Zimac Z-50 Cordless Soldering Iron

Discussion in 'Homebrew and Kit Projects' started by N2IPH, Jun 11, 2018.

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  1. N2IPH

    N2IPH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Wasn't sure where to post this. This seemed like the best topic area.

    I have a Zimac model Z-50 cordless soldering iron that I picked up at a hamfest a while back and have been meaning to see if I could get it working again. It is an older unit yes but for only a couple bucks I figured it was worth the risk.

    Anyway, the iron does taka charge, but the cells run down pretty quick, so being as they are from a time before Li-Ion batteries even existed I am reasonably sure they are Ni-Cad cells.

    I didn't get any documentation with it so wondering if anyone has come across one in the past. I searched the WWW and found a Zimac Labs in Canada but they have no website. Looked in archive.org but nothing helpful.

    Found this in a Google search:

    --------------------------------------------------​
    https://archive.org/stream/Electron...03/ElectronicsTechnologyToday1988-03_djvu.txt

    Electronics & Technology Today 1988 03

    MM70924

    Canada’s Magazine for High-tech Discovery

    March 1988


    What you Didn’t Know About Solder Guns:

    Z-50 CORDLESS solder gun

    PRINCIPLE OF OPERATION

    The Z-50 soldering tips contain both the heating element and temperature
    sensor. The combination of a small tip mass, powerful heating element and
    fast sensor response assures the very efficient use of the energy stored in the
    batteries. In operation the tip temperature actually increases to match the
    workload.

    • Lightweight: 11 oz./315g.
    • Charging Unit included - doubles as docking station
    - overcharge protected, CSA Approved.
    • Cordless for safety and convenience and 4 hr. recharge
    • Made in Canada
    • 650°F within 10 seconds at full charge from cold start.
    • Since tip temperature rises to match workload there is no
    longer a need for more than three tip styles.
    • Full 1 year warranty (tip excluded)

    $149.95

    Spare Tip “Fine Point” $14.95 1 - 800 - 363‘9120

    Please add $8.50 for postage and handling.
    Quebec residents add applicable P.S.T.


    Zimac Laboratories

    111 Bombardier St.,Chateauguay
    Quebec J6J 4Z2 (514) 691-5510
    Fax: (514) 691-6467
    -----------------------------------------------
    I would like to find a manual if anyone has one. Haven't cracked it open yet to figure out
    what the cells are and search for replacements.

    I have an email in to the current Zimac Labs inquiring about this unit and parts availability
    but no reply as yet.


     
  2. N2IPH

    N2IPH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    here are some photos
     

    Attached Files:

  3. KA9JLM

    KA9JLM Ham Member QRZ Page

    You need a manual on how to operate a soldering iron ? :p

    Looks like it has 8 battery cells.

    I hope it works well for you.

    Enjoy.
     
  4. N2IPH

    N2IPH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Very Funny. No, it's pull the trigger and it heats up, and it does that just fine.
    But I would like to know the temperature range that it is adjustable to.
    Information on what other tips are available.
    What the required charge time is and what is the expected run time from a full charge.
    How long should it take to heat up to full temp.

    Until I found the information above I knew nothing about it.
    It's always nice to have the manual, don't need it but it would be nice to have.
     
  5. SKEENA79

    SKEENA79 QRZ Member

    Congratulations on finding what probably is the very best cordless rechargeable soldering iron ever.
    The tip consists of a negative coefficient heater that has pure copper electro-formed around it. Then, to control this hi-output heater it uses a potassium dichromate compound to turn the power on or off as dictated by tip load (size of the heat sink). Temperature range is approx 600F to 900F. The weak link in this setup is the batteries. By looking at your picture you probably have nickel metal hydride batteries from Panasonic. The small arrow visible thru the handle is the temperature adjustment (use a fine flathead screwdriver) The button on the bottom of the handle needs to be gently pushed in while pulling on the trigger in the event the tip has been exposed to high humidity. This button shorts out the temperature sensor in the tip allowing it to heat thereby driving out the humidity and resume normal operation. As far as run time goes, it is battery dependent. When those Panasonic batteries were new you could solder power wires onto the tab of a skidoo headlight at 0 degrees F. In the switch/trigger assembly you can increase run time by locking it on (pull trigger and slide center of trigger to the side and it locks in place) but this feature is best used when doing a lot of small jobs in rapid succession. Hope this info helps. If I come across any printed info I'll post it here.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 2, 2018
    N2IPH likes this.
  6. EI7KS

    EI7KS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Many moons ago I bought a similar US soldering iron when in the Far East (Singapore) . Inside 2 C-type Nicad cells in series ,crudely charged by a transformer with an "embedded" diode. It did not take long before I had to replace the 2 battery cells . However I also removed the transformer and replaced it by one with a higher voltage ,installed a low power bridge rectifier and an LM7805 used as a constant current source. With an additional changeover switch and 2 LEDs alternatively switched over 2 diodes in series in the current path , I can switch a charging current of 300mA ,when soldering iron is in use and to 75 mA when not in use. In this way , it ensures that the cells always remain fully charged when soldering iron is parked in its stand.
    The 2.4 V soldering tips are still available ; the pointy one used for "fine" work.

    Frank , EI7KS
     
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  7. SKEENA79

    SKEENA79 QRZ Member

    The difference with the Z-50 is the technology/performance. All other re-chargeable cordless soldering irons incorporate PTC (positive temperature coefficient) heaters and therefore are very limited in what they can accomplish. The Z-50 tip incorporates a NTC (negative temperature coefficient) heater inside the tip so as the temperature of the heater rises the internal resistance drops causing a massive draw on the batteries translating into way more heat. That's what permitted it to work outside at well below freezing or on the workbench idling at 700F for 40 to 45 minutes with new batteries. That being said, the Zimac Z-50 has been out of production for probably 20 years.
     
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  8. N2IPH

    N2IPH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you SKEENA79 for your detailed information on the operation and workings of the Z-50. Since the run time is limited (significantly less than 40 minutes you state) I will see if I can find a source for some replacement batteries. Everything else works and it's in good condition otherwise so I think it's worthy of a few dollars for some new batteries.

    Never did get a reply to my email from earlier this year.
     

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