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. Continue reading “Soldering Station Designed Around Batteries”
Retrotechtacular: Solder Like Its 1944!
When we first saw this 1944 US Office of Education film about hand soldering, we figured it might still have some good information. Well, perhaps it does, but the 1944 soldering was with a giant iron, and the work looked more like metal bricks than anything we’ve soldered lately. Of course, the physics is all the same, but some of the terminology, like “sweating in” isn’t anything we’ve heard before, although we have heard of sweat soldering.
They do show some electronic soldering on components, including some interesting-looking coils. But the irons look more like a bad science fiction movie’s idea of a lightsaber. The solder is equally huge, of course.
Power Tool Battery Fume Extractor
A solder fume extractor is something we could probably all use. While there isn’t much to them, [Steven Bennett] put a lot of thought into making one that was better for him, and we admired his design process, as well as the extractor fan itself. You can see the finished result in the video below.
The electrical design, of course, is trivial. A computer fan, a switch, and a battery — in this case, a Makita power tool battery. But the Fusion 360 design for the 3D printed parts got a lot of thought to make this one of the best fume extractor fans we’ve seen.
PCB Hotplate Has Integrated Heating Element Traces
Normally when we talk about PCBs and hotplates, we’re talking about reflowing solder. In this build from [Arnov Sharma], though, the PCB itself is the hotplate!
The idea was to create a compact hotplate for easily reflowing small PCBs. To achieve that, [Arnov] designed a board with a thick coil trace that acts as a heating element. The full coil trace has a resistance of 1.9 ohms, and passing electricity through it generates plenty of heat. Running off a 12 volt supply, the mini hotplate is capable of reaching a maximum temperature of 214°C. Higher voltages can push that figure higher.
The board is intended to self-regulate, with an ATtiny13 onboard and a thermistor to measure temperature. However, in the initial design, this feature didn’t quite work properly. Version 2 is intended to include a better temperature sensor and a OLED screen for displaying the current temperature to the user.
We’ve seen other tiny hotplate builds before, too. They’re great for smaller projects and for hacking on the go! Video after the break.
Continue reading “PCB Hotplate Has Integrated Heating Element Traces”
Whip Up Some Homemade Artisanal Flux
You don’t think much about the power company until you flip the lights on and they don’t come on. The same can be said of soldering flux. You don’t think much about it, usually, until you try soldering without it. Flux has a cleaning action on metal surfaces that allows for a proper solder joint. The problem is, do you have any idea what’s in the flux you are using? We don’t either. [Catsndogs] has a recipe to make your own flux and then you’ll know.
At the heart of rosin flux is basically tree sap. If you live near pine trees, you can source it naturally. If not, you can find it at music instrument stores. Stringed instruments use rosin, so it is readily available. If you do source it yourself, [Catsndogs] reports that it doesn’t matter if it is old or clean. You do want to pick out as much tree bark and dead ants as you can, though. You essentially dissolve it in alcohol (at least 80% isopropyl or ethanol). Then filter it through filter paper or a coffee filter.
You can adjust the viscosity by allowing the alcohol to evaporate to make the mixture thicker or by adding more alcohol to make it thinner. Thicker flux is good for tacking down SMD parts. As you might expect, this isn’t “no clean” flux. Also, the flux is very flammable, so be careful.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of this recipe. Or even the second time. But it is a good reminder that you can make your own free of whatever wacky chemicals are in the commercial preparations.
Controller For 946C Hotplate Adds Reflow Profile Upload Over BLE
Reflow hotplates are a wonderful tool for PCB assembly if you can keep your designs single-sided. The 946C hotplate in particular has been on hackers’ radar for a while – a 200x200mm working surface hotplate available for under $100 is a decent investment. As with other reflow tools, it was a matter of time until someone made a replacement controller for it. This one, you’ll want to keep in mind – it’s a replacement controller project by [Arnaud Durand] and [Elias Rodriguez Martin], called Reflow946.
Keeping to best practices, the board is a drop-in replacement for the stock controller – swap cables over and go. The host processor is an ESP32, and it lets you can program reflow profiles in using BLE, with a Python application to help. The whole design is open-source and on GitHub, of course – keeping with best 3D printing traditions, you can already order the parts and PCBs, and then assemble them using the hotplate you’re about to upgrade. As far as aftermarket controllers go, here’s no doubt this board gives you way more control in reflow and lets you compensate for any possible subpar calibration while at it. Continue reading “Controller For 946C Hotplate Adds Reflow Profile Upload Over BLE”
ESP32 Adds Bluetooth To An IPod Nano
The iPod Nano was one of Apple’s masterworks, but it’s really tied down by its dependence on wired headphones. At least, that’s what [Tucker Osman] must have thought, as he spent an unreasonable amount of time designing a Bluetooth mod for the 3rd gen Nano. And it’s a thing of beauty — temperamental, brutally difficult to build, and fragile in use, but still beautiful. And while some purists try to keep their signal analog, [Tucker]’s coup d’etat is to intercept the iPod’s audio signal before the DAC chip, keeping the entire signal path digital to the Bluetooth speaker. Oh, and he also managed to make the volume and track skip buttons work, back across the wireless void.