YIHUA 850AD Digital Display Hot Air Desoldering Station Air Pump Can Adjust Temperature Heat Gun SMD Phone Soldering Station (WHL #85)
I got a (reasonably) big box from China!
Since changing jobs, I’m in the process of buying tools that I dearly miss – some of them are no longer easily accessible in the new place, some aren’t available at all, and some are so darn useful, I should have bought a unit for myself at home ages ago. A hot air station checks the last two boxes, since my regular 2000W hot air gun is certainly useful for like removing stickers or preheating boards, but temperature regulation clearly isn’t good enough for soldering. So…I bought a Yihua 850AD.
The one at work probably was a rip-off of the Atten 850D which nowadays is a 200€ item; given it’s a Toolcraft branded unit and purchased from Conrad, it probably wasn’t much cheaper The Toolcraft thing isn’t available anymore, and the Atten is only a 280W rated station – a bit wimpy for large ground planes, I’d say. The only reasonable “name-brand” competitor (Atten licensee?) would have been the Sparkfun 303D – which is unfortunately a 110V-only device.
So it’s the Yihua 850AD. Not the 8508D+ with its silly air pressure gauge (why?), and none of the dual (hot air + regular iron) stations, especially not the stupid ones with built-in 3.5 digit multimeters or the like. Just a plain hot air station with physical rotary knobs for air temperature and air flow, plus a digital readout of what to expect. No frills, no menu crap. This is also one of stations with a pump in the main unit that can be regulated down to almost zero air output (1ish to 24 l/min), while many other stations, especially the 858D type ones with slim main unit and a fan in the hand piece, will go much higher (120 l/min), but also have a high minimum output.
But first things first: I bought it on 20th of February on AliExpress, and the tracking data is astonishing. For comparison: I also placed an order with Digikey on 23rd, and the small envelope containing three items also arrived on 28th, via UPS. The Yihua however was shipped with Cainiao (Ali’s own parcel service) out of China and then handed over to Hermes some time after customs clearance. Total price was 87.84€ including 19% VAT and shipping (and maybe VAT on shipping). Many other sellers on AliExpress offer the same unit at around 40 to 50€, but charge the same amount for shipping. The old 850D station by the way sells about 20€ cheaper, but has no temperature display.
Of course I was curious about the sticker on the box – well, nothing fancy underneath, the 853D is one of the stupid dual stations with integrated 30W “lab” power supply – no thanks.
Other side of the box is plain generic:
I’ll bore you with the accessories first: A useless warranty card and safety instructions. The latter is written in strikingly good English for such an item; not sure if they’ve actually paid a translator, if the online AI translator thingies have upped their game, or if they’ve just copied it from a name-brand leaflet. They’re klemping towards the end, but they also talk about leaded paint until 1977, so I’m not sure what’s the deal here.
Then there’s this piece of shit “EU” power adapter and the two screws that fasten the pump during transport…there’s no English label anywhere that tells you to remove them. I just knew from reading a bad review where one guy RMA’ed his faulty unit, put them back in, and then got in trouble because the seller accused him of not removing them in the first place, smoking the pump in the process…(not a pretty noise, don’t try it!)
And then there’s four nozzles, strangely enough they’ve not skimped on screws and nuts, but included one for each unit. (Outer) Diameters are 3, 5, 8 and 10mm. Bet you can spot which one I prefer Louis Rossmann uses angled nozzles and talked about them quite a bit in his video on the Atten ST-862D vs. Quick 861DW – they’re available at very reasonable cost, just not standard with each unit. Might try them, but so far straight tips were sufficient for my work.
Although the exact alloy of those nozzles is not known, their tempering colors after just five minutes of runtime indicate the unit probably isn’t far off the displayed temperature. Deep blue to brown/grey is well into the 300°C+ region, and that’s just the nozzle that takes a while to get up to air temperature.
Finally, the hot air station itself:
Everything on that front panel is off-center, or strangely labelled, or labelled twice, using different fonts and sizes all over the place – it’s fantastic.
Note that the holder of the actual gun is not mounted during transport and can be screwed into different positions to your liking. I’m right-handed, so that looked like the obvious choice to me.
The prominent warning label says (according to OCR tools on the interwebs feeding into Google Translate):
*Using high-precision thermocouple temperature measurement and constant temperature, double operational amplifier logic control, to ensure stable and reliable work.
*Extra-wide working voltage range, complete automatic protection system to ensure it can also be used normally in areas with unstable pressure.
*After shutdown, the system automatically detects that the temperature of the handle is lower than the safe value, and automatically shuts down the whole machine. The power supply and the handle have a longer service life, and the whole machine is safer and more reliable.
*When using, please loosen the pump fastening screw (red mark) at the bottom of the fuselage, transport
Remember to tighten the pump bolts when
Well yeah, again, the last line *in English* might have been useful for a wider audience.
Please note before use:
Loosen the screw with the red mark on the bottom and use it again.
The other sticker on the top is a scratch-off authenticity label that leads to some obscure 4006242315.com website that tracks the number of page views of that very serial number. Guess the company that fakes Atten products quite well is now concerned about rip-offs itself?
Anyway, something more noticeable: The thing uses an Aussie plug, a noncompliant one to be precise. It should feature insulated live pins with only the earthing pin being bare the entire length, but of course it doesn’t. Funny that their own safety notes explicitly address earthed plugs as fucking #1 on their list, yet the supplied adapter clearly isn’t earthed, nor is any of the plugs compliant with any safety regulation out there. Well, I might just replace the entire thing for a regular Schuko plug, since I don’t wanna waste my only compatible adapter for that…
The label, which by the way uses the most disgusting sticky glue known to man, says:
In order to ensure personal safety, after the machine is turned off, please unplug the power cord!!!
That is actually an important hint, but probably different to their intention:
1) I did check continuity of the earthing pin to the chassis, and contrary to many Chinesium products BigClive has ordered over the years, that one has a working ground connection. After the disaster with plug types and adapter, I’m somewhat impressed.
2) Since the unit has a soft power button (despite being large and clunky) to enable cooldown after use, there’s some always-on circuitry in it. The unit draws a whopping 1.4W of power *all the time*, so in the order of 5€/year at current power prices. Unplugging or adding a secondary power switch might be an option. Power factor in standby is 0.3, so cost for commercial users might be triple that figure.
And while we’re at it, there’s an externally accessible fuse above the power cord inlet. There’s an actual fuse in it (only a glass one, though), rated 6.3A. Highest power consumption I’ve seen was 590W, so even at 220V, a 3.15A fuse would certainly do the job. Power factor under load is obviously pretty close to 1, and consumption with just the pump running (e.g. when cooling down) is 22W at PF 0.7. The station does not work with the fuse removed – another thing BigClive taught us all to check…
Teardown, Schuko plug retrofit, temperature graphs and maybe some power button mod will be part of a follow-up post on this unit – all I can say for now that temperature regulation is pretty good (less than ±2K once target temperature is reached) and air output is very consistent, so it definitely complements the much larger, much more powerful 2000W Steinel brand gun on my working bench. As of now: Would buy it again!