The TS100, possibly the best portable soldering iron for quadcopter builders, arrived in the mail and we tested it in a couple of mini quad builds. In this review we will have a look at why this solder iron is so great.
Where to buy the TS100 Soldering Iron
Why is the TS100 Soldering Iron Great?
The TS100 is a portable, programmable soldering iron. It’s only 31g in weight and 17cm long.
Input voltage is 12V to 24V which means you can power it off a PSU as well as any 3S, 4S or 5S LiPo batteries allowing you to carry out field repairing easily. A lot of people have been using this iron on 6S LiPo (up to 26.4V) without any problem, but do this at your own risk.
The power of the iron is proportional to the input voltage.
|Input Voltage||Power||Time to heat up from 30° to 300°|
The default temperature range is between 100°C to 400°C which should be more than enough for RC hobby use. (Any higher than that increases the risk of damaging PCB)
It’s got REAL temperature control! Unlike traditional soldering irons that simply apply a constant power, the TS100 actually monitors and adjusts the temperature by heating up and cooling down with built-in temperature sensors.
When the iron is idle for too long (3 mins) it enters Standby Mode automatically (it has an accelerometer with STM32 processor!), in which it lowers the temperature to 200°. This prevents dry heating that could oxidize the tip, prolongs the life span of soldering head, and helps save your energy bills. When you hold it up again, it will detect the movement and raise temperature.
- 1x TS100 Soldering Iron
- 1x TS-B2 Solder Tip
- 1x Allen Key and 2 screws (For replacing the tips and heating element)
Assembly only took about 10 seconds :)
It has 2 buttons and a OLED screen.
On the rear of the body, it mentions the connector type (DC5525) and input voltage range. And the model number of the tip (TS-B2) is printed on the head.
On the end of the TS100, there is a micro USB port for updating firmware (not a 5V USB charger), and the power connector.
Different shape and size tips are available (purchase separately). The one that comes with it is the TS-B2 pencil tip. I think it’s probably the best choice for mini quad builds if you ever only use 1 tip.
Overall, the TS100 is a great soldering iron: simple to use and works as expected. It’s compact and light weight. It can be powered off our 4S LiPo batteries, makes it perfect for bench as well as field repairing and building.
However the grip is a bit small compared to my full size soldering iron. If you have big hands you might find it harder to handle than a proper bench soldering station.
Lastly, you will need the following 2 items to make your TS100 perfect.
Power Adapter Cable
You can get a power supply for the TS100 with the correct connector, such as the Sony AC-S2422 (output [email protected])
But if you want to power it from LiPo batteries you’ll also need a XT60 2.5mm Barrel adapter cable. You can get buy it from GetFPV or DIY.
It’s really simple to make, all you need is a female XT60, a DC5525 Barrel connector, and some silicone wires of 24-26 AWG. (current is only about 2.5A so no need to go too large in wires)
For the wires, I think 26awg or larger wires should be fine (current at max power is under 3A). The lighter wires handle better, I tried 16awg wires and I didn’t like the extra weight on the soldering iron. Also make it longer, 2 feet or more ideally.
Soldering Iron Holder
TS100 doesn’t come with a holder, so you have to be creative and safe. There are some 3D printed solution like this one. I am not a big fan of this since the soldering iron could get warm and melt the plastic :)
Or you can use a soldering helping hand stand like me.
Should you buy the TS100?
After using the TS100 for about a year now, I think it’s perfect for beginners or advanced drone builders.
You can probably get a cheaper soldering station with built-in PSU, but the TS100 is so powerful in terms of features, and it’s also portable for field repairing, therefore I highly recommend it!
Here is a review video from Carlos on his YT channel.
The custom firmware is developed by Ralim on Github. The firmware can be found here: https://github.com/Ralim/ts100
Why do you want to update the TS100 to the custom firmware?
There are many new features made available by the new custom firmware, but the most important ones to me and to many others are the following:
- Enables maximum temperature up to 450°C
- Allows you to adjust all the settings on the pen itself which is handy (with the original firmware, you have to upload the settings in a text file)
- Set a voltage lower limit for LiPo batteries so you don’t over-discharge the battery pack (you can select 3S, 4S, 5S, 6S, or DC)
- Battery charge level indicator (shows how much power is left)
- Custom boot-up logo (here is my logo in case you want to play with it)
- Automatic LCD rotation based on orientation
The firmware update is really easy to do, only takes a couple of mins so I recommend doing it.
How to Update?
Download the latest firmware “.hex file” of your preferred language here: https://github.com/Ralim/ts100/releases
Instructions to update the firmware can be found here for all Windows, Mac and Linux users: https://github.com/Ralim/ts100/wiki/Upgrading-Firmware
To sum it up for Windows users:
- Hold down the button closest to the tip, and plug in the USB to the computer
- The unit will appear as a USB drive
- Drag the .hex file onto the USB drive
- The unit will disconnect and reconnect
- The filename will have changed to end in .RDY or .ERR or .NOT
- If it ends with .RDY you’re done! Otherwise, something went wrong
- Disconnect the USB and power up the iron. You’re good to go
- Apr 2017 – Review published
- Dec 2017 – Added instructions to update firmware