Hakko FX-888D Soldering Station Review

soldering with the hakko FX-888D soldering station
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In my quest for the best, hottest stuff out there, and you can take “hottest” very literally in this case, I came across one of the big names in the soldering world: Hakko. I’ve always been intrigued by Hakko’s eye-catching blue-and-yellow design that is unlike any of its competitors.

I’d heard that this well-reputed brand that was established in Japan over 60 years ago is one of the most reliable tools in its niche.

Well, time to find out if this brand is as good as people claim. Let’s put what is probably one of their most iconic soldering tools through its paces: Hot or not? 

In this review I’ll unbox and test the Hakko FX-888D and give my honest, unbiased opinion and reveal this soldering tool’s Pros and Cons and list its full specifications.

Without further ado, let’s get right to it! 

Tested by CCM
Description:

What We Like

  • Simple to use
  • Hakko quality
  • Outstanding performance
  • Small footprint
  • Long-term parts availability


What We Don’t Like

  • Confusing to program
  • No storage case included


Bottom Line

The Hakko FX-888D is a great soldering station, offering exceptional quality for its price point. It’s not too complicated nor expensive, yet handles everything you throw at it. While its settings require a peak at the manual for clarity, this station will last for years to come.

Tested by CCM
Description:

What We Like

  • Simple to use
  • Hakko quality
  • Outstanding performance
  • Small footprint
  • Long-term parts availability


What We Don’t Like

  • Confusing to program
  • No storage case included


Bottom Line

The Hakko FX-888D is a great soldering station, offering exceptional quality for its price point. It’s not too complicated nor expensive, yet handles everything you throw at it. While its settings require a peak at the manual for clarity, this station will last for years to come.

Unboxing

The packaging of the soldering station

First Impression

First impression is that for the FX888D, Hakko clearly went for a disposable protective cardboard box. It’s designed to protect the content during transport, but not as a toolbox to keep your soldering iron in when it’s not in use. 

I guess that’s because Hakko intends this soldering station to have a permanent place on a workbench, and to not sit in a box on a shelf. Although I can relate to that, I do think a high-end full-color box or a nice carrying case would have lifted that first impression as well as storage functionality to a much higher level. 

Contents

soldering iron tips

Inside, there are the two soldering tips I ordered separately: a medium size hoof tip and a fine tip, both from the T18 series. The T18 series is the latest, most performant soldering tip series from Hakko. 

This soldering iron normally comes with a standard tip, also from the T18 series. Although this standard tip works just fine, for soldering larger gauge wires, I prefer a hoof tip because it has a larger heat transmission surface. For delicate soldering, the fine tip from the T18 series is ideal.

the manuals for the soldering station

There are some manuals in there too, of course.

The protected rear-end of the soldering iron

The FX-888D’s soldering pen has a quality feel to it with a nice grippy handle. The rear end of the pen where the power cable attaches is reinforced with a flexible silicone protector, which keeps the cable from bending too much, preventing it from wearing prematurely.

The cable of the soldering station

The 4ft long silicone power cable is heat-resistant and very flexible, with a six-pin connector at the end.

The cleaning sponge and cleaning wire for the soldering station

There’s also the cleaning sponge and cleaning wire that fit in the soldering iron stand.

a soldering iron stand

The soldering iron stand is in Hakko”s typical blue-and yellow color scheme and entirely made of iron. It feels sturdy and is heat-resistant. It holds the soldering pen perfectly in place.

the inside of the soldering iron stand

When you push the black button on the back of the soldering iron stand, it opens up so you can easily remove spilled solder and clean it. The entire metal inside comes out to make the cleaning process even easier.

the hakko soldering station

Just like the soldering stand, the soldering station is also rockin’ Hakko’s vibrant blue-and-yellow colors, of course. It is surprisingly heavy and has rubber feet underneath that keep it in place firmly. The casing is made from durable plastic. It has a red digital display with two push-buttons below. Under the buttons is an outlet where the soldering pen’s power cord connects.

