USB-C Soldering Iron (TS80P vs HS-01) : Recommendations

Hi all

I am looking at a portable soldering iron and it seems there are two leading contenders - the TS80P and the HS-01. Wondering if anyone has any solid experience they can lend to help me decide

TS80P:
Cost 730 SEK (including 1 tip)
Replacement Tips: 449 SEK
Pros: Available locally, Field Box (Omnifixo - Field box by OMNIFIXO - Thingiverse)
Cons: 30W, limited range of tips - expensive tips

HS-01:
Cost: 600 SEK (including 6 tips)
Replacement Tips: 110 SEK
Pros: Cheaper initial purchase, more tips in the box; cheaper tips; higher power (65W)
Cons: Not available locally (import duties and tax; harder to get tips - need friends in the US to send); no field box

All in all, the HS-01 seems the much better choice, though it does concern me that it will be harder to get replacement tips. I have a friend visiting from the states soon, so I can get the unit from amazon.com (or the shipping isn’t too bad), but the tips are not available to ship (for some reason). I have no idea how long the tips will last though, maybe thats not such a big deal. Also, silly as it sounds, the field box of the HS-01 that I linked to is a very big plus - being able to carry the iron, some solder and solder base plate (https://omnifixo.com/) would suit my use case very well. I use the PCBite at home, and a small version for the field would be excellent! I guess the obvious solution is to remix the box to fix the HS-01 (make it a wee bit longer as the HS01 is longer) == more storage (a slight adjustment to the top so the omnifixo will still fit of course!) - whilst I’m at it, maybe add a second layer for the power bank (also attached by magnets)

I have two main use cases

  1. home: My workbench is in a shed where there is no permanent power; when i want to use my main solder unit I need to run an extension cable from the house. For small jobs like attaching header pins, or small, simple boards this would be my unit of choice
  2. “field” - although I don’t go out in field much, i often help friends with projects, so having an iron when i visit to troubleshoot / install / assemble etc would be beneficial

to be honest, neither of these two cases is likely to be common, but common enough right now to cause me some issues

if i look at it from that perspective, the HS-01 seems to be the clear winner… it’s the replacement tips that is the main concern…

I know Dave Jones at EEVBlog gave the HS-01 a good review and replaced his TS80P with it… and that’s normally good enough for me - but looking for an external verification; and if anyone thinks the lack of ease of sourcing replacement tips is likely to be an issue

you can also pick them up on aliexpress, they should be able to ship tips to you?

yeah, to be honest I’ve never been a fan of AliExpress - known a few too many people who got bit by non-genuine parts etc… I’m normally happy to pay the premium to buy from someone who has a reputation to uphold and will handle a support case if need be…

but yeah, that would be a way to solve the tips issues for sure

I own a TS100 and it’s a fantastic tool, honestly one of the best soldering irons I’ve used. I love it. But it became significantly better once I upgraded it to IronOS (GitHub - Ralim/IronOS: Open Source Soldering Iron firmware) so that’s something to consider.

Also, I bought it on aliexpress, and I wouldn’t worry too much about buying there. I buy plenty of stuff there and as long as you stick to reasonable sellers (e.g. sellers that have actually sold something) and offers at reasonable prices, things usually work out fine. I mean, don’t expect miracles: some things are expensive for a reason. But if you have reasonable expectations, it’s fine.

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I also have a TS101 (TS100 with wider display). It is very portable, heats up quick, and I mostly like the three preset temps that just change with a button push. I don’t even have move or look up to boost the temp when needed. It is very short, which makes it easy to control for super fine work under the microscope.

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Hi,

I’m not a big fan of self promoting, but at this point I’d be stupid not to mention it. I’d like to add one of my projects in your list of candidates.

A few years ago, through an employer I’ve gotten to discover the impressive Weller RT tips; and like other makers out there got inspired to make a compatible USB-powered soldering iron.

I had a design based on a STM32F0 ready to hit production right before when COVID came. Working around component shortages was no fun, really; especially on a space-constrained design. It got to a point where I gave up entirely, for a while.

I revisited the project when the RP2040 came out. It is now at the center of a second working design. Here’s a sneak peek.

What’s next then? Things will move fast in the next weeks and months as I am planning on a (small) crowd funding campaign. I will also bring some at the Hackaday Supercon 2023 in November.

Marketing is not my strength (there’s a reason I’m an engineer) but here are a few arguments supporting why I think it deserves to be considered:

  • machined and anodized aluminum enclosure,
  • uses a robust USB Type-C connector from Würth Elektronik,
  • uses probably too many decoupling capacitors,
  • protruding lips around the USB cable to relieve mechanical stress on the connector,
  • supports USB BC, QC, and PD,
  • heats up in about 3 seconds when powered by 20V 3A,
  • fully intend to opensource schematic,
  • fully intend to help with adding support for IronOS.

If you are interested in keeping up to date, you’ll find below links to Discord and the Hackaday project page where I’ll be posting updates as soon as I get the crowd funding campaign going.

Regards,

Nicolas

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hey, thanks @jwr & @jhannon - that’s two votes for TS* (I would be going the TS80P in this case, rather than the TS10*)

Seems the TS80P is supported in IronOS

but i had forgotten about the Pinecil! which is pretty good pricing!
https://www.amazon.com/PINECIL-Smart-Mini-Portable-Soldering/dp/B096X6SG13

hey mate, that looks amazing; ill definitely look into it and follow progress

best of luck!

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Wow this looks amazing. CNC Aluminum enclosure is an excellent touch. Looking forward to it being for sale.

Any chance that I can get a spot for one of the early units?

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Thank you sincerely for the positive feedback! I am focusing my efforts towards getting the crowdfunding campaign up as soon as possible. However, if things take too long I will happily put a few early units up on sale on Tindie.

However many you’re bringing to supercon, bring more, plus one for me. You’ll sell out of them. Don’t take that as a sign of market fitness though - everything at Supercon is “ooh shiny, that’s cool!”

I’m actually quite happy with my TS100+PD-trigger and handmade silicone lead. But the connection isn’t very robust (cheap bad 5.5x2.1 plug that always works itself loose). Also, because the tip resistance is specified for 60W at 24V, it’s rather less powerful at the 20V PD provides without building in a boost converter. I actually went to that length as well, but it’s a bit inelegant to say the least.

The last two things to consider: 1) if you can find a quality silicone-insulated USB-C cable that’s good and floppy, that’d be worth almost as much as the iron. Having a power lead that tugs the iron around on the bench is no-bueno, and the thin 22ga silicone lead my own iron uses is for sure the nicest feature. 2) it’d be ideal to ground the iron’s tip to the USB-C shell through 1Mohm, so that you can modify a supply to earth-ground it for ESD purposes. So much the better if you can build and sell a supply that does just that, since everything off the shelf is fully isolated and rarely includes an earth ground prong.

I actually have a writeup from like 2 years ago on those two modifications that I did for the TS-100, but alas, I haven’t actually finished or posted it. Whoops.