Author Topic: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance  (Read 3667 times)

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Offline palindromeTopic starter

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Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« on: May 03, 2024, 05:13:53 pm »
Hi!

I have a lot of PCBs to solder and some have quite large ground planes and I found my trusty Hakko FX-951 was struggling sometimes.

I thought I'll save time if I buy more professional soldering station, so after spending time on YouTube and reading forums I bought Metcal MX-5210 and a wide range of original tips.

I don't know if I am doing something wrong or there is some setting I am missing, but so far I find this iron to perform worse than my Hakko. It struggles where Hakko doesn't and I see no improvement at all, in fact it is worse when it comes to those problematic solder joints.
I did manage to solder one board but it took me twice as much time and I had to redo some solder joints.

So I understand the digit on the right is showing how much power goes into the tip. When it is idle it shows 5. When I stick the tip into the brass wool it goes to 70 something quickly and maxes out at 80.
When I am touching the solder joint it is very erratic like jumps between 5 and 12, sometimes goes to 20.
When I try to solder something that has a large ground plane, it never goes over 22-23 and it struggles to melt solder.

Do I have a dud?  :-//

Thanks!
« Last Edit: May 03, 2024, 05:15:33 pm by palindrome »
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2024, 09:02:38 pm »
Definitely will perform better than the Hakko.
- Did you purchase new tips or are these used tips? Tips can partially fail but still heat up, so if they are used they might be bad.
- What is the part number on the tip you are using? There are different temperature ranges, usually you want to use the 700 series (eg STTC-136)
- Press the button on the front so you just get the "box animation" thing on just the port you are using, if its on both sides then the power is shared among both ports.

My guess its a dud tip. If not, get out a power meter and see how much power it draws when starting up.

https://www.metcal.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Metcal_CV-MX-Cartridges-Catalogue_EN.pdf
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Offline armandine2

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2024, 09:23:23 pm »
Hi!

I I bought Metcal MX-5210 and a wide range of original tips.



I bought the bigger Metcal after using the smaller for a few years, and I was expecting more too.
Maybe it is the tips - given these actually set the temp.
Funny, the things you have the hardest time parting with are the things you need the least - Bob Dylan
 

Offline palindromeTopic starter

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2024, 09:41:06 pm »
- Yes, everything is new.

- I tried to solder using SMTC-0185 (the same size and shape I typically use with Hakko). I also tried STTC-125, STTC-136 but they had similar issue with heating up, but once I got solder to melt, they'd burn the flux and generally joint would look pretty bad, like insufficiently heated but also burnt if that makes sense.

I also had a smaller tip STTC-128 but that one would struggle with everything. It would take ages for it to melt solder.

- I tried that, I am pretty sure I've only used the port I had the hand piece connected to.

I am using K100LD Kester Lead Free solder.

When I am using Hakko, it is set to 350 degree.
 

Offline palindromeTopic starter

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2024, 09:45:28 pm »
I bought the bigger Metcal after using the smaller for a few years, and I was expecting more too.
Maybe it is the tips - given these actually set the temp.

Maybe it's my technique. But certainly it feels like it is underpowered. I had similar experience when soldering with cheap soldering iron.
 

Offline shabaz

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2024, 09:53:46 pm »
The unit may be faulty. In comparison, here is a JBC station with a small (1mm) tip, using a small 40W iron handle, on copper ground plane, you can see that the solder flows smoothly on the copper. Metcal performance is for sure at least similar. Are you not seeing a similar level of performance as shown in the video?



 

Offline Smokey

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2024, 10:09:02 pm »
There are some crazy hot Metcal tips if that's what you are after.  It does take a little more effort in tip selection than having an adjustable iron base station, but just keep going up in temp if you need more. 

For my 0402 size tip, I usually use STTC-122.  But I also use leaded solder. 
« Last Edit: May 03, 2024, 10:11:12 pm by Smokey »
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2024, 11:09:18 pm »
- Yes, everything is new.

- I tried to solder using SMTC-0185 (the same size and shape I typically use with Hakko). I also tried STTC-125, STTC-136 but they had similar issue with heating up, but once I got solder to melt, they'd burn the flux and generally joint would look pretty bad, like insufficiently heated but also burnt if that makes sense.

I also had a smaller tip STTC-128 but that one would struggle with everything. It would take ages for it to melt solder.

