Adjustable Soldering Iron

Recently my old soldering gun spoiled. I open the casing and try to repair, but I think the problem is the heating element, which is not repairable.

old soldering gun

So, its time to get a new soldering tools. After some research, I bought an Antex branded 25W soldering iron, at price of RM70. Initially, I am thinking of getting a 18W or 16W Antex, but what they have there at that time is 25W, and I simply take it.

antex soldering iron

antex spec

After I power it up and do some testing, I found out that the 25W is a bit over heat compare to my old soldering gun. I am a bit regret about choosing 25W, but I don’t think I can return it back because I already power it up and the colour changes of the heated tip is very obvious. So, I decide to add a dimmer to the soldering iron to make it adjustable.

To enable the adjustable power for soldering iron or soldering gun, you will need a dimmer (any home lighting dimmer will do). For me, I get an UMS 6600S Dimmer Switch from an electrical store. The wiring instruction do state that the max power supported by the dimmer is 600W, so, my 25W shouldn’t be a problem for the dimmer.

dimmer

Also, you will need a box for the dimmer as a protection to the wiring. You can this kind of box (I am not sure what it is called) in a normal electrical store.

box1

From the picture above, you can see that I do cut a small U-shape clearance for the in and out wire. I do it using a cutter, you can try to use a drill (maybe you can drill holes for in and out wire), and please be careful while doing this.

box

box with wire

Now, proceed with the wiring according to the Wiring Instruction. Simply replace the Lamps with your soldering Iron.

dimmer

The complete adjustable soldering iron.

complete

Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions or better solution.

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13 Responses

  1. Pseudonym says:

    Does that mean we get to save on buying soldering station?

  2. admin says:

    Adding a dimmer is different with soldering station. Adding a dimmer is only control how much power we supply to the soldering iron, but there is no temperature feedback from the soldering iron. No matter how much heat/power we use, the supply power is still the adjusted amount.

    But a proper soldering station do have a temperature sensor, that feedback the current temperature of the soldering iron. So, when we use more heat, and the temperature drop, the soldering station will adjust the supply power to higher amount to keep temperature constant.

  3. Reto says:

    Does it really work?
    I have a Weller WP25 soldering iron, can it become damaged if I add a dimmer?

  4. Reto says:

    You right!
    It really works, I have added a dimmer to my soldering iron and it works great!
    thank you for your advice.

  5. User8192 says:

    Your old soldering gun appears to be nothing more than a Weller industrial soldering station barrel repackaged in pistol grip form. If you haven’t tossed it in the trash, I’d take a look at the possibility of getting a replacement Weller heating element. All repair parts are available for Weller soldering stations, including heating elements, and they can be completely rebuilt to as-new functionality, if not appearance.

  6. admin says:

    Thanks for the suggestion, but sadly I already trash it.

  7. User8192 says:

    @Reto — No, you cannot run your Weller WP25 with a dimmer control, unless your aim is to produce heat far below the normal operating temperature. These Weller irons are temperature regulating, and have a magnetic switch that works in conjunction with the special properties of the exchangeable tips. They rely on the “Curie effect”: The tip loses its magnetism when a certain temperature is exceeded, the magnetic switch opens, turns off the heating element and allows the tip to cool until it becomes magnetic again, the switch closes, etc. The mechanism causes the temperature to swing in a range of about 25°F. If you install the highest temperature tip available for such irons — typically 900°F — you could use a dimmer for temperatures below about 850°F, but now your iron would be unregulated, and you’d have no idea what the tip temperature is from moment to moment.

  8. admin says:

    Thanks to User8192 for the informative explanation about the Weller.

  9. Paul O says:

    Thanks much for this. I came across your website after finding WebcamViewer and using it to solve an annoying problem. I’m going to implement this soldering solution as well as your polymorph LED light and the supercapacitor USB light!

  10. Luke Reid says:

    Great Stuff! Always thinking out side the electric box!

  11. Very good idea and suggestion . Thanks for the info and pics.

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