Instructables

Make a battery powered soldering iron! In an Altoids tin?

With this instructable, I am going to show you how to make your very own soldering iron! This entire iron can be built for less than fifteen dollars. There is no catch, and this is just as good at soldering as almost any other inexpensive iron on the market. This iron has a maximum temperature of 1050° Fahrenheit and is equivalent to a 15 watt iron. It works the same way as many other battery powered irons (like this one), but doesn't cost nearly as much.
This is also battery powered so it is portable and you can use it when there is no outlet available. I'm eventually going to put a relay in mine so it automatically turns off the battery pack, when I plug in the adapter. But for now, I'm just going to show you how to build a functional soldering iron that just works. This is not to difficult of a project so i'm sure you can get it done.
If you are going to build this you will already need to have a soldering iron so you can solder the battery holder, switches, etc. If you do not have one you could probably twist the wires together and put electrical tape around them, but I don't know how well that will work.
Disclaimer: Soldering irons can be dangerous if not used properly, do not let the hot tip touch yourself anything flammable. You can easily burn yourself or start a fire if used improperly. I am not responsible for any damage or injuries that occur. 
Now that we got that out of the way, let's head on over to the next step to show you what part's you'll need.
 
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Adam Manick (author) 2 years ago
My Instructable has been featured on hackaday.com! Im actually pretty exited about it. Heres the link.
bergerab1 month ago

Wow, what a great idea. The final pictures actually look really sleek, probably my favorite altoids tin project!

dferguson105 months ago
Would it be possible to run a series-parallel battery pack made with 3.7 v lithiumbatteries as the power source.
kishore13610 months ago
what is the tip made of??
broskiz1 year ago
what is the min and max power requirements for the soldering tip? along with amperage
Adam Manick (author)  broskiz1 year ago
From my testing, I found that the Iron will work down to 3 volts, and will safety operate up to 7.5 volts. The lower the voltage is, the lower the temperature of the iron will be. It should ideally be run anywhere from 3 to 6 volts, because that is what the tip was designed for, but if you will not be keeping it on for a long period of time, 7.5 should not be a problem. The ideal amperage is 1.5 to 2 amps. You may be able to run it at a lower amperage, but you risk stressing your power supply, or not getting sufficient heat output on the iron.
avella11 year ago
can u tell me a link from ebay.com which has this type of tip tnx
Adam Manick (author)  avella11 year ago
pkeenan11 year ago
Adam, great post, I even saw you got some press on the hackaday site. Nice!

I built one this weekend and had it working great on a couple sets of 3 AA batteries all weekend. (so much easier and better than my finicky butane torch iron! And more precise)

I tried using a 16 VDC wall wart, the smallest one I had laying around, and it wont heat up. In fact using more than three AAs seemed to give me problems too.

Any ideas? I wonder if the heater is somehow voltage regulated above around 6 volts. I also tried using a single 9 Volt thinking it would keep the size down, but that only lasted a few minutes before it stopped working. Perhaps some internal battery resistance challenges?

Anyway, great write up, thanks!
Adam Manick (author)  pkeenan11 year ago
Thanks for the compliments! Try not to supply the tip with over 6 volts to avoid shorting it out. 7.5 volts may be ok, but it can possibly shorten the life of the tip if used for extended periods of time. Also, it seems that the other power supplies you are using might not supply enough current to power the iron. Typical AAs supply around 1 amp hour of current, while a typical 9 volt battery would supply around half that. The wall wart you are using is probably not rated for at least 1.5 amps, which should be the minimum capacity for the power source for this to work properly.
Schoening1 year ago
I did build this now ^^

