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 Post subject: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2019 5:00 pm 


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I already have some decent soldering equipment, but I'm a sucker for cheap Chinese gear and having access to the cheaply available and very diverse set of Hakko T12 tips sounded appealing.

I thought I'd post this here since this station was strongly recommended by Voultar and RetroRGB and many here are probably looking for cheap & quality soldering equipment. Talking about this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGdHJ3BTh_c
(Buying Your First Soldering Station)

I would think twice before ordering that. To be clear, I think Voultar's review is fantastic and he's absolutely not at fault here. The problem is, there's a very good chance you're going to get a different product than the one he reviewed. There's a million variation of these T12 stations and even identical looking ones from the same manufacturer and seller have great variation. There are already plenty of comments of that nature on Voultar's original review and the Banggood product page. Let's have a look at what I received after clicking the Voultar approved purchase link.

First, there was something rattling inside my station. Here:

Image

Yeah, that would've shorted something out sooner or later. Very sloppy quality control / soldering.

Then I noticed that the soldering work was not quite as nice as on Voultar's specimen and my AC neutral was barely holding on by a cold solder joint:

Image

The battery for the RTC was also in a different spot:

Image

That's quite the creative placement, on top of the transformer. It actually gets quite warm there. Probably not the best idea.

My front panel / controller board also looks different:

Image

No more nice cables going from the front panel mounted jack, directly soldered to the controller board now.

I also received a slightly different looking handle:

Image

Rather crappy looking strain relief. I don't like the handle that much. The cable is soft / heat resistant silicone, but it feels stiff & heavy compared to others I have. The short grip to tip distance is nice, but I really don't like the cable. Minor point, but I don't like the motion switch thing in the handle, it rattles. I don't like rattling.

Then there is the recommended set of tips. They actually omitted some and send others duplicate. Generally, I think the tips I got are of low quality. First, they need a very long break-in time. At first they're very unstable and display ERROR etc., temp jumps around. Nothing unusual, but they needed at least 10+ mins to settle down. A few never were stable at very high temperatures.

Every tip requires temperature calibration as by default everything is completely (20-50C) off and tips have to be selected to load the calibration data again. There is a 3 point calibration procedure in the station. Unfortunately, even that doesn't completely fix it. Especially at low temperature the tips still overshoot quite a bit. Since I have some duplicate tips, I noticed that the calibration required varies a lot between different specimen of the same tip. So if you calibrate with knife edge tip 1 and then later use knife edge tip 2 you might be off be 25C or so easily. That's kind of a pain. It's just one of these stations where you never quite trust what you see on screen.

At 50 bucks or whatever it's not a terrible product, even with the issues I got, but I still wouldn't recommend it. You just don't know what you'll get. Might be better than what I got, could be a lot worse from some of the comments I've seen. It doesn't make sense to compare this to a high-end product, but the TS100 is in the same price range. Personal preference and all, I'd get that any day over this. You know what you're getting and everything just is so much sleeker and nicer about it (IMHO). The wide selection of cheap T12 tips is really the only reason to get one of these stations.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2019 6:35 pm 


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Thanks for reporting the soldering Iron.

I bought the ts100 mini and love how tiny and portable it is.
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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2019 6:50 pm 



Joined: 30 Jul 2017
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I also ordered one of these and have been using it since December with it powered on hours at a time with zero issues.

Mine visually appears to be the same revision as yours but without the cold solder joint + battery placement. Perhaps due to the large increase of orders the quality control has fell off.

I like the handle and a lot and barely notice the rattling. As for the tips: when I put a new one into the handle, it did take about 5-10mins to warm up but since then I have used various tips for a long time and no issues and they work flawlessly compared to my old £15 iron.

I would definitely ask for a refund if I were you. At least for the tips which they sent duplicates of.

When I first received it, I did open it up as noticed it was different to the one in Voultar's video but he said it's all the same. https://twitter.com/_whf/status/1082638887141421057

But I later found this on Youtube which shows the differences of both of the versions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZlq8CKKnSs


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:03 pm 


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The last pic is just like my iron cord. My OCD hates that and it make me think it's eventually going to pull right out of the iron.
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Last edited by FBX on Sat Mar 23, 2019 6:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:09 pm 


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Hoagtech wrote:
Thanks for reporting the soldering Iron.

I bought the ts100 mini and love how tiny and portable it is.


I start to appreciate it more and more. I think it's a great idea to put the controls and display on the iron itself. For instance, changing temperature on the T12 station requires pushing it in the encoder, rotating, pushing again. While pushing you have to hold the station down, otherwise you'll just push it of the desk. On the TS100 all you have to do is shift your thumb up and hit the button. Also, since everything is in the handle, you can use a mains earth referenced PSU and just run a super light 2-wire silicone cord to the TS100. It's noticeably lighter than the cord of the T12 handle here. The open source firmware has some neat features. There's even a gyroscope in the thing so it can flip the display when you swap between your left and right hand :D And hey, you can even run it on batteries.

Sefirosu789 wrote:
I also ordered one of these and have been using it since December with it powered on hours at a time with zero issues.

Mine visually appears to be the same revision as yours but without the cold solder joint + battery placement. Perhaps due to the large increase of orders the quality control has fell off.

I like the handle and a lot and barely notice the rattling. As for the tips: when I put a new one into the handle, it did take about 5-10mins to warm up but since then I have used various tips for a long time and no issues and they work flawlessly compared to my old £15 iron.

