In this project I am building a DIY soldering iron kit, in this case a Hakko T12 compatible soldering station. If you are considering buying all the parts shown here, the total cost will be around $42 but you might get a lower cost if you already have some of the parts, either way it's a good value for the performance of the final product.
Step 1: Watch the Build Video!
The video describes the entire build so I recommend watching the video first to get an overview of the project. Then you can come back and read the following steps for more detailed explanation.
Step 2: Order the Required Parts
Depending on your location it might take a while to have these parts delivered to you so I recommend you order these ahead of time. Here you can find a list with links to all the parts I used in the project.
- T12 Soldering Station Kit
- Soldering Station Aluminium Enclosure
- Soldering Iron Stand
- Soldering Station 24V 4A Power Supply
- T12 Soldering Iron Tip Various Types
- Brass Standoffs Kit
- M3 Screw Kit
- Heatshrink Tubing Kit
The kit includes a T12-K soldering tip but since these tips are inexpensive I suggest you get yourself a couple of other tips as well. When soldering it's nice to have a selection of tips to choose from.
You will be needing some brass standoffs and M3 screws/nuts for mounting the power supply to the enclosure so make sure you have those, otherwise you will need to order them. The kit does come with small pieces of heatshrink but in my case those were not enough, I had to use extra.
Step 3: Prepare the Enclosure
Because the power supply didn't had the right dimensions to fit on the lateral mounting rails of the enclosure I had to figure out a different mounting method. I decided to drill four 3mm mounting holes for the power supply, if you are using the same kit/enclosure as I did here I have attached to this step a PDF file containing the drill template on the first page.
The power supply will sit on four M3 6mm brass standoffs that will be installed later. The fifth hole is for connecting the earth connection to the enclosure. This is an important safety feature which we'll take a closer look at later in the wiring step.
To insulate the electronics from the aluminium enclosure I used some thick paper which was cut such as to fit over the mounting holes. It is recommended to use a fire retardant material for this job.
Step 4: Wiring and Assembly
I started the wiring by working on the back panel. First I created an earth connection wire which has a crimped spade connector on one end. The spade connector will be connected with a shake proof washer and nut to the fifth earth hole that I drilled earlier. I also scraped some of the paint from the enclosure to ensure good electrical connection. The other end of the yellow wire will be soldered the IEC mains socket earth pin.
This is an important safety feature, do not skip this step. Since this is a split enclosure design with separate panels, you could also connect separate earth wires to the top and bottom parts of the enclosure or even the front panel. However I did not do this because I checked with a multimeter and there was a good connection just through the enclosure panels touching each other.
The live wire was connected through the switch as this is the usual practice in this type of equipment. The resulting pair of wires white and blue, were connected to the power supply AC input.
I continued with wiring the front panel as well as the handle. For ESD safety the soldering iron tip should be earth connected as well. The kit does have a ground connection from the handle up to the front panel control PCB but it's not actually connected further to any ground point. To fix that I added another yellow wire from the earth pin on the connector to one of the mounting clips on the potentiometer because that is directly connected to the enclosure and will give me a ground connection.
For instruction on how to wire the handle with the provided multi way cable please check the PDF file attached in the previous step because on page 2 it includes a color code wiring diagram.
Step 5: Testing & Final Thoughts
Now I’ll give you my final thoughts on this soldering station kit. It was pretty easy and fun to assemble, and there were no missing parts. The heating time or performance, don’t know how to call it, is very good, around 16 seconds to get from cold to 280° C. When compared to my old analog Gordak 936 station this is a massive improvement because that station takes 53s to get to 280° C
The temperature regulation and temperature measurement accuracy are not excellent but it might improve over time as those hakko T12 tips need a couple of hours of burn-in time until they get stable.
If you are interested in the thermometer I used for testing the soldering iron temperature it is a Hakko FG100 clone.
You should checkout my Youtube channel for more awesome projects: Voltlog Youtube Channel.