Solve Soldering Iron Black Tip


Introduction: Solve Soldering Iron Black Tip

As an electronics hobbyist is very often necessary to make permanent a project in a nice PCB.

Sometimes is necessary replace or modify some components in a existent PCB o just recover components from an old one, for every case, what we need?

Yes! a solder iron!, useful tool for play with electronics right?

If we are talking of a hobby probably we are using a cheap soldering iron (or a not so expensive one) . So probably we don't get temperature trimming, stand by mode or rocket materials for the tip; and after one hour (or even just a few minutes) the tip of our soldering iron has become black and carbonized so it doesn't melt solder any more, one need to turn it off and leave it lost heat in order to use it again. Very annoying!

This occur because of excessive heat accumulation at the tip (depends of power and up time) [40W+ , 30 mins].

Lets solve this!

Step 1: Circuitry

First we need to build a very, very simple one component-circuit.

This way we cut the power signal to the half and get the half of power. The power decrees to the half and the heat remains just enough to be rise rapidly but low enough to keep the tip clean and shiny.

We control the power rising with an interrupter conveniently mounted in a pedal.

Mount the circuitry inside a box with proper power connectors so we can attach the soldering iron.

Step 2: Pedal

Now for the pedal we are gonna use:

- a switch that match our requirements (110 or 220 volts) and ( 1Amp or more).

- an old cassette case.

- power cable (2 wires)

Connect the 2 wires (one end) according to the circuit diagram, and connect the other end to the pins in the switch.

Glue the switch inside the cassette case so it can be activated by pressing with your foot. (be sure it gets activated before apply the hot glue).

Step 3: Use

Now connect your box to the power, connect your soldering iron to the box and put the pedal in the floor.

When melting solder keep your foot in the pedal, and release when not using it.

[!] Remember to disconnect the power of the box when your done, the box DOES NOT disconnect your soldering iron when you release the pedal it just keep the power in appropriate level so you'll leave your iron on if you don't disconnect it.



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    When a soldering iron tip gathers that carbon coating, the best practices method to rectify it is to wipe the tip across a wet sponge. It's called thermal shocking. That carbon flakes right off. The temperature coefficients of the carbon and tip are different, so they expand and contract at different rates in response to temperature changes.

    The circuit is good for safety, but the time a spent waiting for the tip to reach the working temperature will get old if you're in a big project. Temp recovery from thermal shocking is only a couple seconds.

    3 replies

    I do thermal shocking too, but when the tip get really black it seem not to work

    If you use flux core solder, try wiping a bit across a hot tip. When there's a nice bead built up, snap the iron down to throw it off (if your floor is concrete like mine) and it should be clean. Get in the habit of shocking the tip and leaving a little melted solder on it when you;re don for the day. That way you;ll know when the iron's heated the enxt time since the solder will "slump" and it won't have the build up.

    That's the kind of thing you learn about when you solder for a living ;-)

    An inexpensive way to prevent black tip... love it.

    I made one years ago from the original "instructables", an article in an electronics magazine. I still have it but haven't used it in years.

    nice. mine didn't come with a power control so its full bore at all times. I was think of putting a dimmer in the cord. many suggest it isn't safe though. I have to constantly jab my little bit of steel wool to keep the tip clean enough to de solder. I usually don't use it long enough to worry when installing only removing.

    1 reply

    I don't think I'd use one of the electronic versions with an iron, but a mechanical style? Sure. But in using the dimmer you'll need to have a means of determining if the tip is the right temperature unless you're just hacking about a little. Temperature control is important.

    This is a cool modification. Thanks for sharing! I hope we see more from you on Instructables in the future!