I would definitely ask for a refund if I were you. At least for the tips which they sent duplicates of.

When I first received it, I did open it up as noticed it was different to the one in Voultar's video but he said it's all the same. https://twitter.com/_whf/status/1082638887141421057

But I later found this on Youtube which shows the differences of both of the versions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZlq8CKKnSs


Yeah, looks like we got the same minus the shoddy solder work and your battery wasn't glued to the top of the transformer :D

Not having much look with BG customer support so far. I just got the station today but already explained the tip issue to them, I'm not sure they got what I'm complaining about :/

I think it's quite normal for cheap products like this to have such a variance. I remember my tip thermometer had sensors that were way to large for the unit. I complained and they just sent me another tip thermometer, this time with sensors to small to fit. Both thermometers look slightly different.

How's the temperature accuracy on your unit?

FBX wrote:
The last pic is just like my iron cord. My OCD hates that and it make me thing it's eventually going to pull right out of the iron.


I guess I'm in the minority here but I find everything about the handle kinda ill-fitting and janky / rattle-ly. The TS100 fills like a brick in comparison.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Fri Mar 22, 2019 10:26 pm 


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One more quick thing regarding calibration / tip fluctuations at high temp. To get useful temperature readings from the station you have to run the calibration procedure for each tip. This involves measuring the error at three temperatures. The first and highest is something like 435C. The problem is, most tips don't really seem to work correctly at temperatures >400C. That's not really a problem for soldering (how often do you really need such high temperature?), but it kinda seems to mess with the calibration. At these high temperatures the tip never seems to settle and the temp readout just jumps around.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 8:23 pm 


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Another fairly critical thing I forgot to mention.

The metal case of the station is not grounded. Plus, both fuses in the station are on the same side. Many people don't know this, but throughout Europe there often is no assigned phase / neutral in the electrical wiring and so the fuses could both be sitting on neutral. This means when any of the shoddy solder work breaks or various leftover metal bits in the station (see pic no 1) connect the metal case to mains voltage, nothing will protect you. Can't rely on the fuses, there's no grounding and I bet even the off-switch is single side only.

Absolutely don't buy this as your first soldering station. Get a TS100 which you can power safely from a major brand laptop PSU. Many cheap Chinese hot air, soldering etc. stations are burn your house down electrocution death traps. And that's perfectly fine, but you need to able to open them up, inspect them and remedy issues like poor insulation, wonky soldering, missing grounding / fuses etc. But if this is your first soldering iron I can only assume you're not comfortable with this and you should really stay away.

I've seen multiple reports on people contacting BG/KSGER directly about these issues, but as we all know...

Image

:D


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 4:58 am 



Joined: 02 Jan 2018
Posts: 49
ASDR shared some images of the transformer. The transformer appears to have only has functional isolation via magnet wire, not reinforced wire. There appears to be no margin tape. Without either, the transformer would fail creepage and clearance requirements for any offline transformer that is intended to provide a SELV output. If the transformer has a single fault (which can occur over time), it has the potential to expose the output to mains level voltages. Note: Magnet wire is considered a conductor during safety evaluation.

The board is actually cut for creepage, and used an optocoupler...I just don't think they put any creepage/clearance inside the actual transformer.

That being said:
1) I don't have a unit and I did not dissect a transformer. My comments are based off of a review of photographs and my experience designing transformers to meet safety standards.
2) I am not sure to what safety standard, if any, the unit is intended to be compliant to. If the secondary isn't required to be SELV, the transformer is fine.
3) There is a "new" wire, that looks like magnet wire, but it provides reinforced isolation. I personally have never seen it used in a low cost commercial product as of the date of this post. The color also doesn't appear to match (different color of amber/natural).

Would I throw it out? No. but keep in mind that 115V can kill you, or start your house on fire. Additionally, a lot of products (e.g. military) are only tested to meet a Hipot spec and are not evaluated to a safety standard. Most items bought in a physical store are evaluated to a safety standard for insurance purposes.

Personally, I'd not leave it plugged in or make sure there is a physical switch that turns it off (not sure about the back -- or keep it on a power strip).

As much as I hate working with UL, I strive to only use UL/CSA/VDE/IEC/ETL, etc power products when isolating from mains.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 5:35 pm 


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If you are serious about soldering, put in a saved search on ebay for jbc. Affordable used ones popup every so often. The number of available tips is mind blowing.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:08 pm 


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xwred5 wrote:
ASDR shared some images of the transformer. The transformer appears to have only has functional isolation via magnet wire, not reinforced wire. There appears to be no margin tape. Without either, the transformer would fail creepage and clearance requirements for any offline transformer that is intended to provide a SELV output. If the transformer has a single fault (which can occur over time), it has the potential to expose the output to mains level voltages. Note: Magnet wire is considered a conductor during safety evaluation.


Thanks for your detailed analysis!

If anybody else wants to have a look at the transformer:

Spoiler: show
Image
Image


This makes the placement of the battery on top of the transformer double bad. If it leaks, it'll likely eat away at the thin coating of the magnet wire.

I don't think the mains switch is going to help you much, at least outside of the US. Like I said, depending on your wiring and orientation of the plug you might still have ground and hot going into the SMPS with the power switch in the off position, even bypassing both fuses.

