An Infrared-Activated Solder Fume Extraction Fan

Even the most safety-conscious hackers among us might overlook protective gear when we’re just doing a quick bit of soldering. Honestly, though, eye protection is always a necessity. And those wisps of smoke, which drift so elegantly off the hot part of the iron, really shouldn’t drift directly into our nostrils. This is especially true if soldering you make a daily habit, or if you use lead-based solder.

And so, in defense of his lungs, [Jeremy S Cook] added a battery-powered fume extraction fan to his custom, concrete-based solder squid. Without proper power controls, though, the fan could easily drain its battery while no actual solder activity was occurring. To tackle that problem, he recently upgraded his system with a passive infrared (PIR) sensor to control when the fan turns on and off. The PIR sensor detects motion, enabling the fan only when it sees busy hands in its view, so he no longer needs to muck around with manual controls.

Despite a large increase in functionality, the design is relatively straightforward and uses off-the-shelf components, making it an accessible project for anyone who knows their way around an iron. [Jeremy] also upgraded his power source to a LiPo battery with onboard charger, which keeps the build light, maneuverable, and easy to get close to whatever he’s working on.

Whether you build or buy, a fume extractor will help fight off the famously face-seeking solder smoke on your workbench. Which is a good thing, too, because that smoke carries more than just the alluring aromas of making.

13 thoughts on “An Infrared-Activated Solder Fume Extraction Fan

  1. How about powering it off the soldering machine “on” switch? Or is that not complicated enough?

    Ok, put a current detecting sensor (induction or shunt) on the soldering iron power circuit. Then activate the fan when the iron is drawing power.

    Or turn on the fan manually (like an animal) when you need it.

  2. The most perfect room environment of temperature and humidity includes moving air, more so when it’s warmer than during winter heating. I am always puzzled that most people shut off the fan in their car even when with others as heat comes online instead of leaving the fan on and moderating the heat. With the fan off things will smell and a chemical “tree” won’t help. Stuffy lab room or car, keep the air moving.

    When I do anything more than quick repair I turn on a line powered nearly silent fan nearby that draws away the smoke. Come summer that fan runs all the time. On brief tasks I just put my lips together and blow the fumes away and cool it as well.

  3. “This is especially true if soldering you make a daily habit, or if you use lead-based solder.”

    I’ll let the first half of that sentence slide, but the second half I take issue with. It has been very widely discussed, proven, and re-hashed that there is no lead in solder fumes.

    1. What he said. I’ve never had a significant amount of lead in my blood (and i get tested twice a year because I do work with it daily) because I don’t eat solder. Vapor/smoke from soldering doesn’t have a meaningful amount of lead.

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