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Old 01-15-2022, 04:56 PM   #1
caprider
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Lightbulb Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

Hello,

I've been looking for a desoldering station (with sucker pump) for THT in the 100 +/- price range.

After reading and and watching a lot of reviews, I've noticed that ZD-915/ZD-8915/474A++ kind of .... well, suck. With different design faults making them get clogged way to easily, real difficulties to open the sucked solder tank, 12V cooling fan powered at 18V and so on. Another funny thing is that the same models are sold by a lot of different brands with just a different color and sometimes just different label. I can't even find the manufacturer that makes all these white label thingies.

I guess ZD-915 would kind of work most of the time for a hobbyist, but I'd look for something better that wouldn't break the bank.

So what better desoldering stations are there in a 150 +/- price range?
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Old 01-15-2022, 06:35 PM   #2
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by caprider View Post
Hello,

I've been looking for a desoldering station (with sucker pump) for THT in the 100 +/- price range.

After reading and and watching a lot of reviews, I've noticed that ZD-915/ZD-8915/474A++ kind of .... well, suck. With different design faults making them get clogged way to easily, real difficulties to open the sucked solder tank, 12V cooling fan powered at 18V and so on. Another funny thing is that the same models are sold by a lot of different brands with just a different color and sometimes just different label. I can't even find the manufacturer that makes all these white label thingies.

I guess ZD-915 would kind of work most of the time for a hobbyist, but I'd look for something better that wouldn't break the bank.

So what better desoldering stations are there in a 150 +/- price range?
I have the 474A++ and have no issues. What did you see? Opening the sucked solder tank is fine. You should be prepared to have some additional springs and sponges on hand, but that's about it. I haven't tried to bake the solder off the spring yet, but I don't anticipate it being an issue.
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Old 01-16-2022, 01:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

I read that 474A++ gets clogged easily and the tips oxidize quickly. How’s your experience been?

If I had to choose one of those, I’d choose ZD-915. But it has the hard-to-remove-tank problem and especially the heating element not extended to the chamber/tank, making it clog easily. (I do like how it looks, though).

Last edited by caprider; 01-16-2022 at 01:44 AM..
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Old 01-16-2022, 02:53 AM   #4
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

I have several ZD-915 Desoldering stations and I can personally tell you that the biggest issue you have is if you do use flux based solder on your circuit boards then the tube that runs to the collection tube can get clogged with flux residue but there is a very simple fix for this issue turn off the Desoldering station and let it cool down and take the tip off and take a 1/16” drill bit that will fit in the tube and carefully drill it open again also make sure that the tip has not been clogged as well

As far as the switching power supply issue it depends on the version number you have but you can very easily know what version you have when you first turn it on it might show something like “U3”

this is one of the newer versions that do not have as many issues one note “U1” version

has switching power supply regulator issue where they failed continuously and not last long

version “U2” was not as bad but with this version it had an issue that you could start the vacuum pump as soon as you powered on the unit this was an issue because it would reboot if you tried this version “U3” fix this issue but

I wish that they would add a feature that if after you do not use it for a while that it drop the temperature down to 375*F until you pick it back up to use it on one of there soldering stations they have this function and I really like it

As far as the fan issue is concerned just replace it with a 24 volt fan or get a temperature sensor controller for 24 volts an throttle it down to the 12 volt that the fan requires and be done with this issue

One note about the heater element is concerned about the biggest issue with this the higher the temperature you have it the shorter the life span that the heater element will last me personally I most of the time I do not go beyond 775*F for this reason and if I have go higher than that I finish what I have to do and drop the temperature back down

One recommendation I would have is that you consider recapping the switching power supply only because they used non brand capacitors I do not always do this when I buy one but if I hear the cooling fan changing pitch continuously I will recap it as soon as possible because failure is surly on the way ( I have one right now that when you first turn it on it is doing this but after it has been on for about 10 minutes it is not as bad but it needs to be recapping )

