Electronics

3rd February
2016
written by Todd Harrison

In this video and blog posting I will be reviewing a new $329 (US dollar) Hantek DSO5202P 200 MHz 2 channel Oscilloscope and measuring its claimed bandwidth. This is a USA sourced product distributed by Circuit Specialists out of Tempe, Arizona. I do non-biased product reviews for Circuit Specialists. They sell lots of different oscilloscopes at lower as well as higher price points based on bandwidth and features. First lets show the video if you want to watch a 1hr 15min review :\ , I know don’t say it I already agree. For those that don’t watch, below is a write up as well as over 120 hi-resolution photos for you to enjoy and get quick details.

 

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2nd January
2016
written by Todd Harrison

I did the teardown of the CSI 75W solder station as well as the Hakko 936. The Hakko of course had all analog circuits using operational amplifiers and potentiometers as well as a temperature sensor in the iron tip to signal back to a triac chip controller which would trigger the triac to push 24 V AC through the heater in the iron. The CSI 75W was all digitally controlled with an internal microcontroller which was reading the temp sense line and switching the triac on/off through an opto isolator IC. And because it had a microcontroller it was also able to have the programmable set points and programmable sleep and power off timers.

Summary:

The workmanship found in both soldering stations showed quality construction, soldering and manufacturing. I did not see any sloppy messy joints or poor workmanship. Most items were quality parts with the exception of the JWCO electrolytic capacitors in the CSI 75W.

For a device that was trying to save cost at any expense I found it strange that they did not use the internal oscillator in the microcontroller. I don’t see the point of having an external crystal running at 8 MHz when you could use an internal 8 MHz oscillator in such a design. If you’re not doing data communication and other high-speed tasks then an internal oscillator is more than accurate enough timekeeper. Maybe they needed this because they knew they were going to have to program and calibrate the microcontroller after production and the accurate timekeeping was necessary for the programming communications.

Also, the S3F8S19 microcontroller they used was able to store data in a small section of flash so why they needed or felt they needed an external EEPROM is a mystery to me. And when you’re trying to save costs why would you include an ICSP plug header or any other such unused connector when simple pogo pin pads would be just fine for after production code updates or calibrations.

One last mystery was why they used an optical isolator IC for controlling the triac when these 600E triacs are designed to be controlled directly from a GPIO of any microcontroller. I just don’t see what the opto isolator is adding to this design that is necessary.

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1st January
2016
written by Todd Harrison

This premier soldering station edition is a 75 watt programmable station with 3 save points, a sleep mode that ramps down to 100 C as well as a programmable power off timer. As a premier set it also comes with 2 rosin & brass wool cleaning cups and a variety 10 pack of solder iron tips which are interchangeable with my Hakko type pencil iron.

Get this Soldering Kit Here: https://www.circuitspecialists.com/CSI-PREMIER-75W-Soldering-Station-Kit.html

Video chapter links for your convenience:
Initial thoughts
Unboxing
Compare / contrast to my Hakko 936
Using the unit
Summary

Summary:

I will start the summary by saying I found this soldering station very useful and quality built. With its amazing features it was actually more usable and had better heat recovery than my Hakko 936. It seems to have the same type of ceramic heating element as my Hakko. I would not be surprised to learn if the heating element was built by the same Japanese supplier as was my Hakko 936 element. The tips are even interchangeable with the exception of one of my Hakko tips that was a bit too fat to fit the CSI. However, all 10 extra CSI premier 75W tips fit my Hakko 936.

One of the best features of this soldering station is its programmability. It comes with three programmable temperatures settings as well as a low-power sleep mode and programmable power off mode. To come out of sleep mode you merely tip the iron at about 75° at which point you’ll hear an audible click and your set temperature will recover in 15 seconds. If your station goes into power off mode merely press the rotary encoder button and the unit will ramp back up to its last temperature in ~20 seconds. These superb features will prolong the life of your tips and save power consumption. I would not think one could get such features in a $60 station. Plus the premier station comes with 10 extra tips in a variety of sizes which would cost at least $40 making the $80 premier unit price quite attractive.

Another nice programmable feature is the ability to set a temperature correction offset by +/- 50 C to accommodate for a tip error or to calibrate the solder station.

There was one noted problem with the programmability of the low temperature sleep mode. The sleep mode would ramp down at your programmed time interval but for some strange reason it would ramp down to 100 C whereas the manual and other documentation states it should ramp down to 200 C. I had this problem in both Celsius and Fahrenheit settings.

Not that it’s a problem with the feature set but I did find it strange that the power off mode starts its timer only after the low-power sleep timer. And you must learn that if you do not set the sleep timer you will not have a functioning power off timer. This is all fine once you understand how these settings work but they are not intuitive.

Setting the temperature with the rotary encoder was not difficult. That said if it had been programmed to be velocity sensitive it would have been even better.

The premier set comes with two rosin and brass wool cleaning cups which did not work at all. If the rosin had been left out I think the brass wool would have been okay. The rosin simply gets everything dirty, sticky and makes a mess of the tips.

The iron stand was also meant to hold the extra tips in small drilled out holes in the top however this feature did not work and the tips would just rattle and fall out. Also referencing the stand, the angle is too shallow so it is difficult to get your hand on the iron without interacting or interfering with the sponge or rosin cup. This sharp angle also made it difficult to remove your hand without pulling the iron out of the stand because your wrist would catch on the cord. This shallow angle may be a requirement for the sleep mode to function.

I found it strange that the advertisement was for a 1.2 m cord for the iron however the iron that I received only had a 1 m cord.

There was a heat recovery graph silkscreened on the front of the product. This is non-information and should not exist on the front of the product. It’s clearly there to impress people that don’t understand what to look for in a product. This graph cheapens the look of the product and needs to be removed.

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