Homemade PID controlled hotplate

Dillon Nichols made a DIY PID controlled hotplate:

I got lucky enough to get a free PCB from Dangerous Prototypes a little over a month ago. I finally finished assembling it last night. It was my first time soldering SMD components, but it was worth it. I also got to use my homemade hotplate for the first time with no problems. I used this solder paste. I really only used the hotplate for the TQFP (Thin Quad Flat Pack) PIC chip and it worked out very nicely. The rest of the components I hand soldered with a bunch of time, patience, and flux.

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  1. Hi Dillon,

    I’m getting ready to make a hot plate too. Just got my hunk of aluminum from ebay.

    Do you mind answering a few questions?

    Did you use cartridge heaters? How much clearance is required in the holes for the cartridge heaters, eg, for a 1/4″ cartridge heater do you drill 1/4″ holes or something slightly bigger?

    Did you drill the aluminum yourself? Is it difficult?

    How about cutting the plate. I’d like mine 1/2 the size it is now. Hack saw would take forever.


    Dave Thomas

    1. Dave, it’s very strange that I decided to check back on my old posts and saw that you only commented a few days ago on a post that is a year old.

      I did not use cartridge heaters for my project, because I had an alternative heater. The drill size should be slightly larger than the cartridge. I’d measure your heater with a pair of calipers. You may be able to get away with a 1/4″ hole is the cartridge is a little small, if not, you can always re-drill the hole larger. I did drill the aluminum myself using a drill press. I wouldn’t try it with a hand drill. It takes a while and you should use some lubrication, but it’s not hard. I got the machine shop at work to cut it for me – I wouldn’t know how you’d do it otherwise.

      If you have any other questions, it would be best to comment on my blog post. I get notified when I get a new comment. Have a good one!

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