As far as personal safety, the case is not electrically connected and the iron tip etc. is grounded, so any transformer fault should not cause a shock hazard on the outside. Grounding the case can be done and is probably a good idea. Let's hope any fire hazard will be contained by the relatively sturdy metal case :D

Also, there are versions of this station that do not contain a PSU and require an external unit. That's probably a better buy since you can just use a quality laptop PSU and do not have to worry about receiving a station with potentially dangerous faults involving mains voltage.

citrus3000psi wrote:
If you are serious about soldering, put in a saved search on ebay for jbc. Affordable used ones popup every so often. The number of available tips is mind blowing.


That's a bit like, some of us are talking about legroom in economy class, then you pop in and suggest that everybody serious about flying should look for a good deal on a Gulfstream :D Here entry level JBC stations are >400EUR and tips start at 25EUR. Don't get me wrong, if I did this for a living that's exactly what I'd buy, but it's in a different order of magnitude than T12 clones / TS100.

btw, do you use the T245 or T210 cartridges? My intuition would be to just get the smaller handle, but I wonder if there's ever a situation where I'd need some of the beefier tips.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:23 pm 


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xwred5 wrote:

Personally, I'd not leave it plugged in or make sure there is a physical switch that turns it off (not sure about the back -- or keep it on a power strip).


It has a physical throw switch on the back, and I keep it on a high quality power strip anyway.
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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:27 pm 



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Posts: 502
Look, I just want to add some perspective to this. Anyone who's known me, used my guides and seen my posts over the past 7-8 years knows what my work looks like. In fact, anyone who joined some of the livestreams I've done has seen what it's REALLY like: I'm not that great, but I'm patient, try my best and eventually get it right.

That all changed OVERNIGHT when I switched to this station and it's included chisel tip. My work looked the way it did in my guides on the FIRST try...not constantly re-doing to get it "picture worthy". The newer chisel tip was slightly better, but I used the one it came with for weeks before the other arrived and everything I did was easier, faster and came out better.

So, maybe Bangood sold out of the "good" ones and shipped different guts in the same case? Maybe they sold 1000 and the handful of people here just got the 1% that have issues? I'm not going to pretend to know what's going on, I'll just say this: With no disrespect meant to the people in this thread, if you were thinking of buying one, don't let this thread discourage you. Maybe you'll get a bad one and need to send it back? Maybe yours is just 'okay', but it'll be good as a backup? Maybe it'll be awesome. Either way, it's $50. That's a fraction of the cost of most other stations!

For $50 I think it's worth trying. I won't post links, to avoid people thinking I'm shilling: Just check Amazon for KSGER T12.


...oh and I feel the same way about my ZD-915. HOLY CRAP, what a difference! I desoldered a NES PPU in like two minutes on the FIRST try!!


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:59 pm 


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retrorgb wrote:
Look, I just want to add some perspective to this. Anyone who's known me, used my guides and seen my posts over the past 7-8 years knows what my work looks like. In fact, anyone who joined some of the livestreams I've done has seen what it's REALLY like: I'm not that great, but I'm patient, try my best and eventually get it right.

That all changed OVERNIGHT when I switched to this station and it's included chisel tip. My work looked the way it did in my guides on the FIRST try...not constantly re-doing to get it "picture worthy". The newer chisel tip was slightly better, but I used the one it came with for weeks before the other arrived and everything I did was easier, faster and came out better.

So, maybe Bangood sold out of the "good" ones and shipped different guts in the same case? Maybe they sold 1000 and the handful of people here just got the 1% that have issues? I'm not going to pretend to know what's going on, I'll just say this: With no disrespect meant to the people in this thread, if you were thinking of buying one, don't let this thread discourage you. Maybe you'll get a bad one and need to send it back? Maybe yours is just 'okay', but it'll be good as a backup? Maybe it'll be awesome. Either way, it's $50. That's a fraction of the cost of most other stations!

For $50 I think it's worth trying. I won't post links, to avoid people thinking I'm shilling: Just check Amazon for KSGER T12.


...oh and I feel the same way about my ZD-915. HOLY CRAP, what a difference! I desoldered a NES PPU in like two minutes on the FIRST try!!

problem is with banggood you really can't send anything back, in fact their CS is just horrible overall

getting one from amazon seems like a much better idea so there is some accountability if you get a dud

BTW yeah the ZD-915 is godly, I adore mine


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:22 pm 


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retrorgb wrote:
Look, I just want to add some perspective to this. Anyone who's known me, used my guides and seen my posts over the past 7-8 years knows what my work looks like. In fact, anyone who joined some of the livestreams I've done has seen what it's REALLY like: I'm not that great, but I'm patient, try my best and eventually get it right.

That all changed OVERNIGHT when I switched to this station and it's included chisel tip. My work looked the way it did in my guides on the FIRST try...not constantly re-doing to get it "picture worthy". The newer chisel tip was slightly better, but I used the one it came with for weeks before the other arrived and everything I did was easier, faster and came out better.

So, maybe Bangood sold out of the "good" ones and shipped different guts in the same case? Maybe they sold 1000 and the handful of people here just got the 1% that have issues? I'm not going to pretend to know what's going on, I'll just say this: With no disrespect meant to the people in this thread, if you were thinking of buying one, don't let this thread discourage you. Maybe you'll get a bad one and need to send it back? Maybe yours is just 'okay', but it'll be good as a backup? Maybe it'll be awesome. Either way, it's $50. That's a fraction of the cost of most other stations!

