Soldering tip alternatives for Hakko FX-888D


After 6 years of sketching together ideas, watching thousands of YouTube clips, slowly procuring tools and components I’ve finally struck my first blow with the soldering iron.

I have the Hakko FX-888D soldering station and my only tip is the one that came in the box. Compared to the videos I’ve been watching online it takes a long time to transfer enough heat to the components to melt the solder and make the join. The tip seems too big to contact the through-pin and the
landing on the board (I hope the terminology is right).

Should I be purchasing a new tip and if so what suggestions do you have?


Hi Josh
The last time I looked Core stock a good range of tips for that iron. You need to decide what you want to do and what tip you need.
You are running the tip at 350ºC aren’t you and you HAVE read the instruction sheet that came with the iron have you not. There is another instruction that goes a little bit further on the Hakko web site.

Reading between the lines I would guess your soldering skills are not that great.

I have not had that problem unless the tip was too small or not hot enough. There are techniques to speed up the heat transfer but is a very difficult thing to describe. Easy enough to demonstrate but that is a bit different.

Soldering is a skill that should be acquired at least to a basic level before you let loose on circuit boards etc. Do some research and look at some U-Tube videos on the subject. You need to filter the videos a bit. Some are complete rubbish but a lot are quite good.

I have not got the time to search at the moment but some time ago I linked to a couple of good videos. You might be able to do a search of my posts with keywords like “solder” etc to find them. Could be a year or so back and there was some extensive discussion at the time.
In a nutshell after you do this research get some bits and bits of board and practise, practise and more practise before you embark on anything serious or you will probably end up very disappointed and even give up.

This subject is treated very seriously in better quality production circles. So much so that quite a few years ago a colleague of mine was sent to USA for 6 weeks to do a high reliability soldering course. And this guy was already a very competent master of the art. But He did at least return with qualifications to teach others.
Cheers Bob
PS: I would advise starting with 60/40 alloy solder. Laed free is a bit more difficult to use.

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Thanks Bob. I’ll have a read through your posts tonight and the extra info on the Hakko website.

I’ve read everything that came with the soldering iron probably 20x over and then another 5 each time I’ve turned on the iron. I’ve watched countless “learn to solder” videos before and during my first attempts.

I purchased this lead free solder but would happily purchase something else if it helps. I started at 350°C and have ended up at 400°C after some trial and error, along with some additional internet scouring.

I’m definitely at the beginner stage. I started with tinning some wires and having a go at some very basic through hole components to get a handle on thing. I’ve since tried putting headers on some basic/expendable sensors that I think have turned out quite well but I was a little concerned by how long it took to heat compared to the videos I’ve watched, hence the question before I contemplate more expensive components.

In many videos they were using chisel or screwdriver tips so was thinking this alternative tip might be beneficial but looking to get some feedback.

The landings for through holes are typically ~1.8mm dia. so was thinking either of these 2 tips.


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Hi Josh

I personally would recommend starting with 60/40 leaded solder as it is much easier to use. 0.71mm diameter is a good all round size and yes you would need 400º to use the Lead Free solder you have. Incidentally when I looked at he product description the term 60/40 came up, somehow got mixed with the description of the flux core. 60/40 is the actual lead/tin alloy and as they are describing lead free solder I don’t see the reason for the mention.

The T18-D16 should be OK for most components but be aware those header strips have a larger diameter pin than most components and have a larger heat sinking mass so may take a bit of extra care.The TD-D24 is somewhat larger and used where there is more heat sinking as with larger areas of copper. I think it would not hurt to have both in your kit.

There is a bit of a trick here which might not be apparent. If you use a “dry” iron tip heating a component will take forever with the real risk of heat damage. The trick is to apply a TINY amount of solder to the tip as you apply the tip to the job. This tiny film of solder will help greatly in rapid heat transfer and a quick soldering job. DO NOT put a great glob on the iron. It only needs a tiny amount preferably at the same time as you apply the iron to the job. A co-ordinated action as it needs to be done before the air gets to the job and results in a poor joint. Unfortunately some of these techniques are only perfected with trial and error and practise.

Easy for me I suppose as I was able to solder in a basic fashion and understood the uses of different fluxes before I left school and that was in 1950.

Keep going as it is not all that difficult with practice. By the way those tips are tinned on both sides so be careful of solder bridges to an adjacent pin.
Cheers Bob

There are lots of specific oddities you can run into. For instance:

Header strips are often difficult to solder because they are reluctant to tin, even with plenty of flux. Must be something to do with the metal used for the pins. Scraping with a razor blade before tinning helps a lot.

Cheaper imported products sometimes use copper-coated aluminium wire, which is nearly impossible to solder. I have seen it on ‘Dupont’ wires and battery connectors. You can identify it by applying a flame - the aluminium shrivels and curls.

