How to Make a USB Soldering Iron at Home

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A USB soldering iron allows you to draw your power from a computer connection. Its compact size makes it ideal for smaller jobs. If you are, for example, fixing electrical equipment or circuit boards, it is a fantastic aid.

A USB iron allows for greater versatility because as long as you have a USB port to power it, you are good to go. The compact size makes it portable, meaning you can use it anywhere.

So How Does A USB Soldering Iron Work?

A USB soldering iron is not much different from the electric ones. The only difference is that; the power comes from the USB port. The iron hits the tip, which in turn melts the solder. Since this solder has a lower melting temperature, it will harden quickly, thereby fusing whatever you are working on.

It is important to note that you will not be able to use a USB soldering iron for very large projects. If you are a DIY enthusiast or are working on smaller projects around the house, it will serve quite well.

For beginners, practice using a soldering iron first, before you take on projects that require a little more finesse. A soldering iron heats up pretty quickly, and you have to know how to control it well.

You can buy a ready-made USB soldering iron, but why incur the cost if you can make one for yourself. We will teach you how in our article below. 

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Materials You Will Need For Your USB Soldering Iron

This step-by-step tutorial will convert a battery-powered soldering iron into a USB one. All you will need to do is wire your USB cables to the battery contacts. The process is simple and will not take up too much of your time.

For this project, you will need the following material:-

A battery-powered soldering iron – you can find inexpensive models, so do not go for the priciest one.

  • The USB cable, which should typically supply about 5 volts of power
  • Drill bit
  • Wire strippers
  • Jeweler’s screwdriver kit
  • Solder and a soldering iron

Let’s get into the step-by-step process.

Disassembling the battery solder iron

  • Remove the batteries. 
  • Detach the screws so that you can separate the case from the rest of the components. The screws should ideally be about 4. You may need to peel back the sticker to access two of them. 
  • Do not lose the screws as you will need to reattach the cover.
  • It pays to be very careful at this stage so that you do not damage any wires.
  • Be especially watchful of the wires that connect to the soldering tip.

Creating Holes for the Cables on the Battery Cover

We will need to create holes on the battery cover. 

  • Remove the metal plate from the battery cover.
  • Take note of where the holes for the screws are, and enlarge them with the drill.
  • You will get the larger hole for sliding your cables through. Use your USB cable as a guide on how big the hole should be

Preparing the USB Cable

You need to detach the connector from the USB cable.

  • You will, however, need to leave the male as it is
  • Now thread the cable through the hole you created in the battery cover in the step above.
  • When threading the cable, allow for some excess to pass through.
  • It is now time to strip the cable so that we can access the black and red wires. These are the critical wires, so you can cut off any other.
  • You can use heat shrink to cover the wires you have just stripped.

Assembling the Soldering Unit

  • Take your other solder iron because you will need to join the positive and negative coils and wires. 
  • The red is positive, while the black is negative. The negative contact point should be right underneath the spring.
  • Align the negative and positive wires to the corresponding contacts.
  • When running the wire, use the cavities to ensure you get a neater assembly. Doing it correctly will also ensure that you can use your battery when you need to. It further enhances the versatility you get out of your soldering iron.
  • Tenure your wires before you connect them. 
  • Carefully solder the contacts to establish the connection. 
  • When attaching the negative wire, ensure you test that you have not compromised the spring’s movement on the tip in any way.
  • Put back the switch on the soldering iron.
  • Reattach the case to cover the internal components. 
  • You have successfully transformed your battery-powered soldering iron into a USB soldering iron.
  • Test that your unit is working correctly using your computer or wall outlet. 

What You Will Like About Your USB Soldering Iron

  • It is compact, making it easy to use and move around when you need to
  • It heats up quickly, and within 15 seconds, you should be able to start your project
  • The cooling is equally fast. Within 25 seconds, the tip temperature will come down
  • It does not consume a lot of power; ideally it will range within 8 watts
  • The USB connector voltage is 5 volts, which will be sufficient to work your USB soldering iron
  • If you follow our steps above, you will still retain the option of using battery power. It means that if you do not have a point to connect a USB cable, you can still use your soldering iron.
  • You have the option of using a separate unit or adapter. It frees you from the need to have your computer with you all the time when you have to use the soldering iron. 
  • It is a fantastic way to learn to solder because the circuit’s voltage is not too high.

What You May Not Like

As we have already indicated above, you can only use your USB soldering iron for smaller jobs. If you solder professionally, this is not the tool for you. 

Final Thoughts

You now know how to make a USB soldering iron at home. The process is simple; the only thing you need to do is establish the right positive and negative connections.

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