[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.
Continue reading “Versatile Reflow Oven Controller Uses ESP32-S2”
[EEforEveryone] is trying to find a good hot plate for reflow soldering. After trying one cheap unit, he got another one. He was a bit underwhelmed. The grounding was suspect and the bed wasn’t totally flat. He tore it apart and was surprised that there was very little inside. While the construction wasn’t perfect, it was better than the previous unit. You can see a video of the teardown and review below.
Before powering it up, the first order of business was to rewire the ground system. After that, it was time to try it. However, by confusing Fahrenheit and Centigrade, he set the temperature much higher than necessary which creating a little smoke. Fixing the temperature helped, but there was still a bit of a smoky smell that eventually subsided.
The verdict? The hot plate worked well enough, but you probably do want to check the ground wiring before using it. That’s often a good idea where cheap equipment is concerned, anyway. But the real takeaway is that it looks like you could homebrew something equivalent without much trouble. The controller is an off-the-shelf module. A switch and a plug aren’t hard to figure out. The heating element could be a silicone heater or PCB heater meant for a 3D printer.
Of course, there are other options. You could use a wok. Or why not a waffle iron? You can also make a custom PCB.
Continue reading “Reflow Hotplate Teardown Uncovers The Bare Minimum”
Sometimes you notice something small that nevertheless you can’t explain. [Greg Davill] found himself in just such a situation this week when he noticed some green LEDs glowing dimly when reflowing some boards. Naturally, [Greg] set out to investigate.
The green LEDs were wired up as power indicators, and [Greg] suspected that the polymer caps on the board might be generating a small current somehow that was causing the LEDs to light up ever so slightly. A simple test hooked a polymer cap directly up to a multimeter. When warmed with a heat gun, the meter showed a small current “in the 5-10 uA range.”
Going further, [Greg] soldered an LED to the cap and once again heated it up, this time to 100° C. The LED glowed, continuing to do so for around 60 seconds with heat removed. The mystery also grew deeper – [Greg] noticed that this only happened with “fresh” capacitors. Once they’d been through one heat cycle, the caps would no longer light an LED when warmed up.
It’s a curious case, and has many speculating as to the causative mechanism on Twitter. Explanations from thermoelectric effects to chemical reactions inside the capacitor. If you’ve got the inside scoop on what’s going on here, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments. Meanwhile, check out some of [Greg]’s best work – a glowing D20 dice featuring a whopping 2400 LEDs.
[Thanks to J Peterson for the tip!]
It’s not too hard to make your electronics project get warm. Design your traces too small, accidentally short the battery inputs together, maybe reverse the voltage going to your MCU. We’ve all cooked a part or two over the years. But what about making a PCB that gets hot on purpose? That’s exactly what [Carl Bugeja] did in his second revision of a PCB hot plate, designed to reflow other PCBs.
[Carl’s] first attempt at making a hot plate yielded lukewarm results. The board, which was a single snaking trace on the top of an aluminum substrate, did heat up as it was supposed to. However, the thin substrate led to the hot plate massively warping as it heated up, reducing the contact against the boards being soldered. On top of that, the resistance was much greater than expected, resulting in much lower heat output.
The new revision of the board is on a thicker substrate with much thicker traces, reducing the resistance from 36 ohms on the previous design to just 1 ohm. The thicker substrate, paired with a newer design with fewer slots, made for a much sturdier surface that did not bend as it was heated.
Continue reading “Using A PCB To Reflow PCBs – Take 2!”
Few things have changed our workshops more than surface mount components. In 1980 it would have been strange to see a hobby bench with a microscope, hot air equipment, tweezers, and all the other accouterments that are a necessity today. [Electronoobs] wanted a reflow hot plate and decided that he could repurpose a consumer laundry iron for the job. You can see the results in the video below.
Opening the iron revealed surprisingly simple circuitry, so the build has some additional parts along with a controller and an LCD, of course. The power requirement for the heating element is significant — 13 amps — so the plate uses a solid state relay to turn things on and off.
Continue reading “Iron Becomes SMD Hot Plate”
You can do your own Surface Mount Technology based PCB assembly with just a handful of tools and some patience. At the heart of my SMT process is stopping to inspect the various steps all while trying to maintain a bit of cleanliness in the process.
Surface mount or Surface Mount Technology (SMT) is the modern way to assemble Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) and is what is commonly seen when opening a modern piece of tech. It’s much smaller than the older Through-Hole (TH) technology where the component leads were inserted into holes in PCB, and act we called “stuffing” since we had to stuff the components into the holes.
A few specialized tools make this a lot easier, but resourceful hackers will be able to pull together a solder paste stencil jig, vacuum tweezers, and a modified toaster oven with a controller that can follow the reflow profile of the solder paste. Where you shouldn’t skimp is on the quality, age, and storage of the solder paste itself.
Join me after the break for my video overview of the process I use in my workshop, along with details of every step of my SMT assembly process.
Continue reading “Learn Bil Herd’s DIY Surface Mount Assembly Process”
There are a ton of ways to go about building your own reflow oven. Most of these builds start with, well, an oven — usually a toaster oven — with a small but significant minority choosing to modify a hotplate. But this might be the first time we’ve seen a waffle iron turned into a reflow oven.
Of course, what [Vincent Deconinck] came up with is not an oven per se. But his “RefloWaffle” certainly gets the job done. It started with an old waffle maker and a few experiments to see just how much modification it would take to create the various thermal reflow profiles. As it turned out, the original cooking surfaces had too much thermal inertia, so [Vincent] replaced them with plain copper sheets. That made for quicker temperature transitions, plus created some space between the upper and lower heating elements for the SMD board.
As for control, [Vincent] originally used an Arduino with a relay and a thermocouple, but he eventually built a version 2.0 that used a hacked Sonoff as both controller and switch. Adding the thermocouple driver board inside the Sonoff case took a little finagling, but he managed to get everything safely tucked inside. A web interface runs on the Sonoff and controls the reflow process.
We think this is a great build, one that will no doubt see us trolling the thrift stores for cheap waffle irons to convert. We’ve seen some amazing toaster oven reflows, of course, but something about the simplicity and portability of RefloWaffle just works for us.