Companies now are looking to secure revenue streams by sneakily locking customers into as many recurring services as possible. Subscription software, OS ecosystems, music streaming, and even food delivery companies all want to lock consumers in to these types of services. Battery-operated power tools are no different as there’s often a cycle of buying tools that fit one’s existing batteries, then buying replacement batteries, ad infinitum. As consumers we might prefer a more open standard but since this is not likely to happen any time soon, at least we can build our own tools that work with our power tool brand of choice like this battery-powered soldering station.
[Nelson] aka [wooddragon48] has a number of power tools and their associated batteries from a specific manufacturer, and while he’s a fan of this brand personally he’s looking to get a little bit more use out of these battery packs with this build. The soldering station is built around an inexpensive controller and wand which [Nelson] modeled in FreeCAD. With the model of the controller to work with, the next step was to design a 3D-printed enclosure for the controller which could snap on to one of his power tool batteries. A coiled wire-style wand holder is attached to the side and a recessed switch at the top rounds out the build to ensure that the soldering station isn’t accidentally switched on.
After a few prototypes the soldering station looks like it would fit right in with the other array of tools available for these battery packs. All of the CAD and 3D printing files are also available for anyone looking to build one of their own or his approach to designing other tools around these batteries. It certainly goes a long way to show that even though you might be somewhat locked in to a particular power tool brand, it’s at least possible to build other custom tools to make use of the batteries they work with. You can even use portable battery packs like this to power something like an ebike, too.
19 thoughts on “Soldering Station Designed Around Batteries”
Before you’re going to repurpose your not-cheap Milwaukee M18 batteries for hobby projects, PLEASE remember that the BMS of the M18 bricks does NOT monitor the cells for overdischarge, and if you’re careless you risk ruining your battery pack. That said, spinning up your own voltage monitoring only takes a couple resistors, a mosfet, and either an opamp or an attiny13.
Hmm an interesting and good comment. That leads me to wonder if there is any table of power tool batteries for hackers that lists all the features built into the battery itself across brands. I certainly don’t know of one.
Of course it does you no good if you already are bought into a brand too much, but if you need a powerful, portable and reasonably available battery for a project power tool batteries are a good potential source so that reference would be welcome. For what it is worth I believe though am not 100% that all the Ryobi one plus range has all the battery safety features built into the battery. So they would be my battery of choice for this sort of idea.
Is worth mentioning though I do not believe the Ryobi battery BMS stuff is as easy to deal with the way a build your own pack should be. So if it ever puts the battery in safe mode etc it may be very hard to recover it. But while I recall looking I don’t exactly recall the results and I don’t really do battery tools on the whole. So until my small quantity has any flaw to give me the excuse to have a look I don’t actually know what is inside.
Kobalt 24V batteries also do not contain over-discharge protection. That circuit is contained inside the tools.
That would be great but I think most of them don’t have MOSFETs on the battery side. I just isn’t needed for their use case and adds extra cost and power loss.
This is the first time I hear about an user replacable battery pack without overdischarge protection. I would not have even thought about checking something like that.
Isn’t that even illegal? Leave it discharged over a year and now it is overdischarged without disabling/bricking itself.. hopefully the charge refuses to charge such batteries.
Battery management is built into the tools. Since it’s a proprietary battery that makes sense, the battery is a consumable after all.
I think Makita do have them inbuilt. Their internal BMS, especially on the new ones with the charge level, has some nifty features that is used with a battery security tool that only allows the battery to be used on certain days and the like. They would probably be the safest ones to use then
Ramzi Yousef op amp/battery soldering skills to Casio watch alarm most impressive achievement in practical engineering history?
I’ve been doing the opposite – ie pulling battery packs apart and replacing the cells. Many have 18650’s inside, and you can replace them for a fraction of the cost of a new battery pack from the manufacturer..
If they had consumers interest at heart – which they obviously don’t – most of the power tools would be using battery packs with replaceable (not having to pull it apart) batteries…
As power tools do have to survive construction sites and other rather hard environments while remaining comfortable weight to use I think there has to be some balance towards sealed and soldered for durability. But as they are repairable if you care to pull it apart units and as far as I know most of them are just screwed together cases so it isn’t that challenging to get into their guts to do the repairs…
The real move that proves they don’t give a monkeys is how fast most of them obsolete one battery shape and layout forcing you to get new everything when many of tools are still good you just need a new battery. Which is the main reason I picked Ryobi one – reportedly not bad tools but importantly the same battery can work tools that are rather ancient and they show no signs of introducing deliberate incompatibility by design!
The mark of market penetration* is how many aftermarket replacements are created as manufacturers do the obsolecense shuffle, and the damning mark of shame is when DRM is incorporated to prevent continued use of the device. I can’t see how that would create any kind of customer loyalty.
I can still get batteries for my 30 year old Makita drill both from the manufacturer and aftermarket. Guess what brand the rest of my cordless tools are?
*It’s worth noting that most of these “competing” brands are owned by a very few parent companies. 2023 chart here:
Who really owns what in these big corporates and oh so many layers of ownership often doesn’t matter at all – they are in function entirely independent, at least as long as they remain profitable enough, but not too successful that the parent companies feel the need to meddle… And even when being part of some larger family does matter it isn’t always negative – why waste time, money and materials to re-invent the part one of your siblings has already created and refined?.
Not saying it can’t be a bad thing as well though… Just that parent companies often with parent companies of their own above the brand you are buying is not ALWAYS meaningful in the real world output, just the fiscal/political ones…
A significant way to reduce e-waste and the energy footprint associated in manufacturing is to go back to the old “made to last” model rather than planned obsolescence. I very much enjoy this way of leveraging tech to do something not intended but in this instance you could say the battery does not know what its delivering power to…
Note, if you want one, but you don’t have time to build one, there are offerings like this,
This is a very cool idea. I’m considering doing something similar very soon. I was planning on doing it a little bit different. First off, I’m planning on using parkside 20v batteries, as they are very well made, cheap, have BMS onboard and are well, 20v. That’s important to me, as I’m planning on using the Pinecil and I want to see if I can get this battery to output 20v/65w over USB-C PD. Then I don’t have to bother using any other boards inside the enclosure, as the Pinecil handles everything by itself (in my humble opinion, the best soldering iron out there, so much nicer than the Weller’s at work).
That sounds smart; I agree that a pinecil makes the idea more modular. The idea I have is based on knowing that there are some car usb-c adapters which can power a pinecil from not only 12v and 24v automotive ranges, but voltages in between. That would let you make it even more modular at the cost of a small bit of efficiency- you could power it not only from any of these common battery packs but also from anything with an automotive output or even bare cells in a copper pipe. (If you cut a thin copper pipe to the right length and put a cap on one end, you can just insert three li-ion or four lifepo4 cells and power an automotive 12v device like that from it.) That’s what I’ve used instead of power tool packs.
To portabilize my tools and equipment, I use 12v, 7ah SLA or gel batts, old tech but simple, cheap and reliable. The addition of a small off the shelf invertor takes care of the voltage conversion. For those who really want to use drill batts, Ryobi makes a nice plug-on invertor, but it’s pricey at $150.
I know the ones, but they die a lot if you use them much. Those small lead ones are often made to sit in a UPS and be replaced every couple years having been barely used. The LiFePO4 kind are very neat.
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