DIY Induction Soldering Iron

[Kasyan TV] shows us how to make a really simple DIY induction soldering iron complete with DIY soldering tips.

This is a pretty cool project. Most of us are used to temperature controlled ceramic heating elements, but there are other ways to get those irons up to temperature. Using scraps from older, presumably broken, soldering irons and some pieces of copper and iron along with a thermocouple for temperature management, [Kasyan TV] manages to throw together an Inductively heated soldering iron. To insulate the coil from the iron they use Kapton tape. The video goes on to show how to make your own induction iron, although missing is a power supply. We are sure a quick eBay search for an induction heater module should bring up something suitable to power the iron, or you could just wait and watch the their next video that will go over power supplies. The soldering tips are simply made from thick copper wire sculpted into the correct shape.

There are advantages to using a soldering iron like this, for example they are pretty durable and will take a knock or two, Our concern is that magnetically sensitive parts may not be happy, and the iron might destroy what you are trying to build. Either way we’ve put the video below the break, so take a look.

Hackaday has featured a few different DIY soldering irons and some pretty cool DIY Soldering Stations over the years. What is your soldering iron of choice and why?

36 thoughts on “DIY Induction Soldering Iron

  1. Excellent article. I love these sorts of sketchy DIY projects, and I’d never heard of an inductive soldering iron.

    “they are pretty durable and will take a knock or two”

    I’ve never had a soldering iron break. The digital base stations die, but the analog parts are pretty much indestructible. I still have my father’s ancient Weller from the 70’s, and I usually use a Hakko I pulled from a university trash bin (it had blown a fuse).

    Is this a real problem for some people?

    If durability is your goal, try a butane soldering iron. The get hot faster than anything, stay hot, and are cordless.

      1. I’ve broken 1 Iron it was intentional as it failed to be useful and it started leaking gas out of the fill port, not out of the valve though Promptly replaced with the Weller PSI100K this thing has been everywhere SEA, Desert, some times even dinner I’d sleep with it under my pillow but the warranty may not cover that.

      1. I’ve never been more impressed with a soldering iron than I am with the metcal mx-ps500 I use at work. It goes from room temperature to melting solder in 5 seconds flat. One of its greatest strengths, though, is that it doesn’t require temperature feedback. Instead, the tip is made of an alloy with its curie point at the desired operating temperature:

        1. I really enjoy working with Metcals. I had to buy one for home because of how nice the one at my workplace was. They’re all I’ve used for the past 10 years now. They are not cheap, but in my opinion, they’re well worth it. Quick heating, and the tips never seem to go bad. I don’t even need to tin the tips ever. I felt like when I left other irons on, the tip would always oxidize within minutes, occasionally irreparably so.

          1. From wikipedia:
            >Another approach is to use magnetized soldering tips which lose their magnetic properties at a specific temperature, the Curie point. As long as the tip is magnetic, it closes a switch to supply power to the heating element. When it exceeds the design temperature it opens the contacts, cooling until the temperature drops enough to restore magnetisation. More complex Curie-point irons circulate a high-frequency AC current through the tip, using magnetic physics to direct heating only where the surface of the tip drops below the Curie point.

            Weller is the first type (coil of nichrome wire, with a thermostat).

            Metcal, Hakko FX100, a couple of others are the latter type (~14MHz RF wizardry).

            The Weller WTCPT seems pretty good value for money though, the others are insanely expensive.

      2. there was a flow of cheap induction stations recently, by cheap I mean $100 Quick 202D, excellent quality ~like super expensive OKi/Metcals (older 400Khz systems, obviously not the 13MHz ones), except it uses thermocouple instead of curie point.

    1. > and I usually use a Hakko I pulled from a university trash bin (it had blown a fuse).

      Wow. I’m happy for you and the iron. It’s good the previous owner discarded it like this. A person who doesn’t know how to fix a blown fuse doesn’t deserve a Hakko iron.

      1. I’m positive they knew how, but when repair/replace decisions are made by professors looking for an excuse to demand more funding, a lot of perfectly good equipment gets tossed for minor issues.

        I was a notorious scavenger, even when I was an instructor. The lab manager got in the habit of putting doomed equipment aside for me before walking it out to the dumpster. I scored 3 digital oscilloscopes (one blown fuse, the others were fine), a Cyclone II development board (perfectly good, just some bent pins), a signal generator (“old” is apparently justification to discard things), a tabletop CNC mill (lack of software support, LPKF sucks at legacy), and a GTX480 reference card (“Probably broken so you can have it. I just got a Quadro to replace it.”)

        My logic design students would get frustrated and be CERTAIN that their breadboards were defective and that’s why their circuit isn’t working. Since the university supplied free breadboards and replaced them on request for free, the students would chuck them in the trash bin and go get a new one. I’d go right behind them and grab it. My microprocessor students weren’t as bad, but at the end of the semester they’d often throw their MSP-430 Launchpads in the trash, USB cable and all.

    2. Most likely you foiled a petty theft attempt by student who knew the fuse was blown and declared it repairable knowing the policy was to trash faulty equipment. They where probably piss that someone beat them to to their loot. you should be ashamed of yourself ;) .

    3. I’ve personally seen the switches in Weller Magnastat irons fail short. Replacement switches are available, so the iron as a whole doesn’t really *break*, but it does need work done.

    4. Durability-wise, the butane torches are shit…the butane tank is almost universally made of brittle plastic and likes to crack, the ceramic heater does wear with heat cycling and is not very shock-proof. Also, temperature regulation sucks, as there is none.
      The new fancier 12V all-in-one “stations” the the TS100 are much better in my humble oppininon, as you can run either from a wall-wart or a 3S lithium battery…they have PID temperature control and even all the bells and whistles like an accelerometer to detect that you’re not using it, so it can go to sleep. Once you pick it up – it reaches operating temp. in several seconds.

  2. “…Our concern is that magnetically sensitive parts may not be happy, and the iron might destroy what you are trying to build.”

    Oh well, as long as they’re no downsides.

      1. Good thought, but I feel like decent PCB design would prevent that, unless you have something odd like a printed inductor or antenna.

        I’d like to see some tests on this.

      1. Supermagnets are MUCH more powerful. And guess how you demagnetize a CRT? You put a powerful AC electromagnet next to it, and draw it away slowly. That soldering iron tip is going to have a pretty weak magnetic field, it is AC, and you are drawing it away slowly.

    1. interesting statement, personally I wanted to learn more about the power supply used. Because the technology isn’t all in the coil heating the tip, it is very much in the power supply that must be able to create the HF power. I’m sure it doesn’t have to be a perfect 13MHz sinewave, a simple square would work, but it still require lot’s of power (to do it right) enough to make the circuit itself very interesting. Can’t wait to see the video about that part.

      PS: the MX-PS5200 from metcal is a great soldering station, we use them at work all the time and I must say, induction heating is the way to go (but “Tanner” (a few posts before me) has already mentioned that).

  3. Some of the newer Metcal and Thermaltronics units are shipping with “sleep stands” which greatly reduce tip temperature when the iron is placed in the stand. I’m talking about the inductive/curie-point type systems here. Apparently a pair of rare earth magnets are installed in the stand, and then placing the tip in this magnetic field is enough to shift the curie point down, reducing the temperature and prolonging the tip life. Does anyone have more info on this? Simply holding an old hard drive voice coil magnet near the tip doesn’t seem to do much.

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