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Review: Miniware MHP30 mini hot plate preheater

By Jo Hinchliffe. Posted

The name Miniware may sound familiar, as it is the company that produces the excellent TS100 and TS80 soldering irons. Building on those products, they have recently released a mini hot plate, the MHP30 (£75http://www.miniware.com.cn/), suitable for populating small single-sided SMD boards. After seeing the MHP30 featured in Adafruit videos and elsewhere in the community, we decided to grab one and take a look.

Available for around £75, the MHP30 arrives in excellent packaging that is good enough to be used as a storage case for the device when not in use. Inside the box, the MHP30 has a silicone cover over the hot plate, and tucked away in the box base is a rather lovely one-metre-long silicone USB-C to USB-C cable.

It really is tiny – the hot plate is 30 × 30 mm – but, for such a tiny device, it feels very well built in hand and it’s incredibly cute. It’s reasonably heavy for its size, and feels well-placed on a desk and unlikely to topple in operation. However, for extra security there are two rotating legs that increase the stability when deployed. We also noticed that there is a threaded M3 hole with which, we imagine, you could attach the device to a larger homemade base, if you desired. For power, it requires a USB-C PD charger, common these days as laptop power supplies. It needs a reasonable amount of power, and worked well with our laptop supply that can supply 20 V at 3 A. For curiosity, we also tried it with a USB PD power bank that could supply up to 15 V at 1.5 A, and this didn’t work.

Power the MHP30 on and the small OLED display springs into life. If you have used the TS100 or TS80 irons, then this firmware will feel similar, although not exactly the same. On the back of the machine there are two buttons, and you quickly get used to how they interact with the menu items. If you press the button on the left-hand side (as viewed from the front of the device), the device immediately starts to heat towards the first target temperature. There are three editable temperature settings in memory, and it’s easy to switch between them. The unit can heat up to 350°C, and we set ours to 220°C as we had some solder paste that would reflow at just under that temperature. Looking through the menu and the instruction manual, there’s a range of sensible adjustable parameters and sleep modes to tinker with. It’s important to note though that the device doesn’t do curved or programmable cycles through different temperatures, although you could set three temperatures in memory and quickly switch between them.

When powered up, you’ll notice that the area underneath the hot plate lights green – this is an on-board RGB LED that changes colour with the temperature, acting as a visual reminder of when the plate is hot. It moves from green to amber to white, to red eventually, and also repeats this pattern as it cools. Green is reserved for when the hot plate is less than 50°C, which is the temperature where it is pretty safe to handle. We’d recommend that you keep the unit powered on whilst cooling, as when powered off there is no way to tell if the unit is still extremely hot.

We loaded an ATtiny IC onto a small breakout PCB, with some solder paste applied to the pads. We set our fume extractor/ filter up near the device and, placing the PCB on the hot plate, we set the machine to heat to 220°C. Within a couple of minutes, the paste flowed perfectly and a good result was achieved. A long press of the right-hand button kicks the machine out of heating mode and back into the general startup menu, and the plate begins to cool. It takes longer than you would imagine to cool down, possibly as we are used to dealing with small-tipped soldering irons. We also soldered a board with a powerpad-style IC on it, where there is a pad underneath the chip that would be impossible to solder with a soldering iron. Again, the MHP30 performed really well.

It’s hard to find fault with the MHP30 – it is a well-put-together little device. At 30 mm square, it may be too small for some applications, but it can also accommodate larger work that hangs off the plate edge a little. We found the menu system straightforward, and the small OLED display easy to read. We love the RGB LED that acts as a visual clue to the temperature, and we find the device overall very well thought out and easy to use.

Verdict

9/10

A super-cute and usable tool fro SMD work at home.

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