When it comes to desoldering, a good quality desoldering pump (also known as a solder sucker) can be worth its weight in gold. Being able to quickly and efficiently remove solder from solder joints and pads saves you time and frustration. As someone who has used a cheap mediocre desoldering pump in the past, I have spent much time trying to suck that last remaining bit of solder away.
The Engineer SS-02 solder sucker is a solder sucker designed to make your desoldering experience more pleasant. Unlike other desoldering pumps, it comes with a flexible silicone nozzle. This nozzle forms around the tip of your soldering iron, which creates better suction and makes removing solder easier. Aside from the improved nozzle, it also comes with several other features that distinguish it from its competitors.
Let’s take a closer look at the Engineer SS-02 and see what it brings to the table.
|Weight||50 grams (1.76 ounces)|
|Dimensions||15 x 2 x 2 centimeters
6 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches
|Materials||Aluminium, Piano wire, Nitrile rubber, Silicone|
The first thing you notice when unpacking the SS-02 is its solid feel. The unit itself is fairly small, but has some weight to it. This makes it quite pleasant to hold and work with, and makes it clear that it won’t easily break.
All metal components look to be precision machined and fit well together. This is particularly important for a desoldering pump, because for a strong vacuum the air should only be sucked through the nozzle, and not through gaps in the body.
The plunger travels smoothly and silently through the shaft when pressing it down and releasing it. This is a big difference with the cheaper desoldering pumps I have used in the past, which felt rather ‘clunky’ when I used them.
All in all, the build quality is excellent. But to be fair, this is to be expected when buying a Japanese-made tool at a premium price.
The standout feature of the Engineer SS-02 is its silicone nozzle. As mentioned earlier, its flexible shape allows it to create a good seal to increase suction. This is a big difference from the cheaper solder suckers, which use a rigid teflon nozzle that leaves a large air gap.
Another benefit of the silicone nozzle is that you don’t have to worry about it melting. Its high melting temperature of 350°C (~660°F) allows you to keep it in direct contact with the tip of your soldering iron. This is of course assuming that the soldering iron is set to a temperature of under 350°C, which it usually is.
If you do happen to melt or damage the nozzle, it is easily replaceable. Simply remove the old nozzle from the body, and cut a new piece from the included 5 cm (2.2 in) section of spare tube. Stick the new piece of tube onto the end of the desoldering pump, and you are done.
If the included piece of spare tube runs out, you can buy the Engineer SS-16 replacement silicone tube kit to replenish it. The included silicone tube should last for a while, however, if you don’t make a habit of overheating and melting it.
Talking about overheating, because the SS-02 is efficient in removing solder, you can desolder components in a shorter amount of time. This means there is less risk of overheating components or solder pads, and reducing the change of damaging them.
Ease of use
Another feature of the Engineer SS-02 is its small form factor. It makes it ideal for use with one hand. That way, you can keep using the other hand to hold the soldering iron, instead of putting the soldering iron down to prime the plunger.
While using the solder sucker, I noticed that the powerful spring in the plunger mechanism works quite well in creating strong suction. The strong spring also makes it harder to press the plunger down however (compared to other solder suckers). This is not a problem for me personally, but I imagine that it might be an issue for people with weak hands or thumbs.
One of the most commonly cited downsides of the SS-02 is that it has a tendency to clog from time to time. I did find this to be the case, but only if I did not regularly empty the barrel after sucking up solder. This can be easily done by pressing down the plunger and having the old solder fall out through the nozzle. As long as I regularly did that, I did not experience any issues with clogging.
If the solder sucker does clog however, it is not too hard to clean. Unscrewing the front gives you access to the inside of the unit. After that it is just a matter of following the cleaning instructions in the included manual. This is basically identical to how most other desoldering pumps are cleaned.
Ultimately, the Engineer SS-02 solder sucker is an excellent solder sucker that helps you save a lot of time and frustration. While it is not perfect, it’s still an excellent choice for anyone who wants to make desoldering easier. It definitely is more expensive than other desoldering pumps, but it is a good investment for anyone that values their time.
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