I’ve been designing a 4-layer PCB for a product for a few months now and I finally got to the stage of assembling the prototype after the PCB and components arrived. Most of the passive components I used were 0603 surface mount parts so reflow soldering was the only viable option (if I wanted to maintain my sanity).
Since I don’t have a proper reflow oven, I decided to use the next best thing I own: No not my hot air rework station, a toaster oven!
There are, of course, plenty of guides and tutorials online for modifying a toaster oven for reflow soldering. They all involve a temperature PID loop to precisely control the heat profile for various solder types, components, etc,.
I really just wanted to see if I could just turn it on and see what happens. Spoiler Alert: It works.
I just preheated the toaster oven for a few minutes, stuck the PCB in there, and watched for the solder to start flowing. This took about 30 to 40 seconds. I wish there was more to this so I could do a more in-depth write-up but honestly that was it — nothing fancy and no precise timing or temperature profiles.
I gotta say, the final board is quite a beauty!
The Fine Print
Do this at your own risk! I did it because I’m just building a prototype and the final board will be professionally assembled. In addition, I know what I’m doing and I read the datasheets of all my critical components. You’ll notice that I did not put the electrolytic capacitor in the oven — I could not guarantee not to violate the very precise timings and temperatures specified in the datasheet. Also, please mind the fumes.