Spot Welding …Plastic?

Plastic milk bottles, when your project or prototype needs an urgent source of plastic, they are often the first thing to hand. Convenient and flexible, but strong at the same time and usually free, they’re the ultimate source of material in a pinch. However, when it comes to actually manipulating the HDPE plastic they’re made from, there’s often a challenge. It’s easy to cut, but not so easy to join. Conventional glues can have a hard time, making it difficult to bond.

Enter [zimitt], and a spot welding solution for joining HDPE with ease. Ok, so ‘spot welding’ might be a little optimistic given the speed of this process, but it’s useful nonetheless. To heat the plastic, a cheap soldering iron is recommended. A low wattage, straight-to-the-wall one does well, especially as they commonly have the washer-style end shown in the picture. To protect the plastic from burning, a BBQ mat is used – they’re temperature resistant and usually made with a PTFE surface.

First, place the two sheets of plastic face to face and sandwich top and bottom with the BBQ mat. Apply some heat to the mat with the soldering iron then, after a few seconds, remove the iron and provide pressure with a flat object to bond the plastic. [zimitt] used an espresso tamper for this which was ideal.

The results are impressive, and [zimitt] experiments with different plastics as well. Of course, you should exercise caution when attempting anything like this, given the health risks present when heating up different types of plastic.

HDPE is easy to recycle at home, and we’ve seen a lot of great uses: a plastic joiner’s mallet, plastic tiles, and even a filament extruder for 3D printing.

Build Your Own Portable Arduino Soldering Iron

At this point you’ve almost certainly seen one of these low-cost portable soldering irons, perhaps best exemplified by the TS100, a pocket-sized temperature controlled iron that can be had for as little as $50 USD from the usual overseas suppliers. Whether or not you’re personally a fan of the portable irons compared to a soldering station, the fact remains that these small irons are becoming increasingly popular with hackers and makers that are operating on a budget or in a small workspace.

Believing that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, [Electronoobs] has come up with a DIY portable soldering iron that the adventurous hacker can build themselves. Powered by an ATMega328p pulled out of an Arduino Nano, if offers the same software customization options of the TS100 but at a considerably lower price. Depending on where you source your components, you should be able to build one of these irons for as little as $15.

The iron features a custom PCB and MAX6675 thermocouple amplifier to measure tip temperature. A basic user interface is provided by two tactile buttons on the PCB as well as an 128×32 I2C OLED display. In a future version, [Electronoobs] says he will look into adding some kind of sensor to detect when the iron is actually being used and put it to sleep when inactive.

The tip is sourced from a cheap soldering station replacement iron, and according to [Electronoobs], is probably the weakest element of the entire build. He’s looking into using replacement TS100 tips, but says he’ll need to redesign his electronics to make it compatible. The case is a simple 3D printed affair, which looks solid enough, but seems likely to be streamlined in later versions.

We’ve seen a number of attempts at DIY soldering irons over the years, but we have to say, this one is probably the most professional we’ve ever seen. It will be interesting to see how future revisions improve on this already strong initial showing.

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A Sneak Peek At The TS100 Soldering Iron’s Younger Sibling

Many readers will be familiar with the TS100 soldering iron, a lightweight and powerful tool with an integrated temperature controller in its handle based upon an STM32 microcontroller. As an iron it’s a joy to use, it has hackable code, and it has become a firm favourite within our community. There have been rumours of a TS100 stablemate for some time now, with the model number being touted as a TS200 and with it being said to be USB-C powered. But beyond those tidbits, until now there has been not a lot to go on.

So [Marco Reps]’ video that we’ve placed below the break is a particularly interesting one, featuring as it does a prototype of the iron in question. It’s called the TS80 but there is evidence on its PCB that it has held the TS200 moniker in the past, it’s USB-C powered, and it features a new integrated heating element and bit with a Weller-style 3.5mm jack connector.

He runs it through a battery of tests and finds it to perform very well indeed, sometimes better than the TS100 despite his not having a USB-C power source capable of supplying the same voltage that his TS100 gets through its DC jack. To be clear, the TS100 is still a very good iron indeed, this one is simply a little bit better. Inside a sturdier metal barrel is a PCB with the STM32 on board as well as an OLED display that looks a little smaller than the one on the TS100. The shorter element receives praise, while the TS100 is hardly a long iron it is always good to get as close to the action as possible.

