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A look inside a portable soldering iron that uses a vapour style power supply.
After it was suggested, I bought one of these hybrid units that are based on the USB style soldering elements and common vapour power supplies. If you already carry a vapour power supply then it means that all you need for spontaneous soldering is one of the tubes with a single bit in it and some solder spiralled around it.
The unit heats very quickly and is quite handy for spontaneous wire removal from PCBs. That's why it appeared on my bench during another video.
To operate it you have to cycle the power button to keep it awake, and adjust the cycle time for thermal regulation based on feel. It's very easy to overheat the tip.
The unit has a lock which can either be enabled or disabled with 5 quick presses of the button. This makes it less likely to be turned on accidentally in a tool kit or pocket.
The listing I got this one from is here, but there are other sources and styles:-
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005002605794216.html
You can also buy just the bits for your existing vapour power supply. Be careful with the power setting if your power supply can boost the voltage for higher wattage, as excess power may shorten the life of the bits dramatically.
If you enjoy these videos you can help support the channel with a dollar for coffee, cookies and random gadgets for disassembly at:-
http://www.bigclive.com/coffee.htm
This also keeps the channel independent of YouTube's advertising algorithms allowing it to be a bit more dangerous and naughty.
#ElectronicsCreators

By popular request, a video about a device that appeared on my bench in another video, so this is something that was suggested a while ago by someone can't quite remember who it was. But they pointed me to an aliexpress listing and it was for this device and initially i wasn't overly taken by it. But then i thought, oh, you know what the heck, let's get one and try it out, and it's based on the base unit for a vapor producing device and uh. It's not a new thing, because you've got these usb solder, arms and you've got these ones that are based on other vapor producing devices, this one's notable for having a little at that.

You can actually turn the voltage up and therefore kind of adjust the power. But what it is uh, it's got a soldering iron tip as you'd find in these, but just running off these uh rechargeable battery banks. So this one came with a roll of soda, which uh is probably lead-free, so i'm not going to use that it's not needed. We don't need that at all and it came with three bits: it came with the traditional pointy bit that they always seem to supply these things with.

It came with a knife bit which i've never really found used for, but it came rather unexpectedly and you can see this is one i've been using. It came with a chisel bit uh with a fairly large tip. It's a, i think. It's about a three millimeter chisel bit, so let me screw this in and i shall show you an operation, so i found that to use this.

It's best to angle. It around i've just gone way too far, there angle around so that when you hold the button, the flat side of the chisel is pointing over to actually the shoulder joint. It is locked, so initially you have to press the button five times. One two three four five and then it lies to show it's out running, and then you press the button.

It does the same same thing as these vapor devices do and if you hold the button in too long, if you hold it in for about say about 10 seconds, it will cut off or go into. It says standby mode after flashing the leds. But by that time it will be quite hot anyway, so the idea of using these is that, because it's based on that vapor device, you have to keep pushing the button and just every so often release the button and press it again. But this is good because it means it doesn't just run all the time and it that conserves the battery.

It heats very quickly and also protects the tip. The tip of this one gets very hot. I have to say so: let's zoom down a bit just a little bit, not too much and i shall focus down onto there. Uh should have done that because i'm going to be holding this up here, uh no, i shall sort it down there.

So let's uh give this a go, so i shall uh cycle the button until it comes up to a temperature. The solder starts melting, it heats very quickly and then i shall uh attempt to sort of these connections which i've mounted some resistors with sticky tape. So you have to get into the habit of releasing and pressing the button and also learning to kind of regulate it. Although you can't really see what temperature the tip is at, but once you've actually been using it for a while, it kind of becomes intuitive, the tip can get very very hard and it holds the heat for a while.

So, typically, between joints i'll just let go of the button and then just press the button again before i go into the next joint and so far so good. These, incidentally, are little circuit boards for converting a usb cable to drive some standard strings of parallel leds or whatever you want actually so that same solder, it went quite well now, let's crop these leads, and i shall solder in the matching connectors, we'll see how it Deals with the bigger ones - i missed one of those connections not to worry. I shall get it next time around. I shall crop it roughly to length and then i shall flow solder onto that.

That's because the lighting is from that direction. I'm looking from this direction, so these are little usb connectors, i'm going to open this up by the way and we'll take a look inside it. I just thought i'd mention that, so you can fast forward if you want to the bit where i open it up. If you don't want to see me testing its soldering abilities, oh these little connectors by the way i got a pack of them a while ago from aliexpress, and they did not turn up and i just gave up and ordered them from other suppliers, and they did Turn up the other suppliers, the packet.

