Upgrading A USB Soldering Iron!

Seeing the popularity of the TS-100 soldering iron, GitHub user [ole00] found himself desirous of a few of its features, but was put off by its lack of a power supply. What is a hacker to do? Find a cheaper option, and hack it into awesomeness.

[ole00] stumbled across the inexpensive ZD-20U and — despite a handful (sorry!) of issues — saw potential: it’s compact, lightweight, and powered via a USB power cable. Wanting to use as much of the ZD-20U’s original board as possible, the modifications were restricted to a few trace cuts and component swaps. The major change was swapping out the 555 timer IC controlling the iron with am ATtiny13a MCU to give it a bit more control.

[ole00] has also replaced the awkward touch-sensitive stud with a push button, changed  the LED’s behaviour to that of a temperature indicator, and configurable temperature profiles and heating cycles. A full project breakdown can be found on their GitHub page.

If you do have a TS-100, keep it protected!


14 thoughts on “Upgrading A USB Soldering Iron!

  1. I guess the tip of this cheap iron CHANGES RESISTANCE WITH TEMPERATURE… What about powering it off for fraction of second and using attiny to measure that resistance, so we can have real feedback for CLOSED LOOP pid temperature control. Maybe we can just use shunt to measure current thru tip, while measuring voltage, so we can calculate the resistance and therefore temperature of the tip.

  2. Crap. I took mine apart, and it seems to be a different circuit board. Most of it will work, but there are some critical differences that I’ll have to work out. (I would post a photo, but don’t know how to here.)

  3. II bought mine today and improved it with cap of 82pF on diode (parallel) on pin2, now it’s not so hyper sensitive, original circuit, no mod . This Attiny mod doesn’t measure temperature at all, so wouldn’t it be easier to get this NE555 working with regulated PWM with potentiometer, or fixed value? Actually this mod here does it but allows you to choose modes.Anyway probably you set it once and that’s it. Of course if you redesign it for fixed PWM then you would loose button function

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