Re: SMD rework/repair. Was: Boston area elecronicsurplus.

Thomas Garson


Good info. I used an off the shelf controller purchased from Automation Direct, which worked very well, once I got the hardware properly configured. They have always had what I needed for reasonable prices.

I have put myself in the position where I can build a lot of the electronics I need, but time is always an issue. Often the DIY route takes more valuable time than I can budget in comparison to the cost of a carefully considered, available, off the shelf item.

Where my tools and software really come into play is when I'm constructing custom "one off" or "short run" items or I need something like a build/test fixture for electronics assemblies that I will be having to deal with in multiple instances. Example: I perform upgrades on classic analog audio studio consoles, each of which can have up to several dozen identical modules, all of which must be thoroughly qualified after rework prior to returning to customer. They all have different bus interfaces, including connectors and/or pin arrangements, even within a particular manufacturers catalogue. I can lay out a board and, with my light duty CNC mill, built by adding a 4 axis controller and smallish 3 phase spindle to a Newing-Hall commercial engraver, carve it from copper clad board, all in a few hours.

If I thought there was a viable market, I could design and build stuff like replacement power supply boards for Tek 5000 frames which could be redone using newer components and technology rather than fighting with replacing NLA can capacitors, etc. The problem there is that the market would mostly be folks like those on this list who love their old stuff and would rather take the time to do the repair and keep their 'scope as original as possible, not to mention limit the financial impact.

Thomas Garson
Aural Technology, Ashland, OR
By my calculation, the dynamic range of the universe is roughly 679dB,
which is approximately 225 bits, collected at a rate 1.714287514x10^23 sps.

