Author Topic: Reflow Soldering Ovens  (Read 761 times)

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Offline W3DRM

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Reflow Soldering Ovens
« on: February 26, 2014, 12:42:39 AM »
We need to openly discuss how to get new Blitzortung stations built and running in the US.

Are folks holding-back because it is a kit or that it has SMDs (surface mount devices) or do they not have the skills to build a kit themselves? Lots of questions, for sure. I just don't know the answers.

Here's a thought that might help with the SMD issue:

Building the Blitzortung RED amplifier and controller boards can be done with regular soldering tools providing you use extreme care in placing and soldering the SMD components. However, I am wondering if it would be even easier if we had a simple version of a reflow soldering oven? That would pretty much eliminate the problems of solder-bridging and poor solder joints on the tiny pads.

I have been looking around for DIY reflow solder equipment and it looks like one could build an Arduino based unit for around $100 US or less if you happen to have access to an old toast-oven to use. While these units won't give you professional production-grade results, it will be more than adequate for building the RED kits.

My thought is that perhaps we could have a central location where someone would have an oven that others could send their boards to for the SMD soldering. Most folks can solder regular components with very little difficulty. This might just get those who are hanging-back ordering a kit because they don't feel comfortable working with SMDs.

Any thoughts or comments?
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Offline corwyyn

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Re: Reflow Soldering Ovens
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2014, 01:27:05 AM »
I've seen video of reflow soldering with a toaster oven as you mentioned, can't recall if the person who was doing it even had a controller or was just setting the unit for a certain temp and letting it go.  Does seem like a simple enough hack and it would probably handle  a half-dozen units at a crack depending on their size. 

Of course if I could convince my supervisor that they were proto builds for an engineer I could just run them thru one of the reflow ovens we have on the production floor at work...  :-P
Blitzortung station 1042

Offline dfroula

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Re: Reflow Soldering Ovens
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2014, 09:02:36 AM »
I used a toaster oven to reflow some bad soldering on a Playstation board once. There was a known issue with the GPU chip that would cause the unit to malfunction as the GPU temp increased. It worked well. I monitored the temperature with a probe and temperature meter and just used the oven's normal temperature control.

I think that it would work fine for amp board assembly. Truthfully, I would find it quicker to manually solder the SMD chips in place rather than mess with the solder paste, chip placement, monitoring the oven, etc.

The logistics of such an operation could be daunting, though!

I've also used a heat gun for reflow soldering. Touchy business, but it does work!