For $50 I think it's worth trying. I won't post links, to avoid people thinking I'm shilling: Just check Amazon for KSGER T12.


...oh and I feel the same way about my ZD-915. HOLY CRAP, what a difference! I desoldered a NES PPU in like two minutes on the FIRST try!!


I actually picked up a ZD-915 after you recommended it again. It has some rather questionable design decisions on the inside, but for the price it's damn impressive, I agree. The procedure for removing the solder tank thingie is a total pain, but, well, I'll survive.

But I disagree on your risk assessment with devices like the T12.

First, let me be clear that I frequently buy low-cost Chinese made & designed products. I have a lot of shipments from Bg/Ali/eBay on the way currently for all kinds of parts and gizmos. The stuff is often so cheap that even if you just cannibalize for the parts it's worth it. Sometimes it's total crap, but often it's absolutely amazing what a neat tool or gadget you can buy for like ten bucks. So my argument here is not to generally shit on affordable gear from China.

I'm mostly talking about actual safety issues here. And I think this is important especially since this was widely recommended as a good station for absolute beginners. First, Voultar claims "These links (affiliates) will get you the EXACT equipment that I'm using, not the crap". Which is of course not the case. This is completely expected and you can see this result on any forum thread where a hundred people bought one of these cheap products, the manufacturing process, parts and design of these things changes all the time. It's absolutely normal. I know this, but a beginner watching Voultar's video might not and would get a false sense of security that he/she will be receiving a safe and quality product. These devices often have very serious flaws. Not only in performance, but in terms of electrocute & burn your house down. We've seen a few issues here with the T12 clones, but the ZD-915 is also not unproblematic. They often shipped with mains cables that had neutral & phase swapped. Does your ZD915 sometimes make chirping sounds and have a flashing display, even when it's turned off? That's the reason. Of course in Europe you have that issue regardless of the cable and have to reverse the plug to fix it. It's a bad design. That infamous Atten 858D that Voultar also uses has its share of issues, too. You can find plenty of discussion of useless fuses, handpieces that melt themselves and other fun stuff (DEADLY WIRING FAULT ; Atten 858D+ - http://www.eevblog.com/forum/chat/deadl ... k-station/) all over the internet. In general, I'd highly recommend to look at the EEVBlog forum thread for each of these devices. They always have a detailed discussion on the performance and safety issues, the variations and how to fix the various ailments. I'd never consider plugging in one of these mistery devices before reading the expert analysis and doing an inspection of the device to make sure I don't get electrocuted on first use.

You always give a big fat warning every time you talk about working on CRTs. Totally agree. You should do the same here. If you buy a 10$ transistor tester with a 9V battery from AliExpress and it sucks, big deal. But every time you purchase a device that runs directly from the mains, there's a very real risk of injury. That's why I had recommended a TS100 or a T12 clone with DC input. Those rely on an external PSU, which you can buy locally with a much better safety record. If you're a total beginner and you're not comfortable reading the EEVBlog thread, opening up, inspecting & potentially mitigating risks, absolutely do not buy a 110/220V T12 station or any other similar cheap device like a ZD915 or Atten 858D. You're health is more important than saving a few bucks.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:36 pm 


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the (only) station on amazon which matches the specimen in voultar's video exactly, is up to $89US on amazon


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:34 pm 


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I just got one of these stations this week, and reading this thread prompted me to open it up and check it out. Unfortunately I found the same result as ASDR. Exactly the same infact. Except it was my ground AC connection that looked dodgy. Battery stuck to the transformer which consequently resulted in the lid of the station applying pressure to it. Handle connection soldered directly to the front PCB. I also have a rattle in my handle too. Despite all that, the station still works fine although mine also suffers from dodgy calibration. Setting it to 300C, I measured 380C! Needless to say, I've re-calibrated it to the best of my ability.

Disappointing, but it works, and I can't complain for the price.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:44 pm 


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ASDR wrote:

You always give a big fat warning every time you talk about working on CRTs. Totally agree. You should do the same here. If you buy a 10$ transistor tester with a 9V battery from AliExpress and it sucks, big deal. But every time you purchase a device that runs directly from the mains, there's a very real risk of injury. That's why I had recommended a TS100 or a T12 clone with DC input. Those rely on an external PSU, which you can buy locally with a much better safety record. If you're a total beginner and you're not comfortable reading the EEVBlog thread, opening up, inspecting & potentially mitigating risks, absolutely do not buy a 110/220V T12 station or any other similar cheap device like a ZD915 or Atten 858D. You're health is more important than saving a few bucks.


Apples and oranges. The CRT warning is someone fiddling around inside those things can get severely injured or even killed, even with the TV unplugged. That CRT is highly dangerous unless discharged right before servicing.

Also lets not forget the KSGER was recommended by Voultar as a beginner's first cheap soldering station, not a "you're a professional and this is what you should use". For $50, it's totally worth it. I have one and it's worlds easier to do SM soldering than my old Weller. Heats up within seconds, the tip is awesome, and I get projects done in a half the time. My only minor gripe was the cheap-looking cord neck at the base of the iron, but again, we're talking $50. For what you get, it's actually quite the nifty soldering station to have.
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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2019 10:49 pm 


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Spoiler: show
ASDR wrote:
I already have some decent soldering equipment, but I'm a sucker for cheap Chinese gear and having access to the cheaply available and very diverse set of Hakko T12 tips sounded appealing.

