Homebrew heat gun from scrounged parts

A Hack a Day reader needed a tool to solder a lot of SMD parts, so he built a DIY heat gun, and we’re impressed with the results.

After trawling the internet looking for ideas for his heat gun, [MRGATZ85] found that most builds used the ceramic element from cheap soldering irons. Experiments in this direction didn’t go very well because the ceramic element in these irons tends to fall apart very easily. In a moment of inspiration, [MRGATZ85] realized he had an old vaporizer lying around and decided to take it apart. To his surprise, the vaporizer element was a great size, self-contained, and most importantly free. After fabricating a case out of high-temperature foam, aerosol cans, and deadbolt parts, [MRGATS85] was left with a very nice build.

Aside from SMD work, a heatgun can be a very valuable tool for PCB stripping and being used for solder reflow. We’re a little surprised we haven’t seen a homebrew heat gun in quite a while. Even though the element is surrounded by high-temperature foam, the gun still gets a little hot to the touch. We’re hoping that will eventually be under control; it’s a very useful build otherwise.

Check out the image gallery, or the video demo after the break.

Comments

  1. Pölsa says:

    reminds me of my first vaporizer => an aoyue 852 smd hot air soldering station for 80 USD

  2. macegr says:

    Does his mom know he’s trying to burn a feather on the carpet? Seriously…there are enough good cheap soldering tools out there, this is ugly and bulky and didn’t even look like it was getting hot enough to burn a feather. A cheap Hakko or Aoyue hot air station will work great, and you can get all sorts of special tips for reworking different types of surface mount parts.

  3. MrGatz85 says:

    Pölsa

    ROFL yes but this time the other way around.

    macegr

    No she doesn’t, but i would be more worried about my wife as it is my own house ROFL. And it was not on long enough to heat up and burn the feather or carpet. that was the first video really showing that the fan stays on the whole time the switch is on even if the element was off. as i was worried about the fans melting.

    side note i wasn’t even planning on using the feather to show the air moving. but my cat walked by with it in his mouth.

    And yes they are cheap, but cheap is not free. as i had no cash going into this project. i know it looks like crap. i really don’t care to much on looks more on function. the tools i had to use where very limited. i had a Hammer, screwdriver set, soldering iron, sand paper. to be honest i could do with another base. but the element i believe came out real nice. it did not require any mods to the can itself. and it is still air-tight. it only lacks a hand grip.

    But when there is a need for a tool there is a way. might not be the best looking heat gun, but it’s free. so i take the old school hacker spirit and use all the resources i have, to make something i need. to be honest that is a skill that has been long forgotten. but is slowly coming back with dev boards.

    hope you understand where i was coming from on this project. i have looked at few of your and there very impressive. but with all do respect i think my project would look as good as yours if i had the funds to produce it.

    Anyways can always build another ROFL

    MrGatz

  4. Franklyn says:

    Its a good thing vaporizers are so cheap /sarcasm.

  5. Rectifier says:

    Most people build vaporisers out of heat guns! This way is a little less… economical?

  6. Phate says:

    Hey, hey. Heaters gonna heat.

  7. Franklyn says:

    No , its just that i came in here with high hopes of being able to make one myself. those hopes now lie in shards.

  8. TopCat2021 says:

    Good Job on designing a tool to fit your needs. A thought that I had about the unit heating up so much is to fashion a pistol grip from a piece of wood and use a piece of silicon sheet (silicon oven mitts) with a couple of large hose clamps the silicon sheet would insulate the can from the wooden pistol grip and the hose clamps would hold the unit together. With your planned improvements for the temperature controls I believe you will have a very good tool to use.
    Keep up the good work.

  9. jarrod says:

    Arduino PID library + triac + thermocouple chip + replacement aoyue heatgun head from ebay, just a matter of wiring it together. But temp controlled heatguns are so cheap now anyway..

  10. GottaBeThatGuy says:

    The reason you don’t see these mods often is because it is cheaper to buy a 30 dollar heat gun.

    So you hacked apart a 100 dollar vaporizer to build a 30 dollar heat gun? There is probably a reason you are broke.

  11. MrGatz85 says:

    @ jarrod
    that was kinda my plan until i remembered i had the vaporizer laying around. and i’m probably going to end up building my own control unit as i collect all the cash i can spare. i would like to increase the heat about 150 degrees .

    @GottaBeThatGuy

    i list many reason’s i’m broke. the job market, the price of a $, a family to support. i put you question yes i hack a 100 vaporizer that was 9 years old and was not being used ever again. and asure you that my financial stability is not based on projects i do, as most of them i’m spending near nothing at the time of the projects.

  12. Noodle says:

    Is that a remix of The Logical Song?

  13. octel says:

    @Noodle
    Yes.

    Scooter – Ramp (The Logical Song)

  14. vtl says:

    Hard to judge this without him actually melting solder with it. Blowing a feather isnt really helpful. So how long can you run it before the thing gets so hot you cant hold it? Does it take long to reflow something like a QFP or TSSOP chip?

    You can buy a hot air temperature controlled station off ebay for like $50 and it they work great, surely thats cheap enough to buy one instead of making one.

  15. fileoffset says:

    I have used my vaporizer as an impromptu heat-gun a number of times :)

  16. josh says:

    Good job on repurposing parts. You may want to be on the lookout for old ovens or water heaters and rob some of the insulation from them. Most of them around here use fiberglass or some type of refractive insulation. If they’re being thrown out, most people won’t mind you robbing stuff from them. Junkyards used to be a goldmine for parts. Now, you can hardly get in them unless you work there.

  17. Yazoo says:

    While I like the DIYness of this, you can still pick up a heat gun for under 15 bucks at Harbor Freight these days (I’m strapped too with going back to school but I mean, I still have 15 bucks to my name).

  18. anon says:

    You might try washing your hands and cutting your fingernails once in a while!

  19. TinkerGnome says:

    I commend your efforts, despite what the trolls say. This truly is in the ideals of a hacker, not a consumer. Cobbling together a device from found/unused components is what a true scrounger is. So what if the efficiency may not be tops yet. You can still say you did. Don’t fear getting your hands dirty.
    Success succeeds failure.

  20. TinkerGnome says:

    Last note, which he didn’t seem to care about he’s not burning carpet ;-) That looks like either tile or linoleum. If it is, its really low shag, maybe high wear carpeting.

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