Aoyue 853A board pre-heater?

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I'm working on some boards that have a 0.5mm pitch mezzanine connector and I just can't seem to get the kind of result I need. The connector consistently is getting solder bridges back under the plastic. So I'm thinking the only way to defeat this is to increase my technique to using reflow. I have a hot air pencil, and it is almost working well but I need a lot more heat which means the tool is a lot closer and means the chances of spraying solder under the connector increases. What I'm thinking is that I need a board heater to reduce the amount of heat needed from the upper side so I'm looking at adding the Aoyue 853A preheater and wondering if anyone had comments on it.

Last Edited: Sun. Aug 29, 2010 - 12:30 AM
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I have used a similar tool from Weller, the WHP200. It worked fairly well for the purpose. Certainly made using hot air way easier. I have not used that specific tool, however.

What is the specific type/model of connector you are using?

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They are two Hirose DF12 40p connectors but I'm not sure it will make it through the next revision. The legs are completely open on the bottom of the connector so you need to make a keepout on the circuit board or vias could cause a short. The limited success I've had so far was after taking an enamel top coat pen and coating the areas that don't actually touch the pads. If I can get a system working, I'll leave them in the design since it is already finished, but if I wreck another board they are gone for something else. The tough part is finding another connector set that will get me about 5mm between the boards and stay small enough to fit with the rest. I think about 4.5mm is the absolute minimum spacing I can use but I'll know more when I get more connectors and finish a pair of boards so I can measure what my real minimum needs to be. Wrecked one board pulling a failure off, almost wrecked its mate doing the same and didn't order enough connectors to continue so I have to wait until new ones arrive. Switched to tinning the boards with a low temp lead solder to try and keep the hot air farther away, but it is still in the tricky range so I think I need the extra heat from the bottom. I may also be able to turn the heat up enough to make it work like a hot plate device and just heat from the bottom, I'll give that a try too.

Pretty sure I will order one of these devices and give it a try, mostly just looking for known problems that would have me wasting money.

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OK - a couple suggestions.

First off - for removal - use chip quik. It'll make removal easy.

Second - for soldering these things - I believe this can be done by hand with a normal iron.

I understand that the pins are not entirely accessible - and that sucks - but it's still doable. Lots of flux (I like Kester tacky flux from Digi-Key) should be able to handle it. I've had to solder very similar connectors (Samtec BSH) and this worked for me.

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I have a bottle of flux on the way because I thought it might be part of the problem. I had a .4mm solder tip, but the plating was messed up and it gets dirty in one or two joints, going up to the next size is too big unless maybe a bunch of flux will allow me to drag solder, never tried it before so not sure if I can make it work.

I've used low temp solder to work like chip quik and it does help and was way cheaper to buy a pound of low temp solder, plus I can use it for other things.

I did order the preheater so maybe between all the stuff I can get something to work. Hand soldering will be a lot easier if the iron doesn't need to supply all the heat, so even making the board 100 degrees C will help, though not real comfortable to work over for extended periods.

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Edited the first post because I found out that there is an old 853 which is a hot air type and the newer 853A which is a quartz heater IR type with a larger hot area.

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I have no experience with that particular Aoyue product, but I have run into Aoyue tools from time to time (soldering stations and hot air stations). They are more at the low end of stuff. You get your money's worth. Not a ripoff.

One interesting thing with Aoyue is, you get something you don't get often from low-end Chinese manufacturers. You get spare parts.

What I have seen from Aoyue was surely ok for hobby work, and their hot air stations seem to be popular among hobbyists. But I would think twice having their stuff in a shop where it has to run for hours on end.

Stealing Proteus doesn't make you an engineer.

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Thankfully I won't be running it for hours on end. If I was I would probably be looking at a more fully featured device or a nice oven. My next choice up the list was a Xytronics IR610 but it is more than I really want to spend on something like this. It's not like a soldering iron that will be used very often so the money became a factor. Considering it's basically a quartz heater I should be good unless it is built out of junk components.

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Have you considered the cheap coffee cup warmer? Those can get up to 100degC. If you need a larger board size, what about a hotplate or a skillet set to "low".

Forget precision temperature control though.

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Didn't think of a cup warmer, might be able to drive one of those up a bit higher. I'll have to look around and see if I can find one cheap in a local store and see how hot I can make it go before it pops. Kind of late for me since I ordered the 835A, but might be good for the next person.

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The top of a toaster oven might be ok too.

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One of the problems is that I need to keep this in the college where I work, so it needs to look like a real tool. The fire inspector would freak if he saw a toaster oven sitting on the bench, especially if it had been modded. Something small like the cup heater I can lock in my tool box and no one will know it is around unless I show them or are using it when the inspections are happening (stuff does go into hiding when it is inspection time).

So even though this open heater is more dangerous than a toaster oven, it looks better because it looks like it was made to do a job.

All that said I do intend to see about the cup heater, it might make some of the jobs with the soldering iron a little easier just from the little bit of extra heat it supplies, especially with big power planes and the heat they will sink.

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toaster oven in a college environment is totally legitimate, how else are you going to heat up your hot pockets.

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Hot pockets? When did ramen instant noodles went out of fashion?

Stealing Proteus doesn't make you an engineer.

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Stuff like that is not tolerated where I work, they constantly give us crap about the office microwave oven and the refrigerator. The inspectors like to make up rules and enforce them.

I took a look at some of the coffee warmers and they are only around 25 watts and probably only go to about 150 degrees F, it would help for some things but not really worth the trouble since I have that other heater on the way.

The hot plates may get tried if this heater doesn't do what I need, but it says it will go above 300 degrees C which should be fine for melting solder paste and will certainly get it hot enough that a little hot air from the top will do the job.

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And to hedge my bets I just bought a laboratory grade small hot plate used to heat glassware up to about 3 inches in diameter. Specs say it should go up to a little more than 700 degrees F which should melt solder paste without to many problems.

Being that it looks like a piece of equipment that they can find in the biology or chemistry departments it shouldn't get too many looks, and is small enough to hide in my tool box. Has either an aluminum or stainless plate (can't remember).

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It's here... Build quality is well... It's built and I guess I shouldn't expect too much more than that for the price paid. The board holder thing is pure junk, definitely going to have to do something there. The temperatures are not really real. The box says up to 470 degrees C, the knob on the front goes to a setting of 350 C, and the board seems to get decently warm after a couple minutes. It does not look like it will ever get the board hot enough to flow solder but I need to do some longer tests to see what happen if I leave it on for 5 or 10 minutes. It is hard to say that it is defective because it really does do what it says, and that is to heat the board to allow for quicker and better hot air or IR heating of the top for component replacement. It looks like it will do the job and do it for a decently long time. I think I may need a bigger hot air tool than the little pencil that I currently have.

I'll give more details after I spend more time using it, need to pull a PIC 18F8723 tomorrow and put it back down to hopefully fix some issues.

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I thought you might be interested that at my recommendation my employer recently purchased a Weller WHP3000. It has proven to be quite useful for hot air rework. Of course, it is a tad spendy (just a bit under $1K). But it works great and is a solid device.