Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Thanks to Nophead

Yes, that's our very own Manchester-based RepRap Guru, Nophead. (And his wife).
I, rather cheekily, asked if I could go to see Chris' set-up, and HydraRaptor. If you've not read (bits of - it's huge) his blog, do so now. You'll learn heaps. Anyway, I digress. He offered to show me reflow soldering, as he was about to try it for the first time.

Chris came to pick me up (never let strange people you've ONLY met on the internet have your address without having theirs....well, only if you've got a big weapon to hand - it's OK, I took my crutches!) and I spent a few hours talking with him and his wife, watching and learning, and being supplied with drinks and giant cookies.

Chris was trying out a brand new mini-oven and we had our first experience of reflow soldering.
Reading theory and seeing practice are so different. I saw how difficult it was to get the solder precisely positioned, and got to see how much solder was too much. (I learnt which way was up on various components.) We watched the "cooking" in the oven whilst checking the board's temperature over time. I learnt what the increase in temperature rate should be, approximately, and that there is a maximum of 60s at the top (soldering) temperature, to avoid damaging components. I got a feel for how all this should be. Chris showed me which of the finished joints were bowed the wrong way, which were perfect, which good enough. I know how to poke/scrape the solder balls away - more to the point I know how they look.

Next Chris fired HydraRaptor up - the videos with sound don't do it justice! It's quite loud. He selected a small part and printed it. Again, seeing for myself showed me things I didn't appreciate from the videos, such as the hanging baskets for holding the reels of plastic need to be able to twizzle to prevent the plastic, itself, from twisting as it goes into the extruder. I've seen parts being printed in the vid.s, but I'd never seen one being separated from its raft, before. I asked questions about the choice of raft settings, number of layers, fineness etc. Chris allowed me to keep the part printed, so I have a reminder of how the raft was done.

All in all, I had a fun time, I learnt absolutely heaps, got a feel for what's what, and didn't talk about anything else for the next several hours, including in the pub in the evening! So a big thank you to Chris and his wife for an extraordinary day. Cheers!


  1. Yes it was. We chatted about the Grand Prix (live v. televised - or in my case online - coverage) and the Stockport Beer Festival, too, after Chris' previous blog post!