ColdHeat soldering iron - user experience

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doug-doug the mighty's picture
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Recently, I acquired a Newton MP 130 with a audio hack in which a headphone jack was ported to the outside. I played with it in this configuration for a while and decided I did not like it. Using the take-apart guide from PDA-Soft.com, I went inside.

Incidentally, this is a cool Newton site if you have never been there and are not afraid to dig in.

Once inside, I could see what was done. The wires from the mobo to the internal speaker were removed and the line from the external jack were soldered onto the pads for the speaker on the mobo. After sizing up the situation and making note things, I decided to undo the mod. Not having a soldering iron with me (as all my tools were back home and I in Atlanta at the time), I picked up a ColdHeat soldering iron. You have all seen the commercial onTV about the battery powered soldering tool that is also cool to the touch sconds after use.

The end was a bit blunt, but would have been fine for what I needed to do given my comfort with soldering and the size of the pieces I would be working on. Now something to make note of, the ColdHeat has a split tip and heats the solder to a melting point by passing a voltage through the split tip when it is shorted out by touching the solder or parts to be joined. I was able to easily remove the wires, but I found it to be a bit challenging to add new wires to the board for the speaker. This was due, in part, to the angle I had to hold the iron at to make the short to generate the heat. I rapidly became bothered at the fact that the tip was not electrically isolated as one would find in a much nicer iron, but I carried on. I found that one problem I was running into was that I really needed some good flux, yet had none. This may have been part of the problem, but the longer I worked at it, the more rapidly things began to deteriorate.

Long story short, I lifted one of the pads I was working on clean off the darn board. I also noted that the tip does indeed retain heat the longer it is used, both from prolonged use and from long periods of time of actually soldering. I also noted that the batteries were generating a bit of heat and the iron was becoming quite warm in my hand. At this point, I called it a night and took the batteries out. They were much warmer that I cared for.

The next day, I took it back and got a Weller for a little less with a fine point tip (like a super sharp #2 pencil) and some good flux paste. I was able to anchor my wire to the trace leading up to the now missing pad and finish my job without a problem. The MP also seemed to suffer no ill effects from the manner in which the ColdHeat (electrically) generated its heat.

Bottom line: was the ColdHeat a bad iron? No, it just was not the right tool for the job I choose to apply it in.

If I was still working on stereo components, I would probably keep one for quick and dirty jobs. Since most of what I do now is significantly more precise in detail, I do not think I would try to use one again, especially now knowing that it passes a current through the end of the tip (I never really thought about it when I bought it although I think I casually was aware of this fact). I also would limit my usage of it to situations where I was concerned about using it extensively (meaning I have thirty or so joints to make and the tip will be hot for a noteable length of time) as this leaves residual heat in the tip making it not so cool to the touch (but not hot enough to burn) and the batteries would get hot. It works as advertised, but I would not reccomend it for projects and hacks if you are needing to work on tiny stuff. Had I used flux the first time, I might have had a better result.

Don't flame me to hard as I know there will be some out there with the "Duh! I could have told you that" responses, but I firgured I would give it a shot since I wanted to own one anyways. My decision to not keep it was purely financial in nature and in consideration that I could see my personal usage of this type of iron would be less than I originally thought.

So if anyone out there is thinking about buying one, I hope this helps you pick the right tool for your specific job and illuminates whether you can benefit from this type of iron for that job.

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--DDTM ('Fritter Critter' since Apr 26 2004 - 18:16)

'If it ain't broke, take it apart anyways. If you can't take it apart, break it so that you can fix it.'

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I've toyed with the idea of g

I've toyed with the idea of getting a cold heat iron just to use as a portable iron for like when I'm working on my car. Knowing how it works scares me enough that I would never touch it to a CMOS device.

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Butane?

I have a butane iron (runs on cigarette lighter refill cans). The temperature is somewhat adjustable, although of course there's no feedback. It's handy for cables and whatnot, but I'm not too sure about using it for component work. I melted a transistor once with the radiant heat coming out the side of the catalyst head. At least it doesn't have any current coming out of it Smile

Gotta save up and get me a proper rework station.

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Re: I've toyed with the idea of g

drbob wrote:

I've toyed with the idea of getting a cold heat iron just to use as a portable iron for like when I'm working on my car. Knowing how it works scares me enough that I would never touch it to a CMOS device.

I bought one on a whim, and I wish I had kept the receipt because I want to return it. It's such a pile of junk it's unbelievable it's still on the market. Yes, it's nice to have a portable, battery-operated instant-on soldering iron, but the way that the ColdHeat works is just unacceptable. Even trying to solder two wires together is difficult. If you want a cordless soldering iron, buy one of those propane or butane powered ones. Otherwise, just buy a nice Weller.

