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Author Topic: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control  (Read 4197 times)

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Offline voltronic

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I bought one of these a couple weeks ago. It is a bit cheaper than the popular TS100, but comes with the IronOS open-source firmware popular in that community already installed. It also uses the same tips, and can accept a wider variety of power sources.

https://wiki.pine64.org/wiki/Pinecil
https://pine64.com/product-category/pinecil/?v=0446c16e2e66 - Store with lots of goodies. The sets of tips are cheaper here than most other places.
https://www.amazon.com/PINECIL-Smart-Mini-Portable-Soldering/dp/B096X6SG13 - I bought mine on Amazon; currently unavailable, but might come back.

I absolutely LOVE this thing. So light and easy to handle, but heats up very quickly and has simple controls that tell you what they do when you stay on a setting for a while without pressing a button.

Note that it doesn't come with a power supply; you have to feed it something that puts out at least 30W - either a laptop power supply with a barrel connector or an appropriate USB-C PD source. I am using a little RavPower USB-C supply that meets the PD 3.0 spec, and it works great.

Here's a review. Ignore the part where he says the tip is a bit loose and wobbly. This guy clearly didn't tighten the obvious set screw. Once you do that, there is zero play.
https://deninet.com/blog/2021/05/09/pinecil-25-smart-soldering-iron
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Offline SMsound

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2022, 08:10:20 AM »
I'm probably in for one. I'm already 90% USB-C powered. (This is not the first product I've found in your posts!)

Which of their accessories do you recommend getting with it?
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Offline voltronic

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2022, 07:40:28 AM »
I'm probably in for one. I'm already 90% USB-C powered. (This is not the first product I've found in your posts!)

Which of their accessories do you recommend getting with it?

Go for it - you won't be disappointed!

The silicone USB-C cable is nice. Instead of from PINE64, I found it here, a bit cheaper when you factor in shipping:
https://ameridroid.com/products/usb-type-c-to-usb-type-c-silicone-power-charging-cable

You might want one of the tip sets if you need a variety of sizes. For me, the included B2 tip works for everything I do.

Otherwise, just make sure you have a power supply that puts out enough wattage. This was the one I was going to buy if my RavPower didn't work:
https://www.amazon.com/ZMI-zPower-Turbo-Power-Adapter/dp/B07D64QLQ1
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Offline morst

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2022, 01:48:13 PM »
Otherwise, just make sure you have a power supply that puts out enough wattage. This was the one I was going to buy if my RavPower didn't work:
https://www.amazon.com/ZMI-zPower-Turbo-Power-Adapter/dp/B07D64QLQ1
^ that particular power adaptor is out of stock at spamazon right now, but a search for "65W PD UCB-C Charger" yields several options, including this one from Anker (relatively trustworthy brand)
https://www.amazon.com/Charger-Anker-Compact-Adapter-PowerPort/dp/B08F28BH7C

Offline voltronic

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2022, 08:05:05 AM »
Otherwise, just make sure you have a power supply that puts out enough wattage. This was the one I was going to buy if my RavPower didn't work:
https://www.amazon.com/ZMI-zPower-Turbo-Power-Adapter/dp/B07D64QLQ1
^ that particular power adaptor is out of stock at spamazon right now, but a search for "65W PD UCB-C Charger" yields several options, including this one from Anker (relatively trustworthy brand)
https://www.amazon.com/Charger-Anker-Compact-Adapter-PowerPort/dp/B08F28BH7C

Yes, that one looks good. You don't even need 65W, really. Mine is 30W and it works great, though I wouldn't go any lower.

You also can run the iron from a laptop power supply with the appropriate barrel connector, though the USB-C charger setup is going to be more compact and lightweight.
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Offline SMsound

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2022, 06:19:05 PM »
You also can run the iron from a laptop power supply

I run & charge *almost* all of my A/V gear from a stack of Apple macbook pro USB-C power supplies (87watt, though they now have up to 140watt). I've been slowly making the switch to this, as it's a rare moment in my life that I don't have at least one laptop nearby, and it's been nice to not drag a box of all-different chargers to every gig.  A usb-c native soldering iron will be perfect.
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Offline SMsound

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2022, 10:05:21 PM »
They're back in stock---just placed my order. $12 shipping sucks on a $26 soldering iron, but based on the youtube reviews it looks like a great little machine.
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Offline voltronic

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2022, 05:49:42 AM »
They're back in stock---just placed my order. $12 shipping sucks on a $26 soldering iron, but based on the youtube reviews it looks like a great little machine.