I thought I'd post this here since this station was strongly recommended by Voultar and RetroRGB and many here are probably looking for cheap & quality soldering equipment. Talking about this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGdHJ3BTh_c
(Buying Your First Soldering Station)

I would think twice before ordering that. To be clear, I think Voultar's review is fantastic and he's absolutely not at fault here. The problem is, there's a very good chance you're going to get a different product than the one he reviewed. There's a million variation of these T12 stations and even identical looking ones from the same manufacturer and seller have great variation. There are already plenty of comments of that nature on Voultar's original review and the Banggood product page. Let's have a look at what I received after clicking the Voultar approved purchase link.

First, there was something rattling inside my station. Here:

Image

Yeah, that would've shorted something out sooner or later. Very sloppy quality control / soldering.

Then I noticed that the soldering work was not quite as nice as on Voultar's specimen and my AC neutral was barely holding on by a cold solder joint:

Image

The battery for the RTC was also in a different spot:

Image

That's quite the creative placement, on top of the transformer. It actually gets quite warm there. Probably not the best idea.

My front panel / controller board also looks different:

Image

No more nice cables going from the front panel mounted jack, directly soldered to the controller board now.

I also received a slightly different looking handle:

Image

Rather crappy looking strain relief. I don't like the handle that much. The cable is soft / heat resistant silicone, but it feels stiff & heavy compared to others I have. The short grip to tip distance is nice, but I really don't like the cable. Minor point, but I don't like the motion switch thing in the handle, it rattles. I don't like rattling.

Then there is the recommended set of tips. They actually omitted some and send others duplicate. Generally, I think the tips I got are of low quality. First, they need a very long break-in time. At first they're very unstable and display ERROR etc., temp jumps around. Nothing unusual, but they needed at least 10+ mins to settle down. A few never were stable at very high temperatures.

Every tip requires temperature calibration as by default everything is completely (20-50C) off and tips have to be selected to load the calibration data again. There is a 3 point calibration procedure in the station. Unfortunately, even that doesn't completely fix it. Especially at low temperature the tips still overshoot quite a bit. Since I have some duplicate tips, I noticed that the calibration required varies a lot between different specimen of the same tip. So if you calibrate with knife edge tip 1 and then later use knife edge tip 2 you might be off be 25C or so easily. That's kind of a pain. It's just one of these stations where you never quite trust what you see on screen.

At 50 bucks or whatever it's not a terrible product, even with the issues I got, but I still wouldn't recommend it. You just don't know what you'll get. Might be better than what I got, could be a lot worse from some of the comments I've seen. It doesn't make sense to compare this to a high-end product, but the TS100 is in the same price range. Personal preference and all, I'd get that any day over this. You know what you're getting and everything just is so much sleeker and nicer about it (IMHO). The wide selection of cheap T12 tips is really the only reason to get one of these stations.



Yeah, sounds like you got a turd. I'd definitely submit a return and definitely complain about Q.A..

Nonetheless, I'd still recommend the station that I reviewed to those looking for a solid performer that is only $50 USD.

As for the power supply section, I found that it was quite sensibly designed. A lot of your criticism is certainly reasonable, but some of it doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Quote:
I don't think the mains switch is going to help you much, at least outside of the US. Like I said, depending on your wiring and orientation of the plug you might still have ground and hot going into the SMPS with the power switch in the off position, even bypassing both fuses.


This doesn't make any sense to me. This isn't how the mains input is wired on the unit that I reviewed. You have ample protection, there. Unless your unit is radically different from the units that I have, which they seem to be identical.

Quote:

As far as personal safety, the case is not electrically connected and the iron tip etc. is grounded, so any transformer fault should not cause a shock hazard on the outside. Grounding the case can be done and is probably a good idea. Let's hope any fire hazard will be contained by the relatively sturdy metal case :D


This would make sense if the electronics were bonded to the chassis while not referencing mains earth. Buuuuuut, the electronics aren't bonded to the chassis... The electronics are completely isolated from the housing. The tip itself does however reference earth.

Sorry, but I find most of your "house exploding in a fire" claims to be remarkably unfounded for the unit that I disassembled, reviewed, and inspected. But you are completely entitled to your opinion. I obviously can't comment on all of the different permutations of this station. I've yet to see KSGER ship a unit that deviated drastically from the units that I possess. I went through maybe 10 of these.

Once again, I thoroughly understand some of your criticisms here, but I certainly don't agree with the anecdotes.

I would never recommend something to anyone if it wasn't good enough for me. That's always been my rule.

Image

I have two of them, I use them both everyday. I have copious amounts of money tied up in various enterprise grade soldering/rework equipment and I find that the KSGER T12 is the best run for the money after a good tuning in the sub $100 pricepoint. The goal was to find equipment that's in fiscal reach of anyone's budget so nobody gets left behind in the hobby. I'm not going to argue back and forth about it. But I did want to make a few points that I felt needeth be made.
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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:15 am 


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Voultar/FBX/RetroRGB: Just to be clear, my main concern here is safety, which doesn't really have a price tag IMHO. Like you said, it's 50$, it performs as good as you could possibly expect for such a super low price point. From Hakko/Weller you still get those ancient station designs with separate heater and tip and they cost way more. But if something electrocutes you, "it was only 50 bucks" isn't going to be very comforting.

