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.