Picture of How to Make a Solder Buddy (from sheet plastic)
SB 11.png
[UPDATE - Thank you to everyone who voted in the UP! 3D Printer Contest - I was lucky to win an UP! Plus, so now I can proceed with Solder Buddy Mark III (Mark II is improving Mark I with you suggestions below) and then release the CAD files*.
*I am also looking for CAD software to do this in [sponsorship welcome if you know anyone who works for a CAD company!] - as Sketch-Up is going to take forever!

The full videos are up in a playlist, here.   Everything is free on Design Modelling, so thanks for your support!

Hello, I'm Jude - and I'm a Design Engineer. I've been making models of all sort of things since I was a kid... however, I've been doing it professionally for it for about 4 years now and I'm still enjoying it immensely!

I created a website called Design Modelling  and I’ve been running workshops showing people how to use simple materials to explore their ideas, be it for professional work or personal creative projects... as some point it really helps to get ideas out of your head and into your (or someone elses) hands!

Solder Buddy was a quick project that I did one evening to show the possibilities for what could be made with ABS plastic sheet. I’ve had a few requests on how I did this so I have uploaded an Instructable. However, if you are new to working with plastic or would like to know a few ‘pro’ tips I’ve picked up along the way, check out the techniques first.

This instructable should be a good example to show the possibilities of working in plastic, but if you are really serious about learning, I have a full video going into more detail of how I made this and explaining some of the design thinking behind it, here. The combination of the techniques covered and the application will be valuable to anyone trying to create robust models for the design industry.

Please let me know how you get on (Design Modelling on Facebook) - and have fun!
Hey Jude (author) 2 years ago
Wooo! Made the finals. At last - my own Instructables T-Shirt. Will be worn with pride =)

Thanks for everyone who voted - and especially to those of you who posted your awesome creations of your own Solder Buddy. I've learned some great tips from you guys!

I look forward to working on the CAD for the Mark II soon. Stay tuned.
macobt2 years ago
Very good tool and good instructable how to make it.
Here is my version:
Hey Jude (author)  macobt2 years ago
This is OUTSTANDING. Love it!
Really excited to see it working so well. Will you put up a few details...
...I have actually made a alternate speed controller using the potentiometer out of the Servo (HS 311) which will change the speed. I will show it on the Mark II, I think, as it's a nice way to 'recycle' the guts of the servo.

However, it looks like your electronics skills are far more advanced than mine! - as it looks like you used a 555Timer Chip and some other stuff to control the speed, right? Would you kindly upload your circuit diagram for everyone to see.

Really excited to see this, thanks so much - and hope you enjoy using it! Please let me know of any 'bugs' with the design I should consider for Mk II.
demond1012 years ago
well hello i have now made my own solder dispenser pen /solder buddy it works great and has a reverse off and on switch i used recycled parts from my parts bins and around the area im am going to add a power in put connector so i can run it off my pc bench top psu and save on batterers thank you for making such a great instructable here's a photo of it
Hey Jude (author)  demond1012 years ago
This has truly made my day. Thanks =)

If you fancy taking a few more pics from different angles/close-ups, this would also be great on the Design Modelling Facebook, if you'd like to add them there as well as here?
This is so well documented and the solder buddy looks a joy to use. Now I'll have to have one! I'll try to make a spring loaded wheel so that I can use different thicknesses of solder.
Hey Jude (author)  bricabracwizard2 years ago
Awesome - I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I think I confess in the video that I had considered it, but was not sure how to do it just yet. Certainly one for the Mark II version!
WOW, incredible project, I laughed with joy watching the solder move forward in your video, this is awesome :)
MoTinkerGNome7 months ago

This is a bloody Brilliant project mate. I am gonig to have to make one as I reinvented the wheel with a Mechanical pencil solder feeder and was sketching up a way to electrically feed.. Old servos I have solder I have old brake cable etc. YOU ARE THE MAN! Thanks for making.

Biscuitus7 months ago

I'm sorry I didn't find this when voting was enabled but congratulations and thank you very much for this. I've used MIG welders before and quite honestly I don't know how I didn't think of this so cheers to you mate! I'm going to make one for myself, the only addition will be some free spinning small bearings to ensure the solder is straight. I know I don't have to worry about it, but sometimes OCD can be a mother.