- I tried that, I am pretty sure I've only used the port I had the hand piece connected to.

I am using K100LD Kester Lead Free solder.

When I am using Hakko, it is set to 350 degree.

OK if everything is new then its odd.

If I use a STTC-137 (1.8mm), which is a bit smaller than the STTC-136 (2.5mm), on a ground plane I'll see 30-35 on the power meter. The smaller the tip the less power can pass through it in real world use. I don't know how accurate the display meter is though, which is where a kill-a-watt power meter would come in handy.

Can you try: check that RF port of handpiece is fully seated into the connector on the base? You'll have to unscrew the outer shell, push to fully seat, then screw in the outer shell a bit. Just finger tight is fine.
Could also check if tip and connector in the handpiece is clean, tip is fully seated. Handpiece can unscrew apart into two halves, you probably know that already.

350C is 662F which is closer to the low temp tips, STTC-0. The burning part might be related to not being used to the higher temperature, but obviously something is still wrong here. Maybe base is defective.
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Offline palindromeTopic starter

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2024, 01:47:47 pm »
I did another test today. I disconnected the hand piece and connected again, now to the second port.

Then I got my Hakko side by side with the same size 2mm tip.

I tried to solder a connector. Hakko struggled a little, but did solder it fine. Metcal on the other hand couldn't solder it. It was like intermittently melting solder and I was unable to form a joint and had to correct it with Hakko.

It seems like it cannot detect I am soldering and when I touch the joint it keeps rapidly switching between "Ready" and "Power".

Looks like I am going to send it back.
 

Offline shapirus

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2024, 01:52:26 pm »
Have you checked the actual temperature of the tip with a thermometer?
 

Offline palindromeTopic starter

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2024, 02:04:20 pm »
Unfortunately I don't have a thermometer, but the tip is hot. When I touch it with the solder wire, it melts it right away.

The problem is when I try to solder it's like doesn't seem to have enough power. For instance it will melt the solder on half of the joint, but other half is solid, whereas Hakko will melt it like butter.

edit:
When I changed the tip to STTC-136 (2mm chisel), it did work considerably better, but still it was unable to heat solder, pad and connector enough for solder to flow through the pad most of the time. I had to correct all joints with Hakko.

When I touch the joint with the tip sometimes it doesn't register I want to solder so I have to wait several seconds before it starts delivering power to the tip and it is intermittent.

The smallest one I have STTC-126 would just stay at 5 and not melt anything.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2024, 02:41:31 pm by palindrome »
 

Offline palindromeTopic starter

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2024, 03:51:45 pm »
I requested a return from the distributor. Pity it's a long weekend here, so it's going to take a while to get the money back.

I'll look for a different iron in this price range.
 

Offline tszaboo

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2024, 04:56:40 pm »
I bought the bigger Metcal after using the smaller for a few years, and I was expecting more too.
Maybe it is the tips - given these actually set the temp.

Maybe it's my technique. But certainly it feels like it is underpowered. I had similar experience when soldering with cheap soldering iron.
You need the right tip for lead free solder. The tip sets the temperature.
 

Offline palindromeTopic starter

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2024, 05:14:00 pm »
My understanding from the datasheet is that SMTC-0185 would have 357 °C temp, whereas the STTC-136 would have 413 °C. My Hakko is set to 350 °C.
The tip that works at 413 °C apart from struggling to melt solder, also burnt the flux.
 

Offline armandine2

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2024, 08:50:02 pm »
Hi!




So I understand the digit on the right is showing how much power goes into the tip. When it is idle it shows 5. When I stick the tip into the brass wool it goes to 70 something quickly and maxes out at 80.
When I am touching the solder joint it is very erratic like jumps between 5 and 12, sometimes goes to 20.
When I try to solder something that has a large ground plane, it never goes over 22-23 and it struggles to melt solder.

Do I have a dud?  :-//

Thanks!

That isn't so much different to mine

,,rechecked today, a high thermal demand hand-piece with chisel cartridge HCV-7CH0018S (413 deg C) couldn't melt solder on a coin? - may be another cartridge would  :palm:
 
for the record, my MX-PS5200 is using version 1.37
Funny, the things you have the hardest time parting with are the things you need the least - Bob Dylan
 

Offline loki42

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2024, 11:58:06 pm »
I haven't tried the newer ones but my mx 500 is plenty powerful enough for anything.  Also the no screen etc to go wrong.
 

