by Will Floyd-Jones:
When Adafruit announced their capacitive touchscreen shield, I knew I had to do something cool with it. I mocked up a design for the Château using an Atmega32u4, but once I saw this post on Hackaday, I quickly changed to the Teensy 3.1. Being able to update the display at a reasonable rate makes for a much more usable interface.
I decided to build the Reflow Château for the undergraduate ECE projects lab at my university because (A) that way I could get funding for it, (B) the existing toaster in the lab has to be manually operated and has literally blown up SMA electrolytic caps on a board of mine due to its poor temperature control, and (C) the man frowns upon the use of toasters in dorm rooms, so I needed a place to keep this thing anyway. The guy in charge of the lab requested two, so the Reflow Château actually has an identical twin.
Reflow Château – Reflow oven controller - [Link]
This is reflow soldering controller for use with a toaster oven as reflow soldering oven.
I bought the toaster oven in a local super market for about 40 €. There was also a cheaper oven on sale, but I wasn’t sure if it did 250°C, so I bought the more expensive and prettier one.
Since I don’t want to loose the warranty and also haven’t any interest of the oven’s internals, I designed the reflow controller as an oven-external device which directly switches the oven’s mains on/off.
The relay I use is for 6V, but it seems to work just fine with the 5V supply from the ATtiny. On the mains side, the relay is rated for 230V/16A.
The whole controller is based on a ATtiny 45 µController. I use one pin as input for the 100k thermistor for temperature measurement (connected to JP3), one pin controls the mains relay (via a BC140 transistor), one pin controls a LED for feedback and one pin is connected to a switch for user input.
Reflow Soldering Controller - [Link]
… and will prevent to spread there, where you don´t want to. Fluxes in pen Stannol series Mini Fluxer belong to the invaluable helpers of every electro-technician.
How could I work without a flux so far? That´s a probable question of probably everyone, who once tried action of a solder flux. In a common wire solder, there´s some amount of a flux, usually sufficient for one-time soldering of a given joint, if the components to be soldered are clean and oxides-free. However, we know well a case, when we use for example an older PCB, or an older component with slightly oxidized leads and suddenly it´s much harder to reach an acceptable joint. Similar situation happens at an exchange of a component or any service action, when a solder tends to oxidize on a surface and create various bad-looking creatures, which are quite far from a professional joint. Fortunately, there´s a flux here …
In general, fluxes act in a manner, that a solder is as if „more movable“ after application. It is mainly thanks to the protection against oxidation, change of surface tension and other influences. As a result it means, that a solder spreads well on metals and joints with a given material (what we naturally want) and on the non-metal substances (PCB) is a solder repelled as if on an oily surface.
At an automated „all-surface“ soldering, fluxes are usually applied by wetting (foam) or by spraying. At development and servicing smaller packages are much more practical, for example in a form of a pen. Two novelties in our offer also belong to this category:
- Stannol MINI-FLUXER X32-10i – halogen free, activated „No clean“ flux, practically residue-free, vey tolerant to various working conditions. Minimum amount of electrically safe transparent residues with a high insulation resistance enables its usage even at visible places and at production of highly reliable devices, including solar panels. Significantly eliminates build-up of bridges, that´s why it´s very suitable even for manual soldering of fine-pitch components.
- Stannol MINI-FLUXER X33S-07i – highly activated halogen-free „No clean“, resin-free flux, with a corrosion inhibitor, very suitable even for copper surfaces – clean, passivated or lacquered by rosin-based agents. Excellent wetting even on poorly adherent surfaces. Excellent spreading manifests by for example trouble-free filling of vias by a solder.
Stainless steel spring mechanism of a pen enables simple and precise dosage and also a long pen lifetime. During application, it´s only necessary to softly press on the tip. Both fluxes are in our stable stock offer, available immediately or in a short leadtime (in case of a temporary out-of -stock status).
Mini Fluxer will spread solder there, where you want - [Link]
Low-cost, high quality reflow oven for surface-mount PCB assembly at home. Get professional results consistently and reliably!
ControLeo2 Reflow Oven - [Link]
At the same time you can be sure of a set temperature and a long-term stability that´s why it´s suitable even for the most demanding usage.
Production of company Weller (member of Apex Hand Tools) represent a synonym for top quality soldering stations intended even for a continuous 24h usage. In the Weller portfolio can be found several series, from which we can choose the right type for our usage. Right to the top belong for example series WX, WX2, WXD, introduced to you some time ago. This time Weller comes with an innovated version of station WSD81 – WSD81i.
WSD81i soldering station hides behind a relatively plain classic design a top level technique. WSD81i uses „Silver line“ technology of a heat transfer to a relatively short tip with a copper core, ensuring excellent heat transfer and excellent temperature accuracy. LT series tips usable with WSD81i provide a wide selection for absolute majority of joints. Thanks to a precise construction, they have a prolonged lifetime and even thin tips lead heat very well and we´ll succeed with them even on solder pads, which appear to be small, but they require a lot of heat (ground connections with a lot of vias on a PCB and similar).
