I’ll be very honest with you guys, I had no need for it, but when I saw the MiniWare MHP30 for the first time in the Adafruit video, I knew I want to have one. Even if I’d use it once every 2-3 months, I really wanted to have this mini hot plate in my collection of awesome tools. Why? Because it’s adorable! So I asked Banggood for one! Is it useful? I just realised I have one repair to carry out since 2019, so I’m going to find out!
MiniWare MHP30 is a rubbish popcorn maker!
My desire to go viral by frying popcorn kernels on it went down the drain as soon as I realised that I’m more likely to burn it to a crisp than making popcorn out of it. Frankly speaking, watching the kernel alone waiting to explode was terrifying enough. Perhaps I should focus on the original functionality of the MiniWare MHP30.
This is not the 1st tool I own from MiniWare. My toolbox already carries fantastic set of tools:
- MiniDSO TS80 (review) recently upgraded to TS80P (review)
- ES121 Electronic precision screwdriver (review)
Now, I get to add this cute MiniWare MHP30 hot plate to the collection.
If not popcorn, what then?
If you ever faced a challenge of removing components from PCBs, you know that the more pins they have the harder it gets. There are 2 ways of going about it. Until now, I was using my TS80P soldering iron and very expensive low-melting point solder to keep it liquid for longer. Doing it without it, it’s a frustrating process that takes practice and increases the likelihood of damaging components.
The option number two is MiniWare MHP30! Hot plate can heat up the PCB and liquify the solder on multiple pins at once, making extraction so much easier. The traditional hotplates are big, heavy and expensive. MiniWare MHP30 is the opposite.
It’s an iron – kind of
I can’t resist the impression that MiniWare MHP30 is in fact a hotplate build around the TS80P. It shares the same display, menus and 2-buttons controls. And it makes sense to re-use the tech of this widely popular soldering iron to create another portable tool for makers.
MiniWare MHP30 is actually pretty smart in its compact design. The hotplate is 30x30mm – it’s smaller than you think. Despite seeing promotional material and a couple of videos on it, I was still surprised how compact the whole thing is. It’s USB-C powered and you will need USB_C PD to keep it operational. Just like the soldering irons, MiniWare MHP30 has the ability to heat up to 350℃ and retain that temperature for 40 min. Internal sensors will disconnect the power if the hotplate is placed at an angle decreasing the chances of burning the house down.
It comes with tiny retractable legs to increase the stability of the base and an LED that illuminates the plate from underneath. The colours let you know if the plate is safe to the touch. To make it hot, you get an awesome silicone (and burnproof) USB-C cable. Inside, just like with TS80|TS100 irons, you will find fully programmable firmware. You can change basic settings using two buttons located at the back or use the config file to set your own defaults:
PrsetTemp1=220 #(C:100~350 F:212~662) PrsetTemp2=250 #(C:100~350 F:212~662) PrsetTemp3=300 #(C:100~350 F:212~662) SleepTime=0 #(Range: OFF,5~120) Backlight=6 #(Range: 1~ 10) ShowType=0 #(0:Volt 1:Power) Volume=3 #(Range: 0~ 5) LowCurrent=1 #(0:OFF 1:ON) TempType=0 #(0:Centigrade 1:Fahrenheit)
Overall, the MiniWare MHP30 feels well made and I’m looking forward to using it more. If you setting your own defaults isn’t enough the latest Open Source firmware IronOS also released support for the hotplate – and you can flash that yourself. Plug the hotplate to a computer while holding A button to get the plate into a flash mode and drop the .hex file to flash new firmware.
Can you fix things?
In 2019 I wrote some words about DockerPi – PowerBoard. Unfortunately, the board arrived partially broken, but nice people from 52Pi, sent not just a replacement one, but IC required to fix it. Since I had a working board, I postponed the fix – until today. The 8 pin voltage regulator TPS54527 is a perfect test subject!
The hot plate takes about 2 min to reach the full temperature. Armed with tweezers, flux and some solder, I set the temp to 300℃ and placed the corner of the PCB onto the surface. I never worked with hot plates before so it took me by surprise how quickly I was able to dislodge the IC from its place. The whole procedure was quick and made me realise the true value of the MiniWare MHP30.
Armed with confidence, I cleaned up the board and heated it up again. I have added a tiny little solder to keep the IC in place, in the retrospect, I should have used a solder paste for that. It’s my first hot plate fix so I’m sure I will be forgiven. Once I noticed the solder melting, I pressed on the TPS54527 with tweezers to put it in place.
That’s it. Job done!
I verified the voltages with my trusty multimeter and as both 12V and 5V reference voltages were present, I concluded my first MiniWare MHP30 hot plate assisted repair.
MiniWare MHP30 is adorable. It’s also very useful for spot repairs, especially that it takes little space, can be put inside a pocket (once cooled off) and taken with you. Plus as it uses USB-C, it will share the same cable and battery as my TS80P or my mobile phone. The question is: can you justify its £60 asking price? I think I can. It’s a perfect Xmas gift for anyone remotely interesting in making. So even if you can’t justify spending that much yourself, I doubt someone would be disappointed getting one as a birthday gift. Let me know what do you think in this Reddit thread.
🆓📈 – See the transparency note for details.