Versatile Reflow Oven Controller Uses ESP32-S2

[Maker.Moekoe] wanted a single controller board that was usable with different reflow ovens or hotplates. The result is a versatile board based on the ESP32-S2. You can see a video of the board’s assembly in the video below.

The board sports several inputs and outputs including:

  • 2x MAX6675 thermocouple sensor input
  • 2x Fan output with flyback diodes
  • 2x Solid state relay output
  • 3x Buttons
  • 1x LED
  • 1x Buzzer
  • 1x Servo motor output
  • 0.96 inch OLED display

You could probably find a use for the board for other similar applications, not just ovens.

The video is oddly relaxing, watching parts reflow. It is like watching a 3D printer, no matter how many times we see it, we still find it soothing to watch. You can also see how he integrated the board with a toaster oven.

Overall, the board looks great and the workmanship is also very good. If you’ve never seen anyone set heat-set threaded inserts into a 3D printed piece, be sure to watch around the four minute mark.

We’ve seen plenty of oven projects. You can even use an Easy Bake oven.

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Portable Pizza Oven Has Temperature Level Over 900

While it’s possible to make pizza from scratch at home right down to the dough itself, it’ll be a struggle to replicate the taste and exquisite mouthfeel without a pizza oven. Pizzas cook best at temperatures well over the 260°C/500°F limit on most household ovens while pizza ovens can typically get much hotter than that. Most of us won’t have the resources to put a commercial grade wood-fired brick oven in our homes, but the next best thing is this portable pizza oven from [Andrew W].

The build starts with some sheet metal to form the outer and inner covers for the oven. [Andrew] has found with some testing that a curved shape seems to produce the best results, so the sheet metal goes through rollers to get its shape before being welded together. With the oven’s rough shape completed, he fabricates two different burners. One sits at the back of the oven with its own diffuser to keep the oven as hot as possible and the other sits underneath a cordierite stone to heat from the bottom. Both are fed gas from custom copper plumbing and when it fires up it reaches temperatures hot enough that it can cook a pizza in just a few minutes. With some foldable legs the oven also ends up being fairly portable, and its small size means that it can heat up faster than a conventional oven too.

This is [Andrew]’s third prototype oven, and it seems like he has the recipe perfected. In fact, we featured one of his previous versions almost two years ago and are excited to see the progress he’s made in this build. The only downside to having something like this would be the potential health implications of always being able to make delicious pizzas, but that is a risk we’d be willing to take.

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NTP server heated with Bitcoin mining dongles

Bitcoin Mining ASICs Repurposed To Keep NTP Server On Track

They say time is money, but if that’s true, money must also be time. It’s all figurative, of course, but in the case of this NTP server heater powered by Bitcoin mining dongles, money actually does become time.

This is an example of the lengths to which Network Time Protocol aficionados will go in search of slightly better performance from their NTP servers. [Folkert van Heusden], having heard that thermal stability keeps NTP servers happy, used a picnic cooler as an environmental chamber for his  Pi- and GPS-based NTP rig. Heat is added to the chamber thanks to seven Block Erupter ASIC miner dongles, which are turned on by a Python script when a microcontroller sends an MQTT message that the temperature has dropped below the setpoint.

Each dongle produces about 2.5 Watts of heat when it’s working, making them pretty effective heaters. Alas, heat is all they produce at the moment — [Folkert] just has them working on the same hash over and over. He does say that he has plans to let the miners do useful work at some point, not so much for profit but to at least help out the network a bit.

This seems like a bit of a long way around to solve this problem, but since the mining dongles are basically obsolete now — we talked about them way back in 2013 — it has a nice hacky feeling to it that we appreciate.

Mobile Sauna For On-The-Go Relaxation

While it might be nice to imagine owning a cabin in the woods to escape from society, complete with an outdoor sauna to take in the scenic views of nature, most of us will be satisfied with the occasional vacation to a cabin like that. For those trips, or even for long-term camping trips, [Schitzu] and a group of friends thought it would be nice to be able to ensure access to a sauna. For that, they created this mobile, timber-framed sauna that he can tow behind his car.