But only with 3 x 1.5V works fine though!
Adam Manick (author)  Schoening1 year ago
I'm glad you got it working! I hope it turns out to be use full someday.
Well yeah, I tried to burn some Weed with it. Works ^^ So I use it as the heating element for my vaporizer now :p
artifus1 year ago
why not use a switched jack socket rather than a relay to disconnect battery power when running from a wall wart? 3.5mm mono audio jack, for example.
Adam Manick (author)  artifus1 year ago
I was going to head over to All-elecronics to buy just that. However, I decided on using a relay for some reason. I don't remember why though. :P
Adam Manick (author)  Adam Manick1 year ago
Oh, I remember. I think it was because I wanted to use a relay with multiple switches, so when I plugged in the wall wart, it would also switch on a charging circuit for rechargeable batteries. I have never gotten to this point. I king of gave up on the project. I will resume soon though.
donmatos2 years ago
Parece mesmo bastante simples. Minha dificuldade: ponto 1 da lista de material. E como mero hobbysta, pergunto: eu poderia utilizar a ponta de um ferro de solda comum - 15 watts? E se puder, solicito orientacão de como proceder! Agradecimentos antecipados ao expert pela dica.  
Adam Manick (author)  donmatos2 years ago
Usted lamentablemente no se puede usar cualquier punta. Usted debe usar el de Radioshack que muestro en mi instructable. No sé de ningún otro que va a funcionar. Lo siento. La razón de esto es porque el calentador está incorporado en la punta.

(English) "You unfortunately cannot use any tip. You should use the one from Radioshack that I show in my instructable. I don't know of any other one that will work. Sorry. The reason for this is because the heater is built into the tip."
Ah! bom, macho, assim até eu! A ponta já pronta, é muito fácil! (Brincadeirinha, Zé). E outra coisa: eu sou brasileiro, macho, pra que aquela ruma de espanhol? Também é só onda, Zé? Agora é sério! Eu já li tanto esses instructables e comentário de vocês, inclusive o cold iron, que eu, nem que seja por osmose, já tô até sentindo no clima! Eu tenho outra pergunta. Tá preparado? Então, lá vai: você disse que a ligação da ponta "pronta" parecia com a de uma lâmpada de lanterna. Algumas das lâmpadas que ligamos na rede elétrica seguem o mesmo princípio (gostou do principio?), sendo que seu filamento aquece, antes de brilhar. Será que uma ponta de cobre não chegaria, pelo menos ao aquecimento, se a ligássemos nas suas baterias ou na rede elétrica? Não vale tirar onda! Eu tô falando sério, eu já disse que sou hobbysta, portanto, leigo. Blz. Mas só em você haver respondido, satisfez a minha curiosidade, e eu agradeço, sinceramente, pela consideração. Obrigado, mesmo.
u speak portueguese
Adam Manick (author)  donmatos2 years ago
I am terribly sorry, but I was not able to translate what you were saying. Is there a way that you could translate it to english?
Ah! Well, brother, so until I! The tip of the iron made, is very easy. (I am kidding, brother).And another thing: I'm Brazilian, man, Why buy the whole Spanish ? ate've read both these Instructables andcomments from you, including the cold iron, which, even by osmosis, I'm going into theatmosphere (beginning to understand). I have another Question Are you aware? So pay attention. You said that the binding of iron tip was similar to the binding of a flashlight bulb, SOME of the lamps that we connect the power grid follow the same principle (Like thebeginning?), And its filament heats beforeShine. Does a copper tip come in, at Least, heating, if the ligàssemos OR IN THEIRbatteries in the electric grid? Not worth takingwave! I'm serious, I said that I am hobbyist, solayman. Blz. But not until you have answered, satisfied my curiosity, and I thank sincerely forconsideration. Thank you, really. EDITING: I replace some terms by the adjective "brother", which is almost the same thing, but do not havethe same amount of sarcasm. Let's see now is a little better.
Adam Manick (author)  donmatos2 years ago
Desculpe sobre o espanhol. Traduz Google deu-me a linguagem errada. Se eu entender que você está questão, você está perguntando como a dica funciona e como se relaciona a uma lâmpada normal. A relação apenas a uma lâmpada normal é que ele tem o conector mesma forma. Há um elemento de aquecimento no interior da ponta, mas eu não sei o que a tecnologia é utilizada. Eu sei que tem que ser eficiente para que ele possa ser de carbono. As duas ligações estão na parte inferior da ponta e da base inteira da ponta. (English) "Sorry about the spanish. Google translate gave me the wrong language. If I understand you're question, you are asking how the tip works and how it relates to a normal light bulb. The only relation to a normal bulb is that it has the same shape connector. There is a heating element inside the tip, but I don't know what technology is used. I know that it has to be efficient so it might be carbon. The two connections are on the bottom of the tip and the entire base of the tip. 
DSC_0114.JPGDSC_0114.JPG
BEAUTY, I'll buy that tip. The mnha reciprocated, though, unless you have many thanks for abdais important, is not buying: it's learning to do. This is important, "very important" in addition to the exchange, another positive aspect. Although in this case, I have nothing returned, unless you many thanks for your time to have abdicated affordably. Grateful. Gratias. Thank you, very math. Greetings more.
TRADUÇÃO ALIENÍGENA, SINISTRA... VALEU GAROTO!
O google transformou o texto que eu digitei. O resultado você já viu: ininteligível, que nem eu mesmo entenderia. Mas eu vou traduzir, substituindo alguns termos, sem alterar o sentido e mantendo todo o texto, inclusive algumas brincadeiras que estão no início, Ok? Espera só um pouco.
Schoening2 years ago
Hey Man, I am Working on a SteamPunk Inspired Vaporizer, and this seems like one of my only Options for the Heat Source.

