Step 10: Wrapping it like a present...

Picture of Wrapping it like a present...
Thoughts and ideas.. I'll add things here as I think of it, or as I discuss with people. I'll also post updates of further experiments and improvements.

The lead could be extended and if used carefully, it could be used to solder in places that many traditional irons could not reach.

This could be made into a tweezers. Pinching the part between the leads. Neato.

I should just replace the jumper wire on the power supply with a switch.

I could probably replace the PC supply with a battery pack. Sure, I would make it something like three car batteries on my back, but a few AA might work.

The tip does cool nearly instantly. The carbon radiates the excess heat off really quickly.

The middle spacer on the tip should really be something that won't melt. Let me know if you have any good ideas.
EDIT: Regular glass.. why didn't I think of that....

To regulate the power to the tip, I could use a simple rheostat. Something like a dimmer switch or the pedal from a sewing machine.

This is just a first pass at making something of this sort. Its delicate and somewhat unwieldy at the moment and I broke the lead at least three times while I was testing things. I leave it to you to make a better one. If I don't do it first.

I have now procured (Dumm dum dummmmmmmm) Two AA batteries I am going to strip for the carbon cores. If it works out OK, I'll update with pics and such.

This was fun and cheap.

Many thanks to my lovely future wife Jackie for picture-help. Come check out our other strangeness:
kurshiukas2 years ago
I duno, but using clay for a spacer was my first thought :)
Eng_enth2 years ago
Could you use Char-Kole drawing charcoal sticks with a higher voltage to create an iron that will handle large metal pieces?
That is what I am interested in doing.
turbojet4 years ago
If I can have an advice, you should replace the PC power supply with anything else, because it wastes lots of energy (at least ATX does). 10-15 Watts are quite enough for soldering, and since you built a soldering device, the new power supply can be built easily.

You'll need a casing, 230 VAC male connector with a cable, a 230 to 5 volts transformer, 4 diodes (5V 4A) for a graetz-bridge, a Zener connecting the 5V circuit to the ground for your safety, and a - let's say - 4A fuse also for safety. I assume you know how to build a simple power supply out of this. Then you just connect the output of the circuit to the soldering iron through a switch, push-switch, potentiometer, goldfish, goulash, testicles, whatever you want. The power drawn from the network will approximately equal to power used for work, and no power loss on monitoring and control circuitry will be introduced.
eyerobot5 years ago
This is an excellent idea, And a fine instructible. I'll be actively testing materials for use on this project. If I find anything useful, I'll post it here for everyone.
hey! nice work here....I absolutely love the Idea, I design and build robots and this would work perfect. Food for Thought........What about using some formed JB weld for the tip insulator? Its non-conductive and seriously strong......Just a thought
photozz (author)  threewingwonder6 years ago
hm.. How well does JB hold up to heat? I could see mixing it up and almost casting a tip with slots for the leads. The tip does need to withstand 200-500 degrees without burning though.
JB Weld can withstand up to 600 degrees farenheight before it starts burning and smelling really bad. btw, i have that same multimeter that's in the background. lol
We use it on engine blocks, rods and things on an engine and they heat up quite a bit. Anyway it was just an idea. I design and build all kinds of things. I havent done an Istructable because I dont have the time cause I always building and designinglol
photozz (author)  threewingwonder6 years ago
btw... I need a kill-bot to slay my enemie... I mean help me with my chores....
I am working on a security bot noe , It looks similar to Johnny 5. It roams the house checking for locked doors and windows and smoke and fire and intruders, if smoke or fire or intruder is detected -it calls my cell and my wifes cell and 911. It has voice capability with a voice chip. all done with a Basic Stamp2 microcontroller.
ManifoldSky6 years ago
BTW, an original, old application for this is as cigarette lighters while in jail! Don't ask me how I know ;-x
photozz (author)  ManifoldSky6 years ago
nothing wrong with that. who hasn't done a nickle in the joint.
Well, mine was for not having a dog on a leash! (Yeah, don't mess with me,)
photozz (author)  ManifoldSky6 years ago
ManifoldSky6 years ago
Not sure why you are going to all the trouble to cut the leads from the PSU and reconnect them with tape or wire nuts. Just wire the two ends from the iron to a spare male connector (get it from the same crappy PC you got the PSU from) and then attach to the female connector from the PSU. That way you can disconnect from the PSU when needed, and you don't have it bouncing around when you want to move things around. Just a thought.
photozz (author)  ManifoldSky6 years ago
the short answer was: laziness. Plain laziness. I didn't have any spare make connectors laying around. I also didn't want this particular PSU to be usable any more. It's a little under powered and the tolerances are not great on it. And it had angered me. Using a clippers on it was the fastest way to get the voices to stop.
You apparently do not own a ball peen hammer. Actually, I have found that any hammer does the job quite nicely.
photozz (author)  ManifoldSky6 years ago
I own two, of various sizes. I also have a 5 and 8 pound sledge. I save those for special occasions and holidays.
photozz (author)  photozz6 years ago
I was going to correct myself for saying "Male" as well, then i noticed I typed "Make". Its amazing I can get in the shower in the morning.
And after a quick trip to the plastic surgeon for the sex change operation, you're all set (i.e., whoops reversed the genders of the connectors down there. Nothing a little intense Freudian psychoanalysis can't make worse.) This can also be interpreted as: this site needs an edit function
PJA6 years ago
Instead of struggling to cut grooves in hard, brittle dusty stuff, leave the insulating spacer flat and cut the grooves in the copper.
photozz (author)  PJA6 years ago
That would work as well. I cut the groves in the plex in an effort to get the two leads as close together as I could.
Mrs. Trydle6 years ago
I used a curling iron, for most of the build, it has a built in thermostat, on/off button, and the pieces inside the barrel were perfect for attaching the leads. I had a short in my psu, but no soldering iron to fix the loose connection. Thank you for this instructable, it helped me soooo much.
gwtnz6 years ago
For those of you who want to get a bit more industrial / some other ideas what to do with it, check this model railroading link out: model railroading resistance soldering and this one that it's based on: Don Thomas resistance solderer