EDIT: I wish I had known Weller made this:

http://www.cooperhandtools.com/brands/weller/index.cfm?model_list=1&att_id=WEL002&att1=Soldering%20Irons&att2=Consumer%20Soldering%20Iron%20Kits

(The first item listed on the page; no direct link available.)

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Sweet, it's only $15 too.

Sweet, it's only $15 too.

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doug-doug the mighty's picture
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Weller

doug-doug the mighty wrote:

The next day, I took it back and got a Weller for a little less with a fine point tip (like a super sharp #2 pencil)...

The one I picked up was the SP40LK. It was about the only one they had in stock and I bought it only for the ST7 tip, which is what I desperately needed. Since I got the 40W version (vice the SP23LK), I try to be mindful of the full heat that thing puts out. You can burn right through a board in no time flat with that kind of power.

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--DDTM ('Fritter Critter' since Apr 26 2004 - 18:16)

'If it ain't broke, take it apart anyways. If you can't take it apart, break it so that you can fix it.'

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I got one for Christmas last

I got one for Christmas last year, with extra varied tips. I've used it probably a total of 4 times. I was disappointed in how long it took to get the thing to start heating the joint, how long it took to maintain contact while trying to get the solder flowing after finageling the tip around, etc. For specific quick-n-dirty hacks, I agree with DDTM. It's an ok iron, and it's good for areas where your access to AC are limited, ie. Dr Bob's mention of using it in a car. Otherwise, buy a decent iron. You'll never use a Coldheat for a serious/involved project unless you are a masochist. The tips just don't let you work well. Heck, the basic spread between the ends is larger than the width of most tips. Not useful for SMT or close components.

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Re: I got one for Christmas last

Jon wrote:

Heck, the basic spread between the ends is larger than the width of most tips...

That's one of my major gripes with the ColdHeat, aside from the fact that it freaking SPARKS when you touch it to what you want to solder. You'd have to be desperate to use the ColdHeat -- I'd rather use a nail heated with a blowtorch to solder with.

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Yoikes!

Yoikes!

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Dr. Bob
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Cold Heat is not so hot!

i borrowed one from a friend after he bought it and well, the tip broke after about 5 min of usage... im used to a soldering IRON, not this fragile POS. its so sad that they say its so great on the commercials. it just plain stinks. the whole "electricity to heat" thing might work better if the tips were ACTUALLY METAL instead of graphite, and had some real current going through them. its junk. go get a "sub-c" powered mini iron if you need portability. needless to say if it looks to good to be true it probably is!

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Are you saying that the cold heat soldering thingy is...

Are you saying that the cold heat soldering thing-a-ma-jiggy is a piece of junk?

Smiththers wrote:

its so sad that they say its so great on the commercials.

But television commercials are always so terribly accurate. Wink Are you suggesting that a reputable television station and/or network would air commercials that would deliberately mislead and/or deceive the ignorant buying public? How could that be? I mean, media has what we little dumb folk call credibility. Wink

Yeah, they'll say whatever they have to in order to make a dollar. It's a zero-sum game. Wealth is finite. Wealth is not created, it's redistributed. For someone to make money, someone has to lose money. So who makes the money? The crooks that invented, built, market, and sell the cold heat soldering iron. And who loses the money? The people that buy the piece of junk. Wink

Ah, capitalism... Ain't it wonderful?

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Re: Are you saying that the cold heat soldering thingy is...

vantage point wrote:

Are you saying that the cold heat soldering thing-a-ma-jiggy is a piece of junk?

Smiththers wrote:

its so sad that they say its so great on the commercials.

But television commercials are always so terribly accurate. Wink Are you suggesting that a reputable television station and/or network would air commercials that would deliberately mislead and/or deceive the ignorant buying public? How could that be? I mean, media has what we little dumb folk call credibility. Wink

Yeah, they'll say whatever they have to in order to make a dollar. It's a zero-sum game. Wealth is finite. Wealth is not created, it's redistributed. For someone to make money, someone has to lose money. So who makes the money? The crooks that invented, built, market, and sell the cold heat soldering iron. And who loses the money? The people that buy the piece of junk. Wink

Ah, capitalism... Ain't it wonderful?

Stay on topic. This thread is about a soldering iron, not capitalism or politics.

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Re: Are you saying that the cold heat soldering thingy is...

[vantage point]Are you saying that the cold heat soldering thing-a-ma-jiggy is a piece of junk?

indeed i am. i was very NOT impressed with it at all. would throw one away if someone gave it to me.

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I think I was on topic...

Dr. Webster wrote:

Stay on topic. This thread is about a soldering iron, not capitalism or politics.

