Home > Tech geeks > Right tool for the job…

Right tool for the job…

This holiday season brought me a much needed piece of gear to aid in my quest of an instrumented home brewery, courtesy of my in-laws. For the past year and a half I have been getting by with relatively inexpensive soldering irons (first a Radio Shack piece-of-crap, followed by a Weller which was somewhat better) but their performance always left me a little unhappy with the results. I managed to assemble plenty of boards, such as my stir plates, the trio of boards in my pump skid control box, and a few other minor projects – but that was always after several minutes of cursing and fiddling with the soldering iron to get it to the right temperature.

Enter my new Aoyue 968 Hot Air rework station, which not only has a hot-air gun for desoldering components and doing SMD work, but a smoke absorbing tube right at the soldering iron tip to keep the dangerous fumes from going into my lungs… I took this toy out for a test drive yesterday morning, and I am very happy with it. Both the soldering iron and the hot air gun get up to temperature quickly, and they both have a cool-off cycle. I managed to get a couple of thru-hole components out of an old PC power supply pretty easily with the hot air gun, and the soldering iron produced perfect-sized beads (which might have had as much to do with my technique as the equipment, but whatever.) I can’t wait to crank this up for a real project.

I have a few projects in mind for next year, such as a wireless carboy temperature/pressure transmitter, the hot liquor tank instrumentation, and perhaps reworking the pump skid control box to use some different chips (maybe even moving away from PICAXE and going to the more powerful Arduino line…), but we’ll see. I have a ton of brewing to do as well – this year was certainly a little more low-key than usual as I brewed far less than my typical 200 gallon years. Hopefully I’ll be more successful in execution of my 2010 brewing resolutions than I was with my 2009… but more on that later.

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