The Internet of Soldering Irons

The Internet of Things needs — well — things. Do you really need your paper shredder hooked up to the Internet? Maybe. But [Vegard Paulsen] put something on the network that every hacker can relate to: his soldering iron.

In typical hacker fashion, fixing a broken digital display on the soldering station turned into a development project that allows [Vegard] to monitor the temperature of his soldering iron on his phone. He found a handy source of power on the station’s PC board and connected a NodeMCU WiFi device (that uses the ubiquitous ESP8266 and an onboard Lua interpreter).

internet-of-soldering-irons-meterThe data pushes out to the Thingspeak server which handles pushing data out to the bigger network, and data representation (like the cool Google gauge in the picture). The best part: [Vegard] gets a phone notification when he accidentally leaves his soldering iron on. How perfect is that?

One unique challenge he faced was soldering the power wires to the soldering station. This could be a problem because the iron tip is grounded so making the joint while the iron was energized would probably blow a fuse (or worse). Luckily, [Vegard] thought ahead and devised a plan that apparently worked.

We’ve seen other examples of how easy NodeMCU and Thingspeak work to put the mundane on the Internet. It seems particularly appropriate to hack a soldering iron, though.

25 thoughts on “The Internet of Soldering Irons

  1. cool project for a rainy day.
    but learn to turn your soldering iron off when you are done with it.
    knowing you left it on won’t stop your house burning down or, even worse, your soldering iron breaking.
    so this guy only has one soldering iron? i don’t understand.

        1. I use a squid here but the idea is the same. The squid powers my iron, two lights, computer and whatever project I’m powering tha5 session. When I leave, one switch for all.

    1. That’s where the triac connected to the ESP comes in. In fact it would make his iron temperature-controlled, if it’s not already. Via a short feedback loop through the Internet and back.

    2. The older I get, the more likely I am to forget ;-) Which only contributes to my birthday blues this week.

      Honestly, I thought the same thing about the one soldering iron. I have two stations on my bench (an Edsyn and a Hakko knock off; both with contact and hot air). I’ve got two guns, a couple of small irons, and one of those semi-useless cold soldering gadgets that were on TV a few years ago). But I was impressed he realized he couldn’t do it with the iron turned on. I have a feeling I would have blown the fuse and then realized why.

  2. There are a lot of things that have been put on the internet that I think are ‘well, that was neat, but ummm, why?’ Working in a electronics manufacturing shop, this actually classified as useful in my book. We have the irons that you can set to one temp, and lock it out for the more ‘ambitious’ employees. This could allow for remote monitoring of the irons without the need for regular inspection. We have elements go out of spec, but without monitoring, the controller just runs them harder, but can’t keep up. I guess with some refinement I could get tweets from out of spec irons that need help.

  3. before I converted over to metcal, I was a weller and a hakko fan. the weller digital (the affordable one, not the hundreds of dollars one) had 2 neat features the hakko 936 didn’t; it DID auto turn it self off after inactivity and it had an anti-burn handle cord (yes, i’ve touched the cord more than once by accident and it was nice having that safety feature there). the hakko, even the real ones (btw, funniest knock-off I ever saw was a Quakko. no kidding!) could burn the cord. and the hakkos did not have auto off feature.

    the metcal I use uses magnets in the base and there’s a magnetc thermal tip in the metcals that reacts to it, so by putting the iron into the base, it puts it into lower power standby mode. since the heating is only a few seconds to get back up to temp, that design works.

    I’ve left my irons on by mistake. its very easy to do if you work from home and have distractions. so, having some safety feature to let you know (or just better yet, have the system TURN THE IRON OFF) – that’s useful.

    telling me its on, well, not as useful. if you’ve detected inactivity, just have the system turn it off. no need to tell the wan, etc that you left the iron on.

    btw, I’m of the mind that every bit of info you leak COULD be used against you. even if I happen to leave an iron on, do I want google (etc) to know that? how long before that info is available to insurance companies. ‘oh, this guy tends to leave hot things on and so lets increase his insurance premiums or just deny him if he ever has a fire at home’. you may say it sounds farfetched, but little bits of info, here and here, help ‘others’ build profiles on you and I can’t see that as, at all, a Good Thing(tm). so, I have to think long and hard for each bit of IoT I would send out. could this ever be used against me? usually, I’m very against the IoT concept of clouds.

  4. We are quickly approaching a time where everything is on the internet, and then the internet becomes self aware, decides it wants to build an Externet, and the universe collapses.

  5. sometimes you want to solder live wires with a grounded iron tip,

    sometimes you want to solder very sensitive circuits with a non-gounded or de-grounded tip that just so happens to have it’s own temperature-control switching noise on it, at a voltage that may damage certain components … 60vac square-wave with “lightbulb-dimmer” harmonics

    sometimes you want to do both at the same time,
    and solder a very sensitive circuit while it’s on…
    if it was not meant to be, you will find out when you try it

    PS: dont use speakers to test a speaker amp while soldering it while it is switched on!

  6. So to avoid the burning the barn, he is relying on a gizmo, connected to another gizmo, the availability of the intartubes, a thingmajig-provider, another thingmajig-provider, the cellular network, his cellular provider, his iphone, perhaps an app behaving on his iphone, and him noticing the phone actually wants to tell him stuff.

    Instead of, you know, looking at the lights on the iron before stepping out for the day. God forbid, having a master switch for the workbench.

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