In this review, we’re checking out the HGLRC RC2 Portable Soldering Iron. I’ve previously reviewed several portable soldering irons, this one is mostly similar to its counterparts. Yet, what sets the HGLRC RC2 apart is the attractive price, promising the same performance. However, one might wonder if this price reduction comes with any compromises. Let’s find out.
- Check out other useful tools for building and repairing FPV drones: FPV Tools and Materials for Building Drones and Fixed Wings.
- You can learn about soldering in this beginner’s guide: https://oscarliang.com/soldering-guide/
Table of Contents
Where to Buy?
The HGLRC RC2 soldering iron is available for purchase from
- RDQ: https://oscarliang.com/product-qcjw
- GetFPV: https://oscarliang.com/product-jlst
- AliExpress: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_DEMdEs1
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/3WW9yya
- Banggood: https://oscarliang.com/product-t3it
You’ll receive the HGLRC RC2 soldering iron neatly encased in a handy zipper carry case.
Also included in the package is a small hex screw wrench, a few spare screws for securing the tip, an XT60 to 5525 barrel connector (for powering the soldering iron), and a soldering tip. The manual isn’t included, but it can be found online by scanning the QR code.
Is the HGLRC RC2 the Same as the SI012?
At first glance the HGLRC RC2 bears a remarkable resemblance to the Sequre SI012 (Available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3WW9yya). From the exact transparent plastic housing to the identical PCB design, the similarity is uncanny. Even tiny details like the zipper case and the USB label “PD3.0” are the same.
This raises the question – could the HGLRC RC2 be a rebranded SI012, manufactured by Sequre? While I do suspect this to be the case, I don’t have the SI012 to compare nor HGLRC has officially confirmed it, this remains a hypothesis.
A Close Look at the HGLRC RC2
The first thing that struck me about the HGLRC RC2 was its distinctive transparent casing. This adds an attractive, unique touch, setting it apart from other models on the market. The iron is lightweight, making it comfortable to handle and ideal for on-the-go tasks.
The HGLRC RC2 soldering Iron offers similar compact design as the popular TS100. However, the RC2 has a slightly larger build – a feature that might appeal more to those with big hands. The weight difference is also marginal, with the RC2 weighing in at 4 grams heavier than the TS100, totaling 25g (excluding the tip).
A bonus point for the RC2 is its compatibility with TS100 soldering tips. This means if you’re an existing TS100 owner, your tips can seamlessly work with the RC2. Furthermore, if you need to purchase new tips, there’s a broad range of options designed for the TS100 available.
Navigating through the HGLRC RC2 is a breeze thanks to its clear OLED display paired with two conveniently placed buttons. One button controls the heating process start and stop, while the other allows access to various menu options. These include valuable settings such as voltage calibration and display adjustments.
The soldering iron comes with dual power inputs: a barrel DC input and a USB-C input, which supports USB PD3.0.
Operating at a versatile voltage range from 12V to 25V, the iron is suitable for use with a 3S to 6S LiPo battery or directly from a DC power supply. Personally, I prefer powering mine with a bench power supply (P200) set at 25V for maximum performance (at 68W). The dual-power feature can only found in the newer, more expensive TS101, not even available in the good old TS100, which could only be powered through the barrel connector.
A noteworthy feature of the iron is a “Check Tip” alert which warns users if the tip is loose. This came in handy when I used the iron without tightening the screw after changing tips. The safety mechanism ensures the tip stays securely in place, mitigating the potential for any accidents. It also has a buzzer for warning which is a great safety feature missing in most other high end irons (which can be turned off to avoid annoyance).
The iron also includes a customizable idle setting. This function initiates the cooling process of the iron after a preset period of inactivity, particular useful for saving power and prolonging the lifespan of the tip. Moreover, the SI012 Pro has a low voltage protection feature to avoid ruining your supply battery, as well as high temperature and voltage alarms, ensuring safe and reliable operation.
Compatible Soldering Tips
Another standout features of the HGLRC RC2 is its compatibility with both shorter TS100-style tips and longer T12 tips. This flexibility allows you to select the tip style that best suits your needs, made possible thanks to two sets of copper contacts for different tip lengths.
While most portable irons opt for shorter TS-style tips for their precision, many find value in longer tips. The appeal of longer tips lies in their greater metal mass, allowing them to retain heat more effectively, which becomes particularly beneficial when soldering large wires and copper pads. This makes the longer T12 tips advantageous for tasks requiring a lot of heat.
