Weekend fixer-uppers, rejoice! We finally got our hands on the Cold Heat. It's the wireless, battery operated soldering iron that's almost instantly cool to the touch.
Our KLTV 7 engineers have almost every electronics tool known to man, but they didn't have one of these. Chief Engineer, Butch Adair was eager to give it a try. We set out to solder three wires of an audio cable, to a microphone connector. Two of the wires are pretty thin, one is a braided, shielded wire that's about three times as thick as the other two.
The first thing Butch notices about the Cold Heat, is the tip. "It doesn't look like a standard soldering point." No it doesn't. It's split. Best we could figure, one side of the tip is positively charged, the other, negative. Touch both sides of the tip at once, and you complete the circuit. We did. "Well, we're getting a little bit of heat," says Butch. But only when something metal completes that circuit. No circuit, no heating at all. And that's why, the Cold Heat's able to cool off so quickly. "Well, it did make the solder. We do have solder on the connectors," says Butch. Just for fun we touched the tip. "It would generate a little bit of heat, but it wouldn't burn," he says. After about 3 seconds, it was completely cool.
It's real neat and all, but we need to actually solder a connection for this thing to be useful. It takes a little practice to get the solder in the split to spark the heat, but soon, we were able to get two of the three wires firmly connected, fairly easily. The third wire, the braided, shielded wire, was a tough case. "Larger items like that shield, I really wasn't able to get enough heat to make a proper connection." A regular soldering iron got it on the first try.
It did a pretty nice job connecting wire to a circuit board, but not a big enough success to make Butch forget its earlier shortcomings. "On the audio connector, it was marginal at best. I would say it works, but it's going to be limited on what it's really good to use on," says Butch.
A little bad. A little good. We've heard this story before. "Does It Work?" We give the Cold Heat a "maybe."
We bought the Cold Heat online for $24.95. It's available here.
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