Soldering station / iron suggestion by a blind person

Janis59

Joined Aug 21, 2017
1,175
Hopefully You are the same-kind blind person as those Italian chauffeur cached for over-speeding and when policeman asked him driver licence card he by the mistake gave a "totally blind invalidity-pensioner" certificate (means indeed he had a some minor eyesight problem). So... in this meaning I may to advice some tricks as everyday I am working with SMD.

At youth I had very good eyesight, whilst nearer a pension age I have a heavier-weight problem to wear the thread into needle or even to read a newspaper without of proper +3,5D goggles. And I am very angry to doctors asking me "do you are NOW seeing well with these glasses". No!! I am not, simply I am seeing well without even 10 km far single telephone wire but instead of one I see two or more in different colours and intensities, like fringent field (diffraction) picturesque. The goggles simply makes the letters bigger and duplicates thinner so I have learned to guess which of lines is real and which are ghosts.

So, the first solution - mini-camera with usb to PC. For cheap 10$ microscope cameras the 1 micron is somewhat the limit of resolving force, but the main problem is distance to the object, let the fingers and soldering hammer take a proper place for work. For that is well serving the tele-objective designed for mobil phones, one 8x as mine "Bushnell" is rather cheap and may be used with a grace. However, shall be honest, even with my 28 inch wide-format screen it is rather difficult to teach the brain that if see the object is too high then fingers must slide aside instead of down. However the picture is just brilliant however fast moves are coming in effect after some irritating time-shift. Probably I must jump toward usb-3 ??

Other way of solve is the binocular microscope like russian MIR-1...MIR-3 or БM-3. Normally it gives some sort of unneeded high magnification like 400-2000 but on absolute too near distance. Then all what must be done is to screw out (eliminate) the very lowest lens in the objective arrangement (now I fell in doubt, probably that was second lense from down, let experiment with, about!), then the magnification are reduced toward 10...20...50x but distance between objective and object is raised-up toward about 5...10 cm instead of initial 1...3 mm. What is handy enough for work. The good side of this method is hardly improved depth of field, so the mistake in distance to pcb may have 1...2 cm and still the picture is sharp. However The largest challenge is that microscope must be used goggle-less, but to find any smd component of push the solder-hammer in the flush etc etc on-table operations demands a goggles. The most sad thing about microscope is that after some 1...2 hours of intensive job the eys are literally exhausted. That is not good, ultimate.

The rather disturbing problem working under microscope is the need to fix the pcb placement absolutely still. So, the rather heavy (some 3-5 kg) metal piece must stay on the table with very hard spring forceps or small vices.

The last option is large sized (diameter) lense in the stative, with light source aside or under it. Such are often sold in component shops for some 50-200 $. But my experience with them is sharply negative, probably them are useful if eyesight correction stays behind some 1...2 dioptries, no more.

PS. And very the last. When I have a deal about DIP circuits, thus the 2.5 mm distances in place of 0,05 mm about many smd~s, then one less trouble-making strategy may be applied. Just pull over the normal 3.5D goggles the other 1.5...2.5D. By this the optimum sight distance will happen some 5...10 cm instead of normal 25-30 but magnification is good, and area of work-zone, and even pcb may be shivered to and fro or aside, as the head may follow it. Only the problem that all other operations on table must be done taking those surplus goggls off yet leaving normal goggles on. Need to say, most often happens vice versa, the normal be taken off and surplus left. Irritating indeed.
 
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MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
6,025
If your Totally Blind, how can see what you've typed on this forum????

I think you mean Legally Blind, partial vision..
It is not that complex for a totally sightless person to create stuff on a computer. It does require different software and a lot of effort. But they do it very well, once it is configured. AND there are text to speech programs to read things like emails So it is commonly available to those with a need.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
10,718
I guess I'll find out if soldering is impossible for me. There have been a number of totally blind people who have been successful at soldering.
You have earned my respect. I sometimes find it frustrating to do things with poor eyesight. I can't imagine trying to do things if I was completely blind. Kudos to you and I wish you success.
 

hexreader

Joined Apr 16, 2011
404
@soc7

There is a video in this thread where I guess you will only have heard the sound.

The blind man in the video uses a solder gun, not a soldering iron, and thus can put the iron against the work and feel for correct positioning whilst the gun is still cold. A gun has it's own issues, but I thought I should mention it in case it has some relevance.

Good luck...
 

BobaMosfet

Joined Jul 1, 2009
1,108
dodgyDave, I mean "totally blind". I use screen reading software. It lets the computer or smart-device speak as I navigate or type. I'm new to AAC, so I don't want to stray off electronic-related topics, so I'll say again that I use a talking DMM to measure components and circuit performance.

narkeleptk, thanks for the link. I'll check it out.
@soc7 - Go for it. Let no one stop you. Just be careful. You might reach out to some of the soldering iron manufacturers, and see if they have any additional options like buzzers or talkables to help you. Half the battle is the drive to overcome. And for that... my hat is off to you. You have more gumption than people who see fine!
 

Thread Starter

soc7

Joined Dec 19, 2019
9
In my last post, I said that I'm considering a Weller WE1010NA Digital Soldering Station. Today, I talked to Weller suppliers. They and the Weller USA website gave me contradictory information, and some of my questions to them have gone unanswered.