The only other issue that you might have after you have had for a long time is that the vacuum pump suction drops to the point that you might have trouble suction to clear circuit board component joint holes this is also an easy fix as long as the pump suction caps are not cracking but just dirty just clean them and use some very light weight lubricant and not very much of it around the edges of metal housing and that should bring it back to life again just make sure that you tie wrap the suction cups to the metal enclosure otherwise it will have very poor suction results one other recommendation that you also check the tubing for cracking on the filtering this can also be an issue as well there is also a flat washer that is on the heater tube that is where the collection tube meets together this washer goes bad after awhile and does not stay on there anymore just replace it when this happens

The reason I have bought this many of these units is because you can have switching power supply failure that is sometimes very expensive to repair or you have controller failure that cannot be repaired micro controller failure suction pump cap failure do not know where to buy replacement parts display back light failure not easy to find back light replacement parts but I keep the units that have had failures for the parts that have not gone bad

I hope this helps you with your decision about buying one

On a scale of 1 to 10 about the quality of these units 1 being the worst product that you can buy and 10 the best that you can buy I would personally give this a 7.5 at the highest value but with this being said you do have to do maintenance on them from time to time so that they keep running at it best possible performance of this unit

One easy way to get the solder off from the spring is to use a soldering iron and heat the solder and then just bump it a little bit and it comes right off no real issue with this

Right now I have two units that are having issues one has a bad cooling fan and the other one has an issue with the pump that I have fixed but has some other issues with the temperature controller that I have not quite figured out what the real issue is yet
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These two repairs where found with a ESR meter...> Temp at 50*F then at 90*F the ESR reading more than 10%

1 Over Head Crane Current Sensing Board ( VFD Failure Five Years Later )
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All of these had CAPs POOF
All of the mosfet that are taken out by bad caps

Last edited by sam_sam_sam; 01-16-2022 at 04:03 AM..
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Old 01-17-2022, 03:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

@sam_sam_sam thanks for the extensive review!

I am leaning towards ZD-915, in spite of it being a budget tool, sounds almost fun to maintain and repair it. "Fun" because it will not be heavily used and it will only be used for my hobby.

This might be a blasphemy here, but I have to ask: why replace low grade caps BEFORE they fail. Why not just wait for them to fail and replace them then?
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Old 01-17-2022, 05:52 PM   #6
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

because if they fail it may blow the control chip in the psu.
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Old 01-17-2022, 08:34 PM   #7
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by caprider View Post
@sam_sam_sam thanks for the extensive review!

I am leaning towards ZD-915, in spite of it being a budget tool, sounds almost fun to maintain and repair it. "Fun" because it will not be heavily used and it will only be used for my hobby.

This might be a blasphemy here, but I have to ask: why replace low grade caps BEFORE they fail. Why not just wait for them to fail and replace them then?
Stj

Is correct about why you would want to recap it

In your case how you are going to use it I would highly recommend recapping it as you can

Last edited by sam_sam_sam; 01-17-2022 at 08:36 PM..
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Old 03-23-2022, 09:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by caprider View Post
I read that 474A++ gets clogged easily and the tips oxidize quickly. How’s your experience been?

If I had to choose one of those, I’d choose ZD-915. But it has the hard-to-remove-tank problem and especially the heating element not extended to the chamber/tank, making it clog easily. (I do like how it looks, though).
I'm still on my first tip. Sometimes I leave the iron on because it takes a while to heat up. Not really that long, but longer than I want to wait to desolder a joint. So the tip has had plenty of opportunity to go bad.

I'm on my second spring, and it's probably about due to come out. I haven't tried to bake them in my reflow oven to get the big solder ball out, but it probably shouldn't be too hard. I'm on the second or third sponge, they are cheap, whatever, I bought extras.

Yeah, if you leave solder in the pipe, it hardens when it cools. After sucking solder, I usually hit the trigger once or twice until I hear the pipe is clear. It's just a habit at this point, and I hit the trigger before I use it on a joint just to make sure the pipe is clear. Sometimes the solder chamber (?) is not seated just right, you can hear the air pulling from places it shouldn't. Reseat the chamber and go. Maybe I'm just trigger happy, but it works for me.

But yeah, I just hold my hand up a bit, pull the trigger and you know if you are good to go. If you have a really stuck solder ball, there's a tool for that. It's not hard.