Any though on this?

I need it to be about 160 - 200 degrees CELSIUS.

Feel free to email me oliverschoening(at)hotmail.com
forestar2 years ago
Thanks for the design. I think I'm going to try this and have a couple of questions. You describe above how to get a hotter temperature using higher voltage.

Would this work with 1, 2 or 3 batteries and put out less heat?
Adam Manick (author)  forestar2 years ago
Yes! Im not sure how hot it gets under 3 volts, but for me 3 volts worked fine.
donmatos2 years ago
Have you seen this: http://eletronicos.hsw.uol.com.br/soldador-cold-heat1.htm It is similar to "cold heat" of Photoos (the method of welding), and also to your (the power - the batteries). Incidentally, the graffiti tip (cold heat) are isolated or make contact with the two copper strips? Thankx
donmatos2 years ago
Actually, I do not want to buy a soldering iron, because I already have six that EsAO defective, and I can not reattach them, because they do not understand how è made ​​CONNECTIONS coil (winding). If you can give ANY HINT ABOUT IT, it would be great. I work in public safety, higher education, and practice various hobbies (DIY away for a little xdepressão. I'm always looking for useful information, it takes me some practical knowledge: llidar with many tools and and all kinds of material: wood, metal, glass, plastic, PVC, fiber ... It works as a distraction and get several ways to help people: relatives, friends, poor members of the church
Tkdwn2 years ago
This is grate, and i need it, but i have one question:
Witch part here is the heater? Can you say something about the circuit?
Tnx!
Adam Manick (author)  Tkdwn2 years ago
The part that heats up is the tip itself. It has a built in heating element. The two connections to the heating element are on the part of the tip that looks like a flashlight bulb. Negative is on the bottom and positive is the base.
Could this be done with a 6v 8ah sla battery? Would there be any issues? I have a few lying around and have been trying to find a use for them...
Adam Manick (author)  abuthemagician2 years ago
Absolutely! I think that it would work great.
hore2 years ago
i like it.
blkhawk2 years ago
What do you need to do in order to make a 30 watts soldering iron? Assuming you are able to connect the soldering iron to a wall plug in or a rechargeable battery. Great Instructable by the way!
Adam Manick (author)  blkhawk2 years ago
Also, This is not a 15 watt iron. I't a 15 watt equivalent. That means that it gets just as hot as most 15 watt irons but does not draw as much power. This iron only draws 9-10 watts depending on your power source. On a wall wart this iron gets red hot, and this is warmer than batteries because batteries will not let it draw it's full amperage due to internal resistance. If you are looking to get this to about a 30 watt equivalent, then I would experiment with a 6 volt 2 amp wall transformer and see if that gets hot enough for you. If not move up to 7.5 volts. Can you tell me what you are trying to solder that needs a 30 watt iron? I'll test it for you and see if it works.
Well, for the most part 30 watts are needed for electronic soldering. Although 15 watts would work it will take longer to melt the solder.
Adam Manick (author)  blkhawk2 years ago
This will work on almost anything you can throw at it. It is more powerfull than almost every other battery powered iton on the market. I wouldn't worry about solder not melting. I tested it on house wiring and lamp cord. Both worked fine.
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