Hey Jude (author)  Biscuitus7 months ago

Sounds cool - would love to see how you get on. I've been wondering about how best to 'tension'/'spring-load' the roller system so that it can accommodate solder ranging from 0.3-0.7mm dia. to avoid slippage.(I think most people on this site are a bit compelled to obsess; so join the club!)

I was thinking of applying a small coat of RTV (silicone gasket sealer) as that would allow for most common sizes to pass through as the RTV would deform or I could slot the holder of the middle roller use socket head cap screws to adjust the tension as needed. I'll need to sketch it out first as you bring up a good point.

Hey Jude (author)  Biscuitus7 months ago

Good suggestion. I'll certainly keep it in mind. I've used RTV a lot at my last job and it has a good 'tacky' feel when dry - good for friction and compliance to the wire.

From electronics guys I've spoken to - most have a 'favourite' gauge of Solder, and most use the 'thinner' stuff, so I'll probably optimise it for this and see how it copes with thicker solder.

flokeiner7 months ago

Wazzup with Mk2 or Mk3?

Hey Jude (author)  flokeiner7 months ago

Funny you should ask - it's been a busy 'interval' between this an now. I've got sponsorship from SolidWorks to release the CAD for 3D Printing, and I've been learning Arduino coding to try to make a 'click=forward / doubleclick=backward' command with the Solder Feed. I've also found a better alternative to a brake cable. Needing some time to put it all together, but I'll be sure to keep Instructables posted :o)

Solder Buddy - Trinket Wiring.jpg
Very nice :D just asked because there wasn´t an update for a long time. I thought about building one and didn´t know if i should wait or just build the mk1
Hey Jude (author)  flokeiner7 months ago

Yeah - long time indeed. I felt that I wanted to explore different user experiences with this, so hence the Arduino (and learning it).

As you can probably gather - I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I'll do the MkII when I'm pleased with it. Sorry to keep you waiting ;o)

Lucif3r9451 year ago


Best. Dispenser. Ever. I am so going to build one of these, although I know it wont be nearly as good looking as yours (mainly because I dont have the patience :/). I think Im going to add a motor/servo to the solderholderpin-thingy as well so it can also be reversed without tangling itself up :)

Also great 'ible, and awesome vids.

Hey Jude (author)  Lucif3r9451 year ago

That's a really cool idea - the reverse thing. In many ways, I recon the 'reverse' has become an issue as I have to re-wind the [un-used] solder from demo-ing it to people...but when I use it as intended it is not really needed. That said, I've got a cool trick I'm working on with an electronics-boffin, which should be cool when we show it! Do post some pictures or email me if you have any questions - always cool to see how you ideas take shape! Good Luck!

ohararp2 years ago
Dude, you totally need to crowd fund this. I'd totally buy if price was under $50.
Hey Jude (author)  ohararp2 years ago

Thanks for the suggestion.... For now, I'm working on a Mark III version that will be in CAD - so it will hopefully be available for 3D Printing. Finger's crossed!

You might also like the Ergo Mouse I just did: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-an-Ergonomic-USB-Mouse-Ergo-Mouse-/

But also if you are in the UK - I'm also doing a workshop in Brighton 8 Sept and you can see all these things and more on the day.

Hope you have a go at making one, or check out @Jude_Pullen for updates on the MkIII. =)
tjesse12 years ago
What kind of soldering gun is that?
Hey Jude (author)  tjesse12 years ago
It's a 'VersaTip' - gas powered iron. I did a review of it here: http://www.judepullen.com/designmodelling/dremel-versatip-soldering-iron-hear-gun/

Not as accurate as a pro-soldering iron, but very handy for quick tasks.
This is a fantastic item, it's like having a mini MIG welder.
Hey Jude (author)  sofiadragon19792 years ago
Thanks very much. I'll be doing a new version shortly - so let me know if you have any suggestions for Mark II.

