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Author Topic: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions  (Read 678 times)

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Offline fireworks

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New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« on: July 01, 2017, 07:38:07 PM »
  Hi all,

  After using only Chinese soldering stations for years (as a hobbyist), I just acquired on Ebay a Metcal MX-500 at a good price.
  I quickly discovered that the tips are quite a headache for the (hobby) Metcal users, mainly because they are very expensive compared to the more "normal" tips manufactured by the Chinese.

1. Looking on the Internet I found these sources of tips:
    -Metcal: $25-$65 per tip or more for the more exotic ones
    -Thermaltronics: about the same as Metcal, a bit less in some cases
    -Easy Braid: cheaper, is some cases 1/2 of the Metcal prices for the more expensive (>=$50) tips
    -Ebay, Aliexpress, etc.: used tips from $6 to $10 for the most basic ones

So not many choices for affordable tips.
  Are there Chinese clones of the Metcal tips, as there are for many other types ?
  Are there other sources of affordable tips ?

2. With the Chinese soldering station I was soldering at 350C. Initially I tried soldering at 300C since I mainly work with delicate components (SMD chips, etc.) but that didn't work well.
  Soldering at 350C works well and doesn't damage the components.
  However, Metcal recommends the 7xx tips for regular work which solder at 410C, a big difference from 350C.
  So I tried to purchase used tips from the 6xx series which solder at 354C. But those are much rarer than the 7xx series.
  Another possibility would be to build the DIY Metcal supply from the excellent thread:

      http://www.eevblog.com/forum/projects/diy-metcal-13-56-mhz-rf-supply/

but that would mean I bought the Metcal power supply for nothing. I might still build it later because it's such an excellent project.

  So, should I go with Metcal's recommendation and use the 7xx tips for SMD work ? Or purchase only tips from the 6xx series ?
 
  Thanks for your help.
 

Offline Yellofriend

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2017, 12:37:23 PM »
No comments? OK, what I think....

Tips from China are hit and miss. Some work OK, some are oxidated beyond repair after 30 Seconds.

I have a rather expensive brand new Atten ST-80 station, which came with a tip that worked just a few Seconds. The tips are Hakko compatible. I will most likely buy original Hakko tips (about US$6.00 on Digikey) rather then trying thos you find on Taobao for RMB 5.00 (US$ 0.80) or so .

When you buy from eBay etc you don't know what you get. I would not risk that. A original quality tip can last ages.

..and get a Weller Tip Activator (T0051303199) or similar from other brands. Very useful.

http://www.weller-toolsus.com/weller-t0051303199-tip-tinner-lead-free-0-8-oz.html
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Offline Muxr

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2017, 01:32:24 PM »
Back in 2015 I picked up a single Metcal SMTC-0167. Not sure if genuine. I solder a good amount, and I am still using that same tip. To give you an example, I've used up more than a whole spool of this solder with it: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YFES1TE/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

And it's not showing any signs of slowing down.

For me personally these mini hoof type tips are the perfect tips for fine SMD work or other delicate soldering jobs. I have some conical tips that I have tried but SMTC-0167 is my favourite. For heavier stuff (like desoldering bigger relays or repairing lead free boards) I just use my Hakko.

I only paid $19 for the SMTC-0167 at the time on Ebay, and I am not able to find any for sale again. I picked up a Thermaltronics version of that tip to have as a spare.. But haven't got to try it yet so can't really tell if it's worth it or not (they were around $30).

edit: this is the Thermaltronics version of it: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NS4MBRK/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

edit2:
Actually I found a listing for what looks to be the genuine version of it: http://www.ebay.com/itm/151257482349

I just ordered a few.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 01:45:18 PM by Muxr »
 

Offline fireworks

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2017, 11:02:37 PM »
  Hi Yellofriend,

  Thanks for the advice regarding the tip tinner. I'll get one for sure.
  You're probably right about using new tips instead of used ones in the long term. I did order a few used ones which I'll use for the initial tests to find out what I need before ordering new ones. 
 

