Author Topic: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller  (Read 9835 times)

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Offline Kohanbash

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Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« on: April 13, 2014, 12:04:48 pm »
Hi all
This has been around for a few weeks and I have not seen any mention of it yet in the forum.

So just a mention in case people have not heard: A reflow toaster oven controller on Kickstarter
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/reflowster/reflowster-soldering-controller-for-surface-mount

(Disclaimer: I do not know anything about the project or the people doing it other then what is on the Kickstarter page.)
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Offline CanadianAvenger

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2014, 01:11:03 pm »
My concern with this one is that they list passing FCC [emissions] as one of their key risks, and there is no mention of UL [safety]. UL will have a much bigger impact on their design than FCC IMHO.
 

Offline 8086

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2014, 01:37:24 pm »
And CE certification, for backers in Europe.

Unless UL covers this, which I don't think it does.
 

Offline CanadianAvenger

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2014, 02:06:30 pm »
They're not making an international version, so CE is not really applicable at this point. Their design would need to be greatly modified to work with 220. But they are gauging interest, so it will apply if they do. 
 

Offline Kean

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2014, 02:12:01 pm »
As you state, FCC approval is related to emissions - and you must comply to sell a product.  If you cause interference, you could get a hefty fine unless you can prove your product wasn't being used as intended.  CE approval is effectively the same as FCC for Europe, but includes requirements for immunity (conducted, radiated, and ESD).  I don't think it includes safety.

UL/TUV/etc testing is safety related, and actually handled by non-government (although regulated by OSHA in the USA).  It is not required to sell a product - but will be for you to get insurance, and not having it could have a big impact to your business if there are cases of people getting injured/killed by your product.  Safety (& immunity) is obviously a big deal for many modern products like motor vehicles, with complex engine control systems, etc.

I'm happy to be corrected on the above, as I don't normally get involved in safety - most of my designs are under 15W (battery or plug-pack), or they are one-off industrial control systems checked over by an EE where necessary.

I think it is safe (ha ha) to say that these guys won't bother getting UL.  This isn't a consumer product, will be sold in pretty small volume, and would not be left alone while in operation.  Although they offer international shipping, they've said it will come with US mains connectors - not sure what they're doing about the differences in voltage.  I would expect them to be pretty careful with regards to electrical safety though - and in the updates they do talk about relay lifetime, not their not complete amateurs.

Out of interest, has anyone found a toaster oven to actually be useful for reflow?  Or even one of those cheap ebay "reflow ovens"?  Every time I've done it, I've ended up with plastic parts (connectors) that are burnt, and other parts that haven't properly reflowed.  I'm quite happily using an old electric frypan, and get really good results.  When a project has components of both sides of a board, that requires me to hand solder (iron or hot air) the parts on the second (usually less populated) side.  Again I am very careful with hot-air around plastic parts.
 

Offline 8086

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2014, 02:47:12 pm »
Out of interest, has anyone found a toaster oven to actually be useful for reflow? 

Yep, works just fine.
 

Offline mazurov

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2014, 04:43:29 pm »
Out of interest, has anyone found a toaster oven to actually be useful for reflow?

Oh yeah, $30 Target-variety. Reflowed the board the other day with lots of various parts on it - from 0402 caps to 6.5 gram 60A inductors, using SAC305 paste. Auber Insruments makes inexpensive PID controllers supporting ramp/soak that work well for reflow - mine's equipped with one of theirs.

Depends on your definition of "useful" though.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2014, 04:52:41 pm »
  CE approval is effectively the same as FCC for Europe, but includes requirements for immunity (conducted, radiated, and ESD).  I don't think it includes safety.
There is no such thing as CE approval.
A CE mark indicates a product meets all applicable requirements, which can cover all sorts of things depending on the nature of the product, from EMC to electrical & mechanical safety to umpteen others

Quote
Out of interest, has anyone found a toaster oven to actually be useful for reflow?
..err pretty much everybody.

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Offline Dielectric

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2014, 04:58:16 pm »
t is safe (ha ha) to say that these guys won't bother getting UL.  This isn't a consumer product, will be sold in pretty small volume, and would not be left alone while in operation.  Although they offer international shipping, they've said it will come with US mains connectors - not sure what they're doing about the differences in voltage.  I would expect them to be pretty careful with regards to electrical safety though - and in the updates they do talk about relay lifetime, not their not complete amateurs.

I'd be leery of using one at home, let alone speccing one for work, if it weren't UL listed (and assuming the marks aren't faked).  If I burn down part of my house with it, the fire inspector finds a non-listed device and my policy is void.  Same with my lab at work, I wouldn't even think of ordering one without certifications.  I'm OK accepting risk on little stuff, but NOT on something that is designed to get very hot and is mains powered.
 

Offline CanadianAvenger

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2014, 05:10:47 pm »
Well on the safety side there is still the circuits built into the oven itself, as it uses an unmodified oven, the TCO's there will still be in place, so there should be little risk of it burning anything down. There could be a shock/arcing/fire risk inside the controller itself, depending on how well clearances are observed.
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2014, 11:42:33 pm »
Well, If it was me, I would create one that really is a sous-vide controller for a crock pot, for the toaster oven, make it so it can do perfect bake potatoes, perfect toasts, roasted garlic, etc.. Then you won't have any problems convincing the wife to purchase it and you get to use it for your reflow work :)
 

Offline mjkuwp

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2014, 01:31:33 am »
curious why they would bother trying to pass FCC for this.  I am curious if they would legally be allowed to sell this without getting any certifications. 

