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Topic: Weller WX soldering station review (Read 18172 times) previous topic - next topic

Weller WX soldering station review

I've been wanting some SMT tweezers for the home lab lately.  Checking out various options I saw the JBC, Weller, and Metcal, among others.  The JBC looked quite nice, but I couldn't quite justify the cost.  The older Metcal I use a lot at work, and they are ok but large and clunky.  The newer Metcal (OKI) ones are nice too, but still we're talking $1000.  I found a new Weller WX 2021 for $550 USD so I went for it.  This has the WXMT tweezers and the WXMP fine tip iron.  I also picked up a WXP120 iron for $88.

I couldn't find a whole lot out there on this iron, so I'll do a couple videos; here's the first where I take a look inside.
http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F1Fx0vjU5M

I've traced out the RJ-12 comms pinout and I'm working on the protocol now.  The comms is galvanically isolated.  Signaling seems to be 1200 bps, 7N1.
Code: [Select]
Pin    Name   Description
1      OUT-A  Robot output opto anode
2      GND
3      RIN    Receive (input)
4      TOUT  Transmit (output)
5      GND
6      OUT-K  Robot output opto cathode

Stay tuned for another video where I demonstrate the use of the iron, tweezers, and user interface.

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #1
Here's the second video.  You can see the performance of the hand piece is impressive.  The WXMP warms from room temperature to 320 C in 4 seconds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xM0wdOvNHzk

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #2
The magnet in the holder activates a reed switch in the handle, this controls the idle/off timers. One thing you could have shown off in the video is how easy it is to change tips.

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #3
[quote author="andersm"]The magnet in the holder activates a reed switch in the handle, this controls the idle/off timers. One thing you could have shown off in the video is how easy it is to change tips.[/quote]

Yes I guess that the small handle doesn't have the space needed for an accelerometer.  I'll do some more tests on this.  The other two handles certainly do have an accelerometer, and do not use a magnet.  I noticed if I'm too gentle removing the handles that they don't come out of idle, but the way to solve that is to rotate the handle axially and this instantly brings it online.

Tips are easy to change, maybe even a slight advantage beyond the Metcal ones because you don't need to grab the hot part of the tip.  I change tips so infrequently that this isn't a big selling point for myself.

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #4
[quote author="andersm"]The magnet in the holder activates a reed switch in the handle, this controls the idle/off timers.[/quote]

Hmm, I just did a test where I gently removed the pencil from the holder.  It remained in idle standby.  Rotating it 90 degrees (just as the other handles) caused it to come out of standby.  As a second test I removed the magnet altogether and placed it in the holder.  It still went into standby.  The magnet seems to have no effect.

Where did you learn of this reed switch?

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #5
I've found out a bit more on the comms protocol.  The station sends out periodic data like so:  ":", (1 sec pause), "V", (1 sec pause), "&", (3 sec pause).  I'm not sure what it means.  The official Weller PC software "WX Monitor" has a mode that will listen on the serial port and display tip temperature.  Unfortunately it doesn't work with just any serial port USB adapter, but I have confirmed it's expecting the SiLabs CP2102 chipset.

I've ordered a cheap adapter board with this chipset, and I'll set it up so I can sniff the TTL level signals with my Bus Pirate.  I'd like to sniff both sides of the comms, but the Bus Pirate can't do this. (Yet?)  I've put some follow-on discussion here: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5060

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #6
If the transmission is half duplex(no transmit & receive simultaneously, but rather like a master/slave protocol) you can just connect the rx/tx into a common line with two diodes followed by a pullup- (or pulldown- depending on the idle level is high or low) resistor.

[attachment=0]

Then you sniff the mix line.  Of course you can't know for sure what is the tx respective the rx on the printouts but it's usually not too hard to figure out...

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #7
[quote author="matseng"]you can just connect the rx/tx into a common line with two diodes followed by a pullup- (or pulldown- depending on the idle level is high or low) resistor.[/quote]

I like it, thanks.  “Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

I should get the serial adapter any day, I'll let you know how it works out.