Voultar wrote:
Quote:
I don't think the mains switch is going to help you much, at least outside of the US. Like I said, depending on your wiring and orientation of the plug you might still have ground and hot going into the SMPS with the power switch in the off position, even bypassing both fuses.


This doesn't make any sense to me. This isn't how the mains input is wired on the unit that I reviewed. You have ample protection, there. Unless your unit is radically different from the units that I have, which they seem to be identical.


Unless I made a dumb mistake, the fuse in the plug case, the fuse on the SMPS PCB and the power switch are all sitting on a single line. That's fine in the US (unless you have your outlets wired wrong or one of those dodgy cables the Chinese like to ship with their products). But in many countries there's no fixed assignment for phase/neutral. So the switch and both fuses could be sitting on neutral. I had dodgy solder work and metal pieces in my station, something could easily come lose or short. I don't know how likely those coin cell batteries are to leak, but there's one glued directly on top of the mains transformer as well. If anything scrapes/shorts against the case, it's not earthed like metal case appliances usually are. All it takes is one component lead that wasn't properly trimmed that makes contact with the case. No switch, no fuse, no grounding would help you if you touched the case.

Voultar wrote:
This would make sense if the electronics were bonded to the chassis while not referencing mains earth. Buuuuuut, the electronics aren't bonded to the chassis... The electronics are completely isolated from the housing.


Devices with metal cases are supposed to be earthed so that when a wire etc. comes loose inside them they don't put mains voltage on their case but safely deflect that to ground and hopefully trigger a ground fault in the circuit breaker. That's why a fridge or stove has their metal case earthed, even if nothing electrically is intended to be connected.

Voultar wrote:
I have two of them, I use them both everyday. I have copious amounts of money tied up in various enterprise grade soldering/rework equipment and I find that the KSGER T12 is the best run for the money after a good tuning in the sub $100 pricepoint. The goal was to find equipment that's in fiscal reach of anyone's budget so nobody gets left behind in the hobby. I'm not going to argue back and forth about it. But I did want to make a few points that I felt needeth be made.


Absolutely, your videos & reviews & recommendations are much appreciated. I think many of those cheaply priced devices like the T12 clones, the ZD-915 or the Atten 858D are pretty unbeatable at their price points. But you can find plenty of documented cases of really serious quality control lapses with these devices and what your device will actually look like on the inside is hard to predict. So I'd still strongly recommend to treat any of these machines with caution. Read up on issues others have found, inspect the cable that might have come with your device. Open it up, check for loose wires and bad solder joints. Inspect the power switch and fuses. Check for grounding on metal cases. And if you don't trust yourself with these things, don't buy devices that directly take mains power from places with untrustworthy quality control. Some battery powered transistor tester is not going to do much harm, but a anything involving mains power is a real risk.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:52 am 



Joined: 02 Jan 2018
Posts: 49
What I like about this community is the opportunity to learn and become better.

Regarding the supply that ASDR has, the potential issues are not personal preferences, they are likely tangable violations of established international safety standards.

Rough Definitions:

Creepage and clearance distances are defined by the application/standard, voltages, and "pollution degree". These are the unknowns.

Pollution degree is basically "how much dust can get in this thing?" Dust has metallic particles in it. Dust over time and short distances can yield primary to secondary shorting.

Clearance is shortest path through air between two conductors.

Creepage is the distances along the surface between two conductors. This is important because the dust sits here, and also because of the CTI of the plastics used.

Magnet wire typically used in China is 130°C Polyurethane coated. The wire is solder strippable (i.e. the insulation is damaged by heat), and is easy to mechanically damage. I can tell where most parts are made by the color of the magnet wire. In the USA, magnet wire is red, because when you scratch the wire, you can see exposed copper. The amber/natural insulation kind of looks like copper, so when it is damaged, it's hard to be seen as a defect. Because of these reasons, magnet wire is considered a conductor by UL.

Reinforced isolation has redundancy in it's isolation such that if one insulator is damaged there is backup. For example, if you took a roll of tape and stuck a pin through it and then used that tape, on the first layer you would have a hole. As you add layers, the likelihood of two holes lining up is very small, at three layers it's statically non existent. You can buy triple insulated wire, which is reinforced. Reinforced wire is not considered a conductor.

Three things stand out, all highlighted in the picture below:

1) The primary and secondary use magnet wire. Because, I can physically see the wires on the top of the transformer, I suspect there is no margin tape for internal transformer creepage/clearance.
2) A metal heat sink is placed across the creepage cut out, across the isolation barrier on both sides. :shock:
3) The magnet wire is solder stripped and near the core. The core is conductive MnZn ferrite. If they don't dress the wires correctly and they don't solder the wires correctly, you will short through the core (creepage/clearance violation).

Spoiler: show
Image


I am not trying to shit on the efforts to help get more people involved in the maintenance of their retro consoles, or the performance of the actual iron. There are potential design flaws that I personally find questionable.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 11:34 am 


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I'll take your word on the transformer and reiterate my concerns.

- Case is not grounded
- Fuses & switch single-side only, might not actually disconnect device from mains, depending on the wiring in your house (happy to be proven wrong if I made a judgment error)
- Shoddy solder work
- Loose metal piece left in device
- Battery glued on top of transformer
- No way to know what your unit will look like on the inside

All that needs to happen for this to be a deadly device is a connection between the 230V AC inside the device and the case. Then if you touch an exposed metal part, like this corner on my station...

