Here is a super project that I made in Las Vegas whilst visiting.
Yes... I know that many (including my wife) would consider spending time in a hackerspace on vacation to be an undesirable activity, BUT for me, it was a very memorable and special experience, that was part of the fun of Vegas.
I hope that you enjoy reading how I got on...
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Step 1: Visiting the US and in Need of Some Bits...
I asked them if I could make something using their facilities and they said, yes ...of course.
They told me that I could buy the parts I needed for my mini solder pot project at Lowe's.
A quick google search and we were off to the sweet shop (aka: candy store).
Step 2: So Much to See and So Little Time
I had agreed with my wife and companions that I would only interrupt our sightseeing for 30 minutes or so.
Entering the vast cornucopia of all things DIY was frankly exhilarating.
(Of course we have such emporia in the UK but ...well this was bigger and....I hate to admit...better).
I soon found what I was looking for at quite reasonable prices (except I forgot about adding the sales tax...grrr).
Then only an hour later (Ooops) ...we left laden with goodies.
Step 3: Entering to the 'fun Factory'
Once again I entered the super equipped hackerspace called SynShop in Las Vegas.
Once again I was greeted by the friendly members and invited to use whatever tools I needed.
Of course I had to sign the 'don't-sue-us-or-hold-us-responsible-for-anything-you-do-agreement'.
Richard, one of the members, agreed to help me find stuff (and make sure I did not break anything).
Step 4: The Plans and the Parts
The first task was to show my 'detailed plans' and explain which tools I would use.
Much as I would have loved to have been doing a big project on the ShopBot , or a stunning gadget on a 3D printer, my little pot would only need a handful of hand tools.
I had all the parts I needed, and so could get stuck in.
Step 5: I Came I Sawed
Richard lead me to a suitable work area and very kindly acted as my gopher. He happily helped by locating all the tools I requested and offered helpful comments along the way.
The first attachment method we tried was a slotted sleeve....
Step 6: A Little Flaring
The slotted sleeve idea worked, but Richard suggested that we try flaring the end to fit over the iron instead.
The benefit of that approach would be to have more contact and therefore better conduction of the irons heat.
So, I cut off another length of pipe and hammered in a suitable flaring tool.
This worked well and soon we had a sleeve that fitted snugly over the soldering iron,
(By this time I had noted that although, here in the UK we say "soul-der-ing iron" my new friends tended, like most of their fellow Americans, to call it a "sodder-ing iron").
Step 7: A Little Pot in Vegas
Next I drilled a small hole that would accommodate the little bolt I had purchased from Lowe's.
At one time we considered tapping the hole to screw into, but in the end it was better to simply use a tight nut.
Step 8: Cutting to Size
The bolt was way too long and so we carefully measured the available depth when attached to the soldering iron, then cut off the excess.
The tube was then squeezed tight against the captive nut.
This arrangement held well and the thermal conductivity proved to be adequate.
Step 9: Snug Fit
Now the little pot was a snug fit onto the shaft of the iron.
Step 10: It's Good to Be Square
The circular pot was not the ideal shape or size to cover a 16 DIL chip's pins.
So we placed it into the vise and S-Q-U-E-E-Z-E-D.
Next we placed a suitable sized square pair of metal punches into the pot and hammered.
This produced an acceptable rectangular pot.
(If we had had more time the perfectionist in me would have spent a little longer perfecting the shape).
Step 11: Fill the Pot
We mounted the new 'square' pot and iron into a bench vise and started to fill it with solder.
The only solid solder available at Lowe's was the lead-free kind, but we did not expect that to be an issue.
First we switched on the iron and placed chopped up bits of solder into the bowl.
When this was taking ages Richard suggested adding a little extra heat from a hot air gun.
Soon all was melted.
Step 12: First Tinning Trial
To test tinning we first stripped a length of wire then dunked it into flux.
It was then dipped into the pot.
The result was definitely a tinned wire but if a little blobby.
We concluded that the solder was not as hot as it should be (non lead solder needs a little more heat).
The soldering iron was rated as 25 watt and it is probably better to use a higher wattage iron.
Next we decided to try the little pot's ability to help remove components.
Step 13: De-soldering the Expensive Way
The workshop had a very swish soldering/desoldering station that had heat control and a hollow bit that could suck up solder using the in-built electric pump.
So ....we first of all tried that.
This was to establish a benchmark to compare the operation of our little pot.
At first it did not work at all!
It was decided that the beast needed cleaning and we were helped by the founder of SynShop, who goes by the handle: Krux. (Pictured above creating his next masterpiece)
Next we fiddled with settings and, after a lot of messing around, we did manage to finally remove a component,
We decided that the temperature, the coating on the board combined with the time hardened solder were causing issues.
So...Richard found a smaller trashed board for us to practice on.
Step 14: Removing Components
Richard found a scrap board to experiment with.
After the semi-failure of the expensive de-soldering station we were not hopeful.
As the selected multi-pin component (a little transmitter?) which came away quickly and smoothly, we both gasped in surprise and satisfaction.
The process had proven to be extremely effective.
We decided to try another component...
Step 15: Plucking Easy
This time a small electrolytic capacitor was the target of our attack.
The pot was pressed up close, the pliers twiddled and away it came clean and fast.
Yes, this was a great way to de-populate a board.
Step 16: Success
The little pot was a resounding success.
I remembered the poster they had on the wall that had been enhanced with SynShop 'tattoos', shown above.
Also pictured are 'Krux' on the left and Richard on the right. Gregarious the 'ibler (Aka: Me) is in the middle.
The solder pot had been completed and tested, in less than two hours.
It only remained to tidy up the bench and put away the tools.
(Clearing up is good practice everywhere, but sadly we do not always do this in our own workshops)
Step 17: Made in America by a Brit on Holiday
I was very satisfied with my visit and the completion of my little project.
There is a short 'ible that I did about my first visit HERE.
I truly appreciate all the help and support from SynShop. The guys...especially Richard were first class hosts.
I definitely recommend any 'iblers that live in the area to join the group.
The little solder pot is a useful addition to any electronics tool set.
Made in America by a Brit on holiday (Vacation).
I shall now try making other sizes and using real lead solder and a higher wattage iron to see if that is even better.
I hope that others make one of these and find it a great way to not only quickly 'tin' many wires but also to help in the removal of components from boards.