There are many smart soldering irons available today. “Smart” means it runs an operating system and has a temperature control system. The first smart soldering iron to come to us was Miniware’s TS100, followed soon after by Pine64’s Pinecil. pinesil v2. Mniware also has two smart soldering irons, the TS80P and TS101 And for a while it was the manufacturer’s pool of choice.
Fnirsi’s HS-01 is a $30 entry into the smart soldering iron scene and is in the same price range as the Pinecil, but how does it perform against the Pinecil compared to the best soldering irons and soldering stations? Will it work? To learn it, and learn more, I had to get a few more soldering kits and start building.
Specifications of Funilsi HS-01
|Power||65W (20V, 3.25A)|
|soldering iron tip||HS01-BC2|
|screen||0.87 inch OLED|
|temperature||Up to 420°C / 788°F|
Fnirsi HS-01 look and feel
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The Fnirsi HS-01 is a larger soldering iron than the TS101 and Pinecil V2, but that doesn’t detract from its design. The $30 smart soldering iron has a metal body, a rubberized finger guard, and a screw collet to hold the soldering tip. The added length provided plenty of space between the input section and the business end of the iron.
Unlike the TS101, keeping your finger away from the button prevents you from accidentally pressing the button to change the temperature. However, to change the temperature he has to press the button twice, once to launch the menu and once to change the temperature. To increase the temperature, you have to press the button pointing towards the USB-C port and down towards the tip. This felt counterintuitive, but I barely used the button after setting the temperature to 350 degrees Celsius.
The aforementioned USB-C port is the only way to power the soldering iron, but it doesn’t come with a USB-C cable. The Fnirsi HS-01 works with many USB PD voltages from 9-24V. Using a Pine Power USB C power supply gave me a stable 20 V. Sorry about the omission of the DC jack, but it doesn’t matter. There are now many compatible USB C PD battery packs that can be used to power the iron.
The tip of the soldering iron is fixed by two mechanisms. First, the friction fit ensures that the bit is securely attached to the body of the iron. The collet is then screwed into place and the tip is locked. The TS101 and Pinecil v2 require screws to secure the tip, but the Fnirsi HS-01 does not.
Inside the box is a cap that covers the tip of the soldering iron when not in use. A cap is a great idea, but yes, the soldering iron will get hot if you put it in immediately after using it. The cap reinforces the idea that this is a portable soldering iron and I wish it had a stand, but the cap is a good replacement. Allow the soldering iron to cool slightly before attaching it.
Soldering with Finirsi HS-01
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Simply put, soldering with the Findirsi HS-01 is great. The included HS01-BC2 is a sculpted/conical tip that provides precision and greater thermal mass, ideal for general purpose soldering.
I connected the USB-C power supply to the soldering iron and the OLED screen was activated. I connected the tip, screwed on the collet and started heating the tip to 350°C. It took just 9 seconds to reach operating temperature. Reduces Pinecil v2’s 10 seconds by 1 second. Sure, 1 second isn’t a big deal, but we love fast boot-ups.
Compared to the TS101’s 15 seconds, the Fnirsi HS-01 is incredibly fast. Using the included chips, I got to work soldering the Pocketmoneytronics quiz machine. This is a typical small kit with through-hole components and a 556 chip. Everything is soldered easily and accurately.
For an added challenge, I developed a Velleman PIC programmer kit and tried to desolder the thick fixed posts on the DB9 port. These posts are soldered directly to the board and are not electrically connected, but their mass poses a challenge. At our typical soldering temperature of 350°C, it took about 6 seconds for the heat to reach the joint, and it wobbled a bit. The temperature he raised to 420°C instantly melted the solder on the other post.
Unlike the TS101, which has a temporary boost function, the HS-01 relies on setting the temperature in the normal way. The TS101’s boost feature is very useful when you need a little more power for a short period of time.
Funilsi HS-01 Software
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The “smart” part of any smart soldering iron is in the software, the Fnirsi HS-01 has a user interface similar to Pinecil and Miniware (TS100, TS80P, TS101) soldering irons. However, I could not find the firmware on the Fnirsi website. So that means you stuck with the stock firmware. There are animations and reminders to show you how to attach the tip and how to press the button to heat the tip. Then you can raise or lower the temperature with a quick press of a button.
You have to press both buttons to access the menus, navigation moves with a series of quick taps, and long presses confirm commands. Everything flows well and doesn’t feel overwhelming.
The software has all the usual smart features like sleep timer, angle detection, and changing OLED for left- and right-handed users. Temperature calibration is also available via firmware, but an external soldering iron temperature sensor is required to check temperature.
Fnirsi HS-01 Soldering Tip
The included tips are sufficient for most manufacturers, but each artist has their favorite brush and each manufacturer has their favorite soldering tip. We purchased a range of compatible tips, from the precision needle (FM65-ILS) to the very large FM65-K65. Replacing the tip is obviously easier when the iron is cold.
Loosen the collet, remove the tip, insert a new tip and screw the collet. end! Replacing the tip usually means changing the thermal properties of the soldering iron. This can increase or decrease the time it takes to heat up and cool down. The tip of the FM65-K65 is rather stubby and didn’t heat up on my first try. After reinserting the tip, the Fnirsi HS-01 detected it and heated it to 350°C in 11 seconds.
The Fnirsi HS-01’s chip is only compatible with itself. I’ve tried TS100, TS101 and Pinecil v2 chips, all of which are interchangeable and don’t fully connect to Fnirsi and the firmware doesn’t know a chip has been inserted. got it.
Conclusion: Who is the Fnirsi HS-01 suitable for?
The Fnirsi HS-01 is an excellent soldering iron. All joints were properly soldered and the heat only needed to be increased when using larger thermal mass joints.
It is truly a multifunctional soldering iron. Easily swappable tips and power make these irons a great alternative to the venerable Pinecil v2. Both offer similar price points and features, so in the end it comes down to personal preference. The Pinecil v2 is a small soldering iron with the bonus of a DC power supply. The Fnirsi HS-01 is larger and only has a USB C power input. If you already love your USB-C power system, the Fnirsi is a good buy. That said, if you’re looking to “upgrade” from the TS100 and already have a range of tips, Pinecil V2 compatibility will save you a few bucks.
If you’re just getting started with soldering or just need a spare soldering iron, the Fnirisi HS-01 is a cost effective and robust soldering iron that you can always have on your desk or in your kit bag. At $30, it’s a real bargain. If you were to buy a new smart soldering iron, the Fnirsi HS-01 would cost you.