These came in just arrived uh today, and it was posted on um, the 15th of july 2021, and it arrived almost exactly four months later, but the tracking on it showed actually arriving in the uk on the 19th of july. So if that tracking was true - and you can't always trust the tracking from some sellers, then it spent a lot of time with royal mail or isle of man post. I wonder if it's been affected by a little scandal that happened uh recently in the neighborhood, when a postal person was found with lots and lots of posts in their house naughty poster person right. Tell you what let's uh heat this up again so you'll see how fast it heats up so push the button release the button push the button again just to keep it cycling, there's the solder melting! So not that bad and once it's a hot it kind of holds that heat for a decent length of time.

So, let's flow the terminal connections here remembering to release the button ever so often, although you tend to do it as i say you tend to just do it between soda joints. I wouldn't recommend this soldier iron for soldering entire circuit boards, like i'm doing right now, but maybe just tiny circuit boards then. But as i'll show you later, it could actually be a very useful soldier yarn for traveling technicians who might suddenly and unexpectedly need a soldier and already have the aforementioned vapor producing device. If you wonder why i'm being very cautious about seeing the vapor producing device, it's because youtube frowns on the base unit, i've got here in its original intended purpose.

That is still doing really well now. I've got one more soda connection. Do that was that one okay - and now i shall put these on these - are two little molexy type connectors. I say molex a because they're not actually molex, although molex makes them uh.

These are a sort of industry standard connector made by various companies, but the first ones i used were molex and it just kind of sticks - and i just know of them as molex connectors. In reality, a molex connector could be just about anything because they do make. Quite a lot of connectors: okay on goes the soldering iron. Again, let's see how fast it recovers this time.

Given that didn't take too long, it's already melting, so i shall melt some soda on. I shall flick it off and then i shall flow it and it does a pretty good job. It's not bad at all, releases button and re-clicks button and that's quite big soda joints as well. If i sound impressed it's because i'm fairly impressed there are that's praised from big time.

Is it not uh just like when i tried the fish, the original uh usb iron? I was just blown away by just how good it was, even if it didn't have any fancy thermal regulation see that's that those that's two little circuit boards made. Now i can snap those apart so i'll, take those two outer ones off and snap these middle ones - and that's me, got them made right. Tell you what no i've done that lettuce ginger lose this heart. The heat hasn't traveled too far back a lot.

So i shall unscrew this and put it to the side and open this. Now. What i was going to say there is that if you already have one of these devices with you and it's important to note that this one is just a dumb one, it puts out 4.2 volts, let's actually test that it will put out whatever the battery voltage Is it doesn't uh have any sort of fancy electronic regulation? So let's just focus up to there, and i shall put this onto this connection here. I think these are more or less.

Is it going to connect the screws? Well, that is not going to work hold on. Let me go into that connection. There then 3.6 volts. The battery is probably about half voltage there unless it's actually pulling it down with the well there's no resistance on it.

As such. I did put this onto another uh unit. Well, let me do it and i'll tell you right now i'll just test this. This thing does claim to show the resistance, i'm not sure how accurate it is, but let's screw this in here and push the button and it displays i couldn't even modifying glass for this.

It's tiny, 1.73 ohms. It says that sounds about right now, i'll just leave that in there uh this one uh is adjustable power. I'd be cautious that if this this could theoretically boost the voltage up uh to drive this a much higher power, so i'm not sure really how far you could push it before it damaged the the filament inside actually overheated it. I think it might have better using it with the base unit or, if you did use it turn it down to something more appropriate, like maybe 10 watts or experiment with it, to see how it goes, but don't push it too hard or it may actually damage The tip by over driving it with too high voltage right.

So, let's open this up and what i was going to say there was that if you put one of these just one of these soda iron bits in this thing, with a bit of soda wrapped around it on a key ring or in your toolbox, then if You've already got one of these devices, then you could just actually keep this, and this would be your entire sodium. It could be quite useful, so i'm going to take the back of this first just to see what's inside, let's see if i can completely slip and destroy that lovely anodized, aluminium, finish, we'll see what circus is in here. Is it going to come out? No, it's not going to come out. Is it an 18650, for instance? I think it may be an 18650, that's quite good.

That also gives an option of upgrading it. If you want to put a fatter lithium cell in well, it would be the same size, but you could put in a much higher capacity one a proper cell, let's see if we can get this out without shorting it out big button. Oh there's a chip, there's a bank of mosfets. Oh, you know what i think, it's time to explore the circuit board.