Out the back of the soldering station comes a mains power cord. The FX-888D soldering station is available in 100-110V, 120V and 220-240V with according power cords.

To the side, there’s an on-off switch.

Settings

First time you use this device, it may be confusing to set up, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really simple. Once it’s set up to your personal preferences, you’ll most likely hardly use the setup menu again.

Let me walk you through the settings real quick:

To enter the settings menu, you need to hold the “up”-button and switch it on. You’ll see “01” on the display, which is the temperature unit setting.

F displayed on the screen of the soldering station

To switch between °C and °F, you can push the “up” button and confirm by pressing the “enter”-button.

setting 03 displayed on the soldering station

When you move up in the menu by pushing the “up” button, the next setting you’ll see is “03” (there’s no “02”), which is the safety temperature setting. When you enter it by pressing “enter”, you’ll see the safety temperature displayed. This is normally 270, but you can change any of the three digits by first pressing enter to select a digit and then change that digit by pressing the “up” button.

setting 11 displayed on the soldering station

Next in the menu is “11” (remarkably, there’s nothing between “03” and “11”), which is the manual temperature setting, where you can program 5 preset temperatures to select from when you’re using the soldering iron. 

This is a very useful feature, because once set, you won’t have to manually change the soldering iron’s temperature digit by digit every time you want to change it. Instead, you’ll be able to simply toggle between your five different preset temperatures with just a few clicks.

setting 14 displayed on the soldering iron station

The final setting you can change is “14”, the “password lock mode”.

If you want to lock this device’s settings, you can do so in this menu. You can choose between “0”: no lock, “1”: partial lock, and “2”: full lock.

For an in depth step-by-step guide of all the menu settings, check out our video.

Preparation

Allright, now that the settings are programmed, it’s time to put this soldering station through its paces. Let’s see what this device can do!

Startup

inserting the soldering iron cable in the station

The soldering pen connects to the soldering station with a round six-pin connector. The connection feels very sturdy and doesn’t feel like it’s going to wiggle itself loose. We’re off to a good start!

temperature display

After putting the soldering pen in its stand, and the soldering station’s on/off switch turned on, the display immediately shows the temperature that is set and it races toward that temperature. 

It really heats up fast, it only takes about 30 seconds to get from cold to 662°F. Of course, the heating speed will differ according to ambient temperature and the kind of soldering tip you’re using.

Tinning the soldering tip

wetting the soldering iron tip

Because you want to prevent oxidation and dry burning on your soldering tip, you want to always tin a new soldering tip before using it, like most of you will know.

The hot tip melts the tin immediately on contact, just like you’d expect from a quality soldering tip.

metal cleaning wire in action

After tinning the tip, I can easily remove the excess tin by swiping it across the wiring sponge. The sponge sits trapped in its aperture and the stand doesn’t move around while poking the soldering tip in the sponge, and you mustn’t be afraid of melting the stand because it’s all metal. Good design!

wetting the cleaning sponge

After wetting the soft sponge, it can also be used to clean the tip more thoroughly. Same experience here: it sits tight in its opening while swiping and the stand does not move. Passed!

Soldering tip tinned and ready to go!

Most common mistake to make

adjustment setting

Before continuing, let me first warn you about the most common mistake when using this soldering device:

When you long-press the “up”-button, “ADJ” appears. This does NOT mean that you can “adjust” temperature!! With “ADJ”, Hakko actually means “calibrate”(temperature). 

Should you proceed changing temperature thinking you are just adjusting the soldering temperature, you will be changing the calibration of the soldering iron, NOT its operating temperature! 

Adjusting operating temperature

showing the controls

It’s actually very simple to change the soldering temperature. Just long-press the “enter” button. The first digit starts blinking and it can be changed by pressing the “up” button. Press “enter” again and the middle digit starts blinking, now that can also be changed, and so on… After the right temperature has been dialed in, press “enter” to leave the temperature setting menu. It’s as simple as that!  

Real-World Testing

To test the Hakko FX-888D, I’ll perform different real-world tests to see how this soldering station does for different applications using different soldering tips. 