Offline fireworks

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2017, 11:07:12 PM »
  On this forum I found that the Hakko handpiece FX-1001 is compatible with Metcal MX50XX series.
  However the the tips are around $18:

     https://www.hakkousa.com/products/soldering-iron-tips/t31-series-fx-100/t31-01i.html

instead of $25 for Metcal, so no big savings there.
 

Offline fireworks

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2017, 11:15:59 PM »
  Hi Muxr,

  Thanks for the reply.
  So the 670F tips (354C) worked well for you for SMD work.
  Any idea if the 770F (410C) are also usable ?
  Also, have you used the tips like a hoof with a whole in them ? They are also supposed to be good for drag soldering.
 

Offline matseng

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2017, 11:20:54 PM »
T31-01I Conical Tip, 840°F / 450°C
For use with the Hakko FX-100 RF induction heat soldering station. Fits the Hakko FX-1001 handpiece.

450c?? Hot damn! (pun intended).   That is some serious temperature.  I can't imagine it's meant for soldering regular leaded or unleaded electronics stuff.  It sounds more like something used for brazing...
 

Offline Monkeh

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2017, 11:31:30 PM »
The standard (~400C) tips are fine. You will not need tip tinner, don't bother.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2017, 01:30:07 AM »
The tips ( both metcal and Thermaltronics) last a very long time, as long as you stay away from lead-free solder
Youtube channel:Taking wierd stuff apart. Very apart.
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Offline fireworks

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2017, 01:51:52 AM »
  Monkeh, thanks for the advice.

  Mike, which tips do you use for SMD work ? The 600 or the 700 series ?
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2017, 02:08:14 AM »
  Monkeh, thanks for the advice.

  Mike, which tips do you use for SMD work ? The 600 or the 700 series ?
700 deg.F ( -1xxx )
Youtube channel:Taking wierd stuff apart. Very apart.
Mike's Electric Stuff: High voltage, vintage electronics etc.
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Offline fireworks

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2017, 12:22:56 AM »
  Thanks Mike.

  The station arrived here in Hong Kong. I just discovered that it only takes 110V.
  Quick search on the Internet shows how to make it use 220V:

   http://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/metcal-mx500-us-version-in-europe/

  The jumpers that need changing are visible on this video from 5:25:

   

according to this page: http://colinoflynn.com/2012/05/metcal-mx-500p-soldering-station-review-repair/.

  I don't have the T15 screwdriver to open it, so the first test will have to wait.  :D
 

Offline Towger

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2017, 01:16:06 AM »
  I don't have the T15 screwdriver to open it, so the first test will have to wait.  :D

Security Trox screwdriver...
 

Offline fireworks

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2017, 02:13:54 AM »
  Towger, thanks for pointing out the "security" part. I totally missed it.
 

Offline Yellofriend

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2017, 03:32:17 PM »

  I don't have the T15 screwdriver to open it, so the first test will have to wait.  :D

Where you are from? If Kowloon try Apliu St. in Sham Shui Po. Lots of hardware stores there.

If you are in Hong Kong I would try Wanchai Computer Center ( above the MTR), or the little side alley were Passano is. Apliu might be cheaper.
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Offline fireworks

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2017, 10:39:33 PM »
  Hi Yellofriend,

  Thanks for the advice.
  I know about Apliu street, but during the lunch break I only had time for a quick dash to the Thomson Road near Wan Chai.
  I found the security T15 screwdriver in the second shop I visited.  8)
 

Offline fireworks

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2017, 10:46:13 PM »
I have a rather expensive brand new Atten ST-80 station

  I looked at buying that one or similar ones before I got the Metcal.
  The main improvement I wanted compared to the CXG 936d I currently have was the heating time.

  How quickly does your ST-80 reach 350C from room temperature ?
  Also, can you talk about it in more detail ? You can even start a dedicated thread since this is one of the better Chinese stations and there is little information available.
 

