What do you think of this Hot Air Station?

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As the thread title says... what do my fellow Freaks think of the following Hot Air Station?

http://www.jameco.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_10001_10001_2144577_-1

 

It seems to have a nice temperature range of 100° C to 480° C, adjustable air flow, a set of tweezer hand tools, and even a replacement heating element.

 

I've got a board I'm currently designing with all surface mount ICs and I'm a little worried my cheap-o electric skillet won't cut it. Last board I used it on, it would get some of the components to reflow but the majority just couldn't quite get there. I've been wanting to get a Hot Air rework station for awhile and I see this one seems to have some good options and is at my price range (max. $300).

 

I was thinking I would use this in tandem with the skillet. Use the skillet to get the components "close" to reflow and then just go over the board with the Hot Air station to get everything.

 

What do you guys think?

 

[Edit] Changed "I'm working on" to "currently designing"

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Last Edited: Mon. Jun 27, 2016 - 05:25 PM
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looks cool

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The rework station is mainly for repair. For your intended purpose, a convection oven is a much better idea. Partial home brew kits are available.(you supply the toaster/convection oven) Maybe Torby will join in with some pointers about how to get consistent results with the fry pan method.

 

I was thinking I would use this in tandem with the skillet. Use the skillet to get the components "close" to reflow and then just go over the board with the Hot Air station to get everything

Use a cheap heat gun with an airflow restrictor on a test board.

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My first one was almost that expensive, but now is less then $50 US.  I find them on ebay.

 

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I'm not a member of the 1%.   I use something similar to this one, and it does the job for me.  It took a while to figure it out.  Now I use the air flow set at minimum and the heat around half way.  I use the next to smallest nozzle. 

 

http://www.sra-solder.com/aoyue-850a-smd-hot-air-rework-station

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RickB wrote:
For your intended purpose, a convection oven is a much better idea.

Honestly I'm not so sure I feel very comfortable modifying a toaster oven. I've seen a lot of good videos on reflow using hot air and it seems to be a pretty popular and consistent method.

 

ki0bk wrote:

My first one was almost that expensive, but now is less then $50 US.  I find them on ebay.

I would like to get a new station rather but I'll take a look at what eBay has to offer. Maybe I can find a new one for cheaper.

 

steve17 wrote:
It took a while to figure it out. Now I use the air flow set at minimum and the heat around half way. I use the next to smallest nozzle.

Thanks for the tips. That Aoyue seems pretty close to the Xytronic I posted but with a much lower price. Perhaps I should browse around more for the digital version of it (if it exists).

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This seems to be the cheapest digital at this store.   I'm sticking with my analog.

http://www.sra-solder.com/aoyue-852a-smd-digital-hot-air-rework-station-with-vacuum-pickup

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I purchased one from eBay for under $70.00 and it seems to do just fine. Has a small SMD iron for touch ups and a pretty powerful hot air blower. It is a little tough to find the nozzles and tips but for the price the Google search was worth it.

Keep in mind when you make your final decision is how much work are you going to do to justify the price? For me spending several hundred dollars for something I will maybe use once every two months did not make sense. If you plan on doing a lot of this type of work then that's another story. In the thread I had going on this I found one on eBay with a board pre heater that Kartman though was quite the deal.

In the end I purchased the one I have and I tried it out and it does what I expected, so I spent wisely.

Just my tiny opinion.

Jim

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steve17 wrote:
This seems to be the cheapest digital at this store. I'm sticking with my analog.

I really like that. It has a vacuum tool which the one I found doesn't seem to have. Would be helpful! Price is still much better too!

 

jgmdesign wrote:
For me spending several hundred dollars for something I will maybe use once every two months did not make sense.

That is a completely valid point. I only really build a few boards every few months as it gets a little expensive over time.

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That was the price of a new unit!

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My frypan's thermostat turns it off just before the solder starts to reflow, so I opened it  up and added a wire so it's always on. Now, I put the board on the cold, unplugged frypan, plug it in and watch as the temperature rises. When all the solder paste has turned bright silver and slurped itself up to the pins, I unplug the frypan and let it sit until it's cool. People have said, "Oh my gosh! The fumes from the burning fr4!" Well, you don't leave it plugged in till the board ignites, just till the solder reflows. The cold to hot to cold cycle only takes a few minutes.

 

I've had a little trouble with really big components not reflowing. They're often easier with a soldering iron anyhow. Once in a while, if the board isn't flat, there will be a spot that doesn't reflow. I just press it down with a toothpick or something and it will go immediately. Beware of air conditioners. Had a header that wouldn't reflow until I noticed the air conditioner was blowing on it. I blocked the air with my hand and it worked.

 

Avoid the urge to move a part while it's heating. If you didn't get it to align properly when it was cold, do you think you'll get it aligned better when its 2 or 3 hundred degrees F? (Sorry, I use ridiculous measurement scales.)

 

Don't use it to cook breakfast.

The largest known prime number: 282589933-1

Without adult supervision.

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Just wanted to pop in and make an update. I haven't ordered a hot air station yet but I really like the one steve linked above, so it may get ordered this weekend. We'll see what I find on eBay that I like (haven't yet had the opportunity to check).

 

Torby wrote:
My frypan's thermostat turns it off just before the solder starts to reflow, so I opened it up and added a wire so it's always on

Hmm, maybe I will open mine up at the least and check it out. I still feel a little uneasy about modifying something that's plugged into 110 volts AC with high current potential (higher than what I'm used to at least!).

Any advice on how to ensure I do this safely? I've never taken any formal electronics training or electricity safety classes.

 

Torby wrote:
Had a header that wouldn't reflow until I noticed the air conditioner was blowing on it. I blocked the air with my hand and it worked.

I usually leave a very small fan blowing towards my work area when I'm reflowing because I'm usually doing some hand soldering afterwards and the flux fumes just don't go anywhere in my apartment without that fan. Maybe I'd have better luck turning it off while I'm reflowing. But like you said too, the main thing is that it shutdowns when it reaches it's maximum temperature (in the case of my electrical skillet, I think it's 450° F).

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Mine no longer shuts itself down. I do that. It just keeps getting hotter till the solder reflows and I unplug it.

 

Nothing hard about the mod. Unplug it first. Mine has a big thermostat dial thing with the cord sticking out of it. You just pull it out of the frypan, take out 3 screws and the works are right there. You'll likely see a bimetallic strip with some contacts that open when it heats up. The dial moves the strip. I just added a wire so it never opens up, then put the cover on and screwed it back together. My frypan is labeled "NOT FOR FOOD" in big letters, but perhaps I should label the thermostat plug too.

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Thanks, Torby! What you described sounds exactly like what I have so I will take it apart probably tonight and see what's inside.

My digital portfolio: www.jamisonjerving.com

My game company: www.polygonbyte.com