Markus' Blog

Modding an Ersa RDS 80 soldering station for more flexibility

by on Jun.04, 2011, under Electronics

Recently I decided to buy a new soldering station, mostly because I wanted to have more power for larger solderings. Being quite happy with my old one from Ersa, I decided to go for the current model RDS 80. It seemed to have a very good price/performance ratio, and I was pretty sure to get an upgrade in all regards.

PVC vs. siliconeSo I was very disappointed when I realized that the cable to the soldering iron RT 80 is made from PVC. It’s not heat-resistant, quite heavy and most of all its flexibility is not much better than that of a steel cable … How can Ersa risk their good reputation by installing a cable as bad as this one? Especially when the former products had very good silicone cables …

Searching the web, I found many people complaining about that cable but no report of someone who had successfully replaced it.

Diode plug with 4 pins/3 wiresAfter a few weeks of disappointing soldering experiences I decided to take the risk and try to change the cable. But compared to their previous devices Ersa made it a lot harder to upgrade this one: First of all there doesn’t seem to be a way to open the iron without destroying it. So I had to cut and attach the cable at the outside. Second, the diode plug at the station itself doesn’t seem to be an off-the-shelf one. So I had to recycle the existing one. And third, the plug has four pins instead of three. As it seems to be impossible to get a decent-sized silicone cable with four wires, I decided to go with the three wire cable from my old station and sacrifice the potential equalization. But in the end I didn’t need to, because after cutting the cable at the socket I happily discovered that the original PVC cable had three wires only.

Connecting the cable to the diode plug
Changing the cable at the diode plug is very simple. All I needed were some heat shrink tubes.

Connecting the cable to the ironThe risky part of the job is changing the cable at the soldering iron. The old wires have to be shortened as much as possible in order to get rid of as much of the PVC cable as possible. Fortunately the bend protection can be removed from the iron.

The successful modSo finally I succeeded replacing the cable. The only evidence for my mod is a little piece of heat shrink tube. I am now very happy with my new soldering station.

Disclaimer: Do not make this kind of upgrade yourself if you do not have enough experience in such things or do not want to risk losing your soldering iron. I will not take any kind of responsibility if you fail. Also: Before cutting the cable, make sure to have a second, working soldering station available in order to be able to connect the new cable.

@Ersa: Please do not do this again! You’ll get lots of disappointed customers!

Update (20th June 2011):

I thought the plug was proprietary, since my local dealer did not have it available. However some people on hackaday pointed out that the plug is a standard DIN one.

Meanwhile I got one from a different store and upgraded the cable once more. Now it looks much better. Many thanks to all the people posting useful hackaday comments!

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