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Hot Air rework Soldering Station *2nd Update*

After finding a great rate on a hot air rework station. (around $120 shipped) I have been amazed at how much easier doing most de-soldering jobs has become. Soldering two pieces of metal together is relatively a simple task. The trouble starts when  you need to de-solder components from a PCB board that have many leeds. You can melt two or three of the leeds and still the component is held firmly onto the PCB.  However if you use hot air. All of the components leeds could melt at the same time and the component can be removed quickly without the removal of the original solder.

I have noticed that it has been difficult to hold the Hot air station handle, grasp the component and keep the motherboard in the same place. I tried to find flexible piping but nothing i found was strong enough to hold the handle in place. While in storage I found a clamping desk light. I purchased this light years ago from staples. Its the kind that has a long arm and springs. It also has a terrible magnification glass and a standard light bulb  in the “head”. I have no idea where to find another. I think it cost $20 Dollars.

So as you may have guessed I took of the lighted “head” and attached the handle and hot air nozzle to the station. For my model I had to remove one of the springs to balance the weight difference. Now my hot air station is truly hands free and it leaves me with the ability to hold the motherboard in place and grab the component with some pliers at the same time. Click on the pictures to see more details.

Edward Bunker

I enjoy biographies and life stories. Mainly because I am also a huge fan of a true stories and non-fiction. I believe If your going to take the time to read a story and step into a world. It is more exciting to know it happened here, in world your living in. However I have made at least one exception.

One of my favorite authors is the late Edward Bunker. Edward Bunker was a fiction writer.  Edward Bunker wrote fictional stories based on true events in his life and the lives of people around him. Therefore even though the story is a fictional tale. It contains amazing gritty realism that is genuine and honest. Edward was “state raised” . He started his criminal career very early and was in and out of foster care and homes for troubled kids.   He eventually graduated from Juvenile halls  to prisons. Edward was the youngest person to be sentenced to San Quentin at seventeen years old.

Some of his best work is his memoir. It is titled: Education of a Felon. It is the criminal life story of the writer before he sold his first novel. He wrote his first published novel on a toilet in San Quentin. He sold his blood for postage and smuggled the manuscript for the novel “No Beast So Fierce” out of San Quentin

That novel was also re-written into a screenplay for the movie “Straight Time” staring Dustin Hauffman. The novel was so well received that Edward Bunker was released from prison and had a brief cameo in the movie with Dustin Hauffman. Edward Bunker also helped Dustin Haufman prepare for his role.

Edward Bunker has played parts in several movies with big names a few happen to be Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” and the popular at the time “Tango and Cash”. Edward also worked on Heat as prison technical adviser with Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Kevin Gage and Dennis Haysbert. He taught them how to think, react and walk like ex-prison convicts.

Edward is the author of many popular books “Animal Factory”,  “Little Boy Blue”, “Dog Eat Dog”, Stark and No Beast So Fierce. Edward died in 2005 due to complications during surgery. He left behind a wife and young boy.

Ive never heard this confirmed but I believe the movie 16 blocks has a major tribute to Edward Bunker in it. In the movie the main character  is a criminal testifying against many high profile  police officers. The officers are trying to kill him during his escort from jail to court.  One officer refused to allow this convict be killed by his fellow officers. The escort struggled between giving up the convict or believing that the convict can truly change. The convict did change his life, proving people can change. Edward bunker changed  just like the character who shared his name. coincidence? I believe it was a tribute.

Pictures from my Shop

This post is inspired by technibble‘s latest posting, A Peek At Other Computer Technicians Workbenches #2 which is a followup from the original Computer Technicians workbenches posting from earlier in this year. Its great to see other professionals work spaces. I love to get inspired with new ideas. Some of the benches are small and simple. Some are busy shops with long benches. Every shop is unique and I think everyone will agree my shop is no different in that way. The common price for a retail location is 1000 a month. It is rare to find a place for any less. My shop is unusually small and is nearly 1 third that common price. Im on a busy road and my sign is 6 feet wide and and the window is 5 x 5 feet. I wanted to have plants but I also wanted interesting plants. So i purchased dwarf hybrid citrus fruit trees. On the left is a honey Tangerine tree and on the right is a limequat tree. The honey Tangerine hasnt produced mature fruit for me yet. However the Limequat has 4 large limes almost ready. When the trees get allot of sun in the summer and are happiest they bloom many flowers and the shop smells great. To the left is my attempt at a customer station. The theory is that when i finish a system they can test it and play with it before leaving. Im not sure if its a good idea. So far none of my customers have cared to try it out.  I may use the space for something else. I have a keyboard mouse and 17inch monitor. To the right is my Ebay shipments for the day. I use the USPS and priority mail. Half of my sales go international. I will ship anywhere and few ebay sellers will do that. I havent had any problems selling internationally. This mess is actually  well organized. Its where i keep my packing material for my ebay shipments . I rarely purchase any kind of packing  material. I keep what i get when i order parts. My shop is not being invaded by vermin . Those rodents are actually my pets. They are my shop mice. They live in a 10 Gallon  fish tank and are a gift from a reptile shop that closed down. The owner kept these mice  to feed snakes. Now the mice keep me company when im working. To be continued…

