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I tested the Fotek using a light load — literally — it was a desk lamp and it did what it was supposed to do, no problems there.Reports on the internet from users of the Fotek range from ‘it caught fire’ to ‘I’ve been using it for years with no problem’.In this section I’ll go over the main component parts and how I selected them.A solid state relay (SSR) is designed to allow you to switch mains voltages on and off using low voltage DC control, i.e. They do this by using an optocoupler to internally isolate the two sides from each other.The MAX31855 extends the capabilities by being able to read below zero but it adds the limitation that the thermocouple must not be grounded.The MAX6675 can be grounded and in fact it must be grounded if you want to take advantage of its ability to sense an open (disconnected) state.
They were so cheap that I thought I’d get one just to see what they were like.
The pick-and-place machine will be replaced by my right arm and a pair of tweezers. Stencils and solder paste are both available to the hobbyist but the cost of the stencils are relatively high if you’re going to be making only a few boards and the solder paste needs refrigerated storage and only has a short shelf life. Small ovens in various forms are available on ebay, amazon and they might even sell them in real shops made out of real bricks and staffed by real people.
I’ll replace this part with a simple tinning of my boards using a soldering iron. The fun part of the question is how do we make our oven follow a pre-programmed temperature profile instead of just powering up to a target temperature and staying there until the dinger goes ding and your chicken is roasted.
Of course we’re going to use a microcontroller to do it and that’s what the bulk of this article is about. I’m not the first to build an MCU-based reflow oven controller and I’m probably not going to be the last. The commercially available controllers didn’t look particularly inspiring to me so a self-build was going to be the way to go.
A quick google around throws up the following results, and these are just the guys that have put virtual pen to paper and taken the time to publish their work. I could either follow someone else’s schematic or come up with my own.