Over the past several months, I did a few more reflow repairs with my trusty heat gun. I successfully resurrected a Beats Pill bluetooth speaker but it failed again after a few weeks. Another Pill is still working okay. I rescued a 15″ MacBook Pro with video problems but had no success with a 17-incher.
Meanwhile, my own 17″ MacBook Pro, which had been limping along with disabled AMD graphics (thanks to Cody Krieger’s excellent gfxCardStatus menu bar app), went fully dim after a reboot. This was my excuse to hang up the heat gun for good and invest in a cheap Chinese reflow oven.
At $369, the Happybuy Reflow Soldering Machine is very cheap for a reflow oven but pricey given its design flaws and build quality. The oven I purchased is an example of the T962A design, which is produced by several different manufacturers. Google “T962A” and you’ll find various hardware fixes as well as improved firmware.
As shipped, the T962A is both unpleasant and dangerous to operate. At this stage, I’ve made two modifications that should be considered mandatory
The first problem is that the metal case is not properly connected to ground, posing the potential risk of electrocution! This is a widely known (and easy to fix) issue. I’m amazed that units with such a serious defect continue to be shipped.
The second problem is that a heat shield is secured with what appears to be paper masking tape. It produces noxious fumes and smoke when the oven heats up. This is also easy to fix by replacing the tape with Kapton tape. LOL, on Amazon the oven and tape are “frequently bought together.”
There are other fixes available to improve the UI and performance that I haven’t bothered with. After fixing the ground and tape issues, the oven performs fine for repair work. I use profile #3 for lead free solder.
To date, I’ve had one success and one failure with the oven. I wrecked the aforementioned Beats Pill by melting the line in and out jacks. These are apparently installed after the SMD components are reflowed. On the other hand, my ailing MacBook Pro was a complete success. Time will tell if this repair lasts longer than the heat gun fix.