Miniware Soldering Iron (TS80P)

Following successful initial tests with Miniware’s little hot plate MHP30, I went ahead and bought another product that I had been curious about. This is the Miniware TS80P soldering iron, which I bought through Adafruit as item #4244. I’ve read positive comments on this little USB-C powered wonder through Hackaday and other sources. And I like the idea of having a small soldering iron I could take to events like LayerOne to join in electronics fun.

User interface for TS80P closely resembled that for the MHP30 hot plate, running on a small OLED with two buttons. Since they’re both small USB-C powered heating devices, I suppose there’s a chance they’re running mostly (or possibly exactly) the same firmware code. I’m not a huge fan of their interface, as there are only two buttons whose functions vary depending on context making it hard for me to remember what each button would do at any given time. With time I suppose I will get used to it, and most of the time I just want to turn heat on/off so I doubt the interface would be a long term hinderance.

I had also hoped that the nature of USB-C power meant I could use this soldering iron away from a power socket, which would be useful if I need to perform field repairs on my Sawppy rover. Unfortunately, I can’t do that just yet. I own a few battery power banks with USB-C output, but none of them could support the voltage and amperage demanded by this little soldering iron. If I want to add this to my Sawppy field repair kit, I will have to buy a power bank capable of 12V 3A via USB Power Delivery.

A quick test soldering a 7-pin 0.1″ header went smoothly with neither good or bad surprises. Using this little pen-sized iron felt strange because I’ve become accustomed to holding a much larger iron when soldering. But aside from heat insulation, I don’t know of any fundamental reasons for a soldering iron to be big. Some people prefer the light weight and compact size maneuverability of a small iron, switching to these little guys as their primary soldering iron. I don’t know if I would make such a change, time will tell.

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