I use a $40 (from Amazon, Walmart, etc.) Convection toaster oven with a controller that I built.  It works really well.  I use the mechanical timer that came with the oven in series with my controller.  The timer would have to fail in addition to my controller and personally me myself and I would have to 'fail' for this to even have a chance at a fire.

I don't think you have to be worried about burning down a house.

no,  I wouldn't' bring one to the office.
 

Offline LukeW

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2014, 02:28:29 am »
My concern with this one is that they list passing FCC [emissions] as one of their key risks, and there is no mention of UL [safety]. UL will have a much bigger impact on their design than FCC IMHO.

At least they sort of have a basic awareness of things like FCC, and if they get backed they'll probably do their homework and discover things like UL. If we just assume they don't know the terminology yet, and when they say FCC just imagine they mean UL/FCC/other standards and safety organisations and certifications in general, it's good that at least they're basically thinking about it.

At least they haven't just completely glossed over the risks and challenges like many Kickstarter technology projects do and go yeah, nah, there are no real risks here, they are trying to be realistic about risks which is good.
 

Offline pickle9000

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2014, 02:42:46 am »
I often thought that with stuff like this it would be better if there was an inexpensive product to separate the user from the mains. Relay/ssr in a box fused with a plug and socket properly made and rated. Not sure how you'd connect, optical, rf?

Of course there is no accounting for stupidity and it would be abused 20 seconds after it hit the market.
 

Offline theatrus

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2014, 03:05:51 am »

curious why they would bother trying to pass FCC for this.  I am curious if they would legally be allowed to sell this without getting any certifications. 


If they have an oscillator over 6kHz then FCC is mandatory. Nothing else for consumer products technically is.

(To this point I have mains connected products from US brands with just a self declared CE mark based from EMC testing, no CSA/TUV/UL other similar)

Entering the commercial environment OSHA regulations kick in which is a different ball game.
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Offline admin@reflowster.com

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #15 on: April 14, 2014, 12:02:16 pm »
TLDR: FCC is mandatory, UL is expensive, but we're taking care to test Reflowster for safety.

Hi guys,

We have done a significant amount of research into the product certification both before and during the Kickstarter launch and we’ve come to a few discoveries and conclusions based on that research.

As Kean mentioned above, in the US, FCC is the only required certification. Although many projects on Kickstarter get around this by selling a kit or a part-of-a-whole sort of product, we preferred to deliver a finished product which was subject to this regulation.

We’re estimating a cost of about $2000 for the FCC testing and certification based on a preliminary quote we received from a company that does the certification locally. The expected time for FCC certification is about 2 weeks, assuming that our design passes the first time (which it should as we are using nothing emitting).

Kean also spoke about UL and as he said, this certification is not mandatory. We did investigate getting Reflowster UL certified/listed, but unfortunately found the costs to be prohibitively expensive. The numbers are all over the place, but it sounds like it would be at least a few thousand up to around $15,000 in order to get Reflowster UL certified/listed. Unfortunately a price tag like that is not one that we can fit into our Kickstarter budget.

That said, we’ve been extremely conscious about the electrical safety of Reflowster. Between the two of us working on Reflowster, we have a decent amount of experience and have been being careful to keep the design up to standards. In addition, we will be doing an informal “self-certification” of sorts where we will be stress testing and abusing a Reflowster to see how it holds up. Even lacking the official certification, we are committed to releasing a product that is safe to use and, in particular, safe to leave plugged into the wall for extended periods of time and operate without supervision. (though we don’t recommend leaving toaster oven completely unsupervised, despite the time-based safety shutoff mechanism that Reflowster will ship with)

Thank you guys for your interest and support!
- Team Reflowster
 

Online mark03

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2014, 04:03:41 pm »
The principal means of heat transfer in all of these modified toaster ovens is infrared, so uneven heating is probably a given, just based on the varying absorbance of components on the PCB.  I am not sure how much this can be mitigated with air circulation.  I *do* know that if you block the direct IR and just circulate the air really well, 1500W is nowhere near enough power, because I tried it.  For pure convection mode in a similarly sized oven, you need double or triple that power, which rules out most toasters.
 

Offline miguelvp

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2014, 01:33:00 am »
The problem with many of these ovens, as Dave's recent video demonstrated, is uneven heating. Can anyone recommend a specific model of oven that is known to work well?

Dave's problem was that he had the board directly on the oven grill, so the parts touching the metal wouldn't heat up. But he remedied that later on.
 

Offline Richard Crowley

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2014, 01:58:23 am »
Kean also spoke about UL and as he said, this certification is not mandatory. We did investigate getting Reflowster UL certified/listed, but unfortunately found the costs to be prohibitively expensive. The numbers are all over the place, but it sounds like it would be at least a few thousand up to around $15,000 in order to get Reflowster UL certified/listed. Unfortunately a price tag like that is not one that we can fit into our Kickstarter budget.
It seems to me that using a 3rd party device like PowerSwitchTail circumvents the whole issue with mains power, wiring, approvals, etc. etc.

http://www.powerswitchtail.com/
 

Offline mjkuwp

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Re: Reflowster - Kickstarter SMD reflow toaster oven controller
« Reply #19 on: April 18, 2014, 03:57:11 am »

It seems to me that using a 3rd party device like PowerSwitchTail circumvents the whole issue with mains power, wiring, approvals, etc. etc.

http://www.powerswitchtail.com/

yes, that does look good.  It says 15A but for the very short oven cycles and with you directly in control of the oven while it is running I think it could have higher capacity, just in that short time period.

For my convection oven I disassembled the heater elements and shortened the heating coil wire.  this boosted the power up.

The price of that powertail is reasonable so one could even use two of these and wire up for separate top and bottom control.

I have not had problems with uneven heating that I know of but I only do one board at a time and I use leaded solder.
 


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