If you do any type of SMD repair work, like repairing phones or laptops, a hot air rework station is an essential tool. It allows you to quickly and efficiently remove SMD components from circuit boards. You can not only use them for desoldering, but for soldering new parts as well. Having a quality rework station is important because it saves time and reduces the risk of overheating and damaging components.
The Quick 861DW hot air rework station is an example of such a tool. It is frequently lauded for its excellent value and has no trouble competing with rework stations from higher price ranges. When looking for a long-lasting, powerful rework station, this is often the one people go for.
Let’s take a closer look and see what it has to offer!
The box of the Quick 861DW contains the following:
- Base station
- 3 nozzles
- Grounding cord
|Temperature range||100-500 °C (212-932 °F)|
|Dimensions||19×24.5×13.5 cm (7.4×9.65×5.31 inches)|
The Quick 861DW comes with all features you would expect from a quality rework station. Let’s look at the most important ones.
The temperature on the 861DW ranges from 100 to 500 degrees Celsius (212-932 °F). This is a comfortably wide range that reaches high enough to quickly heat up objects with a high thermal mass (like large ground planes), but also low enough to work with bismuth solders and shrink heat shrink tubing. This makes it a versatile tool.
In practice, the unit heats up fast, and has a stable temperature with little overshoot. This means that when setting the temperature to 350°C (for example), it does not go higher first before settling down. This is something that does happen with cheaper rework stations, for example with the Atten 858D+. Temperature overshoot can lead to accidentally overheating components, but with the 861DW this is not something that you have to worry about.
The 861DW also has a wide range of airflow, adjustable from 1 to 120 Liters/min. This lets you heat up components quickly, but also gives you the option to greatly reduce airflow when necessary. This comes in handy when working on tiny SMD components that blow away in strong air.
Reducing airflow (and temperature) is also useful when you want to prevent heat from reaching the surrounding components on a PCB. If you have a component with lots of other components nearby, you might want to reduce the amount of air to focus the heat on only the component that needs to be desoldered.
The 1000 Watts of power is more than enough for quickly heating large ground pads and components with a large thermal mass. Compared to rework stations with less power, the Quick 861DW will save quite some time. Because of this, you expose your components to less thermal stress (and thus less risk of damage) since you won’t have to wait as long for the solder to reach its melting temperature.
When buying this rework station, you also get three nozzles of different sizes, which is excellent value. Some other hot air stations actually require you to buy nozzles separately.
The 861DW does have additional angled nozzles that are available for sale in case you need them. For example, for when you are working with restricted access under a microscope. The three included nozzles are enough for the vast majority of users however.
The nozzles can be inserted or removed by hand and are friction-mounted on the handle. This is different from other hot air station nozzles that use a screw thread system or a clamping system.
The stand that comes with the 861DW has a metal bracket that makes swapping the friction-mounted nozzles a breeze. Simply hook the nozzle onto the edge of the metal and wriggle it loose.
The stand (or holder) for the handle is heavy and comes in at close to 1 kg (~2 pounds). There is little risk of accidentally knocking it over. In addition, it also comes with rubber feet on the underside. So it definitely won’t go anywhere unless you want it to.
The handle of the 861DW has a sensor that, in combination with the stand, automatically turns the hot air output on or off. So if you pick the handle up from the holder the hot air turns on, whereas the hot air output shuts down when you place the handle back on the holder.
The handle does not need to be in a certain orientation or angle like with other stations, just placing it on the holder is enough to start the cooldown sequence every time.
Because the top of the base unit is flat, you can store the holder on top. This preserves valuable desk space when the rework station is not in use.
I found that if vertical space is also important, the rework station handle is best stored horizontally, as follows:
Last but not least, the back of the base unit also has a grounding point for grounding cord. You can attach this to the PCB that you are working on, or to an antistatic mat. This way, you can prevent accidental ESD damage to electronic components.
If you are wondering how to use the Quick 861DW, it is simple and intuitive. There is one pair of buttons for increasing and decreasing the temperature on the left of the unit, and an identical pair for increasing and decreasing the airflow on the other side.
Increasing or decreasing the temperature or airflow setting only involves pressing one button, whis is pretty much what you want from a rework station. This stands in contrast with the user interface of the HAKKO FR-810B rework station, which has a clunky interface that involves pushing multiple buttons to change one setting.
The temperature is adjusted in steps of 1 degree, whereas the airflow is adjusted in steps of 1 L/min, from 1 to 120 L/min. This is probably more resolution than one would ever need, but I guess it is better to have this level of control than to not have it.
The 861DW has three ‘channels’ for storing setting presets. This is useful for when you have certain components that you often repair or replace, and you regularly need to switch between specific temperature and airflow settings.
I myself stored a preset for when I need to shrink heat shrink tubing (150°C, high airflow), so that I can simply press the preset button, point the nozzle and go. This is a lot easier than fiddling with a lighter or using a soldering iron, which is what I used to do.
The manual is not very clear about how to use the presets, but it is fairly intuitive. To store the current settings in a preset, press and hold one of the three preset buttons. To recall a preset, press and immediately release the desired preset button.
Just like the stand, the base unit of the Quick 861DW is heavy and constructed mostly out of metal. It feels like it is built to last, and my guess is that it will.
The hose for the air is made from flexible rubber, with springs for strain relief on both ends. This should prevent it from prematurely wearing out.
Internally everything looks satisfactory as well. The wiring is heat shrunk, has insulation sleeving in the right places and is fastened with cable ties. Aside from that, the important screws and connectors are all secured with loctite to keep them in place.
The air blower is mounted on rubber anti-vibration mounts to reduce noise and vibration. The rework station does make noise when in operation, but it is fairly quiet and won’t disturb anyone in the same room. This is contrary to some cheaper rework stations that produce a violent whirring sound when in use.
Overall, the 861DW seems to be designed to last and is built with attention to detail. You can be assured that it will withstand many hours of operation.
Because the Quick 861DW is a straightforward product that does exactly what it is supposed to do, it is hard to find flaws. But of course, no product is perfect.
One thing that can be improved about this rework station is the power cord. The power cord is fixed and has a length of 1.3m (~4 feet). This is rather short and if you want to use it further away from a power outlet, you will need to use an extension cord. An IEC socket with removable cable would have been better in that regard.
Another weak point is the manual. Its English translation is not very clear and does not cover everything (how to store the presets for example). Given how intuitive the product is to use however, I did not find this to be an issue.
Even with a couple of downsides, the Quick 861DW is still a great rework station that helps you solder and desolder consistently, without having to waste time on waiting for things to heat up.
At the moment of writing there are no other hot air rework stations that can compete with it at its price point, and I have no doubt that it is worth the money.
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