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Technology Reviews

Hakko FX-888 Soldering Iron Pilot Light

The Hakko FX-888 soldering iron perched on the corner of my bench has a little red LED that lights up when it’s heating and goes off when it’s not. Unfortunately, while shutting down after fixing something, I sometimes glance at the thing while the LED is off, whereupon it will patiently keep the iron hot, sometimes for days, until I return.

A recent Squidwrench session gave me the opportunity to yoink that nuisance off the to-do pile where it has been pending since about ten minutes after I unboxed the iron a decade ago.

Some concerted rummaging failed to turn up the stash of bridge rectifiers, so I air-wired one from a quartet of discrete diodes:

Hakko 888 Soldering Iron pilot – bridge rectifier

Remember: the bigger the blob, the better the job.

For the record, the transformer produces 28 VAC, with the center tap 26 VAC from the left end and 2 VAC from the right end.

A 10 kΩ resistor stands upright at the far corner of the bridge, limiting the LED current to a few milliamps and making it bright enough for the purpose.

The front of the case has plenty of vacant space in its upper corners, so I drilled a hole and poked a blue LED:

Hakko 888 Soldering Iron pilot – heating

That’s shown with the iron heating.

Here’s an action shot with the temperature at the setpoint:

Hakko 888 Soldering Iron pilot – stable

Nowadays all soldering irons have digital readouts with no need for a pilot light.

Of course, two days later I found the bridge rectifier stash, but there’s no point in opening the patient again.