One tells me that the tip that comes with the package is a chisel tip, but the other tells me it's a screwdriver tip. A chisel tip would be difficult for a blind person to work with.

No one has been able to tell me about the construction of the tip. Is it brass? Is it iron-clad brass? Is it made of something else altogether?

One sales person and one technical support person were supposed to email the English version of the User's manual to me -- Nothing from them, yet.

I'm trying to find out the length of the iron from the end of the handle near the block to the end of the tip. No one seems to know. The shorter this length, the more accurately I'll be able to position the iron and receive tactile "feedback".

Finally, the tech support person said that the handle is foam. Does anyone in this forum know how well a foam handle will hold up?

Sometimes, the obstacles seems insurmountable. Not the obvious ones. I'm talking about the ones that shouldn't exist -- like support people who don't follow through. Thanks to all for the encouragement.

P.S. I've looked into "Cold Heat" soldering guns. I think I'd have trouble working on small connections, like DIP ICs. Plus, I don't think they have enough power to let me work with larger connections.

P.P.S. I haven't found any soldering irons adapted for the blind.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
10,718
One tells me that the tip that comes with the package is a chisel tip, but the other tells me it's a screwdriver tip. A chisel tip would be difficult for a blind person to work with.
Weller's website says the included tip is screwdriver. They offer a variety of tip styles for that iron: screwdriver, long screwdriver, narrow screwdriver, conical, long conical, single flat, and knife.
No one has been able to tell me about the construction of the tip. Is it brass? Is it iron-clad brass? Is it made of something else altogether?
The tips for my Weller iron are iron clad copper. I've heard that the newer tips don't last as long as the older tips from the 70's.
Finally, the tech support person said that the handle is foam. Does anyone in this forum know how well a foam handle will hold up?
They must have been referring to something put over the handle for comfort because the heating element is in the barrel that attaches to the handle.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
6,025
In my last post, I said that I'm considering a Weller WE1010NA Digital Soldering Station. Today, I talked to Weller suppliers. They and the Weller USA website gave me contradictory information, and some of my questions to them have gone unanswered.

One tells me that the tip that comes with the package is a chisel tip, but the other tells me it's a screwdriver tip. A chisel tip would be difficult for a blind person to work with.

No one has been able to tell me about the construction of the tip. Is it brass? Is it iron-clad brass? Is it made of something else altogether?

One sales person and one technical support person were supposed to email the English version of the User's manual to me -- Nothing from them, yet.

I'm trying to find out the length of the iron from the end of the handle near the block to the end of the tip. No one seems to know. The shorter this length, the more accurately I'll be able to position the iron and receive tactile "feedback".

Finally, the tech support person said that the handle is foam. Does anyone in this forum know how well a foam handle will hold up?

Sometimes, the obstacles seems insurmountable. Not the obvious ones. I'm talking about the ones that shouldn't exist -- like support people who don't follow through. Thanks to all for the encouragement.

P.S. I've looked into "Cold Heat" soldering guns. I think I'd have trouble working on small connections, like DIP ICs. Plus, I don't think they have enough power to let me work with larger connections.

P.P.S. I haven't found any soldering irons adapted for the blind.
I am a master at soldering, from surface mount to 3/0 welding cables. I own two of those clod-heat things and they are a real challenge even for me to solder with. They require very good vision to even make them work, much less solder. So I recommend not wasting time or money on the cold heat stuff.
AND, about soldering tips: A chisel point and a screwdriver point are two names for the same thing.
Weller tips that I have used are solder plated steel alloy of some strange kind, and when they develop a pit they can not be filed to fix it. It looks to me like under that thin steel coating is some sort of ceramic. That is my recollection from years back. I use colid copper tips and I do file and sand them rather frequently.
 

Thread Starter

soc7

Joined Dec 19, 2019
9
Dennis, thanks for the updated info. It's a big help.

MisterBill, Yep, I ruled out the Cold Heat guns some time ago. And thanks for clearing up my chisel / screwdriver confusion.
 

RIKRIK

Joined Oct 11, 2019
88
First of , from my personal experience, im not blind, but suffer with schizophrenia , the medication make my hands shake like a blender , i can still solder but only through hole , my first job was soldering cpu pins to motherboards, very small stuff using a magnifying glass. cant do that anymore but my main job was welding and fabrication , luckily everything is big enough to weld metal together.

Well my point is if you can find the resources to help you out , thats great and i wish you all the best. However the world isnt always disability friendly. So don't be too disheartened if the resources are not there for you. However electronics is a very broad science, programming , I would assume a arduino or raspberry pi board is pretty tactile, or FPGA (A field-programmable gate array ) gets rid of most of the components, plus its a technology which is pretty future proof . also if theirs a maker space around locally, theirs nothing better than getting hands on with equipment people are excited to teach you about.

But wish you well
kind regards,
Rick.
 

