I’m now using a $4 soldering iron which works most of the time for what I’m doing, but sometimes it does not seem to heat quite fast enough which may cause problems. I’m not soldering that often, so I did not think about getting a better one, but I’ve just come across an TS100 digital & programmable soldering iron with a OLED display showing the current temperature, and controlled by an STMicro STM32F103T8U6 micro-controller.
The soldering iron also includes an accelerometer which allow the soldering iron to know when you are using it, so the temperature drops if it is inactive for over 5 minutes (sleep mode), and after 10 minutes of inactivity, the soldering iron automatically turns off.
TS100 soldering iron key specifications:
- OLED Display
- USB – 1x micro USB port for configuration
- Temperature Range – 100 to 400 °C; 15 seconds to heat to 300 °C @ 19V; Sleep mode temp: 200 °C (default)
- Power – 65 Watts (max @ 24V); 40W using 19V power supply
- Supported Tips – TS-D24, TS-K, TS-BC2, TS-B2
- Misc – 2x buttons to adjust temperature, calibrate temperature, and enter DFU (firmware update) mode
- Power Supply – 12 to 24 V via DC5525 connector (an old laptop power supply will work provided it has a 5.5/2.5mm jack)
- Dimensions – 96 x 16.5 Φ mm for operating unit, 72+33 mm x 5 mm Φ for heating unit
- Weight – 33 grams
If you connect the TS100 to you computer via its USB port, you’ll be able to change config.txt to adjust default settings like temperature, temperature steps, sleep time, and so on, as well as change the boot logo, and update the firmware.
TS100 is also listed on Tindie where you’ll find a user’s manual, schematics, and source code for your STM32 soldering iron. The manufacturer also has a forum mostly in English, where people exchange ideas, and for example they released a firmware for left handed people.
I discovered the soldering iron thanks to a video by Andreas Spiess comparing irons of different price points: a 30-years old Weller Magnastat, Aoyue 968 A+, two cheaper soldering irons, namely 907 constant temperature soldering iron and Mustool MT223 not-so-adjustable temperature electric soldering iron, and of course TS100.
For each soldering iron, he tested the actual power draw during heating, whether the set temperature (360°C) is the actual temperature, heating speed, heat transfer, and showing special features of each iron. The video is really interesting to watch, but if you don’t have time that’s the summary at the end.
TS100 performed really well for the price, although there’s about a 30 °C delta between the set and real temperature. I really like small form factor, fast heating and automatic power off feature. I’m pretty sure it will solve the issue I had with my $4 iron, so I was convinced an bought TS100 on Banggood for $45.55. I’ll use a laptop power supply to power it up, but if you don’t have a spare one DSY404-19V-2 power supply is recommended, and sells for $22.02 on Banggood.
Thank you Nanik!