Introduction: Vacuum Pump From Aquarium Air Pump

Picture of Vacuum Pump From Aquarium Air Pump

This is a re-publish of a poorly done instructable that I posted a while back.

Transform an aquarium air pump to create a weak vacuum

This type of pump will only produce a weak vacuum but I use it for positioning electronic components and de-soldering applications.

You will need a tetra whisper Aquarium pump, a Philips screwdriver and about 5 minutes.

Step 1: Open the Pump

Picture of Open the Pump

On the bottom of the pump you will fins 4 Philips screws. Remove these with a number 2 Phillips driver.

Flip the pump over and lift off the large blue plastic cover.

Step 2: Convert to Suction

Picture of Convert to Suction

The white plastic squares on the pump assemblies need to be rotated 180 degrees.

The whole white arm assembly will lift straight up and the white plastic piece will rotate.

Then the pump assembly is pressed back down into place.

Step 3: Reassemble and Enjoy

Picture of Reassemble and Enjoy

Reattach the cover and attach the air lines.

The pump will now create a vacuum.

As noted it is a weak vacuum but suitable enough for simple tasks like picking up electronic components.


SimonM83 made it! (author)2017-09-15

Random_Canadian thank you for this Instructable! I want to make a vacuum pickup tool for an OpenPNP machine and tried to copy this Instructable exactly.

I couldn't buy a "Whisper 100" model but did buy the Tetra APS 100 (designed for 50-100 litre tanks). It has a single diaphragm and outlet so it may turn out to be undersized for other people looking to buy a similar pump for an SMT part pickup application.

I found the (single) white plastic part quite difficult to slide out before I could rotate it and reverse the valves to create a vacuum. I was worried that I'd break something if I forced the white plastic up and out of its slot because the design didn't exactly match the photos in this Instructable. However, I can confirm that a right angle hex key levered it out intact, without any damage, from under the bottom face of the white plastic square flange.

I then rotated the square and replaced it. When I turned it on I felt the vacuum and it seems like it could hold small SMT parts but that will need testing. When I put my finger over the outlet, the diaphragm inside got pulled in by the vacuum and this caused the magnetic pump head to hit the plastic inside the casing. It was now a very noisy vacuum pump! See the yellow circle and arrow in the attached photo to see where the impact occurs.

I have heard this noise when watching YouTube videos of DIY pick and place machines, and now I know where it comes from. As I now understood the problem, I wanted to reduce the noise, as it would clearly be the most noisy part of an OpenPNP DIY machine and I didn't want to be annoyed during its operation.

To solve the problem, I added a spring from a ballpoint pen between the housing and the pump arm and held it in place with hot glue. See the light blue outline in the attached photo to see the arrangement I used. The pump is now quieter when I put my finger over the outlet (now the inlet, I suppose!) than when it is free running against no pressure. I'm very happy and hope these extra details help others get what they want from these great little devices.

DHeights (author)2011-09-22

Nice instructable! How much vacuum does it generate (PSI or Hg)? I saw the gauge but it's not clear what the reading is.

ntowner (author)DHeights2015-02-23

9 in Hg Vaccum. its Psi for the blue and Hg for the green

jeffegg2 (author)DHeights2015-02-01

in Hg. Inches of Mercury.

oldschooltech (author)DHeights2012-01-29

i think it sais psi on the bottom right of the blue part

TeslaRox (author)2014-05-25

Trying to find a cheap way to create a vacuum so I can attempt the wine bottle electron accelerator instructable... Do you suppose this would be sufficient enough to create the vacuum in the bottle required to perform the experiment??

jon_chalk (author)2014-04-19

I noticed that the Tetra pump has not changed (internally) in over 25 years. I used to repair them for my customers (pet store). As for the instructable - very well done. Looks very easy to do. It is a practical tool for light duty. I wonder if it can be used to vacuum seal food bags.

DaggerElk (author)2013-01-28

Great Instructable! This was a big help.

Machine (author)2012-07-18

The green part of the gauge is scaled differently and appears to be in inches of mercury and looks to be reading 8". That corresponds to -3.9 PSI or -27 kPa.

That's quite an OK vacuum for picking up electronic components.

I'd like to know if it is good for desoldering too and if it is then all that is needed is a filter to stop the solder particles from reaching the pump.

About This Instructable




Bio: Bit of a background in various electrical and mechanical fields, obscure sense of humour and typically willing to help...
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