I recently had to purchase a new Soldering Iron and decided to go with a TS100 as it is able to be run from a wall outlet or battery. I had an old Black&Decker 20v Work Light that I never really used, it came as a free bonus item in a Black&Decker 20v power tool set. But it was not very bright for running off of a 20V battery pack (I found out while taking it apart the 20v battery is stepped down to only 4v to run the LEDs) so it was pretty much useless and sat around in my garage, collecting dust. So I figured, why not put it to better use as a battery pack for my new soldering iron? But the flat base and handle gave me the idea to d more than just use it as a battery pack, I would add a few additions to it as well and create a portable soldering station.
Step 1: Introduction: What Is a TS100 Soldering Iron.
For those who don't know what a TS100 is, the simple answer is it's a battery powered soldering iron. Unlike other battery powered soldering irons that run on 2 or 4 AA batteries, the TS100 runs from any 12-24 volt battery pack connected via a 5.5X2.5 barrel plug. they are very popular among RC hobbyists since they can be run off of the 12v battery packs commonly used in RC drones. using larger voltage batteries will result in quicker heat-up times and faster recovery after using the iron.
Aside from being able to run on batteries, the TS100 is also open source and you can edit the firmware on the iron to customize settings to do things like setting the max temp from the 400 degrees Celsius that is factory set, up to 450 degrees, as well as set custom battery voltage cut off limits (helps prevent damage to batteries due to over discharging them) or customize the boot up animation.
They are available from many different websites and usually come bundled with different features/options. some include battery packs for an extra cost, but since I planned on using a 20v power tool battery, I went with a package deal that came with no included battery pack, but did come with 1 addition tip. (link here)
Step 2: Tools and Parts
Philips Screw Driver
File or sanding tool
Plastic snipping tool
I used some purchased parts for this build, however I also re-used of fabricated some parts for optional add on parts.
The Black&Decker 20v Work Light can be purchased from many sites as a stand alone.
0-32v DV LED Voltage Meter
Soldering Iron Holder
5.5X2.5 mm Barrel plug cables
5.5X2.5 mm Barrel plug Female w/plug cover
Kevlar Braided Cable Sleeving
On/Off switch (optional, you could re-use the power button)
I also used some random parts from an old Erector set, as well as some 1/4" card stock and a small piece of sheet metal from an old microwave housing.
Step 3: Tear Down of Black&Decker 20V Work Light
Opening the Work Light is pretty straight forward, just unscrew the 6 screws that hold it together.
Once opened, you can cut the wires leading the the LED lights, as well as the circuit board and power button. Keep the wires leading to the battery pack terminals. The back wire goes to the Negative terminal of the battery and the red wire goes to the positive, the blue wire is not needed and can be cut. If you want to re-use the power button, you can keep it. I opted to replace the power button with a rocker switch since I wanted to mount the 3 digit LED voltage meter on the top where the original power button is located, I removed the original power button.
Step 4: Adding Addtional Parts
I used left over parts from an old Erector set along with 2 circles cut from 1/4" card stock to create a spool to hold solder. I used a gear and small metal bar to create a ratchet that will allow the solder to be pulled out without letting the spool unravel. The Spool is attached by using 2 angled pieces from the Erector set, mounted with screws through the holes where the LED light used to pivot.
Using a drill, I was able to cut out the holes for the new power switch as well as the power out plug and mount the support bar of the Soldering Iron holder. I used a small piece of steel wire as an anchor point for the Soldering Iron holder.
The Soldering Iron holder had originally come with a smaller coil inside the outer one, however the TS100 is so skinny that it would fall through the bottom. I used a piece of sheet metal to form a tube that replaced the inner coil so the TS100 will not fall through.
I cut out a rectangular opening in the rubber that was the old power button and inserted the 3 digit LED voltage meter.
I wired the Black negative from the battery connection to both the negative for the power out port and to the negative on the 3 digit LED voltage meter. I connected the Red wire from the positive terminal on the battery connection to the switch, then from the switch to the positive output on the power port as well as the red and white wires of the 3 digit LED voltage meter. In that configuration, the voltage displayed will change when the soldering iron is drawing more power (during heat up) but can also double as just a voltage checker for all of my battery packs while the Iron is not plugged in.
Finally I added a plug cover for the power out port. and used hot melt glue to hold all of the parts in place.
Step 5: Creating the Power Cord.
The TS100 uses a 5.5X2.5 mm Barrel plug for power input, wanted to make the cord use the same power plug on both ends so that it doesn't mater which end is plugged in to the battery pack or the Iron. I purchased a 3 pack of USB to 5.5x2.5 mm plugs, then cut off the USB ends and joined the cables together.
I then covered the cable in Kevlar Braided Sleeving that is rated for well over the 400 degrees Celsius (or 450 with updated firmware) that the Iron can reach. I tested the sleeving before sliding it over the cable, and it would not melt at all with the Iron set to 400 degrees and holding the tip on the sleeving for over a minute. After the I slid the sleeving over the cable, I used heat shrink tubing to cap the ends to prevent the sleeving from sliding off the cable or fraying.