Here is something that I’ve been pondering for a while, a USB Powered Soldering Iron. For those times when all of the outlets are taken or when you want to solder up a quick project within the vicinity of your computer. Unfortunately right now there are no re-sellers of actual USB soldering irons in US, only in China. The next best thing to do is convert a battery powered soldering iron like a Weller BP645 into a USB one. The process is simple and requires only a Weller BP645 and a USB cable.
First take apart the Weller by removing two screws hidden under the side sticker. Then locate a decent length USB cord and cut off the end, which plugs into the peripheral. This method is barbaric no doubt and in the future it would be more prudent to use an actual USB connector. After stripping 2-3 inches from of the shielding locate black and red wires to supply the power, cut and isolate remaining wires. Those are strictly for data transfer and should be kept separated at all cost! Make sure you cable is decent quality and the wires are fairly thick gauge.
Solder the black wire to the spring ( – ) and the red to the top angled metal contact ( + ). This should effectively replace the power source. Note that at this point inserting batteries would no longer be possible if your wire runs on the inside. Use some hot glue to hold everything in place and then close the device. Drill an appropriate opening in the case to run the cable outside so that the battery cover goes back on.
As an after thought I’ve added a hard drive magnet to the soldering iron, this safely allows it to stick on any metal surface conveniently out of the way when not in use. To be on the safe side this device was first tested on a standalone USB hub and then after everything checked out on an actual desktop system. When put to soldering it performed really well, good heat and no problems what so ever. The only inconvenience was the stupid slide/button switch on the soldering iron; it is very flimsy and requires extra concentration to hold the button while working. Of course this is just a quick hack, which makes me very uneasy and if you decide to follow it you do so at your own risk! However until this beauty ( see below) hits the market, it maybe the closest we’ll get to USB freedom….