Because, just like us, you most likely won’t be using this soldering iron in controlled laboratory circumstances, I won’t be crushing numbers or pretend we’re doing scientific research. I’ll just show you plain and simple how this device performs for the daily stuff you’ll actually do with it: solder different wire gauges, repair soldering connections and replace electronic components.

Right, let’s see how it goes:

Small Gauge Wire Soldering

small gauge wire

With the temperature set at 650°F, I’m using the standard conical tip that comes with the soldering station to solder these small gauge wires together.

I always like to add some extra flux for better heat transmission and flow. I’m using lead-free solder.

Results

The heat transfer from the soldering tip to the small gauge wire is excellent with good flow, and the temperature does not fluctuate.

Test passed!

Medium Gauge Wire Soldering

medium gauge wire

Again, with the temperature set at 650°F, I’m using the standard conical tip that comes with the soldering station to solder these medium gauge wires together.

Like before, I’m adding some extra flux for better heat transmission and flow. I’m using the lead-free solder I used in the small gauge wire soldering test.

Results

The test with the medium gauge wire actually performed similarly well: The heat transfer from the soldering tip to the medium gauge wire is excellent too, with good flow and the temperature doesn’t budge.

Test passed too with flying colors!

Heavy Gauge Wire Soldering

thick gauge wire

For the heavy gauge wire soldering test we used the (slightly larger) small hoof shape soldering tip that we ordered separately. The result was only so-so, to be honest. As was to be expected with such a small soldering tip. Although it eventually did heat the copper wires enough to get some flow and connect most of the wire strands, it did not get it hot enough to solder all the strands together as you would expect from a perfect soldering job. 

This size of quality soldering tip is clearly not designed for soldering anything with a larger mass like a heavy gauge copper wire.

However, the soldering station itself was clearly not to blame. It kept its temperature steady the whole time. It was more than powerful enough for this job. I’m convinced that with a large soldering tip, it would have done a perfect job.

Results

Although the result of the heavy gauge wire soldering test using the small hoof shape soldering tip was not completely satisfying, in all fairness, this soldering station kept its soldering temperature constant the whole time without a problem. It is clearly not to blame. It was just the wrong soldering tip for the job. By simply switching to a large soldering tip with more contact surface and mass, I’m convinced that the result will be nothing less than perfect!

soldering result

Circuit board test

circuit board soldering

For the last test, we’re gonna remove some small wires from a circuit board. And as you can see, the solder immediately softens and the wires come loose instantly. It really is a piece of cake using this soldering station. Just get the tip in there and before you know it, it’s loose. 

Results

As expected after having done the previous tests, this great soldering station more than lives up to its expectations, also when it comes to loosening wires or components on a circuit board.

circuit board soldering

The Verdict

I really like this soldering station. It’s small and has a nicely designed soldering iron stand that holds both a cleaning sponge and metal wire. Both the station and the soldering iron stand stay put whatever you do, which is nice. While the controls are simple to use once you get used to them, its settings require a peak at the manual for clarity. The Hakko FX-888D performs great and has an easy-to-read digital display. You get Hakko build quality for a great price. 

You can even upgrade it to work with nitrogen if you want to take it to the next level in the future. Whether you like the looks, that’s a matter of personal taste. But it is safe to say that the color scheme is very recognizable.  

If you’re in the market for a soldering station that’s not too complicated nor expensive, yet handles everything you throw at it and will last for years to come, then the Hakko FX888D might be your perfect match.

Pros:

  • Affordable quality product
  • Compact, functional design
  • Reputed quality brand with 60+ years of experience
  • Long-term parts availability
  • Metal soldering iron stand can’t melt
  • Soldering iron stand has a removable tin spill tray
  • Simple to use
  • Heats up very quickly
  • Long, heat-resistant silicone power cord
  • High quality interchangeable soldering tips
  • Outstanding performance in wide heat range
  • Up to 5 temperature presets

Cons:

  • Menu settings can sometimes be confusing to program
  • No storage case included
  • Outspoken color/design: love it or leave it

Specifications

Product specifications

product specifications

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