Good tinning is essential for getting heat to flow into a part. This item is very helpful for getting that first layer of solder on.

Hi All
Regarding Jeff’s link. Please read the description, especially this
Note: It isn’t recommended to use this flux with solder that has a water-soluble or rosin flux core in scenarios that require your boards operate at a high reliability rate. At a hobbyist level you should have no issues”

“flux is a handy substance that prevents beading of the solder and helps the solder flow cleanly onto the parts you are soldering.”
Does this by preventing the air from oxidising the material when heated with the iron. Actually at a pinch clean automotive grease will do the job sometimes and actually Coca Cola is not bad either but has to be washed with water straight after. Gold being a “noble metal” (does not tarnish and remains clean) does not need flux but IS NOT a high reliability joint. It will fall in time.

Very true. Aluminium wire is definitely a crimp job. And also the crimps should have spikes to pierce the oxidation that WILL be on the wire. That is what makes it almost impossible to solder. When you clean or scrape aluminium the surface oxidises immediately and it is this oxidisation that provides some self protection for the parent metal and makes soldering difficult. In the past there were a couple of techniques developed for this process but you don’t hear much of it these days.

Tinning has its merits in some applications. But each job has to be considered individually. Stranded wire should NOT be tinned to go into crimp connections as the crimp WILL fail. Nor should it be done where a wire is put under a screw as it WILL become loose. Bootlace ferrules or terminals with wire protectors or rising clamp terminals should be used. In fact tinning should not be used on stranded wire under any type of pressure connection. When terminating solder bucket type connectors a TINY bit of tinning right at the end of the wire to prevent unravelling is OK but do not tin the whole wire as this will encourage solder “wicking” back up the wire under the insulation and the wire will very likely break right where this “wicking” ends. A very undesirable situation. A slow soldering job will have the same effect.

Anyway all this might come under the heading of the more advanced applications. I don’t think Josh needs to worry about it at his stage but it does no harm to be aware of some of these little things. When you want things to last for some years they should be looked at.

Cheers Bob

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Thanks Bob and Jeff.

The last couple of weeks haven’t gone to waste with plenty more reading, watching videos and some testing of the soldered items I’d done before. I’m pretty happy with the work I’ve already done and won’t go back to rework any of it for now.

The new tips have arrived along with some of the other recommended goodies (60/40 leaded solder, tip tinner, etc.) I’m ready to go again. After some cold runs with the tips I think I’ve made the right choices with a T18-D16, T18-D24 and T18-DL20 tips. Across the different prototyping board, development boards and sensors, etc. that I’ve been collecting it looks like it will nicely suit the sizes.

Now to start putting into practice what I’ve been absorbing, the tricks and see how much I’ve retained.


Hi Josh
Well done. As Jack Gibson would say “you have done good”. You seem to be ticking all the boxes.

You have probably picked this up by now but a reasonably good indicator is simply the look of the job. A good joint will be nice and shiny with the shape of the component lead evident while a poor one will have a dull finish and if so will have probably moved during the cooling process. If a joint looks dull and “unshiny” it probably needs re-doing.

Keep it up
Cheers Bob

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BTW - I think this is one of the videos you were referring to that I found in another thread.
Soldering Crash Course: Basic Techniques, Tips and Advice!

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Hi Josh
I have not seen this one before. Not too bad but there are a couple of points where he goes astray.
Some of the soldering operations seem to be a bit slow as if the iron is not quite powerful enough but for the most part it is not too bad.
As per the AWA Standard Practise Manual (our bible).
Component leads shall be (not should be) bent to form an angle of ≈ 15º to the board.
Component leads shall be (not should be) cut prior to soldering. This has 2 effects, cutting removes any heat sinking provided by the excess copper lead and the bare end of the copper finishes up with a solder film for long term corrosion resistance.
The shape of the wire or component lead shall be visible in the solder joint. In fact any joint requiring sleeving as in Audio Jack field wiring had to be done with clear sleeving to enable proper inspection.
DO NOT carry solder to the job on the iron. Apply the solder directly to the job.
If soldering components with thicker leads allow a short recovery time between applications.
These were the basics. There was a lot more to do with high reliability but any soldering operation was inspected to these standards so complying became second nature really.

I do not agree with the soldering of header pins. Due to the aforementioned heat sinking effects the pins should NOT be inserted into a breadboard to solder. The pins are somewhat larger than component leads and the extra heat sinking will prolong the soldering operation with the risk of heat damage to the board itself.By all means insert the pins slightly to “tack” the strip into position then remove to finally solder all pins properly. Less risk of trouble that way.

Tinning the wires and filling the hole with solder then inserting the wire while heating with iron. In my world this will not pass muster. The excess solder produced will “wick” back up the wire under the insulation and the wire WILL eventually break where the solder finishes This should be avoided if at all possible. Sometimes in reality this is unavoidable so the solder (both tinning and hole filling) should be kept to a minimum to prevent unnecessary wicking.