I think I was on topic. The thread was about the Cold Heat soldering iron and how it is not as good as it's supposed to be. I think that if you're going to make an assertion about a product's expected performance, it is on topic to discuss the origin of the expectations.

Simply put, if somebody states that the Cold Heat soldering iron is not as good as the claims make it out to be, it is fair to discuss who made such claims. I also think that it's fair to point out that the integrity of those making the claims, is, obviously, suspect.

I don't think that I strayed off topic, I merely pointed out an apparent bias.

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Re: Are you saying that the cold heat soldering thingy is...

vantage point wrote:

But television commercials are always so terribly accurate. Wink Are you suggesting that a reputable television station and/or network would air commercials that would deliberately mislead and/or deceive the ignorant buying public? How could that be? I mean, media has what we little dumb folk call credibility. Wink

What does this have to do with the ColdHeat? The discussion has been about the device's quality and useability, not about its marketing or your distrust of the media.

Keep on topic. You've been warned.

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I realize this is very trivial, but still...

In DDTM's original post, he wrote the following:

Quote:

You have all seen the commercial onTV about the battery powered soldering tool that is also cool to the touch sconds after use.

In the post that I responded to, Smiththers said the following:

Quote:

im used to a soldering IRON, not this fragile POS. its so sad that they say its so great on the commercials.

I actually read every post in between DDTM's original post and the post that I responded to, which was submitted by Smiththers. In addition to the fact that the general consensus seems to be that the Cold Heat iron is a genuine piece of crap, there appears to be a general concensus that the TV commercials overhyped this piece of crap.

Seriously, if the subject of the thread is a crappy soldering iron that is hyped on television, and I'm NOT the first person to introduce the subject of the teevision hype, how is it that I ALONE went off topic? It would appear to me, by your logic, that DDTM went off topic in his original post by just raising the issue of television commercials, everybody else went off topic by suggesting that the Cold Heat iron is even worse than DDTM had originally suggested, and that I am wrong to comment on issues that were already firmly entrenched in the entire thread.

I'm sorry, Dr. Webster, I normally would not disagree with you on such subjects, but I feel you're wrong in this particular instance.

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From the Applefritter AUP:

From the Applefritter AUP:

Quote:

If you wish to question a moderator or administrator's judgement, please do so via private email.

Please follow the AUP. Further discussion on this vein will result in a weeks ban. Also, your post regarding a lack of credibility was an attack on the networks airing the ad, not on the ad itself.

Stick to the subject folks.

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Re: Cold Heat is not so hot!

Smiththers wrote:

thing might work better if the tips were ACTUALLY METAL instead of graphite, and had some real current going through them. its junk. go get a "sub-c" powered mini iron if you need portability. needless to say if it looks to good to be true it probably is!

The idea behind the graphite tip is that it has no thermal mass. Thus you don't have to waste precious battery energy heating the tip. What did you do to break it? I mean, it's not a hammer.

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DrBob, "What did you do to br

DrBob, "What did you do to break it? I mean, it's not a hammer."

well in my experience with soldering irons its sometimes hard to get a good contact on the surface im soldering and i usually push on it a little bit and it works better... well this one didnt take any pushing what so ever lol. broke the tip right up to the top of it. i felt so bad because my buddy had just bought it and was soo excited to show me it, and i broke it within 2 minutes of trying it on 16ga wire. sad sad sad.

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Wow, that sucks.

Wow, that sucks.

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Thanks for your comments.

As a representative of ColdHeat, I was eager to read the posted comments regarding our soldering tool and wanted to pass along a few insights.

To begin, let me reassure everyone that we have soldered thousands of items in our labs and the Classic tool definitely does work when used as instructed. However, we notice the experiences of those on this board seem mixed. Generally when problems are encountered there may be two potential causes:

First, the most likely problem is that the project is just too large for the Classic tool to work effectively. The Classic tool is meant for light duty use, 18-24 gauge wires are ideal. Being a customer-centered company we listened to the desire that we create a tool that can handle heavier duty use and developed a Pro version, which has approximately two times the power as the Classic tool and can easily tin up to 12 gauge wires. See more information here: http://www.coldheat.com/products.cfm?section=pro
It will also be available at Home Depot and other retailers soon.

Second, the technique for using our tools is slightly different than a traditional soldering iron. To help address this difference, we have created a series of animations and other animated technique information, found at http://www.coldheat.com/support.cfm?section=interactive. The information and process on this link also tries to help root out any other causes of trouble, such as weak batteries, the wrong solder, etc.

