Inkeeping with everything else in my shack being low voltage operated, I had planned from the outset to convert the desoldering station to 12v operation. It turns out this has been the easiest tool to convert in my shack so far.
The factory SMPS is a fairly straightforward 18v 12A unit, with only a single small oddity: the desoldering gun’s heating element is controlled from inside the supply.
Next to the output rectifier on the heatsink is a large MOSFET, in this case a STP60NF06 from ST Micro. This is a fairly beefy FET at 60v & 60A capacity, RDS On of <0.016Ω.
This is driven via an opto-isolator from the main logic board. I’ve not yet looked at the waveform on the scope, but I suspect this is also being PWM’d to control temperature better when close to the set point.
Rather than fire up the soldering iron & build a new element controller circuit (Lazy Mode™), I opted to take a saw to the original power supply. I cut the DC output section of the PCB off the rest of the supply & attached this piece back to the frame of the base unit. I also added a small heatsink to the MOSFET to make sure it stays cool.
Since the fan & vacuum pump are both already 12v rated, those are connected directly to the DC input socket, that I’ve installed in place of the original IEC mains socket. The 18v for the heating element is generated by a 10A DC-DC converter, again from eBay.
Oddly, the iron itself is rated at 24v 80W, but the factory supply is only rated to 18v. I’m not sure why they’ve derated the system, but as the station already draws up to 10A from a 13.8v supply, increasing the voltage any further would start giving my DC supplies a problem, so it can stay at 18v for now.