The HGLRC RC2 is shipped with a TS-style blade tip, which generally performs well for FPV-related tasks. Its large contact area excels when working with large gauge wires, such as XT60 and motor wires. However, in my experience, it might prove to be too large for small jobs like soldering signal wires. I typically use a smaller bevel tip for such tasks, which, in my opinion, offers greater versatility and precision. If you’re looking to purchase one, you can find it here (TS-BC2):
- Banggood: http://bit.ly/2GY0vZi
- AliExpress: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_DeoHx4Z
- Amazon: https://amzn.to/3YJOnyu
The option to switch tips for different jobs enhances the versatility of the RC2, making it adaptable to a wide range of soldering scenarios.
Getting Started with the HGLRC RC2
Attaching the Soldering Tip
Assembling your HGLRC RC2 soldering iron is straightforward. Choose the tip that fits your needs, slide it into place, and secure it with the provided retaining set screw.
When it comes to powering up your soldering iron, it’s compatible with 3S to 6S power sources. You have the option of using a LiPo battery, or alternatively, a power supply with an output voltage ranging from 12V to 25V. If you want the iron to operate at its full potential, I suggest opting for a power supply that can output as close to 25V as possible (as explained in this post).
Another handy option is powering it through a PD-capable power bank or USB adapter, further increasing its portability. However I found it only does around 40W of power max when powered through the USB-C.
Upon startup, the iron defaults to a stand-by mode, meaning the tip remains cold. To heat up the soldering tip, long press the A button for 3 seconds. The iron will quickly reach the set working temperature (default is 300°C), ready for your soldering tasks.
To stop it, just long press the A button again.
Setting the Temperature
You can adjust temperature simply using the A and B buttons.
Single presses of the A button lower the temperature by 50°C increments, while pressing the B button raises it by the same amount. You also have the option to customize the number of degrees in each increment in the menu.
The highest temperature you can set the iron to is an 450°C.
Accessing the system menu on your HGLRC RC2 soldering iron is a breeze. Just hold down the B button for about 3 seconds. Once you’re in the system menu, you can use the A and B buttons to navigate and explore the various options available. A long press on the B button lets you select an option. To exit, all you need to do is wait for 3 seconds.
Putting the HGLRC RC2 to the Test
Input voltage for both irons was 25V.
The RC2 took just 11 seconds to reach 450°C from room temperature, with a power peak at 75W during the test exceeding the rated 68W briefly. On the other hand, the TS100 took slightly longer, reaching 450°C in 13 seconds and peaking at 74W power usage.
One thing to note is that the refresh rate of the RC2’s screen appears to be much slower than that of the TS100, updating only about once per second.
Nevertheless, when I put both irons to work on some heavy-duty soldering tasks, involving both a PCB and a large piece of copper, their performances were almost identical. The RC2 might have been a hair faster at melting the solder on a larger copper pad, but the difference was hardly noticeable.
Differences between TS100, SQ001 and SI012
To cut to the chase, the SQ001 was essentially a more budget-friendly “clone” of the TS100 – very similar in design and function.
The RC2 (a rebrand of the SI012), on the other hand, could be seen as an upgraded version of the SQ001, which in turn, puts it a notch above both the SQ001 and TS100 because of its better feature set. Moreover, it accomplishes this while still remaining at an impressively competitive price point.
Differences between SI012 Pro and Non-Pro
The SI012 comes in both a Pro and a Non-Pro version. The Non-Pro model requires some modification to use TS-style tips – specifically, you’ll need to add some pins for the shorter tip. However, once these modifications are made, the device allows you to use both TS and T12 tips seamlessly.
The Pro version, however, supports both tip types right out of the box, no modifications required. To figure out which version you have, simply check the label on the iron. For the record, the HGLRC RC2 is the Pro version.
Ralim IronOS Firmware Compatibility
Unfortunately, neither the RC2 nor the SI012 support Ralim IronOS firmware.
But fear not! In my experience, you’re not missing out on anything major. The primary reason I used IronOS on my TS100 was to boost the maximum temperature from 400°C to 450°C. Fortunately, the HGLRC RC2 can hit 450°C right out of the box, no firmware changes needed.
The Final Verdict: TS100 or HGLRC RC2?
Here’s the real question: should you opt for the RC2/SI012, or the TS100?
If we focus purely on specifications, real-world performance, and cost, the RC2/SI012 emerges as the undisputed winner. If I were in the market for a new portable soldering iron today, it would be my go-to pick.
- Get your HGLRC RC2 soldering iron from AliExpress: https://s.click.aliexpress.com/e/_DEMdEs1
- Or get the Sequre SI012 from Amazon (same iron): https://amzn.to/3WW9yya
That said, the durability of the RC2 is still up in the air. That’s a question I can only answer with time and usage. I’ll be putting the RC2 to work from now on to see how it stands up to long-term use. I’ve used the TS100 for over five years, so I can personally vouch for its longevity. If you’re after a tried-and-true, reliable soldering iron, the TS100 won’t let you down.