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Hot air pencil recommendation?

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I find myself in need of a hot air pencil, and wonder if anyone has any recommendations?


The primary use is not SMD rework as such (what minimal SMD I do I can get by using my regular iron), but rather helping hot snot better in its designated place, opening up cases that have been glued together and removing calculator face plates, so something that can go as low as 100 degC (~200 degF) seems to be desired, but probably not crucial.


What I find googling around seems to be focused on the SMD aspect, and in fact I don't even know if there is a real distinction between ones targeted for SMD rework and ones for working primarily with glue.


The prices are also somewhat scary for an occasional work, but I'm still not sure whether I want to invest in one (probably not the best quality money can buy for starters) or follow a DIY route, of which there are many recipes too.


Any good advice from the nice folks?

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Fact is, I'm not sure. "Pencil" does come up more often as some sort of DIY alternative to a rework station, so maybe what I really need is a plain old hot air gun... but specs like 1 kW and 15 CFM and a picture with some guy working on 5" water pipeline tubes make me... unsure at best.

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For a bit more expensive option, I just recently purchased one of these on a whim.


http://cgi.ebay.com/2in1-SMD-Hot-Air-Re ... 3848wt_968


I'm not sure I really got the best bang for my buck, but I needed it quickly and decided to impulse buy it. Turns out,it works really well and I am very impressed with it. I can't speak to the durability and longevity of it since I have had it for only 2 months now. But I really love the extra tips and nozzles and love only having one solder tool on my work bench.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sparkfun has a $9.95 300W "fat pencil" that might suit your needs. It's called the Heaterizer XL-3000 Heat gun. It doesn't show up on a search for hot air or other terms you might check, and I can't link it directly because I'm newly reregistered after my much neglected 1-post account was deleted. I have one, but haven't used it much. All I can say is: it's too cool for solder rework out of the box, so it may suit your needs (but I cut a small metal cone with tin snips to decrease airflow, and that raised its air output to the light rework range). I plan to experiment more with hacking it later, but I only took a brief glimpse inside.


I can see no reason why it wouldn't work with a power tool motor speed controller (Harbor Freight commonly has these for $15 with coupon). The inductive load of the small motor should be minimal, so it should be 95% resistive, and therefore compatible with the common <$10 "incandescent only" light dimmer, if they go up to 300W. (I hack things with these dimmers all the time)


It's much more like a handheld desktop tool than pistol or hairdryer-style hot air guns are

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Sorry, I previewed this at least 15 times, making changes and broke the URL up with underscores in 3 places. The board still said




It barely lets me say the Sparkfun product is #10326, and is 110VAC, for those of you who use a higher line/mains voltage. I'm sure that i'll figure out where it draws the exact lines -- around the time they no longer apply to me.


BTW, the error message misspells "the SP-word", IMHO -- and "the FR-word" is a VERY GOOD word in my book, not a bad one.


In re: light dimmers and motor controllers

I have a bunch of "external dimmer" type boxes scattered around the house, and consider them a standard tool.


Several [still operating from when I was a kid] are just standard hardware light switch dimmers ($10) wired in a box with an outlet and a power cord -- but I gotta say 'they don't make em like they used to'. I've had several fail, and on disassembly, they seem to cut every possible corner now, even if they are "American-made". I suspect that reflects the purchasing policies at "big box" hardware warehouses and contractor desires more than any national priorities.


The Harbor Freight units are MUCH more robust. Just don't look at the soldering inside. It looks like something I did at age 9.


For many applications, a sewing machine foot-pedal is a great speed controller (Don't laugh! I've used one on a 10" Table Saw and 1/2 hp router on for 25 years) Alas, these are hard to find and expensive, but here's a tip: old sewing machines from the 80s or before (including the pedal) often sell for $0-15, including the pedal controller, in your local classifieds or Craigslist. No one wants them. Consider the rest of the sewing machine as bonus motors, belts, pulleys, gears, etc -- and often a stand/worktable


The best thing about these? No wiring. Plug one end into the wall, and plug your device in the other. I had one of those old Ronco Showtime rotisseries, and found it almost useless (too high a roasting temperature for truly tender chicken or prime rib) until I used a controller to drop its power to 75-80%. Back then, they used wind-up timers to shut off the motors. The newer ones use digital timers which may not work so well [or at all] with a thyristor-based dimmer.

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BTW, the error message misspells "the SP-word", IMHO -- and "the FR-word" is a VERY GOOD word in my book, not a bad one.

Sorry, I did not get what you said.


You are now above the spam threshold limit of 3 posts for inserting links.


Link what orpheus was talking about: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10326

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Please don't misunderstand me. I admin some boards myself, including one with 2800 members and 1.4 million posts. I know the challenges you face, and mean only to offer constructive suggestions not criticize or burden you.


I simply meant to say that the word "spamy" in the error message should be spelled "spammy" IMHO, and the word beginning with "fr--" which the board calls a "bad word" [and which I'm still not allowed to type] is a good word in my book, even if it is much beloved by spammers. It is very versatile and I'd used it innocently in several different contexts in my original draft e.g. "Feel fr-- to disregard my suggestion". "is like getting the other parts for re--", "can get fr-- S/H", "work the tip fr--", etc.


You might consider dropping that one rule, because it may needlessly puzzle/frustrate newcomers, but that's entirely your call.


I'd originally posted more on hacking hot air tools, but fell afoul of several rules at once. I tried to work out all the combinatorial possibilities to get through the maze, but finally dropped several paragraphs.


-- Orpheus "by now you've guessed that I'm FULL of hot air"

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