January 1972 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics. See articles
published October 1954 - April 1985. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
It seemed like a reasonable idea, but the absence of "One Hander" soldering tools on the market today - or any time in the last half century for that matter - is empirical proof that the concept is not feasible. In principle, being able to feed the solder into the joint area with a squeezable pistol grip setup is not so different than modern wire welding machines that basically do the same thing (I have one). It was probably the lack of stiffness of the solder wire that caused the problem since keeping it on the joint would be difficult. Preventing the flux from jamming the solder feed tube was no doubt an issue as well. Oh well, it was worth a try. Today's surface mounted components could never be soldered with such a device, even if modernized to accommodate the smaller sizes.
Bilectro "One Hander" Soldering Tool
One thing that we have been pleased to see in recent years has been the upsurge in what we appropriately call "third hand" tools. A couple of examples have already been discussed in this column in recent months; now we have a third to talk about.
The "One Hander" soldering tool made by Bilectro is something that all of us two-handed people have been praying for for years.
The One Hander is a clean-looking soldering tool, designed along the lines of a gun or pistol but with a futuristic form. While the One Hander is shaped like a pistol, it does not operate in a manner we have come to associate with soldering pistols. Actually, the tool is a high-quality soldering iron mounted on a pistol frame. Plugging the line cord into an ac outlet immediately powers the heating element. The trigger on the pistol grip has nothing to do with powering the element; it is there for an entirely different purpose.
Designed to appeal to a wide range of users, the One Hander is available in seven different electrical configurations to provide from 20 to 100 watts of heating power. A selection of five different soldering tips is available to suit virtually any type of soldering operation. The soldering tips are scale resistant. They are coated with a non-oxidizing metal that never needs tinning (however, we recommend tinning as an aid to "wetting"), requires only occasional wiping, and should never be filed or sanded.
The pistol shape of the soldering tool is a practical design that permits more comfortable operation by the user as opposed to the sometimes uncomfortable position in which most pencils and irons have to be held. This is especially true with the cumbersome high-power industrial irons now in use. The handle of the One Hander serves a dual purpose; in addition to providing a comfortable grip, it has facilities for storing up to 15 ft of cored wire solder. A mechanical system operated by the trigger feeds the solder at a rate determined by trigger travel directly to the point where the heated soldering tip and work meet. The soldering tip is angled in such a manner that it assists in locating and seeing the work and facilitates proper joining with the fed solder. This arrangement insures that the solder is melted by the heat at the work and not by the actual soldering tip. This makes for the best kind of soldering. We tried the One Hander in repairing a defective transistorized circuit that came into the shop. Now, for the first time, we can get rid of the weird little mechanical gadgets that we used to hold things down and balance chassis elements while one hand supported the replacement part and the other hand kept the part in place. We found the One Hander to be very handy indeed and have concluded that it is a must for every shop. Price is $23.95.
Posted January 10, 2019