Hot Air rework Soldering Station

This is the hot air station i purchased from china on Ebay for my computer repair business. I purchased this unit mainly for de-soldering.  Anyone who has tried to de-solder and remove components from a PCB board knows this can be  difficult, time consuming and frustrating. Just when you melt one components lead the others harden up and hold it into place. The idea of hot air  is that you can heat up the area and melt all of the connections at once. This leaves you with the option of removing the component without removing the solder with a de-soldering wick or a de-soldering pump.

This is what the box looks like. Its pretty simple really. There is no need for pretty pictures. Its a true white box experience. There are many different company names and models to choose from. I chose this one based on a few things I liked in the Ebay listing.

This is the handle for the hot air station. Inside there is a small fan. wires and a heating element. I liked that this model had the heating element inside of the handle. As you can see this makes it easy to replace the heating element if needed. There are many nozzles for the handle they are pictured above. There is a magnet kill switch in the handle and stand. So when you you place the handle back on the mount it automatically shuts off the air.

Above is a picture of the extra heating element included.
The station is digital and has 2 connections and heaters. One is for the soldering iron and the other is for the hot air. The dial higher up is the control for fan speed.  The other two are for both heating elements hot air and Iron. Thats the other reason i chose this unit. It comes with a soldering iron.


So far I haven’t had much experience with hot air de-soldering. I liked this unit because it had a reasonable price and many accessories. It even came with many soldering iron tips. Most of them are very sharp. If you find this blog entry helpful, or interesting please leave some comments. I would like to hear what people think.

The STS-132 space shuttle Atlantis final launch

I was lucky enough to be able to make a trip to see the final launch of space shuttle Atlantis. The shuttle takes off in cape Canaveral near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The space center sold all of their 9000 tickets in 30 minutes. Traffic leaving the space center was an extra 2 hours even though most people spent more time at Kennedy space center. There were people waiting for the launch with tripod cameras and beach chairs as early as 9am for the 2pm launch. This video was taken with my HD Flipcam.

FAA rule: Airliners cant hold passengers hostage past 3 hours.

Apparently, U.S. Airways CEO Doug Parker isn’t brain dead. This is a trait uncommon in the American Airline industry. In a public statement Mr. Parker has made the simple conclusion that the Airline industry is responsible for the new FAA rule that states an Airline will pay hefty fines for kidnapping its passengers on a tarmac for over 3 hours.

Yes. I used the word “kidnap” because in too many situations airliners have somehow felt it was necessary to hold their customers on a tarmac for longer than 3 hours without returning them to the gate.

Here’s a classic example.

In February,  2007 JetBlue passengers were stuck on the tarmac for 8 hours. Jetblue employees somehow found it unnecessary to just bring the passengers back to the gate. When the story broke Jetblue added comedy to their disgrace by explaining the 8 hour delay was due to icy weather. The news didnt bother to remind Jetblue the story was not about the delay and the weather.The story is about the decision to hold passenger against their will for 8 hours!. Jetblue said in a statement that they will be refunding these passengers tickets. So what the lesson for this story?

Jetblue may legally kidnap you for 8 hours but, they wont charge you for it. Its free.

Intuit and Quickbooks SUCK

I’m looking for an alternative to Quicken. Its a fairly good app. Intuit the makers of Quickbooks and Quicken have unfriendly business tactics that screw their customers.

Every year Intuit releases a new version of Quickbooks and Quicken. So far I haven’t noticed much of any actual improvements and I think most people don’t want or need to upgrade bookkeeping software.

This doesn’t fit into Intuits own financial plan. Intuits goal is to have their customers rebuy their barely updated software yearly. The problem is their customer base is bookkeepers, thrifty, and budgeting.

So what does Intuit do to solve this problem? They force their customers to upgrade by intentionally making their previous file formats obsolete.

Intuit and Quickbooks sucks. Don’t take it from me checkout the reviews left by their customers on amazon. Intuit thinks somehow if the push out a new version of their products and show a feature list that is basically identical to their previous versions somehow no one will notice. They are wrong and people are looking for an alternative to Quickbooks.

The Highlight Diner Fire

The highlight diner once was a very popular diner in the Port Jefferson Station, Long Island New York area.
It went out of business after lengthy renovations and has been since abandoned.
A fire broke out sometime on January 23rd 2010 at around 3am.
The first video isnt mine. I shot the 2nd video.