is advertised as being equivalent in performance. It seems that it's not the case, in your situation. Maybe the plating causes the solder to cool and solidify before it clears the nozzle. Dunno.
It could be that mine is "worn out" in some way, or, I've done something wrong. I'm not certain that it's always been a problem with this model, or if something changed over time. Next tine that I have funds, I'll get a new DS017 and probably forget I ever had a problem.

smbaker
January 19th, 2018, 09:34 PM
Currently I use a Hakko 808, a desoldering iron with built in vacuum pump. At first it seemed like a lot to spend on a desoldering tool, but I feel like those times when I need to desolder something and not ruin it, this tool is a real lifesaver. Occasionally I still use desolder braid if there's just a couple pads to desolder, as it's quicker than dragging the gun out.

Prior to this, I had various radio shack bulb-style solder suckers. One just the bulb and tip, and a different one that was the bulb mounted on an iron. Seems like they worked out alright.

paul
January 20th, 2018, 02:01 PM
I've tried desoldering braid but I just can't figure out how to make it work.. I always end up with solder stuck in the pads.
Lay the last 1/8" or 1/4" of braid over the pad and apply the solder iron tip over that. The heat conducts quickly through the copper braid and will wick up all the solder. On small pads it's much easier to avoid delaminating the pad from overheating, or excess sucker vacuum.

If there's a lot of solder, either use a sucker to start with then finish with the braid, or start the braid at about 1/2" from the end and slowly pull it over the pad as it fills up.

NeXT
January 26th, 2018, 12:24 PM
I can clearly recall that over the last 15 years I've gone from the traditional desoldering bulb (compact but plugs easily), to the Radio Shack desoldering iron (cumbersome), to a clone of the OP's desoldering pen (worked great but DAMN that recoil), to a Hakko 808 clone (AMAZING on anything up to two layers, then it becomes more of a trace scratcher than a desoldering tool and GOD DAMN those heating elements suck) and now I am using one of the previously mentioned SoldaPullt spring loaded suckers for general use and a much older Weller/Ungar 4024 series station for multi-layer boards.

falter
January 26th, 2018, 11:02 PM
I must confess to being surprised no one has come up with a consistently good desoldering tool.

So far this Japanese one is ok. I have had to desolder the four tvt boards I made. It doesn't get everything and easily plugs itself.. but when you get it just right it clears it all out of there.

KC9UDX
January 26th, 2018, 11:57 PM
They can be had for the right price. I've thought about building one out of a small vacuum cleaner.

glitch
January 27th, 2018, 07:31 AM
A lot of it is technique. I've done a lot of satisfactory work with very cheap tools.

KC9UDX
January 27th, 2018, 08:00 AM
I agree. I used the cheapy Ratio Shack Soldapullt-alike an awful lot with excellent results over the years (at various times I had that at work and the real deal at home and vice versa).

T-R-A
March 21st, 2018, 07:20 AM
A lot of it is technique. I've done a lot of satisfactory work with very cheap tools.

Guess I'm fortunate to work for a company that uses digital rework stations (and they don't mind you working on something personal after-hours).

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The problem with having one at home would be the high initial cost and the added cost of consumables (filters, tips, etc). But as mentioned, technique (and practice) is a lot of it. You can get much done with a standard solder-sucker, or be completely useless with a high-end tool.

MikeS
March 21st, 2018, 09:21 AM
They can be had for the right price. I've thought about building one out of a small vacuum cleaner.
I just use my normal vacuum with a piece of tubing with an aluminum tip:

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SGTSQUID
March 22nd, 2018, 08:26 PM
Lay the last 1/8" or 1/4" of braid over the pad and apply the solder iron tip over that. The heat conducts quickly through the copper braid and will wick up all the solder. On small pads it's much easier to avoid delaminating the pad from overheating, or excess sucker vacuum.

If there's a lot of solder, either use a sucker to start with then finish with the braid, or start the braid at about 1/2" from the end and slowly pull it over the pad as it fills up.

I've been using the braid for years. It's so much easier and cleaner than any kind of sucker I've used. What I do is warm it up and dip it in flux. It soaks up the solder like a sponge.

alank2
March 23rd, 2018, 05:21 AM
I think the Japanese/metal solder sucker is a step up from the plastic ones. The best thing though is the flexible silicone tip that you can replace. Not only does it not melt, but you can squeeze it into areas at an angle or apply pressure to it, etc.

Solder wick/braid works much better if you wipe it with a flux pen first IMHO.

I just recently got a Hakko FR300 and once I go the hang of it, it is so nice.

falter
March 23rd, 2018, 05:22 PM
I have been using my Japanese one for a couple months now and I'm actually pretty impressed. I used to avoid desoldering ICs because I was never able to get enough solder out to avoid breaking legs off. I was *never* able to get braid to work at all. The Japanese thing absolutely clears every hole. There is a bit of a technique to it.. but once you have it down.. wow. I've pulled out four ICs in the last week with no problem at all. The silicone does not melt but it does break down eventually. And those little spare hoses are easy to lose. I dropped mine, couldn't find it, and am currently awaiting an order of replacements.

Alice
April 7th, 2018, 09:07 PM
What's the weight of this solder sucker? Is it available on Amazon? One of my fellow use this solder sucker and his feedback was good though he didn't give a link where can I purchase this solder sucker.