The problem with heat sinking should be carefully looked at when soldering large cable to anything to a large expanse of copper. A technique I have had success with when a large iron (80 - 100W) is not available is to use 2 soldering irons which is of course a 2 man job.

The solder shown in this video has only 1 flux core. Don’t use this as it can result in flux everywhere except on the job. The modern solder has 5 cores. You might get large single core stuff at a Plumbers supplier but I haven’t seen it now for many years.

Over all this video is not too bad. One of the ones I linked previously I seem to remember was very good. If I get time I might be able to find them. The American ones seem to be sometimes pretty iffy. I had occasion once to have to use a 110V iron and felt like chucking it out the window. AAGGGHHHH!!!
Cheers Bob

Hi Josh
I just had a quick look and this video is indeed one I had linked before. I don’t remember it but.
Note I mentioned in that post about cutting the leads before soldering.
Cheers Bob

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We had a long weekend in WA so I made some time to sit down and try some more soldering again.

What a stark difference the leaded solder makes! Everything flowed so easily, was much more as I’d expected with components getting to temperature. The T18-D16 tip gave me a bit more comfort I was getting the heat to where it needed to be.

I can’t say I know exactly how much all the additional tips and tricks helped other than to say that I think I made some nice little joints and everything is working well. With my tail up and some newfound confidence I’ll keep at it to keep improving.

Thank you Bob and Jeff so much for your help.


PS. this was a video that resonated with me out of the tens, if not hundreds that I watched. I do also note Bob’s best practice points above too about bending the legs of components.
HOW TO SOLDER! (Beginner’s Guide)

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Hi Josh
Thanks for the feedback.
Re that video link.
Yes that is pretty OK. It does however reinforce my comments above about inserting header strips into a breadboard to solder. It is difficult to get the pins hot enough. The first pin he soldered was OK but some of the subsequent pins showed some problems.
Some of the joints did not “wet” the pin on all 4 sides.
The finished job should have a nice concave filet around the pin with the shape of the pin visible. Some of them finished with slight convex “blobs” which would indicate too much solder or the pin did not get quite hot enough to “wet” all around properly. This could be caused by too much additional heat sinking (breadboard pins) or non recovery of the iron which would indicate that a bit more “recovery” time should have been allowed between joints.
You will notice that when he soldered the smaller component lead without the breadboard heat sinking the solder flowed quickly around the pin and pad and finished up a nice convex shape and “wetted” nicely.

I might seem a bit too picky but you will be better off if you know about and can spot these little things early in your soldering career. That header soldering job would have been considered satisfactory and even pretty good at a home or hobby level but I am not being funny or smart when I say that it would not have quite passed a half way decent QA inspection. That is not to say it would not be OK in practise but does not quite tick all the boxes.

The video is pretty good in instructional value and the basics are clearly there. Just a couple of finer points which does not hurt to know about.
Keep going Cheers Bob

Add on: Too much of this would not do those particular breadboard pins much good either. The larger size and heat might destroy the “springy” part of the pin and render those pins unsuitable for smaller component pins or wires.

Hi Josh
How are you going with your soldering.
In your last post you seem to be gaining a lot of confidence which at the end of the day is a massive help and step in the right direction. It is satisfying when you can pick up your iron and confidently go about making a proper job of it.
You are doing well
Cheers Bob

I think I’ve been going quite well considering how new I am to this. Obviously some joints are better than others.

I think this the headers I soldered to this board was the first “real” joints I made after the new tips arrived (and also happens to be the first thing at handy to snap a pic). It’s hard to get a pic at this size without needing to get the SLR with macro lenses out.

I’m still trying to get the consistency. There’s probably a little too much solder in most of these joints but the board is doing what it needs to as a Serial to TTL adapter to upload to some ESP8266 boards.

Next stop… debugging my code to get some of these small projects functioning.

Hi Josh
Very well done.
I would like to offer a bit of constructive advice if you don’t mind. You will never know if you are not told.
Actually you have picked up on the bit of excess solder yourself. That is good.
Looking at the pic and calling the left hand one pin 1…
Pins 1, 3 and 4 look pretty good. Pins 3 and 4 might have a TINY bit of excess.
Pins 2, 5 and 6 have a little too much but not life threatening.
Pin 6 is a little more serious. The pin has not “wetted” properly, almost as if the iron was not hot enough. My guess would be that you started at the left at pin 1 and pin 5 and 6 were last. You may have not given the iron enough time to recover and it had lost some of its grunt. These pins are comparatively large and have quite a bit of mass so the heat sinking effect can be noticeable. It is not easy to see in the pic but pin 5 might have a little of this problem but I can’t quite make it out.
All up a good effort. Keep at it you are going OK.
Cheers Bob