This is my first eva posting of a DIY article on the web. So excuse me for some typo stuff, protocol etc. The following instructions show how to make a WORKING hot air soldering iron suitable for ALL uses requiring soldering. This hot air soldering iron is not limited to SMT (surface mount technology) devices or super thin soldering wire. In under 15 seconds from turning this baby on, I reached in excess of 300 degrees centigrade hot air. I still had room for more...lol. The cost for me was under $10 Australian dollars. plus petrol for my car to get to the local dump and back home again. If you don't have a regulated power supply, I am sure an ATX power supply or two hooked up in series together would deliver enuff gutz to power up your version. If you do it this way, a potentiometer is essential for adjusting amperage output as well as DC voltage. This hole unit is SAFE from electrical shock due to high voltage/current hazards typical of mains powered AC supplies, but if you have a poor ticker...use protection :)
Step 1: From the Rubbish Dump Into My Home
I didn't have much faith that I would be able to get anything useful out of these hot air guns when i bought them at the local dump for next to nothing. After I pulled them apart, some bits worked and others did not. It was just a matter of throwing away the useless bits and keeping the good and then some more for spare later on should my iron fail in years to come. Once I had collected what I thought could be useful to make my idea reality, I laid them all out before me and pondered over them with a few coffees and cigarettes.
INTRODUCTION: Yesterday morning, my 50 watt soldering iron shat itself. Tragic I know...lol. The main tragedy was that I had no $$$ to get another. Well I had sum money, but not enuff to get me another one. I am a freelance photographer, a poor one at that and am working on using PWM (pulse width modulation) to regulate voltage supplies from small lead acid batteries scavenged from old battery powered scooters. The electronic stuff to make my PWM voltage regulators I get from desoldering old ATX power supplies and televisions etc.. Linear regulators are too inefficient to meet my portable needs for power, as this power will ultimately be used to control my off camera flashes and other stuff. Anyways, back to the meat of this presentation :)
A two hour Google search on the WWW revealed sum people converted their soldering irons into hot air solder irons. But they were all working before they modified them and mine was deadfrom the outset...lol. Also the other creations I saw on the web were largely confined to removing the smaller SMT electronic bits. I did notice that in my quick review of other peoples "creations" that they all had the same basic flaw and problem: exposing enough cold air passing through their devices to heat at the element before leaving the solder iron. Most people came up with ideas of inserting copper or iron mesh into the barrel near the element to increase the surface area of the heating element exposed to the passing through colder air.
My experience with this method used by others, reminded me of my earlier Peltier cooling experiments I later used for my marine aquarium....that was with heat transfer problems. Oopsy...got side tracked ;) Anyways, I always wanted to remove bulk components from PCB boards using those coal guzzling paint stripping hot air guns. But I haven't got the $$$ for that either! So I figured on making a soldering iron that could act like a hot air gun and also a delicate soldering iron. So after several cups of coffee and many cigarettes and many more Google searches, I had in the back of my mind some idea of all the gadgets I needed to get myself a working soldering iron...off to the local dump. I love the dump...so much useful stuff and cheap too!! Much like going into a hardware store to window browse. $10 ozzy dollars later I left the dump with 2 laptops and three paint stripping hot air guns. The guns had seen better days and I didn't have much hope at getting anything out of them that might work. The laptops I am keeping for their LCD screens that I will use for my DIY movie projector :) But that is another project. At home, I pulled the the air guns apart. I love pulling things apart...something I never grew out of as a kid. SORRY mumsy and dad!!!