DURATOOL Soldering Station

Sometimes ago I decided that I was fed up taking risks at soldering tiny chips and components using my good old JVC soldering iron. By the way, I strongly recommend this beast of burden which is still working absolutely fine after more than 20 years of use. This is a perfect companion for field service because of its size and versatility. Thanks to its adjustable temperature, it can be used for delicate soldering as well as for heavy works.

However, I needed something better for my bench works. While placing an order on FARNELL, an advertisement for a cheap nice looking soldering station pop up on my screen and intrigued me. For less than 60€, FARNELL “offers” a soldering kit composed of a digital station, a pot of brass wool and a roll of tin. I also liked the variety of soldering tips and the handiness of the soldering iron stand, and the very moderate price for spare heater. So, I went for one!

The performances are good, as far as my requirements are concerned and suffered no blames until… I got this “Sensor error” message on screen. Blah. As this equipment was no longer under waranty, I decided to drop an eye in it. Opening the main unit is very easy. Remove the bumper feet and remove the four allen screws. Done!

The inside is … Chinese look. All electronics fit on a roughly designed and assembled PCB: a mix a through hole and surface components and uggly soldering. First surprise was this incrdebible bad soldering…

But it worked! Reverse engineering is not difficult. The thermocouple signal enters a two stage amplifying section managed by a LM358 which is then converted to digital by the ATMEL micro-processor. This micro-processor receives information from two push buttons and gets past settings from a FRAM. It is wired to the specific LCD screen driver.

I ‘ve been pretty lucky to find that a signal diode  (center of picture) was open! Replacing it was almost piece of cake, thanks to my oldtimer JVC soldering iron!

To be honnest, I do not know what I would have done if this station was to be thrown away. Options were:

  • Build a new analog or digital board based on Arduino, but I would have a concern for time and money
  • Buy a Duratool analog station which was giving me a chance to reuse my tips and get a spare soldering iron
  • Buy something more pro, with a hot air gun…

BTW: shame on FARNELL service: they failed to answer properly to my request for a service manual or something helpfull.

 

7 Comments

  1. trisonic says:

    Hi

    My name is Andrea and im writing from Italy.
    I have the same soldering station, the real name of our station is zd-931

    I have a little problem with this station.
    I want to use the hakko 907 handle, because i want to use the hakko tips… its very easy to find it!
    The heating element of the hakko is different from our zd931, it has different values at sensor and heater lines.
    If i will fit a modded hakko handle, my zd931 cant recognize the sensor and it will overheat it.

    Can you help me to mod it for using the heating element of the hakko handle?

    I have tried to calibrate the trimpot but its out of range.

  2. Didier says:

    Hi Jason,

    Today’s oldness scale is difficult to set. If your cell phone was bought two years ago, it is definitely a (very) old piece of equipment. The fabulous Atmos clock that I bought 20 years ago is still pretty new compared to the expected 600 years of operation before the replacement of the suspension spring!

    My own preference is for long lasting equipment. This DURATOOL soldering station works just fine for me. And it is still available from Farnell in ESD and non ESD versions…

    What type of soldering station would you suggest?

    • jason says:

      Hi Didier,
      sorry for being rude, I did not mean that.
      I think the most important thing is to choose what suits your needs. My favorite brand is Hakko.

      • Didier says:

        Hi Jason,

        No problem, I am fine with your constructive comment. I would like very much an Hakko. However, they are localy difficult to find and pretty expensive. I was aabout to buy one from Limor @adafruit, because the price is nicer than local suppliers, but the power supply is for US. Too bad.

        What about an arduino driven Hack-O soldering station? 😉

  3. Tweellt says:

    What zener value have you used?

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