(I have not MIG welded, but I did realise I may have been inspired by this or perhaps 3D Printer nozzles...makes you wonder what else you can feed - strawberry lace?)
3D printed strawberry lace yum yum lol. What I was thinking of doing when I make it is making the whole shell w/a 3D printer & also adding a bar roller guide @ the spot before the solder meets the rollers kind of like a guide on a threading machine. I am still working things out since I saw the way that you have this set up. A MIG welder basically feeds out welding wire & pumps out an inert gas to contain the reaction of the welding & keep the weld from oxidizing, it's funny how close the machine looks to this if you think about it lol.
Hey Jude (author)  sofiadragon19792 years ago
That's really cool - Thanks for the info! Please take any pic for me and other to see, if you have the MIG.

My plan is to make a Mark II version in plastic to resolve things like:
- Variable wire diameter
- Working with a Solder Reel
- Variable Feed Speed
- Reverse
- Improve aesthetics / functionality in general.

Following people's reaction to Mark II, I will then freeze the design and make a Mark III in CAD. I will make it so it works with the UP printer I won for this Instructable.

Looking forward to your ideas!
For the variable wire diameter I'd use an auto adjusting tension wheel, to make the solder spool move easier you could make the mount that it sits on rate w/ a bearing as well. For the variable speed there are two ways around that one that I can think of 1: using a potentiometer only & 2: using a micro controller & a flexforce pressure sensor, that will basically adjust the flow speed dependent on how hard you press it. The reverse is going to need a micro controller from what I am thinking.
Hey Jude (author)  sofiadragon19792 years ago
This sounds really interesting - but if you felt like uploading a sketch for the tensioning mechanism, that would be cool. (I was thinking of something with a spung bearing mount).

As for the speed control - you are right with the POT. In fact you'll see that when you take appart a Servo you will have this as 'waste' - so I intend to re-use it. It needs some modification which a friend helped me with. Alternatively, I will also try out macobt's 555 timer verion of speed control as this will work nicely, but is more complet for people. That said a good soldering lesson, perhaps.

The full videos are up here:
I've got a few projects that I'm designing on my own @ the moment so I'll drop you a pic when I get a chance.

I've signed up for your YouTube page, it is really nice how well your videos are done, they are very clear & very informative.
mrmerino2 years ago
Oh, it that what... Oh wow, that's brilliant. I'll take six.
Hey Jude (author)  mrmerino2 years ago
Out of interest - how much would you think pay for:
a. kit you RP (I would upload CAD to thingyverse, etc).and assemble yourself?
b. kit supplied with injection moulded parts and all included?
c. off the shelf / online hobby shop?
thanks. just curious to know what people think =) I might do one or more of the above in time.
Printing the plastic bits myself, but you sending all the non-printable parts: $10.
Injection Molded Plastic kit with all parts: $15.
Hobby store: Naaaaah. Online is where it is at.

Shipping would be the biggest killer I think that is why I would just like the CAD model to print out myself, and i'll suss out the details with other bits and bobs I got laying around.
Hey Jude (author)  Spokehedz2 years ago
OK cool - good to know.

To be honest I'm sure that would be cost price at $15, given a servo on ebay is about $7 at least, possibly more.... so you see my point for making this an Instructable and not a Kickstarter! You are right - postage is killer. Tricky, the will is there, but not the money to even break even at $10 I'm afraid.

However, may main motivation for doing this was to get people hands-on with different materials. I'm happy to release the CAD when I finish it and will document how and why I made certain feature on the model. I would have found this more exciting than modelling a Mouse at Uni in CAD to be honest, so hope it might get used as a simple teaching aid, or whatever?

Going back to sales - perhaps I guess I could put a fill kit on Tindie?(https://www.tindie.com/)
for anyone who really wanted to just make it that way - or more likely buy it for a gift.

Let me know if you (or anyone reading this) have any other good ideas.

Thanks for your thoughts. Much appreciated. Jude
Well I don't know what RP is, but I would probably pay fifteen-twenty for a kit and maybe thirty for a fully assembled unit.
Hey Jude (author)  mrmerino2 years ago
Sorry, should stop doing that!
RP = Rapid Prototype - as in 3D Print or something similar....
Thanks for the comment. Interesting to know.
Congratulations on your UP win! Enjoy your 3D printer mate!
Hey Jude (author)  technovative2 years ago
Hey - thanks a lot. Am actually working a new one right now. It's tricky (for me - hopefully not for others!).