Offline palindromeTopic starter

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #16 on: May 05, 2024, 12:34:32 am »
The model I have has been made this year. Also version 1.37.
 

Offline Smokey

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2024, 05:33:04 am »
You might also have a defective tip, but the base station is fine.  Do you have another tip?
 

Offline palindromeTopic starter

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2024, 08:41:33 am »
Yes, I bought the station with multiple new tips from an official distributor and I tried all of them.
 

Offline armandine2

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #19 on: May 05, 2024, 12:54:47 pm »
I bought from Farnell - I think

.. and in the past, using my MX500 power supply, I've had to send them back their advanced hand-piece, as it failed to recognize some tips (which the regular hand-piece would).

Perhaps their poor QC really is endemic?  :palm:
« Last Edit: May 05, 2024, 01:00:05 pm by armandine2 »
Funny, the things you have the hardest time parting with are the things you need the least - Bob Dylan
 

Offline palindromeTopic starter

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2024, 08:58:26 am »
This product is not cheap, so having customer do the QC is a bit low.

This upsets me, because I was hoping to speed up my work and what I got is lost few days and frustration. Now I have to deal with the return. I hope they won't be making a fuss.

Then I have to figure out a different station that would have similar specs...
 

Offline armandine2

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #21 on: May 06, 2024, 10:44:38 am »
my tuppence

In my experience - albeit little - there will be no problem returning your gear.

I, also on my little experience, expect the "fault" will likely be in the hand-piece rather than the power supply.

After my disappointing test with the high thermal demand hand-piece - which I believe can only be run from my MX5200 power supply not the MX500 - I tested the MX-RM3E standard hand-piece with an STTC-117 5mm cartridge on the MX5200 and the solder quickly melted and covered the coin.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2024, 10:48:06 am by armandine2 »
Funny, the things you have the hardest time parting with are the things you need the least - Bob Dylan
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #22 on: May 06, 2024, 09:34:54 pm »
After my disappointing test with the high thermal demand hand-piece - which I believe can only be run from my MX5200 power supply not the MX500 - I tested the MX-RM3E standard hand-piece with an STTC-117 5mm cartridge on the MX5200 and the solder quickly melted and covered the coin.

I have not personally tried the MX-H6-HTD handpiece, its not clear what benefit there is if any other than the red color, but they advertise it as working on the MX500, 5000, and 5200 stations: https://store.metcal.com/en-us/shop/soldering-desoldering/hand-pieces/MX-H6-HTD

Also not had any issue with the advanced hand piece (MX-H1-AV) on a number of older PS2E stations, at least for the tips I used. Its way better than the older all metal handles. You might need a RF pass through adapter if it doesn't plug in properly.

But there are definitely quite a few station revisions and probably some variations in the passive components used inside these handpieces that could cause issues.
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Offline armandine2

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #23 on: May 07, 2024, 07:07:34 am »
After my disappointing test with the high thermal demand hand-piece - which I believe can only be run from my MX5200 power supply not the MX500 - I tested the MX-RM3E standard hand-piece with an STTC-117 5mm cartridge on the MX5200 and the solder quickly melted and covered the coin.

I have not personally tried the MX-H6-HTD handpiece, its not clear what benefit there is if any other than the red color, but they advertise it as working on the MX500, 5000, and 5200 stations: https://store.metcal.com/en-us/shop/soldering-desoldering/hand-pieces/MX-H6-HTD


... apparently the benefit is "lower risk of damaging delicate components" - well it definitely wasn't hurting my two pence.

But that said it looks like a better test will be to solder a few electronic components - I'll try it on my next surface mount board and check.

... and try another cartridge -tbc-  :palm:
« Last Edit: May 07, 2024, 08:57:40 am by armandine2 »
Funny, the things you have the hardest time parting with are the things you need the least - Bob Dylan
 
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Offline palindromeTopic starter

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Re: Metcal MX-5210 underwhelming performance
« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2024, 12:47:48 pm »
In my experience - albeit little - there will be no problem returning your gear.

I don't like how this is going. Something I'd describe as making a fuss.

I never expected buying supposedly premium soldering station from, I'd say, reputable distributor would turn to be such a sh*tshow.

 


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