Author Topic: What Metcal?  (Read 96258 times)

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Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #50 on: January 03, 2014, 05:07:00 pm »
Is Metcal's standard iron temperature of 775F/412C too high for everyday use with modern PCB's and SMT components?

Apparently not. At the PCB factory I worked at in the late '90s, we built PCBs for commercial fire alarm systems, like you'd find installed in a hospital, factory, or other large building (we built the entire systems, not just the PCBs), and many of those PCBs were almost entirely SMT, which we built on a multi-million dollar Panasonic SMT machine which was at least 100 yards long. Here's a friend of mine loading one of the reels of SMT components:



In any event, fire alarms are categorized as "life saving equipment", and as such, they are subject to certain mandated quality control regulations. We used Metcal STSS-002 and MX-500 solder stations, usually with STTC-1XX tips (STTC-126 is what I used, as did most others). Granted, all of the SMT components were soldered in the Panasonic SMT machine, and most of the through-hole components were soldered in the wave, but the techs and everyone on my line did rework on both SMT components and through-hole components with Metcals (and my line hand-soldered in through-hole terminals blocks in every board, which for whatever reason, they didn't want to run through the wave). Each board was fully tested in the HP3070 machine (which had a custom "bed of nails" type fixture for every type of PCB we manufactured, so as to test every circuit/component on the boad), which would give a printout showing what faults existed, if any, and if a fault needed to be fixed, I, or a tech, or someone else from my line, would do the rework (which was nearly always an SMT component, usually one that was lifted from the pad), and then we'd send it through the HP3070 again.

The fact that Metcals are so popular for production line work in general, and STTC-1XX (700 series) cartridges are the most popular tips, is a testament to them being safe for use with modern PCBs and SMT components.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 05:16:09 pm by MaximRecoil »
 

Offline SLJ

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #51 on: January 03, 2014, 06:03:47 pm »
You really can't generalize all components, chips, and boards from one type of production and components used 15 years ago.  While I will agree the temp is not all that important for most jobs, when I'm doing a repair on a multi-layer board with very small traces I still am careful about temp settings and the length of time heat is applied.  If I'm soldering micro components and I start to see discoloration or notice the heat affecting a wider area than just the pads, I like the option of lowering the temp.  I don't have to change tips or irons, it's just a quick touch.  Some manufacturer's have requirements on temps used and when there is it's not usually 700 degrees.

Back in the 80's when I worked for a defense contractor we would have to use a specific temp in production once in awhile.  The cal lab would have to set up and certify the the irons for a specific temp and monitor and test them on a daily basis.  Not sure how they did it as I know they had to get specific tips and adjust the supply voltage.  I remember they could not use magnetic tips with preset temps for certain jobs.   I'm sure it's a lot easier to do that now than it was back then.  My WX2 has a usb port and comes with software to quickly set all stations the same in a production environment.  Something I'll never use in my workshop but I wanted the two channel controller and it comes with the port.

The Metcal I had was fine for general circuit board and point to point work but would not be my choice for micro soldering due to no temp adjustment.  If I hadn't had problems with it I would still probably be using it on the main bench.

Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #52 on: January 03, 2014, 06:34:48 pm »
You really can't generalize all components, chips, and boards from one type of production and components used 15 years ago.

Sure you can, given that nothing has meaningfully changed since then. We soldered for example, surface-mount ICs that were e.g. 1.125" square with e.g. 160 legs, or resistors and capacitors that were about the size of 1/8 grain of rice, all the way through to relatively large through-hole terminal blocks with the same tip. Actually, the only thing that has really changed is the proliferation of regulations calling for lead-free solder, which tends to call for higher temperatures. "Life saving equipment" is exempt from that foolishness though, because lead-free solder joints aren't as good. Also, the factory I worked at was far from the only one using Metcals, then or now.

Quote
While I will agree the temp is not all that important for most jobs, when I'm doing a repair on a multi-layer board with very small traces I still am careful about temp settings and the length of time heat is applied.  If I'm soldering micro components and I start to see discoloration or notice the heat affecting a wider area than just the pads, I like the option of lowering the temp.  I don't have to change tips or irons, it's just a quick touch.  Some manufacturer's have requirements on temps used and when there is it's not usually 700 degrees.

If for whatever reason you need a different temperature with a Metcal, change the tip, a process which takes maybe 15 seconds, including the time it takes for the different tip to reach operating temperature. Even with an adjustable temperature station, you're going to have to wait at least that long for it to cool down to the lower temperature you selected.

