The brave new world of soldering iron software: work-around QuickCharge 3.0 charger issue
Recently I bought the TS80. I was sad to find that it does not do USB-C PD, only the proprietary Qualcomm QuickCharge 3.0. I was even sadder to find that, although the OLED and software will work @ 5V, it will cowardly refuse to light the engine and make heat. I was even sadder to find out that the ‘Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0’ powerbank I bought, well, the iron didn’t like it. It did work plugged into the QC3.0 charger, but sometimes you want to be portable!
But, given that the iron runs firmware, it must be hackable, right?
If you hold the button down as you plug it in, it goes into DFU mode so that is promising.
More promising, there is an open issue ‘Add TS80 support‘ on the TS100 repo on github.
Even more promising, well, it builds, and, installs, and, runs!
And, great success, this sw has a mode (by default) which allows it to start the heater in 5V. This in turn tricks the powerbank into staying alive long enough to recognise the QC3.0 signalling, and in turn, deliver MOAR VOLTS!. Turns out it will deliver 11V @ 2A, so ~22W.
Now, you might wonder why I have that ‘Rogers’ USB flash plugged in. Well, the power bank goes to sleep when there is no load. So as soon as the iron hits temperature (about 20seconds), the power bank switches off. Boo. So I needed a dummy load, and, well, no one is ever going to use this 20MB flash for anything, it may as well make a bit of heat and trick this power bank.
So it seems that the software was able to work around the bug, hack successful!
As for the average consumer, well, we would all be forgiven for thinking that something w/ the only writing on it being ‘Qualcomm 3.0 Quick Charge’ would do QC3.0 properly. Its a bit unfair to think that a consumer would build new firmware for a widget from an unreleased branch in github of an open-source repo of their soldering iron.
Its a brave new world of continuous and agile!