One moment please picture taken, reverse engineering done and it's been fully reassembled. So the arrangement here i'm just going to zoom down this circuit board. If you want to take a picture of this yourself for a go at reverse engineering it this section here is actually the other side of the circuit board, but the image has been flipped. That's why the text is all back to front just so that say, for instance, this pad correlates to this one, and this one correlates to this one.

So the circuitry - i guess it's just a a microcontroller programmed for a vapor device, but it's using a standard tc4056 battery charge chip which communicates with the microcontroller to control the leds to show the charging state. Oddly, it has the option here. It's got three a190 mosfets in parallel, but it has the option to put a single package on the other side of the pcb um. That is more or less it.

Let me grab the schematic and show you it here is the schematic. I would tame this down, but you know it's all going to go pear-shaped. If i tame it down i'll, try to team it down it kind of went a bit pear-shaped. So there's the usb supply come in.

It's got a capacitor across it, then there's a tc4056 which is the uh the charge, control chip and the only thing in its immediate vicinity other than well there's two resistors and a couple of capacitors in specificity. There's a 1.8 k resistor that sets the charge current for the lithium cell here and there's a 1k resistor which enables the charge enable from the microcontroller. I'm not sure why they've done that, maybe it's just to save battery life by turning off, but it means the battery ever goes down too low and the microcontroller stops. It may prevent this from actually charging.

There is a uh another covering capacitor here, the battery itself, which is a 2 500 milliamp hour battery. Apparently, the microcontroller has a 10 ohm resistor and a capacitor to the zero volt rail to provide just basically a local reservoir, just so that if there's any spikes and glitches from the switching of the load, it provides a very simple filter to actually protect the microcontroller. From that there are positions for five leds, but only four blue leds are in place and the 51 ohm resistor for them all, which is actually quite a low value. It means there's going to be quite a lot of current through those leds.

Other things there's a the three connections over to the charge chip are the chief enabled to enable in the first place and then there's a standby and charge the these are the two lines that tell it that it is actually charging the battery and when it's finished, Charging the mosfet here is a p-channel mosfet. Well, three p-channel mosfets in parallel a190 equals a03401 to give its full number there's a 1k pull up resistor to keep it turned off and then to turn on the chip, pulls it down to the zero volt rail. Via this 100 ohm resistor, there's also a sensor on the switch side that is normally pulled low and it's got 100 ohm resistor. I presume that when it turns it on it's expecting to see this go high.

If it doesn't see it going high, it indicates that there may actually be a short circuit across here and the microcontroller will switch off and just basically go into standby until uh the button is pressed again, it's just a safety precaution. I presume. I don't think it will monitor the voltage. I think it's just looking well.

It will effectively monitor the voltage, but it's effective looking for a very decisive short circuit. I don't know if it's using an analog input in that, and that is it it's not that complicated. I guess ultimately it's designed as a very basic vapor device. Much like you might find in well.

In the this i was going to say his name there, let's not say his name, because youtube does not like vapor devices being named uh, so that is it. I shall zoom back out and indeed just brighten, that image up again pow. So it's interesting, i wouldn't say it's an ideal soldier iron, but what it has in its favor is that you can easily carry these bits with you in a tool box and if you have a vapor device, then it does go in and once you've mastered controlling It the correct, uh switching, you know, timing to actually get it up to a temperature without going completely ballistic, then uh, it does have potential and it can deal with quite significant sized solder joints because particularly this unusually large chisel bit does have good thermal mass. But there we go it's an interesting device.

I don't think it'll ever really end up going back into this little hard case because uh, i guess ultimately most some people will use it just as is, but i think many people would just use the bits as adapters in their existing devices like this. But as i say, as i said earlier, i'd recommend teaming the power down, so you don't uh burn out the element. I don't know if these things actually boost the voltage up for that. I've never really investigated this to you.

If i don't know if it's got a boost circuit now in case you're wondering what that little circuit board was earlier, it was an adapter for converting micro usb to strings of leds. These little purple ones that came from one below in the uk and it's simply got two 10 ohm resistors, the usb connector and the output connector. The reason for two 10 ohm resistors, it's featured in a different video - is that it spreads a dissipation and it just basically limits the current to a sensible level about 100 milliamps through the leds, and you can run quite long strings from a usb power bank or Usb power supply for a very long time, but not the ones that do the polarity switching flashing effects. So there we have it.

I don't really know what this is called. It says light 40. I don't know if that's actually what it is or, if that's just the other product for vapor, but it works and i suppose ultimately, for travel and stuff like that, it's actually quite useful.