In any event, as a general rule, the Metcal STTC-1XX tips are fine for SMT components, which is why so many factories use them. If professionals stopped buying Metcals they'd probably go out of business, because I doubt there are enough hobbyist sales to support them. In the case of whatever exceptions there may be out there, well, make an exception when you encounter them.
 

Offline zapta

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #53 on: January 03, 2014, 07:21:57 pm »
... If I hadn't had problems with it I would still probably be using it on the main bench.

Are you referring to the standby problem you mentioned earlier?  Did you try to fix it? With MX500 for example, you can find on the internet schematic and operation overview and it is made of common discrete components.  (The MX500 has small screw to enable/disable the automatic timeout shutdown, I presume this is not your problem).

As for fixed temperature, I had an analog Weller (WES51?) that came with a magnetic key to lock the temperature setting in production environments. I always had it on 700F and just swapped between two tips.
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Offline SLJ

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #54 on: January 03, 2014, 08:47:54 pm »
Actually the WX changes temp in 3 or four seconds at the touch of the screen without a tip change.

The Metcal problem was not the adjustment screw.  If it did go into shutdown it would not wake up.  Problem was it did it intermittently, about on time out of maybe four or five.  You never knew when.  Just enough so you would have worked for a half hour and then all of the sudden you had a cold tip.  Only way to get it back on was to shut the power off.  I suspect maybe a bad solder connection somewhere but when an acquaintance said he'd take it as is (for what I paid for it) I sold it since I have several other stations.  Next time I see him I'll have to ask him if he figured it out although I suspect he's just using it without standby.

My WESD51 has that magnetic key to lock the temp. It's just used by me so I haven't needed it.

All parameters of the WX2 can be programed at once, temps for each tool, standby time, heat speed, etc., and then loaded onto each unit on a production line via USB for any tool or anything else plugged into them (SMD pencils, soldering irons, tweezers, reflow ovens, fume eliminators. etc.).  It knows what's plugged into it and if pre programed, adjusts all the port settings for that tool.  Do you need all that at home or in a service shop?  Nope, but I could see where it would be very handy in a large production environment where parameter changes and different tools were necessary.  The Metcal reminds me of my old Weller station where you changed tips depending on the temp and what you were working on.  They do heat up fast and tip changes are fairly quick but for me the WX or a JBC probably has more value for the money.

Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #55 on: January 03, 2014, 08:58:34 pm »
So does anyone know the difference(s) between the various pre-MX-500 stations? Why is it so hard to find official technical information on Metcal stations?

Here are the ones I've seen:

Soldering System: STSS-001
Power Unit: RFG-30
Notes: No LED, glossy
plastic trim piece down the middle
of the front, 115 VAC, 60 Hz., 1.5 A

Soldering System: STSS-002
Power Unit: RFG-30
Notes: One LED,
115 VAC, 60 Hz., 1.5 A

Soldering System: STSS-002
Power Unit: PS2
Notes: One LED,
115 VAC, 60 Hz., 1.5 A

Soldering System: STSS-002
Power Unit: PS2
Notes: Two LEDs,
115 VAC, 60 Hz., 1.5 A

Power Supply: PS2E-01
Notes: Two LEDs,
115 VAC, 60 Hz., 1.5 A

Soldering System Power Supply: STSS-PS2V-02
Notes: Two LEDs,
230 V~, 50 Hz., 1.0 A

Besides the different number of LEDs (or lack thereof), and the different circuitry associated with them, and the obvious power standard difference of the STSS-PS2V-02, what are the differences among these power supplies? They can all use the same handpieces (as they are all 13.56 mHz), and all of the 115 VAC ones are rated to draw 1.5 amps. Note that the 115 VAC MX-500 is only rated to draw 1 amp, so they are either more efficient or they have less power, because, not taking into account efficiency, 1 amp @ 115 volts = 115 watts, while 1.5 amps @ 115 volts =  172.5 watts.

It wouldn't surprise me if the MX-500 has less power than the older units, because like I mentioned earlier, when I worked at the PCB factory, the older units seemed to perform a little better when pushed hard, which is why I always tried to swap with a co-worker if I got stuck with an MX-500. I usually sat at the same bench every night, but those squirrelly first-shifters liked to move things around, so I'd make a trade so I could have my trusty STSS-whatever one night, come back the next night and an MX-500 might be sitting there again.

The Metcal problem was not the adjustment screw.  If it did go into shutdown it would not wake up.  Problem was it did it intermittently, about on time out of maybe four or five.  You never knew when.  Just enough so you would have worked for a half hour and then all of the sudden you had a cold tip.  Only way to get it back on was to shut the power off.  I suspect maybe a bad solder connection somewhere but when an acquaintance said he'd take it as is (for what I paid for it) I sold it since I have several other stations.  Next time I see him I'll have to ask him if he figured it out although I suspect he's just using it without standby.