I did a 'simple' one to relax:

Got any new stuff cooking yourself?
I saw your boot carrier, that's clever.

I will have a new Ible up soon. I recently got my first RasPi and I have an idea for a li-ion battery/power supply/charger circuit for it that I will be sharing.
Hey Jude (author)  technovative2 years ago
Thanks - glad you thought it was clever and not blindingly obvious =)

I guess it's nice to mix up the super-complex with the supe-simple.

Really looking forward to seeing the charge circuit - I don't know much electronics, but am learning - so would love to see this. email me when you post it!

Jayefuu2 years ago
Hey Jude!
Excellent instructable, I'm definitely going to make one of these. I like your ABS guide, can you recommend somewhere in the UK I can get some A4 sheets of the plastic you used?

Also, you might like to check out Randofo's handy guide to making a servo continuous.
Hey Jude (author)  Jayefuu2 years ago
Hey Jayefuu,
Thanks for the support and enthusiasm - would love to see a result!
I put a Materials page on my website for such an occasion:

Though if you want larger quantities and have a business account, RS Components a better value in bulk.

Thanks for the servo guide, I followed a similar process myself. Thought I worked with a friend on a way to use the Potentiometer (that you removed) as a speed controller for the Solder Buddy....

...Stay tuned for Marke II.
Nicapizza2 years ago
Ok thanks. I made this for invention convention, and it took about 5 months, and I don't ant someone to steel my hard work.

It is encased in a glasses case and has a heating element from an old soldering iron and I guide tube coming out. When a small rubber wheel turns, it uses the same principle of yours to push the solder onto the heated tip. It opens and you can see the innards. The drive mech is a heavily modified servo with some rubber lego wheels for the pushing mechanism. It was designed so I could solder with one hand. It uses 2 AA batteries. Any questions, please ask. I'll post an 'ible soon.

13, 9:47 AM.jpg13, 9:47 AM.jpg13, 9:47 AM.jpg13, 9:47 AM.jpg13, 9:47 AM.jpg
Hey Jude (author)  Nicapizza2 years ago
Hi Nick,

As for your great work - it seems many of us have had similar frustrations. Following my Solder Buddy post a while ago, I had a nice comment from tgferreira184 - who it turns out has also made a great version of solder feeder (it's manual, not automated). But also uses a brake cable - but not in the same way to create an electrical circuit as I have. Check it out: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-soldering-iron-mounted-soldering-dispenser/

Your version actually seems to be a combination of mine / Macobt's work and tgferreira184. Though I would still we might both benefit from Macobt's electronics, as they are clever and I will try them myself.

I had wondered about how to create a solder gun (like a glue-gun) myself, but had trouble in managing the flow of solder. This would be the 'challenge' for me - perhaps you can have a go as well and we'll see which works best?

I think it's exciting to explore this global community of development of ideas. Thanks for sharing.


PS - Not sure if you intended to direct message me these pictures or post them for everyone to see. Just thought I'd say. Otherwise - thanks for sharing with the Instructables community - Looks cool!
I haven't tested this yet, but I think it will work. I'll share my findings!
Before I posted the pics, my mother started freaking out that someone would see them and try to make their own. I replied "Yes mom, it's called open source!" I meant to share them to all and I hope others try to replicate/improve my design.

Also, what specifically dos your l
Oops.. acidentially hit post without finishing. I was wondering what your line of work involves and what exactly a design engineer does? I like the design aspect of engineering but it does not seem as hands on and does not involve as much of the actual building as I would like.

Hey Jude (author)  Nicapizza2 years ago
Hi Nick,

I'd say respectfully that you probably have more to gain by sharing your ideas with the diverse community that is Instructables. Having even been through the Patent process, I can say that you need not rush into over-protecting your ideas just yet, as often they require more work than one expects (and is pretty expensive) But then again - who am I to lecture you, with only a few years more experience!!

I can say from my 4 years study + 4 years work, that engineering is hugely hands-on and staggeringly diverse. I have worked on a range of things you can see at judepullen.com If you click on 'contact' you are welcome to email me any questions, should you wish. I'd rather not publicly talk about the design company I work for, but as you will see, it's a cool place to work.

