I'll be interested to see what you go for and how well it works. When I was looking I found there was hardly anything available in the UK. I ended up going for something 9L and very cheap from Robert Dyas.
I was in my local Robert Dyas a few days ago, specifically to look at mini ovens, but they only had two models and one of them had hobs on top (I don't want this). You're right that the options available in the UK are quite limited, but I've looked in France
as well, where you can find many models not available here - often with surprisingly low shipping costs (e.g. I can get the Steba KB 14 from France
for £75 including shipping, while it's £90 on Amazon UK
Don't forget the Severin series, e.g. TO 2034: https://www.beta-estore.com/rkuk/order_product_details.html?wg=1&p=16
I did look at Severin after seeing the EEVblog videos about the reflow kit from Beta Layout, which is based on the Severin TO 2034. This oven doesn't have a fan though, and it's a little big (20L), and it has a painted exterior with a lot of plastic. In my mind an Arduino controlled oven can be useful for many things - not only
reflowing PCBs - some of which may require much higher temperatures than it was designed for. For this reason I'd prefer an oven that has a stainless exterior with few plastic parts, and a plain aluminium or steel interior that isn't coated (or has a ceramic coating). It may be an ambitious goal but it is my plan to buy preciesly one
device to serve as "that box I can put stuff into to heat it up real good". For this reason I am now leaning towards the Dualit or Lakeland ovens (see below).
I bought one from Currys a while back. At the time it was the cheapest one they did (£24.99) and was branded as LOGIK (their own brand). It looks exactly like the Abode one you listed except the middle knob doesn't have the fan selection as mine doesn't have a fan.
Yeah, I've seen that one, and it is indeed very similar! As with so many things these days, doing product research is greatly complicated by the fact that no-one makes anything any more; the label on the product bears no relation to where and by whom it was made. There's probably an entire city in China somewhere which only does mini ovens, with whole families spending their entire lives inside in a giant factory/labour camp churning out flimsy junk that is then stamped with Brand X for consumption by gullible westerners. Bosch, Black & Decker, Severin, Steba, Dualit, Breville - they are only brands today and the actual manufacturer is probably the same anonymous state-owned sweatshop.
It doesn't seem to have any problems following the profile for lead free solder I programmed into it apart from the cooldown phase where I have to open the door.
When I get round to replacing the controls on my oven I'll look at including a mechanism that can open the door programatically - I reckon a linear actuator (not a solenoid!) like this one
should be able to push open the top of the door wide enough for cool-down without disturbing the soldered board(s).
A lot of this depends on how much heating is actually being done by infrared. The fan helps with convection, but not direct infrared. You will find by experimentation which way to place your boards in the oven to avoid the larger components "shadowing out the infrared heat" from the smaller components.
That makes perfect sense, good point! I guess this explains why it's so hard to find a convection oven with quartz elemets, which (I think) produce more radiated heat than the metal type elements?
Depends on the type of fan. I've not taken apart a convection oven but small fans tend to be shaded-pole motors, which can't be speed-controlled like this. You'd probably be better off controlling it by blocking part of the airflow.
To be honest I'm not that worried about the fan; I know I would prefer an oven that has one, but should it turn out to cause problems I can probably modify it somehow to fix this - or in worst case not use it at all during the reflow phase. A fan will be useful during the other stages, as well as for many other things (e.g. for drying silica gel pouches, which I have and use tons
Thanks everyone for your interesting and helpful replies - I am now leaning towards the Lakeland Mini Oven, for the following reasons:
- Stainless steel exterior (well, mostly)
- Aluminium coated steel interior
- Fan assisted with two wide fan openings top and bottom (from photos)
- Large enough for laptop MBs (based on exterior dimensions - I don't know the internal dimensions)
- Internal light (though this could be retrofitted, having one already is nice)
- Flat-ish front panel for easy modding
- Replacing the controller would yield 2x rotary encoders and other nice bits
- Substantial looking externally removable drip tray (for failed experiments!)
- At £65 delivered it's close enough to my target price of £50
What do you guys think? Would you choose a different model - and if so, why?