The sauna is built out of a combination of spruce and Douglas fir, two types of lumber with weather-resistant properties. For an additional layer of protection, the frame was varnished after assembly. The walls are filled with baked cork for insulation, and heat is provided by a small wood-fired oven placed in the corner of the sauna with a stove pipe plumbed through the roof. Performance of the sauna shows good design too, as it can heat up quickly and performs well in all of the tests so far. The final touch on the mobile sauna was to finish the roof with some solar panels in order to gather some energy for long-term camping trips and also to ensure that the roof was protected from rain and weather.

The sauna is designed for two adults to sit in, but it will also accommodate a single person to lay down and sleep (presumably when not using it as a sauna), so the entire trailer actually makes a fairly capable mobile camper too. With the addition of a panoramic window, anyone can take in the sights as well as someone with their own permanently-located sauna could, which is a win in all of our books. If you’re looking for a mobile sauna that’s a little more discrete though, be sure to check out this one which is built in the back of a white panel van.

Home Monitoring, Without All The Sensors

Smart homes come with a lot of perks, not least among which is the ability to monitor the goings-on in your home, track them, and make trends. Each piece of monitoring equipment, such as sensors or cameras, is another set of wires that needs to be run and another “thing” that needs to be maintained on your system. There are sometimes clever ways of avoiding sensors, though, while still retaining the usefulness of having them.

In this build, [squix] uses existing sensors for electricity metering that he already had in order to alert him when his oven is pre-heated. The sensor is a Shelly 3EM, and the way that it interfaces with his home automation is by realizing that his electric oven will stop delivering electricity to the heating elements once it has reached the desired temperature. He is able to monitor the sudden dramatic decrease in electricity demand at his house with the home controller, and use that decrease to alert him to the fact that his oven is ready without having to install something extra like a temperature sensor.

While this particular sensor may only be available in some parts of Europe, we presume the idea would hold out across many different sensors and even other devices. Even a small machine learning device should be able to tell what loads are coming on at what times, and then be programmed to perform functions based on that data.

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With PowerCore And FluxLamp, Reflow Is Possible

[nathan] sends in this combo of projects which combine to make a very interesting reflow oven.

First is PowerCore which has two microcontrollers, an ATmega and a ESP8366 working in tandem to turn the AC on and off at set intervals. A GLCD displays the current profiles and WiFi allows for remote control as well. Input is handled by a momentary switch rotary controller. He decided to go this route after reading forums on the commercial controllers and deciding they needed too much fiddling and weren’t hacker friendly enough.

The PowerCore then attaches to a halogen work light. He took the front glass off the halogen light and covered it in aluminum foil. This becomes the base of the oven. The PowerCore and a sensor are attached to the back. Using the lighting element as a heating one makes sense and, as we can see from the curves, appears to provide a very accurate response.

On top of all this [nathan] has documented the project beautifully. The small size and great control bump it way up in our list of reflow builds to recommend.

DIY Reflow Oven Is Heavily Documented

[DJ Legion] decided he wanted a reflow oven so he bought a toaster oven and an assortment of parts including a solid state relay, a Teensy, a display, and a thermocouple. What makes this a different project is the amount of video documentation. The four videos below encompass about 50 minutes of information and he’s promising more to come.

We haven’t found his software — probably because he’s still working on it, but we’re watching his GitHub page expectantly. We really liked the 3D printed faceplate that integrated the controller into the oven. It almost looks like a commercial unit. The use of the woodgrain paper over the 3D printed parts was a nice touch.

[DJ] is not done, though. He wants to increase the heat up time and possibly add convection. He’s also planning on a new video that will show actually making a board and how he has refined the calibration curves.

We are impressed but would have been tempted to just grab a Reflowduino. The work’s already done, and you get wireless control and lots of other goodies. Of course, we also get the urge to do it yourself, so we can’t really throw stones. If you don’t want to mess with an oven, you can always raid the hair salon.

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