Image

How can this happen? Loose wiring / bad solder joints, some metal piece rattling around the device or a component leg that is not trimmed and scrapes against the case. As for the latter, see this review from Louis Rossmann of a Chinese fake Hakko:

Image

Yeah, nothing unusual. And if that happens, there might be no fuse to protect you. The station could even be turned off since the switch is single-side. Just plugging it in and touching the case would be enough. It's not grounded, so you'd be the grounding.

You can find videos and forum posts documenting these type of issues with inexpensive Chinese electronics equipment all over the internet. Knock yourself out. It's not uncommon, it's not a conspiracy theory.

If you're able to troubleshoot these issues device like the T12, ZD915, 958D+ can be a great bargain. If you can't, stay far way. "It was only 50 bucks, what's the worst that could happen" are not the best last words.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:30 pm 



Joined: 01 Mar 2018
Posts: 538
I remember purchasing this and all its accessories when RetroRGB detailed it in his podcast months ago. He mentioned that BangGood was contacted and guaranteed to ship the exact item listed on the site, not a cheap knock off. So I ordered. I've yet to open it, but I assume I'll find it's the same lower quality as others that opened theirs. I'll report back when I do this.

I blame BangGood completely. They promised to deliver a certain product for a certain price which they didn't do. They also claimed the item was in stock when I ordered, but after further communication attempts, it was out of stock, finally shipped over a month later. They would only communicate via their own contact system maybe once a day, despite further contact attempts. In all, it's worked well the dozen or so times I've used it since, but I still have reservations after this thread.

And taking this all in context, I'll certainly not order from BangGood again.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:14 pm 



Joined: 01 Oct 2011
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Just my 2 cents: You get what you pay for. Cheap Chinese gear works until it doesn't. If you invest the money in more expensive Hakko or Weller professional-grade gear, with proper care, it will literally last a lifetime.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 1:49 pm 



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I have no real say in this as I don't have the T12, but I'm just going to say that you can get a used Hakko FX-888D (which I have and is fantastic) for around $50 on eBay. So if the selling point of the T12 is that it's only $50, why not spend the same $50 on something that you know won't electrocute you?


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:11 pm 


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ldeveraux wrote:
I remember purchasing this and all its accessories when RetroRGB detailed it in his podcast months ago. He mentioned that BangGood was contacted and guaranteed to ship the exact item listed on the site, not a cheap knock off. So I ordered. I've yet to open it, but I assume I'll find it's the same lower quality as others that opened theirs. I'll report back when I do this.

I blame BangGood completely. They promised to deliver a certain product for a certain price which they didn't do. They also claimed the item was in stock when I ordered, but after further communication attempts, it was out of stock, finally shipped over a month later. They would only communicate via their own contact system maybe once a day, despite further contact attempts. In all, it's worked well the dozen or so times I've used it since, but I still have reservations after this thread.

And taking this all in context, I'll certainly not order from BangGood again.


I bought stuff from Bg in the past, just bought something I hope will be real neat and I'll certainly buy from them in the future. I found their customer service reasonable given the huge time zone difference and language barrier. They've been generous with refunds and store credit for lesser issues. I know what to expect and have no issue with them or AliExpress or Chinese sellers on eBay.

The issue here is telling beginners "buy this - it'll be safe, it'll be high quality". Anybody who has any experience with buying such products will tell you that is incredibly naive and out of touch with reality. If you buy a JBC station you'll probably get one with high quality capacitors, if you buy random Chinese thing you'll get whatever is on sale this week on the Shenzhen electronic market. And maybe an unsafe transformer, loose metal bits and an ungrounded case as a bonus. The quality, parts & design of these products are all over the place. One batch might be totally different from the next. Chinese products aren't bad or good, they likely come from the same factory as your western high-end brand. But they generally lack the quality control and safety checks that those brands will do.

Simply assume that you're paying 10% of the price of a major brand product and in return you get something that might be totally unsafe, miscalibrated, slightly defective, arriving way to late. If that's that's the case, complain and get a partial refund and have a fun weekend project fixing it up. If you go into this with any other expectations, you've been misled. Hopefully this thread can help people to not suffer bodily harm from this mistake.

thebigcheese wrote:
I have no real say in this as I don't have the T12, but I'm just going to say that you can get a used Hakko FX-888D (which I have and is fantastic) for around $50 on eBay. So if the selling point of the T12 is that it's only $50, why not spend the same $50 on something that you know won't electrocute you?


The Hakko 888 is a quality product, but uses the older style technology where the tip and the heater/sensor are separate. It's going to perform noticeably worse than newer technology irons like what you get in the Hakko FX951/FM203 or gear from JBC, TS100/80, T12 clones etc. I would not recommend anybody to buy an iron in 2019 that does not use integrated heater/sensor/tip cartridges. The thermal capacity, temperature stability and warm up time are very different between these two technologies.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:30 pm 



Joined: 21 Aug 2016
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I'll defer to you, I know nothing about iron technology. I'm just saying that for beginner/occasional use, it's been pretty great. Heats up in like 10 seconds and has worked well for all my soldering and desoldering needs. Were I to use it more frequently, yeah, might want to upgrade, I'm just offering it as an alternative to the T12 for something that will work well for a beginner (and, frankly, even non-beginners) without all the fuss of making sure it's not going to electrocute you. Or having to pay any more than you would for a T12.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 4:41 pm 


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thebigcheese wrote:
I'll defer to you, I know nothing about iron technology. I'm just saying that for beginner/occasional use, it's been pretty great. Heats up in like 10 seconds and has worked well for all my soldering and desoldering needs. Were I to use it more frequently, yeah, might want to upgrade, I'm just offering it as an alternative to the T12 for something that will work well for a beginner (and, frankly, even non-beginners) without all the fuss of making sure it's not going to electrocute you. Or having to pay any more than you would for a T12.


