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    FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

    We are often asked what improvements we have made to the T962 / T962A reflow oven. The following article answers most of these questions.

    Electrical Safety

    The original T962 / T962A controller that is fitted to the T962, T962A and T962C reflow ovens are poorly designed in several ways. The most important of these shortcomings is the separation between mains/line voltage and low voltage parts of the circuit.

    The ESTechnical controller upgrade packages provide greater electrical safety by increasing the separation between mains/line voltage and low voltage circuitry. Opto-isolation is built into the SSRs used in the upgrade.

    The original manufacturer powder coats the case components and does not leave proper contact for case earthing connections.

    The ESTechnical controller upgrade kit provides components and instructions to fix the shortcomings in case earthing connections.

    Improved Safety

    The original manufacturer of the T962 / T962A uses masking tape in the assembly of the oven. When heated the adhesive produces a bad smell and the paper tape may be a fire hazard.

    The ESTechnical reflow controller upgrade package includes kapton tape to replace the paper tape. This reduces the smell produced during reflow.

    Better Temperature Measurement

    The original T962 / T962A controller uses a basic op-amp based thermocouple input circuit. This circuit provides poor accuracy and poor temperature stability. The measurements from these input stages are affected by the temperature of the controller PCB as well as the thermocouple input.

    The ESTechnical reflow controller upgrade uses precision thermocouple measurement ICs for minimal error in temperature measurement. These ICs have built in temperature compensation (cold-junction compensation) which effectively eliminates any measurement error introduced by the temperature changing at the controller PCB.

    Better Reflow Cycle Settings/Control

    The original T962 / T962A reflow oven controller relies on “taught” profile settings, requiring the user to turn on and off the fan and heater multiple times to teach a new profile. This is an awful way to “describe” a reflow cycle to the controller. Making a mistake in this process means starting from the beginning.

    The ESTechnical controller has a control loop which includes a PID temperature controller. To produce the desired temperature profile, the controller generates the changing setpoint for the PID controller. The PID controller ensures close tracking of the desired temperature within the oven.

    The parametric reflow profile adjustment of the ESTechnical reflow controller means that it takes seconds to change settings and save them. Up to 30 profiles can be stored on the ESTechnical Reflow Controller. 

    Fan Speed Adjustment

    The original T962 / T962A oven controller doesn’t make any use of the main fan, except during cooling. This means the middle of the oven heats faster than the edges and the difference between hotter and cooler areas within the reflow oven can be large.

    The ESTechnical reflow controller has a “fan idle speed” setting which provides airflow during the whole reflow cycle. During the heating stages, the fan runs constantly at low speed to move air around the oven, dramatically reducing the difference between the hottest and coolest areas of the drawer. The fan speed can be adjusted to get the best results.

    USB Connection & Software

    The original reflow oven controller does not provide any way to monitor the reflow cycle. If careful profile adjustment is required, additional tools such as a thermocouple meter, or a thermocouple datalogger are required for measuring the PCB temperature.

    The ESTechnical Complete Upgrade Packages include the needed parts to fit a USB socket to the oven and free software to view reflow cycle temperatures in real time.

    An extra thermocouple input is provided on the controller for a PCB mounted thermocouple to be used. This provides real time feedback of the PCB temperature during reflow cycle testing. Adjusting the profile settings to get the desired profile temperatures at the surface of the PCB has never been easier.

    Accurate Timer

    The original T962 / T962A controller doesn't have an accurate timer, it seems like the timer is running too slowly. The crystal fitted to the controller may be the wrong frequency, or there may be some mistake in the firmware that causes this effect.

    The ESTechnical reflow oven controller has an accurate 20MHz crystal for timing and is stable over a wide temperature range. This accurate timing combined with accurate temperature measurement gives much better repeatability than the original controller.

    For a review of the ESTechnical Controller Upgrade see petrockblock blog review

    For the T962A Reflow Oven this is not required.

    For the T962 a tiny modification is needed. (See T962 Complete Upgrade Package )

    The ESTechnical Controller does not need reprogramming. When new updates are available there is an option in the menu which allows you to update the firmware.

    No special programming cables are required. The Controller firmware can be upgraded via the USB port.

    Yes - clear instructions are provided which can be found at 

    T962A Complete Upgrade Package

    T962A Controller upgrade

    Alternatively, you can buy the ESTechnical T962A Reflow Oven with a controller pre-installed. 

    Firmware can be updated using the USB connection.

    The delivery times are as follows:

    ESTechnical Reflow Oven 220v: a limited number of preinstalled ovens are held in stock. If we are out of stock there may be a lead time of 3 weeks upon receipt of payment. 

    ESTechnical Reflow Oven 110v: this is a special order item which we have to import. There is a lead time of 4-6 weeks upon receipt of payment.

    Please contact us you wish confirmation of delivery times.

    We provide 6 months Warranty.

    Our products are fully assembled and tested and are covered by a six month Warranty. In the event of a fault we will repair or replace your equipment at our discretion. In some situations we may choose to refund the full purchase price of an item. This warranty does not cover intentional or accidental abuse or neglect. There is no express or implied warranty beyond what is stated.

    After the six months we will still repair/replace any product that is returned at any time, no questions asked, for a small fee - we think that's a fair policy since the controller requires fitting by the user and sometimes mistakes happen.