Nice work. Keep on inventing... I'm sure it'll pay off one way or another,

PS - Please be safe with your experiments. Let your parents know your plans/experiments. I've had a few near-misses with electricity/sharp things/etc. and I assure you it's sobering. Sorry to be a bore.
Nicapizza2 years ago
First, congrats!!!

I made something very similar to this for my invention convention this year. Instead, it used a case with an old soldering iron and the solder spool inside. When a button was pressed, the solder is pushed between 2 similar rubber wheels through a tube and onto a heated tip, allowing one to solder with one hand.

If you are intersted, I'd be glad to post some pics or even make a guide on it!

Hey Jude (author)  Nicapizza2 years ago
This would be awesome. I'm hoping to do a Mark II - so tis might give some great ideas, even if our methods are different. Please post here and/or on Facebook (Design Modelling). Thanks!!
I don't have a Facebook, but I just want to confirm with you that you won't completely copy it, as I'm hoping to add instructions for it soon. If you want to use some of the ideas, could you give me credit?
Ill post them when I hear from you

Hey Jude (author)  Nicapizza2 years ago
Hi Nick,

Please be assured that I always adhere to the Creative Commons license and the professional conduct in design. Given the nature and ethos of intructables, there are certainly lots of members sharing and building on each others' ideas, and gaining a lot from it (which is why I posted the Solder Buddy instructables in detail). For example, please see 555timer below - I intend to give full credit and thanks to Macobt for this, if I use this in Mark II.

If you do post them however, please be mindful that it will then become part of this exchange platform, so It is of course entirely up to you how much to share/not share.

Good luck with your take on making soldering better!

macobt2 years ago
Thanks for nice words,on google you can find lot of 555 servo testers,below is good servo tester.
Hey Jude (author)  macobt2 years ago
Hey Macobt, this is great. Forgive me if this is a rookie question - but where would you incorporate the potentiometer? and of what value?

I ask as much for myself as perhaps for others who might wish to follow in your electronic-ninja footsteps!

(I have actually just jointed a Hackspace in Bristol, so will ask around as well. Thanks again!).
macobt Hey Jude2 years ago
Here is simple corection of schematic.
Hey Jude (author)  macobt2 years ago
I got some parts on order from ebay. I'll let you know how I get on when they arrive. Thanks again!
Eristeel2 years ago
Hey, would it possible for you to send me a list of where you purchased the materials, or an exact name of each material?
Hey Jude (author)  Eristeel2 years ago
I have a few links on my website:
See Tools and Materials.
Please let me know what in particular you might struggle to source and I'm very happy to help and/or update the site.
newtonn22 years ago
I love your solder buddy! Thank you very much for sharing!
Hey Jude (author)  newtonn22 years ago
thanks for your reply. your 'ibles are amazing and rightly have 6-figure views. nice work! the projector is insane. love it!
Thank u very much!
Exiumind2 years ago
very cool and usefull gadget!! brilliant
Nice, I assume this was inspired by the motorized wire-feed mechanism commonly used in MIG type welders?
Hey Jude (author)  technovative2 years ago
Strange how I did not think of it at the time (I have not done any MIG welding - only gas), but realised that I might have been inspired by it... nice to have all these things in the back of your head, eh?
Indeed. Really clever design, a tool like this would be very useful in a production environment.
Hey Jude (author)  technovative2 years ago
I have not looked into it much, but suspect that somewhere on a production-line this has been made. That said, the main thrust of the project was to demonstrate plastic modelling - for the workshop in London. Check out the video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNn66GRCJQM&feature=player_embedded
crudders2 years ago
Excellent project. I'd like to see some more photos, taken closer to the device, especially of the feed mechanism.
Hey Jude (author)  crudders2 years ago
More images on Step 15. Please take a look =)
Hey Jude (author)  crudders2 years ago
OK - so I have uploaded some new images - See Step 15 - Appendix. Kinda enjoy this angle, I have to say.
SB Mech.png
Apolo82 years ago
Hey, That's Great!!!
hertzgamma2 years ago
Cool! I like the way it worked out!
Eristeel2 years ago
Absolutely amazing! This is something I will definitely attempt to do. :)
Hey Jude (author)  Eristeel2 years ago
Great! Please let me know how you get on, if there is anything that is unclear in the tutorial or if you think I could improve the design in some way!