Through the Looking Glass

USB Soldering Iron Review

Posted on April 27, 2016

After watching Big Clive’s “USB soldering iron test and teardown with schematic” video, I went out and grabbed one of these things. Insteasd of 5$, I spent the 8$ to get it shipped from CA (the same state I live in). Note that all of the images in this post link to larger versions.

It finally showed up today:

soldering iron in the package

I scrounged around for something to test soldering with; I came up with one of the NAND gate boards for a transistor-based computer I built at one point. I still had a few of the NAND boards lying around, and enough spare passives that I could slap it together real quick.

parts ready for soldering

The coffee bag in the back is actually a backstop for leads that get clipped off, and also how I get through the day >.>.

The board has seven passives: two headers (one 2-pin, one 3-pin), a 4.7K resistor, two 10K resistors, and two NPN transistors. The 2-pin header, 4.7K resistor, and the transistor nearest that resistor I soldered using the USB soldering iron. The other parts I soldered with my trusty Sparkfun soldering station set to 175°C (about 350°F).

The end result; in the shot of the back of the board, the three leftmost parts were done with the USB soldering iron; in the shot of the top of the board, the three rightmost parts were done with the USB soldering iron.

back of the board

top of the board

Some notes:

This seems like a small, useful little tool to throw in my tool bag for when it’s unwieldy to break out the larger soldering station. For 8$ shipped, I feel like it was worth the price. Naturally, this is all based on about 30 seconds of actual soldering, so caveat emptor.