The Work Bench



Without the proper tools nothing will go well

A few weeks ago I replaced the tip on my Hakko 808 desoldering tool.  This week I ordered replacement tips for my Weller WES51 soldering station.  Soldering tips always wear out at exactly the wrong moment during a project.  I keep a few extra tips laying around, just in case.

Last weekend my favorite tip began to fall apart.  The flux in the solder slowly eats away at the tip and once the outer material is breached it can go really quickly.  Whenever I open a new tip I reorder another on my next parts order.

You can buy most tips from Mouser and the cost is right around $4.00.  It's important to have different size and shapes of tips.  For most work I like a conical tip and sometimes a chisel tip work well.  Different sizes are important, this week I was replacing some IC's and having a small tip was need to make quick work out of resoldering the new parts. 


Testing on a budget

I've had a lot of emails regarding their lack of a variac and watt meter to use when they are performing their initial testing of a newly acquired amplifier.

For those of you who need a simple and inexpensive subsitute, you can build your own Dim-Bulb-Tester.  This device has been used to test power supplies in radios since the days of vacuum tubes.

I've found a web site that clearly explains how to build and use a DBT.  Please note that this type of home made bench test equipment offers little in the way of safety, so if you build it you do so at your own risk. 


Heathkit IT-3121

I'm always looking for another usable piece of bench gear and this week I won an auction for a Heathkit Model IT-3121 Semiconductor Curve Trace.  Curve tracers are used to characterize transistors beyond the basic information a standard transistors tester provides. 

This unit came from a home workshop and the previous owner had a nice work bench of Heathkit equipment.  Based on the other pieces of equipment he was probably an audio or ham radio guy.  All of his equipment was used recently and seems to be in good condition.

The IT-3121 is designed to be used with a stand alone oscilliscope.  This makes the price for the unit much lower than a used self-contained design.

I was able to find an orignal Heathkit Manual on Amazon and I will do a complete review once it is delivered.

If there's any real interest in downloading a copy on the manual I may have if scaned and post it for download.  If anyone is interested, let me know.

There is a PDF on the Technical Manuals page where you can download the Circuit Description, Board Layout and Schematic 


My Hakko 808 needed help

My Hakko 808 is one of my favorite bench tools. I use it almost everyday and it has paid for itself many times over by letting me speed through so many repairs. Last week I began another rebuild and I noticed that the 808 wasn't working as well as normal.

The 808 requires some attention if you use it a lot. I clean out the solder reservoir often and change the filter regularly but there was a problem last week. The tip had begun to fall apart and fairly big piece had broken off. This made the opening in the tip to large and affected the suction from the pump.

My new 1mm tip sits next to a 1 year old tip that has seen lots of projects. 

I suppose that all the flux over time eats away at the tip and it finally fell apart. I was able to struggle through the project without having to dig out my old hand held solder sucker. I ordered a new tip from B&D and it arrived in 3 days.  


Lugs on a Capacitor

Sometimes an idea comes along that just needs to passed along to everyone.

One issue with replacing chassis mounted capacitors is often the original capacitors have solder lug terminals while most new capacitors have either snap-in or straight leads. When you have many individual wires to solder to a single point, this may be a problem.

I ran across very good idea on solving this problem. You can use some 22-16 ring terminals and solder them onto the capacitor leads.

First I removed the plastic sleeve from the ring terminal, then I slipped the terminal over the snap-in lead. Then I soldered it in place. Now I have a proper lug terminal which I can solder many wire to easily.

It took me a bout 10 minuets to modify all three capacitors, which is far less time than trying to solder 4 wires to the original terminal.

It is important to make sure that by adding the ring lugs the total length does not exceed the mounting space.  You don't want the lugs to ground out on the chassis because they are to long.

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