[OT] Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens

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Hi,

I made a page showing how I reflowed the PCB of a hobby project with
TQFP and TSOP parts at home:

http://www.beloev.net/gbvio.html

Basically I applied solder paste to the pads, placed the components, and
baked the board in an oven. This worked quite well as you can see in the
link above. Thinking about future projects, I'm interested if anybody
has done something similar with BGA packages.

Regards,
-- Georgi

Re: [OT] Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens
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Georg Acher has done it. The web page describing it should be at
http://wwwbode.cs.tum.edu/~acher/bga/ but at the moment this doesn't work
for me..
Regards,
j.

Re: [OT] Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens
I have tried bga with an 8 ball 555 timer chip. It did not work because
I did not have a soldermask. As a result the solder wicked along the
traces and part did not settle properly.
Still based on what I saw,  I think BGA's are quite doable for the
hobbyist. Once I get someway to produce solder masks I wll resume my
experimentation.


Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens

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Why not use a commercial board production service? Most of them offer
special pricing for prototypes. Many of them offer discounts for
educational projects.

I mostly use Advanced Circuits, www.4pcb.com - their standard prototype
deal is $33 per board for up to 60 sq.in, 0.006" feature size, 0.015"
min drill, 2 layer, soldermask both sides and silkscreen one side. They
also have a "bare bones" deal which is essentially the same prototype
deal prorated for smaller board sizes. Bare bones works out cheaper if
you want to do several copies of a single small board.


Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens
Hello Lewin,

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Did you ever try the barebones process? That looks like a good deal.

Now if they'd take Eagle files that would be even better. Well, maybe
some day. At least they aren't tied to a proprietary tool set but it
seems to be plain Gerbers and that is good.

Regards, Joerg

http://www.analogconsultants.com

Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens
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prototype
if

No. The things I'm doing tend to be rather large boards; they're
cheaper at $33 each in the quantities I need them. But I don't see why
the quality would be any different from the 33each deal.

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I use Eagle for all my design work. I'm used to generating RS-274X and
Excellon anyway because my archiving process requires them.


Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens
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Here in Europe, both PCB-Pool and Olimex accept Eagle files.

Leon



Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens
Hi Leon,

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Yes, but the freight charges and times would be a real issue for us on
the other side of the pond. Within the US there is so much competition
that freight is just a few Dollars and they try to beat each other in
speed. Even the postal service joins the game at times. When I bought a
round of Olimex MSP boards from their US distributor recently I had some
time so I chose mail. It took a couple days or so and the postage was $1.06.

Regards, Joerg

http://www.analogconsultants.com

Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens
On Wednesday, in article
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Last I saw PCB-Pool (also known as Beta Layout) had two operations in the
US for East and West coast, best to check their site for exact details.

--
Paul Carpenter          | snipped-for-privacy@pcserviceselectronics.co.uk
<http://www.pcserviceselectronics.co.uk/ PC Services
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Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens
Hi Paul,

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They do have a US phone number but it seems that their facilities are in
Europe. That could mean higher shipping charges when compared to
domestic suppliers.

Regards, Joerg

http://www.analogconsultants.com

Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens

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Just do a web search.  PCB Express (http://www.pcbexpress.com /) is good,
there's plenty more.  We started using them at my last employer because
they're close & we could save on shipping time when we were in a hurry,
but they've always done well for us.  Express PCB
(http://www.expresspcb.com /) is also good but you use _their_ software
and generate _their_ format files, so if you like it you have to
completely redo it before you go into mass production.

--

Tim Wescott
Wescott Design Services
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Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens
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I like it that PCB Express accepts Eagle PCB files directly. That saves
me some hassle and seems more error-proof. The prices are high,
especially for 4+layer boards with solder mask and silkscreen. I think a
board with a small (up to 256 balls) BGA chip will require more than
four layers. And having more layers not only helps with bringing the
signals out, but also allows you to do a better SI design since the
layers are closer and the tracks can be narrower for the same impedance.

-- Georgi

Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens
says...
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If you're looking for a low-cost PCB service to do BGA stuff, be sure
to read the requirements carefully.  IIRC,  many of the low-cost
services will not handle  traces less than 0.008 inches  and will
not do blind or buried vias.  While I have not yet had to do
a BGA design,  I think those constraints might render the layout
more difficult.

Mark Borgerson



Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens

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good,
because

There are plenty of PCB houses, but I recommended AC because I use them
regularly and trust them. They've always given good quality results,
and I like their automated pre-analysis (freedfm.com). Plus they are
very intelligent about suggesting solutions/fixing problems where
necessary.

There's another vendor I use occasionally, but darned if I can remember
the URL off the top of my head, I'd have to go through old invoices.
This other vendor does the work in China; they batch up the boards and
send them to their US HQ, and the US HQ breaks up the mass shipment and
sends out the individual packages to US destinations. They are pretty
much 2-week turn minimum (they have faster services but they're
expensive). The other vendor is cheaper than AC and the quality is
good, but if I need something in a hurry (like my most recent board) I
go straight to AC.

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software

This kind of service is a total non-starter for me. Even if they had
Linux-based software, which I'm sure they don't, it is totally
unacceptable to me to have my files tied to a specific vendor. Might be
OK for a onetime hobbyist project, but I don't do any projects like
that; even my personal projects are built with the assumption that they
might go into production (or that they might be saleable IP, which is
worth more if it's totally vendor-neutral).


Linux-based board layout software [was Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens]
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That brings up a related question -- what Linux-based vendor neutral PCB
layout software do you use.  And if it's different, what would you
recommend?

Ed


Re: Linux-based board layout software [was Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens]
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Ed,

Check out Eagle (http://www.cadsoftusa.com /).

It produces Gerber and Excellon output (plus others) so it meets your
requirement of  "vendor neutral" and is available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS
X.

The Eagle Light Edition can be had for free but your designs are limited to a
board area of 100 x 80 mm, two layers and a single schematic sheet.  Check out
the website for commercial and educational versions if you need more
capabilities.


--
James T. White



Re: Linux-based board layout software [was Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens]


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PCB

I use and recommend EAGLE from Cadsoft. It's available for Linux, MacOS
and Win32. The full unrestricted version is $1200 for all modules. I
think it's the best bang-buck out there by a LONG way.

I haven't used the Mac version, but the Linux and Windows versions are
near-as-dammit identical in behavior. Not quite standard, there is a
learning curve, but very powerful tools.


Re: Linux-based board layout software [was Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens]

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Just curious, but do you know if Cadsoft will discount the Linux
versions if a user has a paid-for version under Windows or do they
consider it as two separate licenses and charge full $$ for each?

--
Rich Webb   Norfolk, VA

Re: Linux-based board layout software [was Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens]

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Generally - and obviously this is not a Cadsoft policy statement - they
charge the price differential. There's an extra fee of something like
$100 for a cross-platform license. I think that's all you'll need to
pay to get a multi-platform unlock code.

Ask their sales staff. They're pretty flexible, particularly if you
already own a license.

I got my cross-platform upgrade free, but I was giving their software
away with a book so that's a special case ;)


Re: Linux-based board layout software [was Re: Reflowing PCBs in toaster ovens]

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Thanks for responding. One of the issues with investing in the package
was a bit of a concern of being orphaned by an eventual move to Linux.
Good to hear that they're reasonable about the licensing.

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Yeah -- got it. Good book!

--
Rich Webb   Norfolk, VA

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