Skip to content

What happens when you open-source a soldering iron

The TS100 soldering iron (Amazon) has been getting a lot of buzz. It’s on github and both software and hardware specifications are open. It runs off 12 to 24 volts DC so a battery pack from a power tool or laptop will run it. A laptop power supply is a common resource for it as well. By all reports, the iron works well. It heats up fast and will hold its heat under heavy load.

Having the source code available and making it easy to upgrade the iron’s firmware is an invitation for some. Elliot Williams on Hacakday reports that there is now Tetris on a soldering iron.

Our commenteers have all said good things about the open-source TS100 soldering iron pencil: things like “it solders well”. But we’ve all got soldering irons that solder well. What possible extra value does having open-source firmware on a soldering iron bring? [Joric] answered that question for us — it can play Tetris. (Video embedded below.)

While that’s cool and all, it wasn’t until we were reading through the README over at GitHub that the funniest part of this hack hit us. Every time you lose a game, the iron tip temperature increases by 10 degrees.


The latest firmware version goal was to make it possible to change settings without having to resort to the USB port. I don’t think the games capabilities are being offered as a standard item, though. Firmware upgrades are simply a file transfer to a USB drive. The iron uses a PIC 32 bit microcontroller and an OLED display. It includes an accellerometer so it can tell when it is not in use and automatically go into standby. Price runs around $60.