RIKRIK

Joined Oct 11, 2019
88
I've been able to reach didn't make a lot of sense. I wonder how much of that had to do with his fifty-plus years using lead-based solder.
Im interested in knowing what he said now (smily face emoji) maybe he was a plumber ( crying with laughter emoji)
 

narkeleptk

Joined Mar 11, 2019
461
I wonder if you could do something with solder paste and hot air/oven easier then you could using an iron, may be worth considering. This way you could place the paste, then the component (if smd you could also use a little smd glue) and then reflow it without the need to burn fingers.
 

Janis59

Joined Aug 21, 2017
1,175
RikRik:
One my course-mate over-learned before exams at phys-mats and fell in very deep schizophrenia. So I remember how painful was to see him in such desperate state. Very long ago in early 90ies I flight to the England and find, those planes was economying on everything thus they gave for reading nothng else only the pro-communst Morning Star. So I read it interestingless by the diagonal until find a fascinating label - doctor such and such in psychiatric clinic suchand such in the city look this made revolutionary invention what was experimented on 100 whole-life hopeless schizophrenia patients, 95% of them after half of year was permanently healthy and commissioned for life in freedom.

Whole the salt in this was hypothesis that there exists one specific Omega group neuro-mediator contact-oil, just current-transferring between neuron synapses. If it lacks, the electrical contact becomes poor, one synapse is crying out - do this or that, but other answers - speak louder, cannot hear. First speaks as loud it can (voltage), but second still understands good if half, therefore it boost own sensitivity up to the Nyquist noise edge thus all the information content in brain system is hardly changed by noise. Thus he somehow found the products containing richly those oil, that is fat kinds of Makrel fish and most fattest of herring fish. Thus he pushed both fishes three times a day half of year long every meal for ill persons, until they literally fell out via the ears, and schizophrenia stepped back.

So, keeping in mind that my study-mate ill-fate, I somehow felt the kind of patriotic obligation to inform our State Mental Hospital chief doctor about, just giving him that newspaper what (of course) I stole at plane. :)

At visit to this doctor, he sat at very stable oak chair other side of massive oak table with strong lamp hitting a sharp light me into eyes and before I said any word he commanded- please tell me what You are suffering from.... :)

When at last I got a chance to tell why I am there he said playfully carelessly - yes yes, we know this method very well, very well indeed, and for very long time. Mea culpa, but I had no enough a courage to dare to ask against - but then why You are not using this method to cure the patients?

So, now I may repay back my dept to my Fate saying You - just go to market and eat both fishes every day until they fall out by the ears. :) :)
 

panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
1,829
well, this topic has completely blown my mind and i am reading eagerly to see development. never thought about this being possible but - when there is a will, there is a way (usually). and kudos for even trying.

i am sure your skills in navigating world are much better then mine if vision is off the table. one thing that comes to mind is that one can fairly easily use feel to locate and trim too long leads of through hole components. then solver everything maybe using soldering pot or hot air station.

video linked before shows someone using soldering gun. unlike soldering irons (rods), those use induction to develop heat nearly instantly on command by pressing button. thus making it possible to feel contact using gun while it is cold - before activating it and melting solder. one disadvantage of such basic tool is considerable weight of the transformer. i would consider moving it out or use SMPS because with lighter tool, it is not just less strain to work with but also easier to feel subtle differences in contact.

as previously there are devices that can help identify components and values. even if their output is display, this can be converted to sound or vibration for example. so, the more one thinks about it, more ideas will help with suitable outcome. hut off to you.
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
6,380
Due to the rapid development of cataracts in both eyes I was nearly blind for several months last year. I used touch a lot to locate places to solder. Counting IC pins with my fingers running along the, finding pin 1 by scratching around to find the notch at the end of the DIP IC, I am thankful that cataract surgery restored my sight, but I was amazed at how bad my soldering was during the time I could hardly see.

As hard as it was (during the time I switched from a 20 pin microcontroller to a 28 pin microcontroller on a key project, it was H-E-double hockey sticks!) the circuit modifications worked.

Amazingly I never got burned by the soldering iron, probably because I could feel the heat impinging upon my hands and wrists.

Don't waste your money on expensive equipment. Use a cheap soldering iron and if you can manage it, a light dimmer to limit the power to make you iron and tips last longer.

Do you have any vision at all?
 

KL7AJ

Joined Nov 4, 2008
2,225
I'm totally blind and looking for suggestions on which soldering station or iron other blind people use. I'll be working mostly with discrete components, and some ICs. I'll also be working with connectors, such as PL259 and SO239 connectors. I'll be using lead-free solder.

Additionally, I'd appreciate any guidance on techniques for soldering as a blind person.

Thank you.
Check out my buddy
AL0AALARRY J KREJCI Tucson AZ
Blind since birth and he creates websites, for cryin' out loud!
Drop him an email at: sirlaurence.larry@gmail.com. Tell him Eric sent you
 

crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
24,927
I'll be using lead-free solder.
I suggest using tin-lead solder as it's much easier to work with.
I don't think there's any evidence that people who use leaded solder suffer from elevated blood lead.
The lead is not vaporized to a any measurable extent when heated to soldering temperatures.
The reason for going to unleaded solder was primarily to prevent the lead from old circuit boards getting in to the environment, not because there was a concern for people using the solder.
 
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