    If your equipment fails due to normal use, please contact us.

    The ESTechnical reflow controller is compatible with the T962C, but we do not recommend it.

    The T962C performs poorly for a few reasons:

    • The fans are inadequate to cool the oven at the required rate,
    • The heater power is too low to achieve the required temperature ramp,
    • The large drawer has large differences in temperature near the edges - this is difficult to predict or correct for.

    Our controller does improve the temperature control, but due to the drawbacks mentioned above the T962C oven still doesn't get great results. To overcome these problems we recommend either switching to the T962A oven if it is large enough for your PCBs, or making some modifications to the T962C.

    Modifications that would help:

    • A row of fans all the way across the back,
    • Increase the heater power:
      • An autotransformer/step up transformer to step up the mains supply and get an extra 30-40v across the heater tubes (huge, expensive and impractical unless you happen to have a suitable one!),
    • Somehow obtain higher wattage heater tubes.

    The fans are important for getting consistent performance of the oven across the largest area of the drawer possible. PCBs placed too near the edges of the drawer won't reach peak temperature for soldering without exceeding the maximum allowable temperature in the hottest areas of the drawer. The ESTechnical controller provides fan speed control to allow adjustable airflow during reflow soldering. When set up correctly using the ESTechnical controller, all the ovens (T962/T962A/T962C) have better thermal performance across the whole drawer.

    Without overcoming the problems with temperature ramp up/down rate, it's unlikely to satisfy your needs; particularly if you intend to solder many LEDs on very large PCBs - this is usually why people ask us about the T962C. Unfortunately we've never found a good batch reflow oven of this size.

    The ESTechnical T962A and T962A+ Reflow Oven is suitable for soldering both sides of the board, but this is typically done in two passes, one per side of the board. This avoids the need for adhesives to hold the parts on the underside.

    We would usually recommend that you set up two stages of production for the boards, one which prints paste on the underside, places parts and then reflow solder, followed by repeating the process for the top side.

    Unless you use adhesives to hold the parts in place, the surface tension of the solder paste is all that adheres the parts to the PCB until reflow is complete. During the early stages of the reflow cycle, the tacky nature of the paste dries out and no longer holds the parts securely to the PCB, making it difficult to melt the solder on both sides of the PCB at once without problems.

    With one side soldered, it is unlikely that the solder on the reverse side of the PCB will reach it's melting point during the second reflow cycle side of the PCB, you can easily test and adjust your profile as needed using the supplied thermocouple for profiling (supplied in the T962 and T962A Complete Upgrade Packages).

    If you need any help with setting up your profiles contact us.

    The other thermocouple can be removed from the oven and kept as a spare.

    We cannot easily provide reflow profile settings based on any particular solder paste. The PCB substrate, thickness and size have some effect on the profile settings needed.

    The recommended profile limitations provided by the manufacturer of each component also needs to be considered especially when using fragile parts such as ASICs, MCUs, ceramic capacitors, LEDs and crystals 

    A profile that is the average of all the desired profiles is recommended, while never exceeding the maximum temperature or temperature ramp (rate of change) of the most sensitive parts.

    The oven itself also plays a role in this. With a large multi zone conveyor fed reflow oven, any profile is quite easy to achieve, the zones stay in a steady state and the boards progress through the zones at a steady speed. However with a batch reflow oven such as the T962A, there is only a single heating zone. This means the temperature change of the profile is limited by several factors not present in the conveyor oven.

    Due to slight variations in the local supply voltage, variations in the heaters and other factors, the T962A typically achieves a maximum ramp up rate of 1°C/S. It is counterproductive to program a profile that exceeds the maximum ramp up rate of the oven. This leads to poor PID control and non-repeatable performance. Keeping profile settings within the limits of the oven results in very repeatable reflow cycles.

    The default reflow profile is typical for a 1.6mm thickness FR4 PCB with two layers of 1oz copper. 

    This serves as a good starting point for testing.

    For specific help with profile adjustment once you have some examples of the profile temperature on the PCB (logged with reflowviewer and using the external thermocouple attached to the top surface of the PCB) contact us.

    The ESTechnical Controller can be fitted to the T962, T962A, T962A+, T937, T937M and T962C**.

    The main differences between all the ovens is in the soldering area and power rating. The soldering area and the power rating determine the power density. The greater the power density the better results you will get from your soldering. See the table below. 

    For all models, with the exception of the T962C, the ESTechnical Reflow Controller will improve the overall performance of the ovens resulting in more consistent soldering of PCBs.

    ESTechnical Controller is recommended Not recommended
    T962 T962A T962A+ T962C**
    Drawer area (mm)* 180x235 300x320 450x370 400x600
    Product dimensions (mm) 310x290x170 430×370×260  520x440x220 684x504x225
    Net weight 7kg 13kg 17.5kg 27kg
    Power rating 800W 1500W 2300W 2800W 
    Power density 1.891 W/cm² 1.562 W/cm² 1.381 W/cm² 1.166 W/cm²
    Software ReflowViewer ReflowViewer ReflowViewer NA
    USB Connection Yes Yes Yes NA 

     

    *Soldering area is approx 80%-90% of the drawer area.

    **Although the ESTechnical Controller can be fitted to the T962C we do not recommend this as the power density means that it is not optimal for soldering PCBs. For more information see Is your ESTechnical Controller compatible with the T962C?

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