The general idea is, that the older irons have a heater and sensor and the tip is just loosely stuck on top. There is nothing like thermal paste between the heater and tip, so you can imagine the heat transfer is not optimal. Also there's a lag to the sensor in the other direction. If you wipe your iron a bit to hard on the sponge you can easily drop the tip temperature by a 100C or more, but it'll take a while for the sensor to even notice the drop and then again longer for it to heat the tip back up. With something like the T12 you can see it ramping up power the instant you touch the sponge or a large ground plane etc. It's just more responsive, which in turn allows soldering at lower temperatures because you don't have to compensate so much for temperature drops. Anybody who cares can find plenty of videos on YT demonstrating the difference and then decide if it matters to you.

If you want to avoid most of the risk with the Chinese devices, you can always opt for an iron that's powered from DC like the TS100 or the T12 clones without an internal PSU. You can pair those up with a quality and inexpensive laptop power supply from Dell/HP etc. that conforms to all your local safety standards, so there's no risk of getting exposed to mains voltage due to a fault in the station.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:52 pm 



Joined: 30 Jul 2017
Posts: 82
ASDR wrote:
Yeah, looks like we got the same minus the shoddy solder work and your battery wasn't glued to the top of the transformer :D

Not having much look with BG customer support so far. I just got the station today but already explained the tip issue to them, I'm not sure they got what I'm complaining about :/

I think it's quite normal for cheap products like this to have such a variance. I remember my tip thermometer had sensors that were way to large for the unit. I complained and they just sent me another tip thermometer, this time with sensors to small to fit. Both thermometers look slightly different.

How's the temperature accuracy on your unit?


Hopefully you can get it sorted with Banggood. Mine never goes +/-3C out of spec and is pretty spot on and certainly good enough for me. As I said - when I put a brand new (unused) tip in it does require 5-10min to adjust/wear in, but after that it's fantastic.

retrorgb wrote:
Look, I just want to add some perspective to this. Anyone who's known me, used my guides and seen my posts over the past 7-8 years knows what my work looks like. In fact, anyone who joined some of the livestreams I've done has seen what it's REALLY like: I'm not that great, but I'm patient, try my best and eventually get it right.

That all changed OVERNIGHT when I switched to this station and it's included chisel tip. My work looked the way it did in my guides on the FIRST try...not constantly re-doing to get it "picture worthy". The newer chisel tip was slightly better, but I used the one it came with for weeks before the other arrived and everything I did was easier, faster and came out better.

So, maybe Bangood sold out of the "good" ones and shipped different guts in the same case? Maybe they sold 1000 and the handful of people here just got the 1% that have issues? I'm not going to pretend to know what's going on, I'll just say this: With no disrespect meant to the people in this thread, if you were thinking of buying one, don't let this thread discourage you. Maybe you'll get a bad one and need to send it back? Maybe yours is just 'okay', but it'll be good as a backup? Maybe it'll be awesome. Either way, it's $50. That's a fraction of the cost of most other stations!

For $50 I think it's worth trying. I won't post links, to avoid people thinking I'm shilling: Just check Amazon for KSGER T12.


...oh and I feel the same way about my ZD-915. HOLY CRAP, what a difference! I desoldered a NES PPU in like two minutes on the FIRST try!!


I agree. Although my I haven't tried any of the pro-brands like Hakko, the KSGER was such a huge step-up from my shitty £15 iron. Soldering is so much more easier and faster with it. For the 40 or so I paid it is definitely worth it imo. As for the tips I've used the D16 tip and knife edge tip for so many hours and it hasn't oxidised or anything which was surprising as due to the price I thought they would need replacing very quickly.

The ZD-915 is great as well just needs a lot of maintenance and cleaning to keep it working.


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:30 pm 


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I agree with voultar, worrying about the thing killing you or burning your house down is pretty silly

That's why we have circuit breakers

All that being said, doing business with any Chinese company direct without some sort of domestic importer to stand behind the transaction is naive at best, and expecting them to honor a verbal agreement to not ship differing units is similarly unwise


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 Post subject: Re: Voultar recommended T12 soldering station, buyer beware
PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:03 pm 


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maxtherabbit wrote:
I agree with voultar, worrying about the thing killing you or burning your house down is pretty silly

That's why we have circuit breakers


Depends. If your electrical system has a RCD/GFI, you're going to get a good zap but are probably fine. With just a normal mains fuse, I wouldn't take my chances :D It's natural to assume that the electrical system everywhere in the world works like it does where you live (i.e. polarized plugs), but then you're in for some nasty surprises. Grounding the case from the factory would've removed a fair bit of hazard, even the ZD915 designers had the sense to get that right.


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