Charper's Hot Air Soldering Iron
An easy DIY project on a college student budget
This project stemmed from the desire to remove (and perhaps one day re-solder) surface mount components. In it's entireity (pictures and all), it took less that two hours and $20. Even if you have to buy everything, I believe the cost could easily be kept under $30. Comparatively, I could not find a hot air soldering iron retain for under $200. Every entrepreneuring young electrical engineer needs to work on some project to satisfy curiosities and take things apart... right? Well, at least I do!
Step 1: Purchased Items
I can't remember where this soldering iron came from, and I've been asked questions about it - if somebody could send me a link or tell me a location where a similar iron could be purchased, I would greatly appreciate it.
Update 2: A reader, Daltore, suggests the "Hakko 503" soldering iron. His full suggestion and reasoning is in the comments below.
Also, there has been a lot of comment on the heat exchanger. Instead of the stainless steel, you could try stripped copper wire, solder wick, or purchase actual copper mesh somewhere.
Aquarium air tubing: $1.13
Aquarium air pump: $6.97
"Chore Boy" Stainless Steel scrubber: $1.37
"Zebra F-301" pens: $4.73
Other items needed:
Soldering Iron, 40 watts or higher
Silicone Fuel Tubing
Dremel (or similar drilling/grinding tool)
The silicone tubing is used as a fuel line in model airplanes, it's reasonably cheap and I'm sure you could find it easily at a local hobby shop or from Froogle, Amazon, or Ebay. Fortunately for me, Aerospace Engineering is big here at MSU, so it wasn't hard to find a friend that didn't mind giving me some. Feel free to come up with a substitute for this if you can - but this stuff seems to hold up extremely well to the heat of the soldering iron.