There is a concern over the lack of a DC jack and its reliance on USB-C, though he points out that with the appropriate cables and increasing USB-C adoption this should not remain a problem for long. We’d be interested to ensure that it can be powered through the USB-C socket from a simple DC power source such as a battery though, as that flexibility is such a bonus with the TS100.

So then, the TS80 is coming, but the TS100 is still a very good iron indeed so there’s no need to throw yours away any time soon. It’s an iron we look forward to seeing when it arrives though, and no doubt we’ll give you our verdict.

You can see our TS100 review if that takes your fancy, and while you’re at it take a look at one of the community’s most awesome TS100 hacks. [Marco] muses on how long it’ll be before someone has their TS80 playing audio through that 3.5mm jack.

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Homebrew Not a Hakko

We don’t know if [Marius Taciuc] was thinking about how all Jedi make their own lightsabers as a rite of passage, but he decided that it was time to build his own soldering iron. He used a Hakko T12 tip which has a built-in thermocouple. However, he found that the information on the Internet about the tips was either incomplete or incorrect. Naturally, he figured it out and you can see the completed iron in the video, below.

The problem stems from the thermocouple type. Some sites he found identified it as a type K device. Others said it wasn’t, but didn’t say what kind it was. He took a container of oil and heated it to various temperatures and then measured it with both a commercial soldering iron and the T12 tip. By plotting the data against known thermocouple curves, he concluded the device was actually type C.

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Reviewing the HBTool HB-019 Desoldering Iron: It Probably Won’t Shock You

This unholy lovechild of a cheap solder sucker and an even cheaper soldering iron is the HBTool HB-019 desoldering iron. It came to me for the princely sum of five pounds ($7). So for somewhere between the cost of a pint of foaming ale and the pub’s pie and mash I’d eat alongside it, what had I got?

Regular Hackaday readers will be familiar with my penchant for ordering cheap tools and other electronic gizmos from the usual suppliers of Far Eastern tech, and subjecting them to review for your entertainment and edification. Sometimes the products are so laughably bad as to be next-to-worthless, other times they show enough promise to be of use, and just occasionally they turn out to be a genuine diamond in the rough, a real discovery. This is no precious stone, but it still makes for an entertaining review. Continue reading “Reviewing the HBTool HB-019 Desoldering Iron: It Probably Won’t Shock You”

Retrofit Temperature Control to a Soldering Station

We’ve probably all seen USB soldering irons advertised for very little money, and concluded that they might not necessarily be the most useful of tools. The cheapest of these lack any real temperature regulation. Enter [Paulo Bruckmann], who has attached a thermistor to his iron with Kapton tape, added an Arduino Uno clone with rotary encoder and Nokia LCD, and put the result in a 3D printed case for a tiny and low powered temperature controlled soldering station. The claimed cost is only $10, which seems credible given the low price of Arduino clones.

The software provides the expected PID control, with the advantage of very quick warm-up due to the tip’s tiny size. The power source is 9 V rather than a USB 5 V, so the combination gives an iron capable of working on much larger joints than when unmodified. He therefore seems to have created what appears to be a significantly more capable iron from this unpromising start, something we find quite impressive. Take a look at his video below the break.

We reviewed one of these little irons last year, and found it to be a toy, but not a joke. Meanwhile we’ve seen some other mods for them, including a pair of desoldering tweezers.

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Review: CXG E90W Temperature-Controlled Soldering Iron

It’s an entertaining pastime when browsing the array of wonders available from the other side of the world at the click of the mouse, to scour the listings of the unusual, the interesting, or the inexpensive. Sometimes when you find something unexpected you are rewarded with a diamond in the rough, while at other moments your bargain basement purchase is revealed as a hilariously useless paperweight. This is a game in which the stake is relatively low and the reward can be significant, so rarely does an order for some parts or sundries go by without a speculative purchase.

The latest to arrive is a soldering iron. The CXG E90W is a 90W mains-powered temperature controlled iron with its control electronics built into its handle. Such irons are by no means unusual, what makes this one different is that it has a low price tag.

The Miniware TS100, an iron I quite like and the current darling of the pack, is priced at nearly £50 ($71). Just how can this iron priced at just under £15 ($21) be any good? I placed one on the order, and waited for delivery.

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