Grounded: March 2009 Archives

Smoke reducing solder station desk lamp hack

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I've been wanting a better lamp for my work bench to provide better lighting while soldering. In my mind I was thinking of some type of long articulating lamp that gets clamped to the table. However, when the other day wandering through my local Wal-Mart, I came across a curiosity. It was a small halogen desk lamp with MP3 Speakers! (oooh, mp3 speakers, but no amp - huh?) Anyway, I guess they weren't quite the hot seller Wal-Mart hoped and the $29.97 lamp was being cleared out for $10. Yay!

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I set it up and it worked great! But then I had an epiphany - the bulb is 12V, I have surplus 12V computer fans - this lamps would rock so much better if I had a fan to draw the solder smoke away from me, so why not tap into the 12V lines and power a small fan!?!? I'm a genius!

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So I open up the lamp, and took stock of how Maker friendly / hackable this unit is. Turns out to be very friendly. Regular philips screws holding the bottom on.

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A large nicely labled 12V transformer and crimp style marrettes connecting the lamp to the transformer. (Note the speakers - those may come in handy somewhere.)

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The marrettes are easily re-used by gently pinching them open with pliers - just squeeze the sides of the crimp to open.



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The bulb is current direction agnostic, and so no diodes or rectifiers were supplied. No worries, I spliced a small diode in line with the connector.

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Initially I was going to have the connector at the back, but failed to take into account the extra mounting plastic. So it ended up coming out the front.

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A bit of CA to hold the connector in place and reassemble the base and we're done!

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The original idea was to use a small 2" fan, but that didn't draw the smoke away well enough, so I went for the larger case fan.

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Much better!

Some other bench hacks / improvements:

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Copper cleaning pad instead of fussing with sponges that are forever dry (I don't solder every day).

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A large analog multi meter whose dial broke has been permanently set to the 10A current setting (the A or A/2 switch still works) and wire in series with the AT power supply. Its hard to see, but there is a toggle switch burried in the wires to select the 5V or 12V bus to monitor. These wires power a light and some fans to keep the power supply happy (hence the 1A reading), then they are off to banana plugs, AT power plugs and a cigarette lighter plug for bench use.

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Finally the whole setup - power supply, soldering station, bench lamp, soldering lamp/fan combo - is all powered off a single power bar. One switch to shut it all down for the night!

Thanks for stopping by - hope something here inspired you to make your bench more functional. Leave a comment to let me know what you've done!