Tinkering on the go! MiniDSO TS80 review

Over a year ago, I splashed out and got myself an early Xmas gift – a soldering station YiHua 922DA+ (after learning that 8W USB 2.0 cheap and cheerful soldering iron isn’t good for anything other than quick fixes). It’s a fantastic unit that sped up my soldering work by the factor of 5, as long as I did all the work at my desk! I needed something to take with me. My first contact with MiniDSO was at the Hackspace where I used a TS100 to fix a couple of things. It was a breeze! I promptly requested the TS80 for review – and here are my thoughts

TS80 portable soldering iron

Small, light and the size of the pen, TS80 portable soldering iron is ideal when it comes to working on the go. In the box, you will find one tip which connects via 3.5mm jack (cool!), smart soldering iron TS80, QuickCharge 3.0 charger and USB-C cable. There is also a ground cable just in case you fancy doing some more dangerous repairs. If you wonder why I picked TS80 over TS100, I favour anything with USB-C nowadays and there is plenty of articles praising the TS100 already so I thought I would take one for the team!

The tip for TS80 portable soldering iron comes in 3 flavours:

My TS80 comes with TS-D25, but it’s the TS-B02 that I would benefit from most, so I went online and acquired the pointed tip as well. The tips aren’t cheap, but at £13 a pop, it’s not exactly a fortune.

Before I jump to software, I want to mention the silicone USB-C cable, as this is probably the best upgrade you can get to your iron. The cable is feather-light, smooth and won’t cause any drag. After working with soldering station that comes with fume extractor, you appreciate the cable not getting in your way. This cable made the TS100 guys at hackspace envious!

The cable supplied is a USB-A to USB-C, and really wanted to buy USB-C to USB-C also made of silicone, but I couldn’t find any on Aliexpress. I will update this post when I find a nice long silicone replacement.

Custom config

Before you start fiddling with the config using TS80’s buttons, know you can simply plug it to your computer and edit the CONFIG.TXT file instead! It’s probably quicker than fiddling with the buttons.

v. 1.07
 StbTemp=100   #(100~400)
 WkTemp=300    #(100~400)
 SlpTime=90   #(60~999)
 Rated_P=18    #(16~24)
 TempStp=25    #(1~25)
 OffVolt=130    #(100~120)
 Temp=0        #(0:C,1:F)
 Hand=0        #(0:Left,1:Right)
 ZeroP_Ad=101  #Do not modify!
 Portable=0    #(0:not por,1:por)

The TS80 is marked with NotEnoughTech logo! If you want to customise yours, simply drop a 1bit BMP logoin.bmp image 96×14 into the root directory and your boot logo will flash each time you power this beauty on.

Smart TS80

Why is it smart? Apart from the built-in temp sensor to the TS80 senses when is in use and goes into sleep to preserve the tip. The temperature control aside you can also set:

  • WkTemp (working temp) 100-400C
  • StbTemp (standby temp) 100-400
  • SlpTime (Sleep Time) 60-999
  • Power (operating power) 16-24W
  • TempStp (Temperature steps) 1-25
  • OffVolt (overvoltage protection) 10-13 V
  • Temp (Temp Grade) C or F
  • Hand LH|RH left-right hand (flips the screen)
  • Source ON OFF (help anyone?)
  • Temp Reading – calibration – long press left button to calibrate

TS80 portable soldering iron in action

My first soldering job was in the Teeside Hackspace. The toolbox I work on had a dodgy LED. Since the box is too big for my desk, I took it with me to hackspace to fix the LED. It only took a couple of moments to desolder the old one and add brand new to the box. It made me happy, as I used the actual toolbox as the source of power for the TS80.

Since then, I fixed an O ring in a bracelet and soldered more wires. Each time the TS80 was a pleasure to work with and I found it as easy to work with as my stationary iron but without the drag caused by the fume extractor.

Power

Unlike TS100, the TS80 comes with a USB cable. I was confused at first what I can use it with as the USB plug is a clear 2.0 standard. It supports QuickCharge 3.0 and you will need 9.00V at 2A to keep the TS80 operational.

This means that unless your USB socket meets the specification, you won’t be able to use the power bank or a PC socket. You have to be able to push through enough power or the TS80 reports “low voltage”.

Conclusion

Disclaimer
The TS80 portable soldering iron has been provided to me for the purpose of the review. As usual, with all my reviews I reserve the right to an honest critique of the product.

It’s good to have a decent portable soldering iron. Moving my soldering station anywhere is a hassle and the extra cables make it feel less agile. TS80 comes with a very lightweight cable which makes you feel like you are working with a wireless iron. Is it better than TS100? It’s probably slower to heat up, outputs less power but if you don’t play with LiPo batteries and RC cards on a daily basis TS80 is much easier to use. The differences are only visible in side by side scenarios. I have been using this iron for a couple of days and honestly, I could not tell the difference. All I know I can take the same power bank and cable to power my phone and the portable soldering iron! What do you think?

You can buy the TS80 on Bangood.com

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Mat Zolnierczyk

I am passionate about technology, cycling, and art. This would explain why my bike has more computing power than your average office. I own notenoughtech.com and I write for xda-developers.com and pocketables.com NotEnoughTECH | Facebook | Twitter |YouTube |Instagram | Google+ |Donate |Patreon