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 efficiently add and remove SMD components from circuit boards. Having a quality rework station saves you 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 higher-priced rework stations. When looking for a long-lasting, powerful rework station, this is often one of the top choices.
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. It reaches high enough to quickly heat up objects with a high thermal mass, like large ground planes. It also goes low enough to work with bismuth solders and shrink heat shrink tubing.
In practice, the unit heats up fast and has a stable temperature with little overshoot. 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 like the 858D.
Temperature overshoot is something to avoid because it can lead to accidentally overheating components. With the 861DW this is not something that you have to worry about.
The 861DW also has a wide range of airflow. It is adjustable from 1 to 120 Liters/min. This lets you quickly heat up components but also gives you the option to reduce airflow when necessary. If you work with the smallest SMD components, high airflow is something to avoid.
Reducing airflow is also useful when you want to prevent heat from reaching the surrounding components on a PCB. With lots of other components nearby, limiting airflow allows you to focus heat only on the component(s) that you want to desolder.
The 1000 Watts of power of the 861DW is more than enough to rapidly heat large ground pads and components with a large thermal mass. Compared to less powerful rework stations, the Quick 861DW will save quite some time.
The 861DW comes with three nozzles of different sizes. This is a benefit over other hot air stations that require you to buy extra nozzles separately.
The 861DW does have additional angled nozzles available for sale. These are useful when you are working with restricted access under a microscope. The three included nozzles are enough for the vast majority of users.
The nozzles 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. Then press a different nozzle on the unit by hand.
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. It also has rubber feet on the underside. It won’t go anywhere unless you want it to.
The handle of the 861DW has a sensor that automatically switches the hot air output on and off. Place the handle in the holder and the hot air output shuts off. Pick the handle up, and the hot air starts flowing.
The handle does not need to be in a certain orientation or angle like with other stations. Placing it on the holder in any orientation 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.
We found that if vertical space is 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. This helps prevent accidental damage to components from electrostatic discharge.
The interface of the Quick 861DW is simple and intuitive. There is one pair of buttons for increasing and decreasing the temperature on the left of the unit. On the right side you can find an identical pair for increasing and decreasing airflow.
Increasing or decreasing temperature or airflow setting only involves pressing one button. This is exactly what you want from a rework station, but that does not mean all rework stations work the same. For example, the HAKKO FR-810B has a clunky interface that involves pushing multiple buttons to change one setting.
Temperature is adjusted in steps of 1 degree, whereas airflow is adjusted in steps of 1 L/min, from 1 to 120 L/min. This is more resolution than one would ever need, but 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 if you regularly work with the same temperatures and airflows and want to quickly switch between them.
A useful way in which you can use this is to store a preset for shrinking heat shrink tubing. Then simply press the preset button, point the nozzle and you are ready to go. This is a lot easier than using a lighter or a soldering iron.
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 is clearly built to last.
The hose for the air is made of flexible rubber with strain relief springs on both ends. This helps prevent it from prematurely wearing out.
Internally everything looks satisfactory as well. The wiring is heat shrunk, with insulation sleeving and cable ties in the right places. All important screws and connectors are all secured with Loctite to keep them in place.
Low-budget Chinese rework stations can come with poor quality wiring and grounding. There have even been cases where mains voltage was tied to metallic parts of the heat gun. No such risks with the 816DW.
To reduce noise and vibration, the air blower is mounted on rubber anti-vibration mounts. This rework station does make a bit of noise when in use, but it is fairly quiet and won’t disturb anyone in the same room. This is contrary to some cheaper rework stations that produce violent whirring sounds.
The 861DW is designed to last and built with attention to detail. You can be assured that it withstands 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 is the power cord. The power cord is fixed to the base and has a length of 1.3m (~4 feet). This is rather short. 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, we did not find this to be an issue.
The Quick 861DW is an excellent rework station that helps you reliably (de)solder. Its output temperatures are quickly achieved and remain consistent. There is no need to wait long for temperatures to be reached, nor do you need to worry about component damage from temperature overshoot.
Its downsides are minor, and at the moment of writing this there are no other hot air rework stations that compete with it at its price point. Without a doubt, it is one of the best options for anyone serious about hot air rework.
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