17 thoughts on “Cordless soldering iron teardown with schematic”
  1. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Dave Fuss says:

    Think I would prefer something like the PINECIL for mobile soldering, way cheaper than the TS series, temperature regulated and a better fit in the hand.

  2. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars James Anthony Tomlinson says:

    Wow. I was just looking up wireless soldering irons earlier today, and I saw this one, or one similar, and I was intrigued.

    I live in a van, and while I try to not use the van as power. (I do have an inverter.)

    I've got lots of non-electric projects I need to get working on, and this might be exactly what I need.

  3. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Chuck Bryant says:

    I don't vape but I've got a vape mod that I bought to use as an experiment for something else that didn't work. I'll have to see if the tips are available by themselves. It uses 2 batteries so I'll take your advice to heart and make sure I start at a low setting.

  4. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars CHERWALLY says:

    I am a vaper, and I always looked for various devices/utilities that i can repurpose my electronic mods to.
    Firstly i would love a flashlight head that can either screw in the vape mod, either plug in a USB C plug in a normal power-bank.
    And sure, such a tiny pocket soldering iron is ideal for travel or small unexpected fixes.
    Unfortunately the Aliexpress listing already gone and no idea what to look for.

  5. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Jay Long says:

    The theft/cost efficiency in Royal Mail is the reason I tend to avoid any retailers located in the UK, despite the solid engineering they provide and I desire. If the UK wants to be a power again, they need to address the theft and corruption in that organisation.

  6. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars annotatedkate says:

    When I was about 12-13, I remember being sad that I couldn't fix my walkmans & headphones when they broke because I did not have a soldering iron. Of course I took them apart when they stopped working, but I could rarely do a repair even when I identified the problem.

    I'm just getting into electronics again since discovering your channel and while it's not practical for me to start making things at the moment, I do frequently fix stuff around the house as needed. And I already own such a vapour-producing device!

    I feel like my inner child just got some very good news. Thank you, Clive!

  7. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Ootgreet1 says:

    Coleman (purveyor of camping gear) made a crappy little portable soldering iron a few years ago called the Powermate PMS7000, powered by AA batteries. It was completely useless – its heating was imperceptible and didn't even begin to liquify solder so mine went straight in the trash. So I'm biased against battery powered soldering irons.

  8. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars xxPenjoxx says:

    As a Royal Mail postie, that thief story makes me so sad. Weird to explain the personal disappointment it brings out in me. Sorry that the people in Isle of Man had to deal with that. ๐Ÿ˜”

  9. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars simon bird says:

    If you have the details on second regulation bank, the black one. I have managed to go in to the set up ,press a b for combination something.

    I couldn't find the documatation to get it in running mode, just flip display etc….

    Has a microcontroller for UI, and it's still apart sat in a box!!

  10. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Loam says:

    That's pretty funny I've used a lot of those cheap vape batteries with a wide range of quality. Never thought to use the for soldering but it makes sense. Seems like the cylindrical pen style batteries would feel better in the hand

  11. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars shawn thomson says:

    im about to do my first solder job in more than 2 years tomarow, to modify a 3d printer i have. well time to binge your videos for how not to solder

  12. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Jo Freddie says:

    Have you had a look at the PINECIL soldering iron, from the makers of the Pine64 single-board computer, very similar to the TS100 , but a fraction of the price.

  13. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Okurka says:

    A knife blade is surprisingly practical for soldering SMD parts.

    The tip of the knife is small enough to solder each leg of an IC and when using the side of the knife it's great for drag soldering.

  14. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Sparky Projects says:

    The knife bit can be used as a hot knife if you want to cut a square hole in a plastic box for a switch for instance, or to weld 2 bita of plastic together, or to melt hotglue ๐Ÿ˜‰

  15. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars RagesJam says:

    as a vaper, i keep one of those points in my edc. can be pretty usefull for small things. with a 18650 no-timer mod becomes a pretty amazing soldiering iron.

  16. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars Ted McFadden says:

    Most of my soldering at work is three or four solder joints a week, with maybe some reflowing. It always seemed awkward to plug my traditional iron in, wait for several minutes for it to slowly heat up, do the job in ~20 seconds, unplug it, and warn every passerby for several minutes it's still hot. This seems like a night-and-day difference for that use case. I will have to get one now. ๐Ÿค‘

  17. Avataaar/Circle Created with python_avatars electronron1 says:

    Back in the 70's I had a Wahl iso-tip cordless soldering iron that I used when on the road. It was handy but back then it used Nickel Cadmium cells so battery life wasn't so good.

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