Offline Yellofriend

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2017, 11:59:45 PM »
I have a rather expensive brand new Atten ST-80 station

  I looked at buying that one or similar ones before I got the Metcal.
  The main improvement I wanted compared to the CXG 936d I currently have was the heating time.

  How quickly does your ST-80 reach 350C from room temperature ?
  Also, can you talk about it in more detail ? You can even start a dedicated thread since this is one of the better Chinese stations and there is little information available.

The Atten ST-80 goes to 300°C in 23S, to 390°C in 28S.

This link has a manual (mine is just in Chinese): https://www.rapidonline.com/atten-st-80-premium-intelligent-soldering-station-80w-85-6926

You can set 3 of your own temps with a push button. What is also nice is, that whatever random temp you set - it's there when you switch the station on next time.

It also has a standby mode were it goes to 150°C and wakes up when you touch it. You need to set that though (I should read that manual myself one day).

Enough sugar coating, dislikes:

The stand is a nice solid metal stand, with a sponge, I think those metal mesh is more up to date nowadays. Never mind, I have those anyway. The stand has spots for rubber feet (very good!) but no actual rubber feet (really bad), so it's lips on the table. What a stupid oversight!

The supplied tip (I tried only one) wasn't usable at all was not taking tin after 5 Sec. Not sure if the Atten tip is that that bad or if the Taobao seller replaced them. I will buy only authentic Hakko tips from now on, they cost about $6.00 at Digikey.

The tip screw gets lose by itself. Not sure why. However, the connection with the tips gets never lost. It always reads the actual tip temp.

The bad things are rather minor points. I would buy the same station again. (or with enough time DIY)

PS: right, Thomson Road is the one I meant.

------------------
OK, I finally RTFM and set standby function (which is off by default). Standby temp is 150°C from there to...
350°C 13Sec
390°C 18Sec

For me that is OK. My first Chinese station took 2 Min.
 
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 12:21:50 AM by Yellofriend »
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Offline Monkeh

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2017, 12:10:41 AM »
The Atten ST-80 goes to 300°C in 23S, to 390°C in 28S.

Awwww. Now, I haven't measured time to full temperature, but most smaller tips melt solder in 3-5 seconds on my Metcal.
 

Offline fireworks

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2017, 02:11:55 AM »
The Atten ST-80 goes to 300°C in 23S, to 390°C in 28S.

  This is similar to the heating time for CXG 936d.
  If I'm not mistaken it reaches 300C with the conic tip it came with in about 18-20s.

  I need to measure the heating times for the tips I got from Aliexpress. They might be longer since the cheap tips have usually a loose fit.
  This increases the thermal resistance to to the tip and the heating time.
  Here is a video which explains the phenomenon and shows a DIY way to improve the thermal contact:

   

  Anyway a heating time of 20-30s is good enough for a hobbyist.
  My first soldering station, a ZD-937 like this one:

    http://uk.farnell.com/duratool/d00676/soldering-station-48w-230v-eu/dp/1498365

took about 90s to reach 300C.
  That was pretty slow even for a hobbyist.  :=\
  Getting a CXG 936d was a significant improvement for me.  :P
 

Offline fireworks

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2017, 01:45:51 AM »
  The day I got the T15 security screwdriver, I changed the jumpers inside for 220V.
  Then I tried to clean the PCB using a toothbrush and isopropyl alcohol (IPA) wipes. It didn't work well, maybe because the alcohol was 70% while they say on the Internet that it should be at least 90%.
  Right after I did a quick test soldering using a cheap Chinese PCB designed for SMD soldering practice. 
 

Offline ar__systems

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Re: New Metcal MX-500 user: questions
« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2017, 05:53:54 AM »
I have mx-500 for like 10 years, and when I bought it I also bought a bunch of tips. I mostly did prototyping rework with it, and leaded solder. I don't remember any tips getting broken, except for being oxidized. And then I started to do small production runs. I bought lead-free tips. The one that I like (mini-wave) burned in no time. I bought another one and it too burned through very quickly. (Like month or two). those were original new metcal tips, not from ebay. So there...
 


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