modifying a soldering iron with a dimmer


Old 10-04-07, 11:49 AM
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modifying a soldering iron with a dimmer

I bought a cheap $8 soldering iron from radioshack and a $4 rotary dimmer from a local hardware store. I spliced the top wire of the power cable on the iron and bridged in the dimmer switch. Now, the rotary dimmer will control the iron as an on/off function, but will not actually control the temperature of it. It is either being set to full heat at any level of the dimmmer or completely off. Any suggestions on how to make a cheap adjustable temp soldering iron?
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Old 10-04-07, 12:27 PM
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The iron probably has a built-in feedback controller to hold the heat at a preset level by cycling the element on and off. Using the dimmer on the input will only cause the iron's heating element to remain on longer without significantly affecting the temperature.
Old 10-04-07, 12:40 PM
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What you're seeing are also the symptoms of a fried dimmer. Try your dimmer on a light bulb to see if it works there.
Old 10-04-07, 04:50 PM
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The dimmer does still work for light bulbs. I also tried a stand-alone in line dimmer that you just plug directly into a wall socket then plug the iron into, but that wouldn't get very hot at it's highest setting. Perhaps I need a better iron?
Old 10-04-07, 06:47 PM
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adjustable temp soldering iron?

I think they sell these. That may be the best solution.
Old 10-04-07, 08:25 PM
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After using several different soldering irons / guns over the last forty years I think my Weller variable temperature unit is the best. I think I paid around $100. for it.

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