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #8
[quote author="presslab"]Where did you learn of this reed switch?[/quote]
It's listed in the specifications in many places, eg. here. You could try resting the pencil in a non-magnetic holder and see if the standoff timer ever kicks in (alternatively wave the pencil around).

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #9
[quote author="andersm"]It's listed in the specifications in many places, eg. here. You could try resting the pencil in a non-magnetic holder and see if the standoff timer ever kicks in (alternatively wave the pencil around).[/quote]

Thanks for the link.  The photo of the holder in your link is different looking than mine, the support arm is much longer and the magnet in a different spot.  It seems they have redesigned it, I assume mine is the newest version as it's more sophisticated.

I placed the pencil flat on the workbench, and it went to standby after the set timeout.  I then held it in my hand while moving it, and it did not go into standby.

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #10
I've got a previous generation WD1M, and I'm fairly sure it uses the magnet (though I haven't actually bothered testing), so I guess that's something they redesigned for the WX series. Based on your report the motion sensor seems less reliable, but on the other hand if you're in the habit of leaving hot irons lying around I guess it has its upsides as well.

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #11
The WXP120 handle I also picked up doesn't have the "correct" holder, and I'm just using an old one.  If it had the reed switch then the standby wouldn't work, but because it uses the accelerometer it can work with any holder.  I've seen some places that just hang their irons like you would a power screwdriver.  Maybe this is why they have a different sensing method now.

Kind-of like this:

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #12
I've received my CP2102 adapter (with the white PCB) and the "WX Monitor" software detects it and displays a graph of the iron temperature.  The setpoint can also be changed.  Monitoring the comms (just one side at a time for now) shows simple ASCII commands, with the temperatures in plaintext, and some kind of checksum.  I'll document these as best I can.

Here's a pic of my setup.

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #13
I know this is an older thread, but did you ever figure anything out about the protocol this unit speaks?  I have a Weller WHP-3000 preheater that has an RS-232 port on it.  I want to control it directly via a PC.  Weller provides a program but it requires the WHA-3000 I believe because it does not seem to be working with just the preheater.

According to Weller, your WX2 can control my preheater.  If you could share some of the commands that you've found, I'd greatly appreciate it.  I've been trying to figure this out forever!  For me, it seems the settings for my preheater are 9600, 8n1.  I found this in their program, using a hex editor.  Any suggestions on how to proceed?  I can send stuff to the unit and sometimes I get a response but it's not always the same.  His could be from line noise or because I have something setup incorrectly.  When I turn on the device, I see 0x80 0x00 0x80.  If I send something like 0x00 0x00 0x14 0x40 0x21 0x0E 0x57 0x48 0x50 0x33 0x30 0x30 0x30 0x2D 0x54 0x65 0x6D 0x70 0x2D 0x33 (...@!.WHP3000-Temp-3), I get different responses.  First, it might be:  0x80 0x00 0x80 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 - 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x80 0x00, next time it might be: 0x80 0x80 0x00 0x80 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 - 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x80 0x80 0x00.

Every response always has an 0x80 or an 0x00.  I don't always get a response, which makes me think maybe my settings are incorrect.  0x80, in binary, is 10000000.    In decimal, it's 128.

From what I've read, if I had a WHA-3000, it would put my preheater into "remote" mode and I wouldn't be able to make changes, only the WHA-3000 would.    Perhaps there's a special set of instructions I need to send first?  Any help would greatly be appreciated.

Re: Weller WX soldering station review

Reply #14
Using a different terminal program and with the same settings you're using, I get different results.  When I turn it on, the terminal program says 97 (dec), 61 (hex).    If I send certain things, I get responses.  If I send something like ! <shift in> WH  it returns (in hex) 43 30 36 35 37 15    The last three digits can change but generally, it's only the last two.  They don't seem to change based on temperature though.    I change the temp way high, I get similar results.  <shift in> is just hex for 0x0E.  Without ! and 0x0E, nothing seems to work (that I've found).  I used to have ! <shift in> WH3000-Temp-3  but I found just ! <shift in> WH returns the exact same thing.    There's no spaces between ! and <shift in> or <shift in> and WH.  Any ideas?