Build Your Own Desoldering Station on the Cheap

Desoldering Station on the Cheap

[Sable Wolf] tipped us off to his DYI desoldering station for under $70. We know we have seen this conversion before, but it hasn’t been featured on Hack a Day. [Sable Wolf’s] hack is unique and has added features that make building, cleaning and the overall longevity sounder. However, some kind of sound deadening housing would have to be built around the pump as it seemed uncomfortably loud in the video.

Some Chinese made desoldering stations are getting quite cheap so maybe it’s not worth the effort unless you can salvage more components for the build. Thanks to [Sable Wolf’s] detailed blog you can browse through his BOM and scrounge up the majority of these items from your salvage bins. A cheap but reliable desoldering station would be an extremely handy tool to have on your bench.

This is much safer than desoldering with a candle or using fire as featured in the past, and is kind of a flip around on the SMD hot air pencil hack.

Follow long after the break to watch the video of the desoldering station in action.

34 thoughts on “Build Your Own Desoldering Station on the Cheap

  1. I’m a bit skeptical about the power of that small pump and was interested to see it working, too bad the video is almost useless.

    1. Sorry about the video, I was kind of tired when I shot it and did not think about close up being needed. I have shot a new video and as soon as it finished processing I will post it here in the comments.

        1. Thanks. Still some minor lighting issues but it’s much better. It looks like the desoldering iron is a bit weak for that purpose, bigger ground pads will likely require a lot of time although the contraption already seem to work definitely better than the old desoldering gun I paid over $100 25 years ago.Good hack!

          Decades ago I spotted somewhere a guy who repurposed the guts of an old fridge to add more suction power to a hand desoldering iron. If memory serves, he reversed the pump then added a vacuum chamber and a valve before the nozzle. A circuit would mantain negative pressure into the chamber and the button would just open the valve.
          Some links are available of people doing this hack, although none of them is the one I have seen.

          1. I just suggested the same in the video comments. I got a bunch of videos on converting fridge compressors into air compressor. Turning them into a vacuum pump pretty much requires only clamping a hose on the air inlet tube.

  2. You can get an ESD safe soldering / desoldering station made in the USA for 288 bucks. We have a bunch of them at work. I can’t remember the brand name (typing from home). The downside is the replacement parts are expensive. Without an earth ground, you risk a static build up.

  3. After a few years of working with a real hot air gun (blowing and sucking), I have come to the conclusion that it is hella easier to just use low-melt solder.

    1. Yes, low melt solder is great, but expensive. I lucked out and found some old telcom solder with a high percentage of bismuth. In addition to having a low melting point, this solder was notorious for making mechanically weak connections. Double bonus.

      But for any really big smd part, you still need hot air, plus or minus low melt solder and plenty of flux.

      And for high output muti pin through holes, there’s no replacement for a desoldering iron. Solder suckers will get the job done, but they are slow.

  4. I use a hand pump, and braid. For the amount of rework I need to do it is fine. What most people seem to need to learn to me is the technique of desoldering. There are no bonus points awarded usually for removing parts intact.

    1. Unless you’re trying to salvage the component. I have a nice desoldering gun, it can desolder almost anything through hole, and very very fast too. Solder braid is still a little useful, but only for final cleanup.

        1. I also use a solder pot for salvaging parts as well, but i would also like to have an actual desoldering iron to use on parts that either have a lot of pins or for just one or two components. it takes forever for my 200W solder pot to heat up and melt the solder.

          1. My 800 watt pot takes a little while to heat up too. I never timed it but something like a half of an hour I suppose. As far as parts with a lot of pins goes if the part is less than 4 inches long my pot can handle it. The number of pins really doesn’t matter as long as the part fits on the pot.

  5. I use something rather old-school; a big lump of brass ;-) For example:

    I just make an “iron” out of the brass lump, so I can heat all of the pins of the component simultaneously.

    Trying to desolder each pin individually is a mug’s game, especially when it’s on a double-sided board with ground planes (which suck all the heat away from a standard-sized soldering iron)

      1. Yup, awesome idea. I’d say that it’s probably better than most desoldering stations since it’s so quick – as a result the parts are exposed to heat for just a second or so

        1. Thanks – yes, the parts are still usable, since they’ve only been heated for an extremely short time. The only slow bit is that you need an iron which is matched to the particular component you’re removing.

          (Incidentally, don’t ever trust the regulation of little DC-DC converters – that was supposed to be a 5V output device, but was as high as 6V unloaded. I replaced it with a 9V output + a 5V linear regulator instead.)

          Another trick I use sometimes for removing SOIC chips is the “wire under the pins and pull” –

          I didn’t think this would actually work well, at first, but it does, surprisingly. That video was actually a good result – all the pins separated from the board. Most other times there’s been little bits of solder remaining, and I have to go over it with a braid or solder sucker.

  6. Can we play guess the components? I see an at/atx psu molex connector. I see a 22r Toyota Pickup fuel filter and a Radio Shack de-soldering Iron. What is the foot pedal from?

    I would also like to say that I really like the creativity. What is with the weird connector on the de-soldering iron?

    1. I order the foot petal for Seeed Studios, and the weird connector on the desoldering iron is made of Quick Steel epoxy, PVC parts and steel wool in order to catch the molten solder.

  7. ugh, ratshack desoldering iron. I have 3 of those. They’re not temp controlled, don’t get hot enough to remove bigger components, the tip melts pretty easily, and my unmodified one didn’t have much sucking power. This hack pretty much only fixes the sucking issue. I got a Hakko 808, that thing is infinitely better. Lots of thermal mass, temp controlled, plenty of sucking power. It makes very short work of desoldering almost any through hole components.

  8. I’ve made something very similar for my desoldering needs after ruining one too many boards. Works like a charm! These pumps are surprisingly powerful if indeed loud. A sound deadening housing is something I’m definitely going to look into! I got my pump off ebay.co.uk.

  9. I use one of those cheap pencil-coaxial units, and can get the gun out to help if needed. Not the enema bulb type but the one-shot plunger type. Plunger chamber is capped with a hose to…
    Player piano tech: a foot sized foot powered suction bellows leaves hands free, near silent, non electric, repeating action.
    In other words, it sucks!

  10. Another cheap way to do it — Use the pump that comes with air mattresses. It’s loud as heck, but moves a lot of air, and you can get them for very cheap, and it’s set up to both blow and suck with the connectors that come with. You may need a funnel and some hot glue, but that’s it.

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