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DIY Hot Air Soldering Iron using 12-18volts DC at 2-3 amps

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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 :)
 
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Step 1: From the rubbish dump into my home

Picture of 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!!!
beatobe4 years ago
this tube is very usefull, where i can find it? thanks before :)
You smoke that much?
That's what I was thinking too.
0_Nvd_05 years ago
Current does not like turning sharp corners? Just joking or what?
eh9 0_Nvd_04 years ago
Resistance wire can be brittle, leading to element failure at sharp bends.
0_Nvd_0 eh94 years ago
Yes but I think the wire is at its place. No one is moving it. How will it break?
eh9 0_Nvd_04 years ago
Thermal cycling, which makes everything move.
Notbob5 years ago
"I love pulling things apart...something I never grew out of as a kid. " Me too! A note on improvement; for precision removal, try making a smaller tube that can attach over the end of the main heating/melting tube.
manutea5 years ago
Gee ! nice job-thank you !
Derin5 years ago
NO!CIGARETTES NOT EQUAL TO :)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111
tanmanknex5 years ago
the only danger i could think of would be hot solder being blown onto your hand... great instructable BTW!!!
ruddycrazy5 years ago
This idea is just SOOOOOOOOOOOOO kewl dude. I'll need to put making one of these on my long list of jobbies I have lined up but there is never enough time do what us blokes love to do when da missus screams get my bloody jobs done first. Cheers
Shiron5 years ago
I was wondering... if by any reason, the blower unit fails... what would happen if this baby was at 303ºC and you notice only after an hour?
Protolisk5 years ago
Can you draw a quick diagram of the heating section. As in the nozzle, element, insulation etc. BTW GO AUSSIES!
OMG I didn't realise there was one on the first page.
Shagglepuff5 years ago
I like breaking stuff too! yaay!
uzerzero6 years ago
This seems like it would be a little more dangerous than a standard soldering iron, since it's a little harder to dodge hot air than a metal rod... Have you gotten any serious injuries from it? Or more so than from a regular one? I love this idea though, if I had the parts I would definitely build one. The soldering irons in our labs are pretty nice, but they still do take a while to heat up. If this were mass produced, I'll have to convince the school to buy some :)
OzzyRoo (author)  uzerzero6 years ago
lol....the only serious injury I got was from the original soldering iron when I grabbed by accident the HOT barrel instead of some wires...lol...I actually have the scar from it in one of these instructable pics ;) This barrel on my mod is much cooler AND safer. The air velocity is not even close to being dangerous. If you stuck the nozzle near your eye and looked down the spout one inch away, I think it would hurt though. The heat was most intense <1cm away from exit nozzle...I actually had the nozzle pointing at the palm of my hand 15cm away and it wasn't even exciting my pain receptors. As far as mass producing, this idea is already taken I believe, I just reinvented the wheel with I had available saving heaps of $$$
mattccc OzzyRoo6 years ago
that happend to me
OzzyRoo (author)  OzzyRoo6 years ago
forgot to mention...you don't need the exact the list of parts....if you adhere to my concept and then see what you have available, I am sure you could rig something up...my second, final hot air soldering iron I am currently making (this one here is the prototype to see if the idea worked) actually has the main body from an old electric scooter handle and the nozzles are interchangeable with the brass tips from old weed killer sprayers....be resourceful :)
ledzep5676 years ago
hahahahaha this is awesome!!!!!! do they let you wander around the dump looking for things???(they dont where i live, they just have these dumpsters that are emptied daily that they let you search)
Are you sure it is 3 amps? That seems rather High. Good Job. (the multimeter can lie =0
OzzyRoo (author)  Itsgoofytime6 years ago
actually was 2.4 amps...I lied and multimeter was right...lol...rounded off to what was possible ;)
chalky7 years ago
absolutely fantastic insructable mate your a genius :)
OzzyRoo (author)  chalky7 years ago
Thanks for the compliment mate. I am working on a more permanent model that will actually BLOW melted solder away, allowing for easy removal of components without cooking them. The same unit will also be able to solder components together...all depends on your chosen setting of heat temperature and amount of air being forced out.
Awesome job. I love the resourceful multi-stage reducer. +
OzzyRoo (author)  stevoIution6 years ago
rofl ;)
oh, so its a heat gun? (well accurater)
OzzyRoo (author)  !Andrew_Modder!7 years ago
Works on the principal of a heat gun. Unlike the heat gun, this one solders and strips...what you want to use it for is obviously dependent on your desired temperature which is variable to your choice of course :)
Great ingenuity.
OzzyRoo (author)  Patrick Pending7 years ago
Thanks mate...now I have had time to think about it, this baby is pretty much like a mini, variable hot air paint stripper.
RIGHT ON! Awesome idea!
OzzyRoo (author)  KeenBeanMachine7 years ago
Cheers mate. It was just all that...an idea and an afternoon creating it.
Impressive, it seems like a hot air soldering iron would be easier for a lot of tasks.
OzzyRoo (author)  Weissensteinburg7 years ago
Yeah mate...having created this little baby yesterday, I am not going back to using solder tips that fry the backside off of chips and other components while you wait for things to heat up properly because your tip is full of gunk and eaten away from too much solder acid and refuses to melt the solder ;)