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Upgrading a T962a Reflow oven (old)

This post is the old version of the T962a Reflow oven upgrade documentation. A more up to date version of this post with additional information and pictures can be found in the 1BitSquared forum. The following text is being left here for historical reference. 😀


Many people ask on a regular basis what Reflow oven I am using. To answer that question I use two fully upgraded/modified T962a reflow ovens. You can get them from ebay for around $300 give or take. I heard some people had some success using toaster ovens with modifications for reflow but I personally do not trust that solution enough from not only the safety standpoint but also from the ability to follow a reflow temperature curve in a repetitive manner that I can trust. That also means you will need the T962a and not the less powerful T962, you will need the power to be able to reliably follow a reasonable reflow temperature curve.

That said the T962a is completely useless when you get it and you need to make a few modifications to it. If you do not make those modifications you will create a safety and health hazard. Also you will likely burn up your pcb’s or evaporate the flux from your solder paste before it reflows creating cold solder joints.

The closest thing that I could find that could be an out of the box working replacement is about 10x more expensive than the T962a including the modifications.

This are the supplies you will need:

And these are the following steps you need to perform to modify your oven.

  • Open the oven
  • Remove all the masking tape and replace it with Kapton tape (pay attention to the masking tape that is hiding under the insulation in the front of the oven attached to the “ruler” shaped cover above the oven’s drawer, you need to replace that too)
  • Make sure that the whole case of the oven is connected to the earth ground of your power connector using the multi-meter. You might need to scrape off some paint under the back panel screws to create a connection between the earth and the bottom half of the oven.
  • Re-flash the controller board with the Unifiedengineering firmware:
  • Build the Thermocouple interface board and mount it in the oven: (you can use the oven without the TC interface to reflow the TC interface, but it might be better if you have some other place you can reflow the board in, but it should work for that one time :D)
  • Replace the small cooling fan for the controller electronics with the new “silent” fan.

If you have all the supplies that modification should take no longer than one afternoon and it is really worth it!

Notes about usage:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 40C before use.
  • Put down scrap PCB material under the board you are reflowing so that it is not sitting directly on the metal tray. If you don’t do that the tray will suck out valuable heat out of your PCB and cause problems.
  • Use only the center 1/3rd of the oven tray. The outer area of the reflow tray will not have the same temperature as the center and you will have consistency issues around the edges of your PCB’s. This is a good reason to design your boards as small as you can so that you can squeeze a bunch of them into the center of the oven. ;D

Hope this helps.


Watching Grass Grow

If you are also in the same situation as myself and feel all tensed because of an exam … perhaps watching grass grow will calm down your nerves a bit.

Over some corners and edges of the internet I came to this “Watching Grass Grow” website.

(yes I know this post is the most useless till now but I had to share that with you)

Buying a camera

Ok I am so far! I am buying a camera.

I spent many hours surfing the net reading reviews and comparisons. That was a hard work that showed me what camera I want. Finally I found that there are three cameras that come in closer selection:

Canon EOS (Digital Rebel) 300D
Canon EOS (Digital Rebel) 350D
Nikon D50
Most probably the camera I will buy is the Nikon because of the price. Nikon costs about 450Eur the canon 300D about 500Eur and Canon 350D about 700Eur.

I really want a SLR camera because something small that I can have always with me I already have namely my Trust 910Z.

Now I have to raise money from somewhere. Magic would be nice here 😉