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Reflowduino - Wireless Reflow Controller Ecosystem

The Reflowduino project is a complete ecosystem of open-source hardware designed specifically for DIY reflow control!

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The Reflowduino project is a do-it-yourself (DIY) reflow ecosystem consisting of open-source hardware specifically built for wirelessly controlling your own reflow oven while maintaining full flexibility in programming, and offering a bunch of features, all with great documentation!

Introduction

First off, let's briefly explain a circuit board is assembled. To aid in the explanation, let's take the analogy of baking a pizza. First of all you'll need the crust, which for us is a bare printed circuit board (PCB) made with different layers of a plastic substrate and copper traces that make the electrical connections. Next, we'll need the cheese that holds everything together, which for us is solder paste (yes, solder in the form of a paste) which "reflows" (solidifies or cures) at a high temperature. The solder paste is applied to the exposed copper pads on the PCB by way of a stencil that is aligned over the PCB. Then we'll grab some toppings, the electrical components, and place them in their appropriate locations on top of the solder paste. The final step is to bake our "pizza" so that the "cheese" holds all the components in place to yield our final assembled board! This is where the Reflowduino project comes in...

Overview

The Reflowduino project is an entire do-it-yourself (DIY) reflow ecosystem consisting of open-source hardware specifically built to make it easy to control reflow appliances and apply PID temperature control while maintaining full flexibility in programming and usage while offering a bunch of features.

The Problem

Do-it-yourself PCB designers are having to painstakingly solder surface-mounted components by hand which not only takes good eyes, stable hands, and a ton of patience, but is also really inefficient and never produces results quite as good as production-quality boards. Moreover, although there are small reflow ovens commercially available, their price tags are a bit stiff and they usually ship with proprietary software that can't be modified easily.

Fortunately with the Reflowduino ecosystem designers can build their own reflow oven setup for a fraction of the price of commercially-available reflow ovens and with the flexibility to change the code, add as many features as needed to make it as simple or as fancy as desired, and learn throughout the process! Since I'm a firm believer of great online resources having learned everything on my own aside from my Mechanical Engineering degree, I'm sharing all of this as completely open-source for everyone to enjoy, including EAGLE PCB files, Arduino IDE example code, sample Android app for Bluetooth control, and full tutorials on how to modify a toaster oven to start cookin’!

You can find all design files, example code, demo app, and wiki on the Reflowduino Github page!

That being said, I do offer the boards listed below for sale on my website and on Tindie. Each order helps me out a little bit in creating and sharing new projects with everyone! :)

The Reflowduino ecosystem includes multiple pieces of hardware which I'll describe below. Although best suited for PCB reflow applications, each one can be used not only for reflow purposes but also as standalone learning tools or for other applications!

Reflowduino Basic

The classic Reflowduino board is an all-in-one Arduino-compatible controller board that can easily transform a toaster oven into a reliable reflow oven! It sports a versatile ATmega32u4 microprocessor with micro USB programming interface, an integrated MAX31855 K-type thermocouple interface with noise filtering, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE 4.0) for easy pairing with a mobile device, LiPo battery charging and status indication, and buzzer for playing your favorite melodies.

Reflowduino Pro

Although it is more or less retired due to a lack of user demand, there's another version, the Reflowduino Pro board which is just the Reflowduino Basic but with an added solid-state relay on-board:

Here's a video showing the Reflowduino Pro in action:

Note that the Reflowduino Basic is the same except it doesn't have the solid-state relay on it so an external relay module like the Sidekick would have to be used to...

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  • 1 × Reflowduino The Reflowduino Pro comes with a solid-state relay already mounted and ready to go. The Reflowduino Basic doesn't have the relay so you would have to select your own relay or use the Solid-State Sidekick as the most simple method! You can also use the Reflowduino32 along with an ESP32 dev board instead of the Reflowduino.
  • 1 × Toaster Oven OR Hot Plate I personally used a cheap $20 toaster oven from Walmart, and it worked great! You could also use a hot plate, but please note that these may not be as good as toaster ovens for reflow, at least without doing some testing and software tweaks first!
  • 1 × Solid-State Sidekick Relay Module The Solid-State Sidekick is a single solid-state relay module that allows you to simply plug in the appliance you need to control as well as the two relay control wires from the Reflowduino via a screw terminal, and you're all set! This is by far the easiest and safest method.
  • 1 × "DOIT" ESP32 Dev Board You can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Docreate-Development-Bluetooth-Ultra-Low-Consumption/dp/B0754DT83W/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1521924528&sr=8-3&keywords=esp32
  • 1 × Reflowduino32 Add-On Module The Reflowduino32 plugs into the ESP32 dev board and gives it thermocouple and relay interface via two screw terminals for easy connection.

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  • 1
    Assembling Reflowduino

    To build your own Reflowduino or Sidekick board, follow the instructions below. Note: it's assumed that you know the basic procedures to orderings parts for and assembling a PCB from scratch.

    • Open the EAGLE files, generate the Gerber files suitable for your PCB vendor, and order the boards! (OSH Park is a great place to do this!)
    • Reference the appropriate BOM attached in the uploads section and buy the parts needed (Digikey, Arrow, Mouser, etc.)
    • Buy solder paste (I have found that low temperature, lead-free solder paste like this one works well)
    • You'll also need a stencil to apply the solder paste to the bare PCBs. OSH Stencils is perfect for this and they ship very quickly!
    • Apply solder paste onto the PCB via the stencil, then place the components in their appropriate locations.
    • Now comes the fun: reflow the board using a hot plate, electric skillet, toaster oven, or whatever other means of producing adequate heat you can find! Hopefully this should be the last reflow you'll have to do manually because Reflowduino automates everything for you!
  • 2
    Using Reflowduino

    For comprehensive step-by-step instructions on how to use the Reflowduino, please see this Instructable or the Reflowduino Github wiki. To learn how to make your own ESP32 reflow oven setup with the Reflowduino32 and Sidekick Relay Module, see this Instructable.

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