Low-cost repair equipment

By Grauw

Ascended (10604)

Grauw's picture

12-02-2022, 23:14

Adrian’s Digital Basement published a nice video where he repairs a C64 with only low-cost equipment. The video is on the long side (as always), but it’s quite educational and gives some good basic diagnosis and soldering advice for the novice.

He uses a cheap Hantek oscilloscope ($60, it’s not great but does the job, much preferable over a logic probe), a Pinecil soldering iron ($25, and it’s actually good), a cheap multimeter ($25), and a soldering pump and braid. The total equipment cost is only a little over $100, maybe $150 if you include supplies.

Had this been available back in 2014, I might’ve had quite a different soldering setup :). I’m happy with my Weller soldering station ($200) and Rigol oscilloscope ($500), they’re quality products, but they cost a pretty penny and I could’ve saved a lot of money for the modest amount of electronics work that I do. And I don’t even have a desoldering gun or hot air station. Luckily my multimeter is a cheap one :).

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By Wierzbowsky

Guardian (3443)

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14-02-2022, 19:42

Good tools are crucial for quality repair. A typical repairman should have at least a 50MHz 2 channel oscilloscope (150 euro -used), desoldering pump (90 euro) and a decent 80-100w soldering station (120 euro). I avoid buying expensive brands like Weller bacause you pay for the name and not for the quality. A microscope is also quite useful, but trinoculars are expensive. Logic analyzers can be also helpful, 16-channel device costs 130 euro. Reflow stations are surprisingly cheap, unless you go for professional ones. 3d printer solves some problems with broken plastic parts or helps to make new parts for modding. Also, thermal camera sometimes helps to find the problem, but cheapest one I could find was 130 euro. And finally a good multimeter is a must! I use UNI-T digital multimeter with auto range.

Other stuff like EPROM programmer and UV eraser are required for modding. Chip testers are particularly helpful when you want to find a broken RAM or logic chip. There are some good ones out there. I use Trolsoft's one. And I assembled and modded a 4116 tester. Btw, anyone needs a kit for 4116 DRAM tester?

By meits

Scribe (6509)

meits's picture

14-02-2022, 03:07

It's good that stuff can be done for a few bucks, but you get what you pay for. Sure it's good to step in with something cheap to find out it's your thing or not, but if it is, please save money to get quality stuff. About a some eight years ago I started soldering with a cheap Aoyue station. It's a cheap Hakko clone but okay to get the sniff of it. Its cables started falling apart quite soon so I went for a Hakko. Solid quality and worth every penny. Solders way better than the first one I had.
Then I started micro soldering underneath a great microscope and found out this Hakko model was not really up to that so I talked to the wallet again and got myself a JBC, which I wish I bought in the first place. Could've saved me a few.
Same goes for hot air. I started with a generic Atten, but it just wasn't powerful enough so I ended up with a Quick that did the job.
My ZD915 desoldering station is still around and it can do the trick okay, but it's the first thing that goes as it really starts showing its cheapness (not the value aspect). So I started saving for its replacement which will probably end up being this one and I hope to have it this summer.

@Alexey. I test logic chips in my MiniPro, but it does not see the difference between LS and HC models, and we all know how eager the Chinese are to print wrong lables on chips. Last week I had to peel off some 100 logic chips that were tested ok, but still the devices I put them on did not work due to them being the wrong model. Can the Trolsoft one be a good update for me?

By RvS

Expert (80)

RvS's picture

14-02-2022, 17:46

Quote:

Good tools are crucial for quality repair. A typical repairman should have at least a 50MHz 2 channel oscilloscope (150 euro -used), desoldering pump (90 euro)

@Alexey if you have a good recommendation for a desoldering pump, please let me know.

By Wierzbowsky

Guardian (3443)

Wierzbowsky's picture

14-02-2022, 19:42

RvS wrote:
Quote:

Good tools are crucial for quality repair. A typical repairman should have at least a 50MHz 2 channel oscilloscope (150 euro -used), desoldering pump (90 euro)

@Alexey if you have a good recommendation for a desoldering pump, please let me know.

ZD-915 forever!

By Wierzbowsky

Guardian (3443)

Wierzbowsky's picture

14-02-2022, 19:50

meits wrote:

@Alexey. I test logic chips in my MiniPro, but it does not see the difference between LS and HC models, and we all know how eager the Chinese are to print wrong lables on chips. Last week I had to peel off some 100 logic chips that were tested ok, but still the devices I put them on did not work due to them being the wrong model. Can the Trolsoft one be a good update for me?

Trolsoft's chip tester tests chips more thoroughly, for example it tests the z-state while TV866 doesn't. So I stopped testing logic chips with my TL866 after it showed OK for a few problematic chips. Also, Trolsoft's tester shows latency for some logic chips that could help in some situations. Besides, it can test various RAM (except for 4116), OPAMPS, sensors and so on.

By megatron-uk

Rookie (24)

megatron-uk's picture

17-02-2022, 13:44

I would second the reccomendation for a desoldering gun (rather than the cheap hand-held vacuum pumps) - it's the single piece of equipment that improved my ability to work on electronics without putting too much heat in, messy desoldering braids, etc. Seriously, if you are still using desolder braid, get a desoldering tool - the speed and ease of use compared to desoldering by hand is like night and day.

Obviously its not suited for every desolder task, but for those that it is, it's probably the best investment you can make beyond going from a non-temperature controlled iron to one that is adjustable.

By Stt1

Hero (606)

Stt1's picture

23-02-2022, 14:04

@meits - and others who consider getting desoldering tool.

I have that Hakko FR-301 and it's really a great one to use. Before getting the Hakko I had a cheap spring loaded manual vacuum pump with heating element. I got the things done and I used it changing well beyond 1500 caps and other components. After the tip broke from it, couple of my friends recommended the FR-301 and I decided it's time to try something else/better (while the price felt hefty). And yes, FR-301 is worth every Euro it costs. It's not only more precise, heat can be controlled better, but it's also a lot faster to work with and really sucks well the solder. And it's not a clumsy to handle, while it may look so.

By Grauw

Ascended (10604)

Grauw's picture

23-02-2022, 14:26

The point I wanted to get across though is, we all have to start somewhere and cost can be a big barrier of entry. I think this video shows a nice low-cost set-up which can get you pretty far.

Especially the scope is much better than my first low-cost alternative diagnosis tool: a logic probe. And the Pinecil (or alternatively TS-100) is said to be quite good, much superior to one of those budget soldering irons directly powered by AC that I’m sure we all had at one point in the past.