Most makers and hackers are experienced in soldering through-hole components. Many of you probably even make your own PCBs (printed circuit boards). But, it’s been a long time since bulky through-hole components, like resistors, LEDs, and buttons, have been optimal. SMDs (surface-mount devices) are far more space efficient, and are what’s used on most commercial circuit boards.
Unfortunately, actually soldering SMDs at home is difficult because of their very nature. The components themselves are tiny, and are designed to be soldered onto small pads that are just big enough for the connection to be made. To work with SMD PCBs, you need a reflow oven that heats the solder on the pre-positioned components. Traditionally, reflow ovens have been expensive, but a new product called REFLO promises to make them affordable for the hobbyist.
REFLO is a small reflow oven that can handle PCBs up to 2" x 2". It’s built on an Arduino, and utilizes a Bluetooth connection so that you can control it from your phone. The accompanying app lets you control the specific heating profiles, making it versatile for different needs. Further, because it’s based on an Arduino and it’s open source, you can hack it and modify it as you see fit.
The crowdfunding campaign for REFLO on Crowd Supply is running until February 3rd. The basic kit will set you back $345, with free shipping in the US. REFLO has already been completely funded, and backers should expect their units to ship on March 1st.