REFLO Air (PCB reflow machine)

Cost of hardware assembly/rework continues to come down:

At a previous employer, we had a BETA Layout controller with a toaster oven. It worked great!

But when you reflow, depending on what kinds of solder and paste you use, it can make quite a stink. Having a decent source of fresh air or a high quality filter system is a must if you’re doing anything more than a few single small components at once.

That is a neat option – thanks for posting!

I’m still hand soldering stuff here, but hoping to use SEEED or Macrofab on next board order for assembly and see how that goes. Ordering/tracking parts takes quite a bit of time, so if someone else can do all that, seems like a good deal.

That reflow oven controller and the toaster oven is what allowed us to iterate on hardware like software, turning out a new design every 1-1.5 weeks. Handing off manufacturing of prototypes to a 3rd party, especially a “cloud-like” one, is attractive from some aspects but it will be slower (or amazingly expensive).

yeah, the “slow” aspect seems to be a reality – most times you really can’t afford 3 or more weeks to get boards built – especially if they are simple enough to assemble yourself.

In the mid 90’s, when I was a Co-op engineering student at Telxon, we built a lot of prototype boards by hand – soldered one part at a time. Some of the boards were large enough that they took several days to build. So glad to see toaster oven type methods – that seems like a huge improvement for proto builds.