That was another reason I preferred using the older STSS stations to the MX-500 stations at work; that auto-shutdown function irritated me to no end, even when that function was working correctly (and we did have a few that sometimes wouldn't come out of shutdown properly as well).
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 09:03:39 pm by MaximRecoil »
 
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Offline SLJ

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #56 on: January 03, 2014, 09:44:38 pm »


Sorry but if I really had to choose which one...


Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #57 on: January 04, 2014, 04:48:41 am »
We used Metcal STSS-002 and MX-500 solder stations, usually with STTC-1XX tips (STTC-126 is what I used, as did most others).

You really can't generalize all components, chips, and boards from one type of production and components used 15 years ago.

Sure you can, given that nothing has meaningfully changed since then.

Speaking of nothing changing, I figured I'd check with my old friend Jenn, who still works there:

Quote from: Jenn
We use the STTC-126 for both leaded and unleaded solder. That is the most popular tip, but we use a variety. We haven't gone completely lead-free yet and we're not going to!
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 04:55:17 am by MaximRecoil »
 

Offline Frost

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #58 on: January 04, 2014, 05:45:56 am »
Sorry but if I really had to choose which one...
Then I would definitely choose this one ;D

 

Offline quarros

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #59 on: January 04, 2014, 07:35:25 am »
I never knew ersa made an all in one i-con station too. Nice...
Altough they could have polished the exterior design a little bit more.
It looks rather bland.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 07:46:13 am by quarros »
 

Offline zapta

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #60 on: January 04, 2014, 08:02:26 am »

Then I would definitely choose this one ;D

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Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #61 on: January 04, 2014, 03:31:25 pm »

Then I would definitely choose this one ;D

That looks like a miserable place to work. I soldered on a production line for 2 years, but it was nothing like that, mainly because my line was only doing a relatively small aspect of production. Out of the many types of PCBs the factory I worked for manufactured (and PCBs weren't the only thing they manufactured), there were several types that needed terminal blocks hand soldered into them. I don't know why they didn't solder the terminal blocks in the wave.

But either way, in our little corner of the factory we were supposed to inspect the boards, solder the terminal blocks in, run them through the HP3070 tester, fix any errors that the tester pinpointed (usually SMT component errors), and conformal coat them. So there were only about 7 people total in that area, and we weren't all crammed together, lined up like chickens at an egg farm. There was only one person that sat directly beside me, and there was plenty of elbow room between us. 2 to 3 people sat across from us at work benches butted up against the same tall rack (which held tools/supplies) that our work benches were butted up against. Then there was someone at the conformal coating machine and someone at the HP3070 machine. Technically we were supposed to take turns on the different jobs in that area, but I preferred to be on the same job every night (inspecting/soldering), and usually no one minded. Sometimes the supervisor would notice that I'd been on the same job for many nights in a row and he'd move us around, and I'd get stuck on the HP3070 or the conformal coater, but that was rare.

Plus we had comfortable, padded, swiveling, tilting office chairs, a radio, very little supervision, and we could shoot the breeze with each other all night (as long as we met our quota no one cared), which made time fly.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 03:34:23 pm by MaximRecoil »
 

Offline SLJ

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #62 on: January 04, 2014, 04:24:43 pm »
The ERSA looks interesting but hard to find dealers and parts in the U.S..  They mostly sell to industry through reps.
They do have strikingly similar hokey PR videos just like Weller though, background music and all:

ERSA Video

Weller Video

I still would like to take a JBC for a test.

Offline zapta

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #63 on: January 04, 2014, 07:04:07 pm »
It does not matter what tools we have, it matters what we build with them.
Drain the swamp.
 

Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #64 on: January 04, 2014, 08:00:34 pm »
It does not matter what tools we have, it matters what we build with them.

Christmas of '88, when I was almost 14, we got a VCR as a family present. When I moved out in '93, I was allowed to take it with me. By the mid '90s its remote control was starting to get flaky; it would intermittently stop working, and you had to bang it against your hand and/or mess with the pair of AA batteries to get it to work again, and it wouldn't be long before it would flake out again. It was especially annoying because most of the VCR's functions were only on the very large remote control (my friend Tom used to call it "The Bat"). The VCR itself only had Play/Pause and Stop/Eject, it didn't even have FF and RW. However, I didn't have a clue about anything electronics-related at the time, so the idea of being able to fix it never even crossed my mind.

