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Iron Becomes SMD Hot Plate

Few things have changed our workshops more than surface mount components. In 1980 it would have been strange to see a hobby bench with a microscope, hot air equipment, tweezers, and all the other accouterments that are a necessity today. [Electronoobs] wanted a reflow hot plate and decided that he could repurpose a consumer laundry iron for the job. You can see the results in the video below.

Opening the iron revealed surprisingly simple circuitry, so the build has some additional parts along with a controller and an LCD, of course. The power requirement for the heating element is significant — 13 amps — so the plate uses a solid state relay to turn things on and off.

The iron has a ceramic bottom which is good for heat flow. There’s also a mystery component inside that [Electronoobs] is hoping someone can identify.

The final build uses a single thermocouple for temperature measurement although there is a provision for more sensors. If you want to see the device in operation first, fast forward to about the 9 minute mark.

The device appears to work with some caveats. The center of the plate seems to be cooler than the edges. We wondered if using an electric skillet might have helped or even replacing the plate with something that made direct contact with the heating element. We also wondered if some thermal compound might have helped transfer heat into the plate better.

Of course, using a skillet wasn’t our original idea. You don’t even necessarily need to modify it much.

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