Inside A Cordless Soldering Station

There was a time when soldering stations were unusual in hobby labs. These days, inexpensive stations are everywhere. [Kerry Wong] looks at the TS1C station, which is tiny and cordless. As he points out, cordless irons are not new, but modern battery technology has made them much more practical. However, this iron doesn’t actually have a battery.

The iron has a large 750 Farad supercapacitor. This has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, a supercapacitor charges quickly and doesn’t get weaker with each charging cycle like a conventional battery. On the minus side, the large capacitor makes the unit bulky compared to normal irons. [Kerry] notes that it is ergonomic, though, and he felt comfortable holding it. Also, the supercapacitor limits the amount of charge available while soldering.

It is somewhat of a balance, though. If you want to take the iron and climb a tower, you might be very interested in a longer running time. But if you return the unit to the base every few minutes, the fast charging of the cap will compensate for the lower capacity, and you’ll probably never notice it go flat.

The iron itself doesn’t display any data. The display is on the base, meaning the devices must be paired via Bluetooth. It also requires a PD-enabled USB-C connection, so you can’t just wire it to a battery. You can plug a power supply right into the iron if you prefer, but you still can’t use a simple power connection.

Of course, you assume it does an adequate job of soldering. We wanted to see inside! And [Kerry] didn’t disappoint. If you want to see soldering, skip to about the 10-minute marker. The teardown starts at around 16 minutes.

Honestly, for the bench, we’d probably stick with a wired iron. You don’t always want a base and a PD power supply for a portable iron. But if you absolutely hate cords, this could be a reasonable answer. We’ve seen another review of this iron that didn’t like the plastic casings. Maybe it is like Jedi and lightsabers: you should just build your own.

16 thoughts on “Inside A Cordless Soldering Station

  1. Rather than a capacitor, they could use LTO batteries. If it’s a lithium capacitor the cycle life might not be infinite anyway.

    Hopefully Pine64 will make a next gen cheap version!

    1. LTO has quote low capacity and change\discharge efficacy really close to Lead Acid(so heat is a problem) + high price make it rather poor chose compared to LFP with same or similar change/discharge cycles + little bit higher capacity and lower price.

  2. What a supercapator? 15 years ago on makezine blog was this diy 9v Block supercapacitor battery with charger. And at that time a talked with a electrical engineer why WE did used IT. He Said that he learned that super Caps lose in short time 50% of their Capacity so they older rapidly faster than batterys. Did this changed?

    The makezine diy project was really interesting, with charging Times of 20 seconds.

    Ahh, i miss the short Videos with Bree pettis.

    1. Super capacitors tend to have very high self discharge, meaning that of they aren’t charged they can lose most of their stored energy in a few days. This doesn’t effect capacity though, they will still store the same amount of energy once charged up.

  3. “These days, inexpensive stations are everywhere. [Kerry Wong] looks at the TS1C station, which is tiny and cordless”

    I got excited, checked Taobao and these TS1C stations sell for 800 RMB, so not exactly “inexpensive”.

  4. I’ve used gas-based soldering pens in the 90s.
    They looked like the famous “pencil torch” model.

    Btw, better not use normal lighter gas for refilling. It must be proper Butane gas, afaik.
    Otherwise, these fire sticks may take damage or don’t work correctly (no jet flame).
    There must be enough pressure and such for a correct burn process.

  5. That is not a super capacitor, that is a Lithium Ion Capacitor. Supercaps have 6 times lower energy density, lower voltage and higher internal leakage compared to LICs. I think supercaps dont have any benefits over Lithium Ion Capacitor.

  6. I don’t know what these super caps cost or if it is a significant part of the cost of this thing but I’m not going to pay EUR150 for a soldering iron anymore. I once paid over EUR200 for a weller station, and it’s quite usable, but not worth it’s price. A decent soldering station can be bought for around EUR50, and upto around EUR100 there is plenty of choice and that is expensive enough for a good iron, unless you have really specific wishes. How important is “cordless” to you? I am in the category, “it has some advantages, but it may not have disadvantages (battery life etc) and I’m not willing to pay much more for it.

    So overall, this is not the thing for me, but your opinion may be different.

  7. “There was a time when soldering stations were unusual in hobby labs” – what, the 1950’s? I started to do electronics as a hobby in the last 60’s, and most of the people I knew had one. And the weller I bought in the mid 70’s is still being used today…

    I refuse to use any appliance – including soldering – that requires me to download an app and run it on my phone. Far to risky..

    1. I think the same. I suppose the article meant other hobbies besides electrics/electronics. Soldering stations are nowadays being found on workbenches of woodworking people (for engraving), on desks of people who work with modeling (plastic can be melted accurately with a soldering tip, albeit at the risk of ruining it for electrical works).

      Or maybe, it’s about the fact that those basic soldering irons with an AC power cord and without termal regulations are on the decline?

      Back “in the day” soldering stations, with dedicated transformer and holder were less popular to my understanding. People not into electronics rather that those aforementioned soldering irons in their toolbox, without further accessories. Some even didn’t own a holder and put the iron on the desk or ground, which was very dangerous.

      Btw, my dad and me are long-time Weller Magnastat users. Those blueish models from the 1970s/80s. We’re still amazed about how long they last and how quietly they do their work. They’re great tools that don’t get into the way. Vy73s

    2. I think station is the operative word maybe. So from non temp control up through the ones with a dial on the handle on the handle that has no sense of accuracy or precision to temp. And I would include in this list of outdated tech the ones that measure the temp away from the tip. You can get dirt cheap true temp control these days. There is no excuse not to grab a pinecil to replace those ceramic heater ones with the small dumb (no electronics) metal tips.

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