The soldering iron is undoubtedly one of the essential tools you need for any project you do at home for a hobby or school project. You can find a soldering iron that’s available in different sizes and shapes, and the best part is they’re also relatively inexpensive. But with the tight economic conditions, can you make a simple soldering iron?
The answer to this is a resounding yes, and if this is something you’re looking to learn, you’ve come to the right place. This comprehensive article will take you through a step-by-step guide on what needs to be done when making a simple soldering iron.
Step 1: Assemble All Items You Need
There are numerous items you’ll need as you assemble your soldering iron at home. These include:
- A utility knife
- A pen
- Thermoresistant or ceramic cylinder
- Thermoresistant spacer
- A pencil
- A pair of scissors
- Heated wire covered over a thermoresistant insulator
- Sandpaper or a file
- A power supply unit (PSU)
- Copper tip
- Metal pipe
- Wire with a thermoresistantinsulator
- A standard adhesive tape
- A heat resistant adhesive
Once you’ve got all the materials needed for your project, go ahead and start the task of making your soldering iron. This process is simple and straightforward, with an hour more than enough after having the materials ready.
Step 2: Make The Tip
With the materials ready, the first thing you should do is making the soldering iron tip using a utility knife and pencil. When doing this, you need to:
- Make sure your pencil is ready
- Take out your utility knife
- Cut the pencil in half until you can see the graphite at the center.
- Carefully take out the graphite making sure it comes out a whole rather than in pieces.
After taking out the graphite, the other challenge standing in your way is how you’ll hold it. For you to do this, using a generic piece of metal is advised.
This should preferably be a plate or thick wire, an electromagnet core, or a plate that can be bent with ease. Any of these choices are ideal and down to your individual preference so long as it allows you a firm grip of the graphite.
Using your imagination and ingenuity, find a way of wrapping an electrical wire to one of the graphite’s end.
Step 3: Make The Tip Holder
Whereas making the tip holder might look somewhat complicated, it’s quite a straightforward process. All you need to do is holding the tip in place using a tip as this not only works great but also offers you great comfort.
Nonetheless, be careful when selecting a pen since some are known to produce harmful fumes that can adversely affect your well-being.
The steps to follow when making the tip holder are:
- Take out the internal spring, cartridges, and the gear-looking component.
- Remove the cap by either breaking or cutting it. When doing this, you’ll have to disassemble it depending on the type and nature of the pen being used. As you do this, take into account the wire will pass through a hole.
- Maintain extreme care and search for a piece of metal with graphite and position the metal with graphite at the pen’s tip.
- Cut the pen into the preferred shape using a file, and your primary concern should be finding a way to insert the metal where the pen’s tip was initially.
This process might take you quite some time to try and figure out the ideal technique of fixing the tip. After you manage to do this, make sure the electrical wire passes through the pen and then cover the electrical wire around the metal’s end piece.
As you do this, ensure the metal and wire don’t disconnect. The last step you should take is inserting the piece of metal into the pen, and you’ll be done with your tip.
Once you are done doing this, your tip holder will be ready for use and cover it with a heat resistant, but this isn’t mandatory.
Step 4: Connect To The Power Supply Unit
By now, you most certainly are feeling tired and exhausted. However, don’t worry, since you’re done with the most challenging part of this entire project.
Now all that’s left is connecting the PSU to the wires coming from the pen. Whereas this might sound complicated due to the many wires emerging from the pen, the process is relatively straightforward.
The many wires found on the PSU have particular voltage, with the rail with orange being 3.3 volts, red being 5 volts whereas yellow is 12 volts. While you’ll see other rails and colors, these are the most important ones at the moment. You’ll also find a ground that plays a vital role in this entire connection, and it’s 0 volts.
The next thing you should inspect is the amperage, which is the maximum current produced. This shouldn’t be an issue because many PSU generates enough amperage that enables the passing through of high current through the tip. Therefore, it’s up to you to decide which rail best suits your needs, meaning you should opt for a higher voltage if the tip isn’t getting heated quite as fast.
While doing all this, keep in mind the principle where you can only increase the current by either increasing voltage or reducing resistance. Lowering resistance is achieved by cutting your graphite to make it shorter.
Once you’re done selecting your soldering iron’s suitable rail, go back to inspect the PSU connections. Consequently, connect the wire to the rail and pen while connecting the other wires to the ground.
Wrap the ground wire only and not doing this too tightly because you might need different voltages later, and by doing this, you’ll be able to change the railing without needing to unwrap the wire.
If you plug in the PSU and it fails to switch on, there may be a need to connect additional wires. Should this happen, follow the legend until you see the “PS-ON” rail name, which has a light green color. After finding this wire, connect it to the ground by either putting a switch to turn off the PSU even while it’s plugged or using a jumper.
Step 5: Test Your Soldering Iron
Your soldering iron is now finally ready to use. You should heat the graphite using the wire’s free end connected to the ground, and it will start heating up whenever there’s contact. Furthermore, you can sharpen the graphite to your desired shape to either make the tip sharp or flat.
If you are on a tight budget and in need of a soldering iron, reading this insightful article has offered you invaluable tips on steps to follow to make one. Therefore, you can start your school or home projects without having to spend a substantial sum of money.