A laser cutter/engraver is an incredibly useful tool and the things you could do with…
If you are tired of using a hot air gun or a soldering iron for SMD components, building a reflow oven should be next on your list. Its very inexpensive and there is plenty of electronics that would help you build it.
Here is what you should look for when building a reflow oven.
If you want to solder 2-3 large boards, say 8′ x 7′ in one go then this would be the one. For larger areas its best to buy one of those IR heated reflow ovens. Plus you can use off-the-shelf oven for this space consideration and modify them (more on this later).
Number of Heaters
I built mine with two heaters, one each on the top and bottom. However, the controller can support upto four relays. If you are the more adventurous type you could swap out the regular heaters for IR heaters as well.
This is probably the most important one. I went through a lot of designs available. I needed one that is self-learning. This means that the software can learn and adapt to your oven and you do not need to manually tune it. The other criteria was the number of SSRs it can control. I wanted one with four relays since I might decide to build a larger one in the future.
I finally settled on the ControLeo 2 controller. Note that this isn’t a free design but with Brian’s help from Brian Makes It, I could build the hardware running with ControLeo 2 open source firmware. It takes a few runs to learn your oven temperatures and other settings so be patient one the first few runs. Also make sure you do a few test boards before you go to your production board.
I’ve gotten a lot of mileage from mine and I’m thinking of building a second one as well.
Head on over to my detailed instructable on building this oven.