On 11/30/20 5:16 PM, Kerry Burns wrote:
There was a DIY reflow PID controller published in the April/May 2020 Silicon Chip Magazine ( ).  I haven’t tried building it, but it seems like a reasonable design.
From: <> on behalf of Thomas Garson <>
Reply to: <>
Date: Tuesday, 1 December 2020 at 11:27 am
To: <>
Subject: [TekScopes] SMD rework/repair. Was: Boston area elecronicsurplus.
I do SMD rework/repair, on occasion. I determined that a reflow oven was
frequently required as solder connection quality/failure were not
infrequent issues.
I built one based on a modified toaster-oven into which I fitted a PID
controller. It was a PITA to do, but is (now: See below.) much better
than the overpriced low quality available options.
If rolling your own reflow oven is in the cards, make sure the
thermocouple is located in the upper area of the chamber and is naked.
Do not use an enclosed probe because the response time is too slow. I
did, and cooked the first board I used it on (fortunately not a
customers board). Perhaps the toaster-oven I chose had too much power
compared to a "factory" reflow oven. A lower power oven might have been
a good choice but I wanted one that had a large chamber. It might be a
good idea to determine the temperature rise and cooling rates of your
oven candidate prior to wiring up the heating elements, using fewer if
they are overkill. You might have to add a cooling fan to the enclosure
to assure proper cooling rate after the solder flow temperature is
reached. A lot of parts don't like to spend much time at the solder flow
temperature. If you use a convection oven, it might be possible to
modify the fan shroud to pull in outside (cooler) air.
For sure, there are high quality industrial grade reflow ovens
available, but at too steep a price for my budget.
Thomas Garson
Aural Technology, Ashland, OR
By my calculation, the dynamic range of the universe is roughly 679dB,
which is approximately 225 bits, collected at a rate 1.714287514x10^23 sps.
On 11/30/20 2:47 PM, Shirley Dulcey KE1L wrote:
Sadly, nearly all of those Boston area stores are gone. You-Do-It
Electronics is still open; it now has a significant selection of maker
stuff from Sparkfun and Velleman (and a few Adafruit items) along with the
usual TV repair parts, enclosures, cables, and so forth. Oddly, they
haven't embraced SMD technology at all; they don't even have rework
stations or solder paste. I guess their primary customer base doesn't do
any SMD repair; those boards are considered unrepairable at this point.
On Mon, Nov 30, 2020 at 5:03 PM stevenhorii <> wrote:
I never did get to Meshna's place or B&F but I bought stuff from both via
mail order (the forerunner of online shopping). I think it was a WW
II passive infrared night vision unit I got from Meshna - I could be wrong.
Years later, I discovered that the technology for that wound up being a
fundamental patent that evolved into the first replacement for x-ray film;
storage phosphor plates that stored the x-ray "image" as electron
metastable states in a phosphor layer. Hitting the plate with a scanned
laser would push the electrons out of their metastable state and they would
drop down to ground state giving off light photons as they did so. A
photomultiplier would digitize the intensity of that emission thus was born
the photostimulable phosphor plate radiography system. The story is that
Kodak had the patents for the phosphor system but did not want to kill off
their x-ray film business, so they sold the patents (or licensed them) to
Fuji Medical (the Fuji film people). Fuji Medical produced the first
clinically used phosphor plate radiographic system. The use of x-ray film
declined very rapidly after that.
The last item I bought from B&F when I think it was just Frank Fink was
running the business - it was a militarized DEC PDP-11 built by Norden
Systems under license from DEC. I still have that thing - two two aircraft
avionics type boxes, a mess of cables, and the "control box". A bonus - all
the schematics. It was some version that I think had been used for software
and peripherals development as it runs on 115VAC 60Hz instead of 400Hz. It
runs or at least powers up with no smoke. The control box has two switches
on it - not the nice PDP-11 panel with all the flashing lights and
switches. It basically says "Run" and "Halt". That's it. I found the core
memory modules (they had been removed from the unit I bought) at a hamfest
(the one that used to be in Gaithersburg, MD) and installed them. If there
was any programming left in them, it didn't run so far as I know.
Interfaces are in the form of multipin mil-spec connectors - very expensive
to find mates for.
I used to go to Ron Baublitz's US Surplus in Baltimore. Four floors of a
huge amount of stuff. I think US Surplus may still be around, but they sold
off the building. It was across the street from the B&O Railroad museum. I
also went to Bid-Service in Asbury Park, NJ. It has transformed into a
business that sells used semiconductor fab equipment and are now in
Freehold. It is, I believe, run by the same family that ran the old
Bid-Service run by Bill Cusa. I first met Bill when I had him pick up a lot
for me that I won on a DoD surplus sale. I then drove down to his place to
pick the stuff up and he asked if I wanted to see the stuff he had in his
warehouse. He had started as a business selling used restaurant equipment,
but since he had the trucks, he branched out into the pickup and ship
business for bidders on DoD and GSA sales (hence the name). His initial
inventory came from the packer-shipper business. Often bidders would win a
lot, but only wanted one item. They would often tell Bill he could keep the
rest or at least offer it to him if he'd discount his pickup fee. As a
result, he had a large amount of stuff from those DoD sales. He hired some
guys (one of them his son) who quickly learned about test equipment and
they started bidding on local auctions and sales themselves. I once went in
on a bid with Bill on a complete radiographic/fluoroscopic system being
excessed from the West Point clinic. We won the lot, but my advice to him
was to sell it to a medical remarketer as we did not want the liability or
FDA issues. We still made money - that system was a top-end one that was
still being sold by the manufacturer.
There was another surplus dealer south of Baltimore. I don't remember the
business name, but the owner was Gary Green. Another huge place full of
stuff. You could get all manner of test equipment (yes, including Tek
scopes and plug-ins). Bargains were large mil-spec transit cases - the
large, weather-tight Hardigg ones. Any color you wanted as long as it was
olive drab. Not exactly true - there were white ones also. I was only there
once, but spent the whole day. I bought a Efratom rubidium frequency
standard - worked when I got it. I have not needed it in a while, but I
still have it.
When I think about it, I spent a LOT of weekends climbing around piles of
surplus, or walking through miles of storage racks full of stuff. I used to
have dreams about going to surplus stores and finding something exotic.
Always disappointed to wake up and find it had been a dream!
Steve H.
On Mon, Nov 30, 2020 at 4:17 PM Dick <> wrote:
There was also Electro-Craft on Dorchester Ave (in Dorchester).
Tons of NIB ARC-5 Receivers and Transmitters.
73, Dick, W1KSZ
"Dahchester" Boy, 1940-1966
From: <> on behalf of Brad
Thompson <>
Sent: Monday, November 30, 2020 2:13 PM
To: <>
Subject: OT: Boston-area electronicsurplus (was:Re: [TekScopes] Fair
Sales Lima Ohio) wrote on 11/30/2020 12:28 PM:
I recall walking Canal Street in lower Manhattan in 1976 during a
vacation trip with my parents.
Sometime in the early 1960 , my roommate and I hitchhiked from Boston to
his home near Suffern, NY-- his goal was to see his girl friend, and my
goal was
to visit Radio Row in NYC. I didn't have much spare cash and I don't
recall buying
anything <:. I do recall visiting Barry Radio at 512 Broadway, IIRC.
of the World Trade Center was on the horizon and the surplus stores were
beginning to close.
Fast-forward to the late 1960s-- I had graduated from college and had a
job in
Bedford, MA and a little more spare cash. On a typical Saturday, I could
into Cambridge and visit Heffron's surplus junk yard. From there, I'd
head north to Rte. 128 and stop in Wakefield to shop at Poly-Paks ("We
bot <sic> thousands,
no time to test!") (*)
From there, Meshna's surplus in Lynn was always worth a stop, and on
one occasion
I was invited to visit the warehouse's basement-- filled with
boxes of surplus stacked from floor to ceiling and threaded
with shoulder-wide paths (think, 'mouse trails through a meadow').
There's still gas in the tank and cash in my wallet, and B+F Electronics
near Salem (?)
was my next stop. (B + F were Pete (?) Boniface and Frank Fink).
Finally, there was a four-story brick warehouse near Newburyport. MA,
which wouldstill had glass in most of its windows. On one occasion,
I reached into a box of miscellaneous parts and pulled out a skinny white
cylindrical object. Closer investigation revealed the remainder of the
pigeon skeleton.
Time to go home.
There were a few conventional electronics shops that sometimes offered
parts-- Abbott Electronics in Woburn, and a shop that moved into Malden
from Atlantic Avenue in downtown Boston. Radio Shack's store on
Avenue could offer an occasional bargain.
Further out in the suburbs, You-Do-It electronics sold little in the way
of surplus
but was the go-to site for unmolested components. Herbert Gordon (W1IBY
sold used ham gear and surplus in Harvard, MA, and offered opinions.
I apologize for omissions and errors of location-- fifty years of recall
imposes a layer of haze on some memories.
Brad AA1IP
(*) In practice, it was possible to buy functional components there, but
sorting through a batch of Transitron rejects and testing them
was very educational.

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