Let us know what you think of it. Mine is coming out again this weekend for a cable repair.
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Offline goodcooker

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2022, 11:02:59 AM »

One of the linked reviews says that it's not powerful enough for soldering connectors but you guys are clearly using it for that very purpose.
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Offline voltronic

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2022, 09:03:42 PM »

One of the linked reviews says that it's not powerful enough for soldering connectors but you guys are clearly using it for that very purpose.

That reviewer made that statement without any evidence to back it up. Also, they complained about the tip being wobbly, which means they did not tighten the very obvious set screw. So I take that person's words with a grain of salt.

It certainly works fine for the TRS and XLR connectors I've used it on. I use Kester 60/40 solder; I wonder if the reviewer was using lower-quality stuff.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2022, 12:54:28 PM »
Nice find.

I don't do much small component work where temp regulation is really needed, but may end up grabbing one anyway. I've made due forever with unregulated-temp irons, choosing between a couple small dumb AC powered pencil irons, a big dumb gun-type iron, and a small portable butane iron, all of which work fine for most of the wire connection stuff I do. 

What I really need is an easy and reliable procedure for prepping small gauge reinforced wires, where the challenge is teasing out and isolating the tiny/delicate copper strands from the fiber reinforcement strands and sheathing.  Hard to see even with magnification much less manipulate, separate, trim & tin.  Often takes a few tries.  Open to any helpful tips!

Was repairing a pair of Samsung phone in-ears this morning where the soldered wire connections to the drivers had broken.  Even more challenging than DPA microdot cable wiring, but at least it was only two connections each side.  Next I need to redo my 4 x DPA 4060 to 6-pin mini-XLR setup.  Its a bear to solder all four tiny conductors along with relatively heavy bundled shields to the TA6F pins.
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Offline morst

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2022, 01:26:31 PM »
What I really need is an easy and reliable procedure for prepping small gauge reinforced wire.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2022, 03:21:54 PM »
Those are a big help!

Mostly find myself wanting for some kind of improved stripping method. Wire stripping tools are no use on tiny wires. The application of flame tends to burn up the fine copper strands before the Aramid reinforcing fibers.

Need a method that cleanly removes the jacket and reinforcing fibers, leaving only clean fine-conductor strands.  Its a delicate procedure to remove the tiny internal conductor jacket (cutting the large external jacket is easy enough); identify, divide and separate the minuscule copper strands from the reinforcement strands; cut the reinforcement strands away (Aramid is extremely tough, not easy to cut cleanly on a tiny scale, seems to really like to mingle with the copper strands, and just a few contaminates the solder joint), and get a clean "tin" wetting of however much tiny copper strand bundle remains after all that manipulation.

I find myself wishing for some sort of solvent into which tiny internal conductor ends could be dipped, that would cleanly eat away all but the copper, but then be fully neutralized.

[Edit- even better would be solder that flows with Aramid mingled together with copper! Strong joint!]
« Last Edit: February 18, 2022, 03:24:07 PM by Gutbucket »
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline morst

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2022, 02:44:41 PM »
(Aramid is extremely tough, not easy to cut cleanly on a tiny scale, seems to really like to mingle with the copper strands, and just a few contaminates the solder joint)
Is THAT the name of that stuff? I tried to repair a wired in-ear monitor plug one time, and it was damn near impossible to cut.
And yeah my solder got totally contaminated, but it bonded enough for me to tell the unit was non-functional.
I was thinking it was kevlar, guess I was close enough.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aramid
Quote
Aramid fibers, short for aromatic polyamide, are a class of heat-resistant and strong synthetic fibers. They are used in aerospace and military applications, for ballistic-rated body armor fabric and ballistic composites, in marine cordage, marine hull reinforcement, and as an asbestos substitute.[1]
The chain molecules in the fibers are highly oriented along the fiber axis. As a result, a higher proportion of the chemical bond contributes more to fiber strength than in many other synthetic fibers. Aramids have a very high melting point (>500 °C).
Common aramid brand names include Kevlar, Nomex, and Twaron.

Offline Gutbucket

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2022, 02:15:31 PM »
Yep. Same stuff. 

I've never heard of Twaron before.
musical volition > vibrations > voltages > numeric values > voltages > vibrations> virtual teleportation time-machine experience
Better recording made easy - >>Improved PAS table<< | Made excellent- >>click here to download the Oddball Microphone Technique illustrated PDF booklet<< (note: This is a 1st draft, now several years old and in need of revision!  Stay tuned)

Offline Fried Chicken Boy

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Re: PINECIL: Inexpensive and outstanding soldering iron with digital control
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2022, 02:36:05 PM »
Marking thread.  I might have a use for an iron like this. 

 

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