No regrets on this. I love it, it's such a luxury for doing electronics work.
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Old 03-24-2022, 04:33 AM   #9
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

your spring?
are you using the newer glass chanber or the older plastic one?
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Old 03-24-2022, 08:54 AM   #10
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

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your spring?
are you using the newer glass chanber or the older plastic one?
I have the 474a++. I think they are all still plastic. Not sure seeing into the chamber would help anyway, there's a spring like solder catcher, you can't see through it.

Overall, I think the aoyue would be more than adequate for any hobbyist. It might even be ok for a small repair shop, though I'd keep some spare parts on hand.

Last edited by clearchris; 03-24-2022 at 08:59 AM..
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Old 03-24-2022, 06:55 PM   #11
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

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your spring?
are you using the newer glass chanber or the older plastic one?
I personally do not like the glass tube and spring and metal disk to me is garbage because it sticks to the metal disk and is very hard to clean and is very hard to reload and unload because of the metal disk and spring and filter

The plastic one is easier to reload and unload the the filter has its on place in the plastic tube the only pain in the a** is sometimes it hard to clean the spring if there is a lot of solder in the spring

Last edited by sam_sam_sam; 03-24-2022 at 07:02 PM..
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Old 03-25-2022, 05:17 AM   #12
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

i like the glass one.
@clearchris - you can get the glass bit and internals as an upgrade/service kit from suppliers - under $10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6_d4zF04Mo
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Old 03-26-2022, 12:22 PM   #13
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

Pretty funny, he must have sucked a lot of solder to melt the tube. It's kind of like a nervous twitch of mine, but I'm always pulling the trigger to make sure that no solder is stuck, I bet it also helps to keep the tube relatively cool. I have had situations like his where I have used my iron to heat a joint and suck with the gun, but no tracks as large as my finger.

For that reason, I have my solder gun on my left and I use my left hand for it mostly. Much easier to dual wield with an iron that way.

If I can't clean the spring with my reflow oven, I'll probably upgrade to glass. The cleaning of the gun is the worst part of it, but I don't do it often either. It's a messy process.
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Old 03-26-2022, 01:56 PM   #14
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

I saw his video but I have to wonder how he managed to discolor the plastic tube like that I have use this setup for years and never had this issue happen to me the worst thing that has ever happened was that the plastic tube cracks and is useless after that

One thing that I noticed was the way he put the spring on the rubber part after he had put the glass tube on first then put the spring on last

I have tried this yet I have to try this but I noticed that the glass was also very discolored as well
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Old 03-26-2022, 04:18 PM   #15
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

to get solder out of the old type spring - stretch the spring a bit and it breaks loose from the solder

the way the guy fucked his plastic chamber is he sucked up a whole stream of molten solder and it pooled in the chamber and melted through it.!!!
it's not discoloured - it's wrapped in capton tape!

now the way i deal with the glass one is i clean the splash plate by just scaping a blade across it - leaves it flat and clean,
then after tipping out the glass i use a long blade from a snap-off type knife to clean the inner surface - because i'm a perfectionist that likes clean tools.
the spring wont stick to solder so it just pulls out.

re-assembly - easy with home-made filters but not with factory ones.
the factory filters are too small because the plastic tube has a smaller inner diameter than the glass one.

for home-made filters:
put the tube on a flat surface, put the filter in it.
then tap it down with a pencil or something.
put the splash plate in and tap it again - like loading a cannon

put the spring on the rubber and with a finger on the end of the tube to stop the filter comming out - fit the rubber.
then put it in the gun filter-end first.

i need to see if i can mod the gun so the rear slides open another couple of mm.

Last edited by stj; 03-26-2022 at 04:20 PM..
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Old 03-26-2022, 09:21 PM   #16
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

Maybe stretching the spring works if you clean it more often than I do. There's usually a solder ball lodged way up in the narrow part of the spring. It's a pain.

Anyone want to wager a guess how hot and for how long I should heat the spring to release the solder in my reflow oven?
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Old 03-27-2022, 02:56 AM   #17
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Default Re: Desoldering station/gun above ZD-915/474A++ ?

It takes less than 5 seconds for my iron to heat and about the same time to stick it in the spring. A "reflow oven" is not required.
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