Btw, won't the sharp turn-on, turn-off power changes affect the PSU? Can't imagine that's too good for it, but hey, if it survives ok, it's a pretty neat hack!

How about some kind of momentary push button on the handle to make the prongs live, instead of a foot activated thing?

Also, the thin glass slides used for microscopes might be a useful substitute for the plexi / mica; don't know. Not sure how it would do for the heat aspect.
Koil_16 years ago
This is one of the sweetest ideas I've seen so far. I did things a bit different though. I took the bit out of a soldering gun and replaced it with contacts and some old carbon ark lamp rods I had. I carved them down with the Dremel and used automotive hose clamps to secure them to the posts. After cutting the slivers of carbon things were a bit messy. In hindsight I probably should have cannibalized a couple #2 pencils. The thing is this gives you a high amperage, low voltage source with a switch in it's own neat little package. I was impressed that it worked so much better than the Cold Heat that I got for Christmass last year. Thanks for the instructable! It's a direction I might not have otherwise taken...
photozz (author)  Koil_16 years ago
Estwald6 years ago
Instead of Plexiglas why not unglazed ceramic ? The little pieces used in 2 pin halogen lamp sockets come to mind. A little work with a Dremel and a silicon carbide grinding point would make the grooves easy.
photozz (author)  Estwald6 years ago
Great idea! I might have a socket i can sacrifice in the basement....
Zha6 years ago
What a great idea! Mechanical pencil cartridges have many of the features that you're building into the tip with those random bits of material, including a reliable graphite handling and dispensing system and are often made of insulating material. They often come with a metal cylinder at the tip, to which you could easily solder +5 and ground. Mounting two such devices on the body of a drafting compass would provide a way to adjust and fix the tip width.
photozz (author)  Zha6 years ago
I'll have to check out Office Max and see what they have. Nice idea.
kool_ass6 years ago
wow, nice instructable. can i use the graphite lead of ordinary pencils, not the thin refills? I'm a klutz and so, a thicker lead might do the job for me. thanks
photozz (author)  kool_ass6 years ago
I would say yes? but test first. I had on and off luck with that.
saxman20066 years ago
For the grafite tips, you could use artists or draftsman's grafite leads. I don't know where they're sold now, but they're each about 5" long and about 1/8" dia, that's think enough to file to a point and they're MUCH stronger.
photozz (author)  saxman20066 years ago
suddenly in the wilderness a lone voice is heard to yell. "To the art store" *scramble *scramble**** coat on.. out the door.. *sound of a car door slamming*** tires screeching*** cat meowing in the most unpleasant and surprised way..

Thumbs up! Great idea.. I'll try to get some.

I had also considered cutting a regular #2 pencil in half and hooking the leads up.
saxman20066 years ago
...sorry..not enough coffee....second line of previous post should be "....,that's THICK enought to file..."
oriononfire6 years ago
If you were to use regular glass how would you make groves to hold the pencil leads? Thanks for the great project!
Yup Dremel with a diamond bit or groove the metal clamps. I really wouldn't advise using a water spray anywhere near a mains powered tool. There should only be a little bit of dust anyway.
For the graphite spacer I have loads of dud Tubes or Electron Valves kicking around which all contain nice Mica spacers.
Great Instructable, well done
how about in the copper pieces?
photozz (author)  oriononfire6 years ago
Dremel tool and grinding wheel, prob. Keep it wet with a spray bottle to keep the dust down.
110100101106 years ago
piece of a circuit board it does burn and emit bad vapors but at relatively high temperature you can try to make the leads near the thing remain cool. coil on them a tight coil of thin wire for the first few mm. the coil shorts this place in the lead so unless it fuses it should short the actual lead and heat less