Hakko FX888D-23BY Soldering Station

In July 2017, in a post about soldering irons that leak current through their tips, I mentioned the Hakko FX888D-23BY. After reading some more information on the Hakko unit I was impressed, and since I do a lot of decoder installations I dug deeper. Finally, I ordered one and have been giving it a tryout–it’s even more impressive than I expected. The unit comes in two parts, the base unit, and the iron stand. The base unit has all the electronics and you simply plug the soldering iron into it. There is a digital display, two buttons for entering data and selecting options, and an on/off switch on the side–pretty simple. The second part is the stand for the soldering iron. This is a nice stand with a well for holding a cleaning sponge and some water. Above the sponge is a slot for one of those brass cleaning pads I have discussed in the past. Above that is a round yellow holder into which the soldering iron fits. This is a very well thought out design.

But what about operations? The first thing I noticed is how light and comfortable the soldering iron is. Another factor is the ability to set an exact working temperature. This allows finer control of your work and helps insure that you don’t burn off the flux before the solder is flowing onto the work. There is a nice digital display on the base unit that shows you to see what the operating temperature is set for. Some folks complain that changing the temperature is a counterintuitive process however I found that as long as you read the instructions it is straightforward. You also have the option of using one of six preset temperatures instead of just changing the temperature, and you can edit these values and save them. You can even use the password function to lock out changes to your settings so your wife or buddy can’t play tricks on you.

I suspect that part of the problem folks have is that everything must be done with just two buttons, one to enter data and the other to make selections. Consequently, I did find that I needed to keep the instructions or a cheat sheet handy when changes are required. Of course the most important feature is the fact that the soldering iron is protected against electrostatic discharges and voltage leaks through the tip. At about $100 it’s a bit of a stretch, especially when the Weller sells for about a third of that, but I justify it because I do a lot of delicate soldering for my books and articles. I’ll add updates in the future as I continue to use the Hakko, to let you know whether my infatuation fades.

5 comments

  • I have a similar soldering station, but mine has a hot air blower accessory on it. Boy does that come in handy. I have found the best soldering temp for my station is around 310 to 325 degrees. But I would think your melting point would all depend on the solder you are using as well. I get mine from an electronics shop in a small plastic tube. I have done several dcc conversions with this unit and it works very well on the circuit board. But you still need to mine how long you hold the iron on the joint.

    • Robert–since 63/37 melts at 361 F and 60/40 at 370 F I assume you are talking about degrees celsius? If so then your values would be 590 F and 622.4 F.

      • That could be Celsius. I just assumed it was degree. There is only a 40 degree difference between your figure and my station read out. I just checked my Maxtra 852D+ Soldering Station and it is set on 321 degrees and I put some solder on and It melted right away. My solder that I use for everything is by Kester made up of electronic silver solder. It’s make up is: 62% Tin, 36% Lead, 2% Silver and 44% Flux. Diameter is .020, 3 mm. I use this for all my soldering jobs. I am even using it to solder rail joiners together. As with any electronic device, there could be variations in setting numbers, and actual degree of temperature. So my 321 degree could be off somewhat. But it works very well for me. I am looking for a more portable unit, and the one you have in the article looks like it could be the one. Thanks

  • Hi Larry. I own a similar unit made by Aoyue and am very happy with it. In your opinion, what’s the ideal temperature for decoder soldering?

    • Ric–I haven’t had it long enough to experiment with different temps yet so I’ll have to defer that answer until a later date. However there are three basic answers to that question. (1) use the lowest temp that will melt the solder (about 360 degrees) and go up or down from there. (2) Somewhere in the 400-500 degree range. And (3) somewhere in the 600-700 degree range. The first case is the conservative answer and nest when just getting the feel for a new iron. The second case gives you a head start and at 400 won’t likely overdo it. The third case assumes that just because the tip is at 600+ degrees, doesn’t mean that much heat is getting to the work. That will depend in the size of the tip being used and its heat transfer capacity, as well as the size of the pieces being soldered. So for small decoder wires I’d start with the 400 degree setting.