Platinum thermal sensor built-in right beneath an exchangeable tip ensure a long-term stability, what results in a fact, that WSD81i doesn´t require calibration even after a long-term operation (IPC compliant).
WSD81i also contain electronics checking usage of a soldering tool and in case of rest, the station goes to a standby mode (adjustable in a range of 1-99min). If we decide to change a real temperature of a tip, we can make it by means of an “offset” function. This can be advantageous for example in plants, where workers were used to set say 380°C but at WSD81i even 360°C would be sufficient (thanks to excellent heat transfer to a tip). In this case a worker doesn´t have to differ which soldering station he uses and he can use a unified setting for all types.
At the same time, it´s possible to lock a station by your own code or to set a “window” in which a temperature can be changed.
Comparison of three main technologies and also a comprehensive description of particular tips can be found in the „Weller soldering tips” brochure. Detailed description of the WSD81i station can be found in the WSD81i user guide.
WSD81i is available in 3 basic versions (80W tool + dry/ wet cleaning stand or a 65W tool + dry cleaning stand), from which we bring you type T005 32 946 99, i.e. 80W tool WSP80 + stand for wet cleaning (sponge).
Weller WSD81i soldering station doesn´t need a calibration - [Link]
A Flexible Oven Controller controlled via touch screen or through USB. Draw and download your own profiles using free Profile Creator.
Zallus Oven Controller - [Link]
Transformer soldering tool Toolcraft SP200 is a useful complement even if you already have a quality soldering station.
In praxis, it´s possible to heard various opinions on “transformer soldering tools”. Usually this is the first type of a soldering tool with which a young electro-technician begins. It´s small, a tip heats up quickly, doesn´t take a lot of space, it´s easily transportable and last but not least it´s also price – affordable.
From the point of view of a professional working with SMT components it can be reproached, that it´s not suitable for SMT components of 0603/ 0402 and similar, it creates a pulse at switching on (weak ESD safety) and it has no soldering tip temperature control.
Despite this, many of us are glad to return to it sometimes, because it´s simply “handy” :-). It provides a magic of an easy application of a solder and a colophony in a single step by a classic way, when we take a bit of a solder on a hot tip and after switching off (during cooling down) we immerse a tip into a colophony. This way we get prepared one “soldering dose” on a tip, suitable for soldering of poorly solderable joints (depending on features of a solder and colophony). At the same time, it´s very convenient in case we need to have one hand free for holding a soldered component, wire, …
Even a small stability of a tip temperature can be bypassed by experience (not too long heating) and the risk of sensitive components damage can be considerably decreased if we always switch on a soldering tool before touching a given component, and similarly – switch off after taking away a tip from a component.
It can be said, that a quality soldering station is irreplaceable for a serious work, but there are many cases, where a classic pistol-type soldering tool alike. In respect to an extraordinary affordable price level of the Toolcraft SP200 and also other in our offer (10-20 Eur), this tool is a suitable complementary tool for every electro workshop and for a work in places, where a transport of a bulky soldering station might be quite impractical.
Toolcraft SP200 has a more robust tip, suitable also for bigger joints. On the opposite side, soldering tools of the series ETP use classic relatively thin tips usable even for small soldering tools.
Think about a soldering tool for every occasion - [Link]
Matt of SkyLabs has a nice build log about a temperature controlled reflow oven he built using an Arduino based PID controller and a standard toaster oven:
We have successfully managed to build a temperature controlled reflow oven using an Arduino based PID controller and a standard toaster oven from Robert Dyas! This is a must have accessory for any hobbyist who regularly uses surface mount components within their designs. Below we have a build log documenting the process of constructing the oven including:
Teardown of the original oven
Custom enclosure construction
So to start off I will outline a basic parts list of what I used:
Reflow Oven Shield
Solid State Relay
230v AC to 5v DC Power Supply
Custom Laser Cut Enclosure
Temperature controlled reflow oven build - [Link]
JColvin91 @ instructables.com writes:
I recently got a collection of soldering iron tips and realized that many people (including myself) might not know what the different tips are used for. After all, for a long time I was under the impression that there was only about three different types of soldering tips and only one useful type of tip.
While I still only use two different types of tips (an improvement), I am much more familiar and confident in using whatever soldering iron tip I may happen to find on the iron. Please know that is far from a comprehensive list of all the different types of soldering tips available, but rather a small handful that I am personally prone to use.
Uses of Different Soldering Iron Tips - [Link]
by Henrik’s Blog @ hforsten.com:
Nowadays many of the most “exiting” chips come only in leadless packages, such as BGA and QFN which are hard or impossible to solder just by soldering iron, because leads are under the chip where they can’t be reached. These kinds of chips are usually soldered using reflow soldering. In reflow process solder paste is used instead of solder wire. It contains very small balls of solder in flux, diameter of the balls is just few micrometers. First this paste is put on the contact pads, then components are placed on the pads and whole board is heated in reflow oven where solder balls in the paste melt and attaches the components firmly in place.
Toaster oven reflow controller - [Link]