Now, you may still be skeptical, I’m writing from the company of course. But you don’t have to take my word for it...in fact, Weller thinks so highly of our Pro tool that they recently licensed it from us for their distribution channels. You can read about that here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2005/11/prweb314841.htm

Finally, we are happy to discuss any specific questions or comments at: . You, the frequent solderers, are our most important customers and we are very interested not only in helping you use our existing products, but in continuing to make them better as well!

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My review

I have one of these Cold Head solderers. One quibble I had, when they first came out, was I bought 2 off of the infomercial program (one for a gift). I also ordered 2 fine(er) tips. OOPS. They wouldn't combine shipping! The total for 2 ColdHeats and 2 extra tips was $80! One of the tips arrived broken but they repalced it at no charge.

Wouldn't ya know not 2 weeks later Costco had a pallet of them in their appropriate section for $20! Ok, you never know. I'm over it, I think. =)

Anyway, being an Electronics Tech and Mechanic by trade I can state the aformensioned, it's definetly good for lite duty use in not-co cramped spaces. I quick wire here and there. If you're doing heavy guage wire or desoldering something, forget it! I've used Weller, Hakko and some really cheapos with crappy tips (my solder fu is good).

At home I use my Weller WES50 for everything else.

But allas, the topic is the ColdHeat of which I know of one really satisfied customer, my boss. He works on model train sets in his spare time. Doing a quick solder job near plastics makes using a standard soldering iron near impossible.

I'll probably try out the Weller Pro version first before I buy.

Thanks

-Dk

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I ended up buying the Weller

I ended up buying the Weller battery powered iron linked above. It does heat up slow, but has a finer and much more traditional tip.

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Just an idea....

Why don't they wedge a piece of something conductive in there at the tip in the factory? It could make the tip a whole lot stronger, and make it "safer" to use on delicate electronics. The only problem I can think of is that it would slightly increase the thermal mass. Not a huge problem, really.

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hmm

I was actually thinking about buying one for my projects. I think I'll steer clear, especially seeing some first-hand reviews...

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So the Weller is not the same?

Quote:

I ended up buying the Weller battery powered iron linked above. It does heat up slow, but has a finer and much more traditional tip.

I know how you hate repeating yourself... but I thought the Weller was the same one rebadged...

-edit-

nevermind... I can see that its totally different... is that a metal tip?

-edit-

"iron plated"... yes it is... nevermind
I can't believe how inexpensive these are... lets here more about it!

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No, Thank you.

ColdHeat Rep,

I appreciate the response from your company. It is nice to know that you do seek user feedback and are interested in the company.

I do hope my initiation of this thread was not shed a poor light on your product. I actually did like the tool, but it was not the right choice for the job in which I had chosen to implement it. Had I a good need for this type of iron, I would have kept it, but I needed the cash for a more appropriate iron. I will definetely check out the Pro iron you mentioned and may even ask Santa for one.

Thanks!

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--DDTM ('Fritter Critter' since Apr 26 2004 - 18:16)

'If it ain't broke, take it apart anyways. If you can't take it apart, break it so that you can fix it.'

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Re: So the Weller is not the same?

catmistake wrote:

I know how you hate repeating yourself... but I thought the Weller was the same one rebadged...
nevermind... I can see that its totally different... is that a metal tip?

Yes the tip is solid metal It's solid copper plated with chrome to protect it. It has 3 AA batteries and heats up like a conventional iron.

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COLD HEAT

SAVE YOUR MONEY, BUY A TOOL NOT A TOY. I HAVE BEEN WAITNG FOR A TIP THAT WAS MISSING FROM THE ORIGINAL ORDER. IT HAS BEEN ON BACK ORDER SINCE MARCH BUT THEY STILL ADVERTISE AND SELL NEW SYSTEMS.

IF YOU WANT TO RETURN THE THING IT COST MORE THAN IT'S WORTH.

iF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE BELIEV IT.

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Re: COLD HEAT

CHKUHLMAN wrote:

SAVE YOUR MONEY, BUY A TOOL NOT A TOY.

Spend a bit of money, and buy a keyboard with a capslock key. :rolleyes:

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cold heat sucks

Yesterday I was trying to resolder the speaker wire in a toy walkie-talkie. The walkie-talkie did NOT have a battery in it. When I applied the useless ColdHeat to the speaker wire and and speaker and solder the speaker started making the sound of a walkie-talkie, you know the static sound before you push the talk button.

So the ColdHeat turned into an external power supply for the walki-talkie, but did not come anywhere near soldering the wire!!

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Considering how it works, tha

Considering how it works, that doesn't surprise me.

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I still really love the [url=

I still really love the cordless Hakko iron.

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Radio Shack sells a cigarrete

Radio Shack sells a cigarrete lighter powered soldering pencil. I keep one in my car tool box.