In '98 I got hired at a PCB factory, and I was trained on soldering, inspecting, and rework. We used Metcal STSS and MX-500 stations interchangeably. After working on PCBs night after night, I decided to take my remote control apart to see if I could see anything obvious that was wrong with it. I noticed immediately that the solder joint for the (+) battery terminal was cracked all the way around.

I didn't have a soldering iron at home at the time, but I did have a little bit of solder wire in the pocket of my smock from work. I could have simply taken it to work the next day and easily fixed it, but I wanted to fix it then and there. So I grabbed a flat-blade screwdriver, fired up my propane torch, heated the blade until it seemed hot enough, pressed it against the pad and post, and using a touch of new flux-core solder (I had no way to remove the old solder) reflowed the joint:



It has worked perfectly ever since, though I haven't had any use for a VCR since the early '00s. I've never bothered to redo that joint, even though I've had proper soldering/desoldering tools at home for many years now, because there is nothing wrong with it the way it is.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 08:03:26 pm by MaximRecoil »
 

Offline mamalala

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #65 on: January 06, 2014, 01:30:49 am »
STTC-116 is the go-to tip for me, the fine radius on the tip gets into small pins/faces without getting damaged and does everything from 0402 up to through hole and even silly things like D2PAK. A nicely wetted curie heating tip doesnt need the large contact area with the pad like conventional soldering irons so chisels are less needed.

Thanks very much for the suggestion. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I doubt It would help me with densely packed SMD boards, and as I pointed out, that's the only situation I don't have a solution for... Yet.  ;)

The 116 tip is rather chuny: very short with a point tip. The 126 is already much better in that regard. But you can also get long-reach fine-point tips like the 190, 106, 145, etc. Take a look here: http://www.okinternational.com/metcal/english/globalnavigation/products/hand-soldering-systems/tips-and-cartridges/mx-cartridges/sttc-series-conical

That's one of the nice things about Metcal, the massive range of different tip styles. Not to mention the SMTC rework tips, which make things like desoldering SMD packages really easy.

Greetings,

Chris
 

Offline mamalala

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #66 on: January 06, 2014, 01:41:23 am »
I have a question: what is the difference between the RFG-30 power supply and the PS2E-01 power supply (and the PS2V-01 power supply for that matter)? I know that the PS2E (and probably the PS2V) power supply has an auto-shutoff feature that the RFG-30 lacks, but is there any difference in power/performance?

The PS2V does not have that shutoff-feature. And from what i know, neither do the PS2E or RFG30, but only the MX500 and onward. About the differencies between them all, my guess is that it is just minor circuit changes to upgrade to newer parts. The driver and final FET's in these units are old. For example, the main circuit part in my PS2V is the same as in the MX500-P, but it uses different FET's. Also, the PS2V is missing the auto-off and the power-meassurement circuitry that the MX500-P has (going by the available schematics, one only needs to hook up one of these analogue instruments, the circuitry itself is already in the unit).

Fun thing, a friend of mine also has a MX500, but it also uses different FET's in the driver and output stage, compared to what is shown in the schematics. So really, my guess is that these different version are just accomodating for newer parts (like swapping in new transistors/FET's for the then-obsolete types) and don't really change the overall circuitry. After all, the principle is rather simple (after all, i built my own supply unit that i also published here on the forum), and not much room to do it much differently either, if you want to keep it cost effective. Just build an square-wave oscillator, connect to a driver, which in turn connects to the final. Then transform and filter the result to get close to a sine wave. Monitor reflected power or RF current, and use that to regulate the DC supply to the final.

Greetings,

Chris

 

Offline mamalala

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #67 on: January 06, 2014, 01:56:29 am »
Metcal extols the virtues of how their SmartHeat RF heating technology maintains tip temperatures better, and they claim that in some cases this can lead to up to 100F/38C less idle temperature required. However when I examine the temperature details about their various tip series, I notice that their "standard" tips operate at a temperature of 775F/412C, which already seems high to me, especially given that it isn't adjustable. My Weller WX2 standard temperature presets are 608F/320C and 662F/350C for the WXMP/WXMT micro tips, while the corresponding Metcal UltraFine tips are only offered at 775F/412C. Is Metcal's standard iron temperature of 775F/412C too high for everyday use with modern PCB's and SMT components?

I like their no nonsense "just turn it on and go", "it'll work" approach (especially compared to the overly elaborate Weller WX2 Series) and their extensive tip offerings, but I'm concerned about the higher tip temperatures, associate tip life degradation with SAC305 at those higher temperatures, and the potential for overheating components.

I'm also digging their generous assortment of included nozzles on their new HCT2-120 Digital Hot Air Pencil, which their iron stand conveniently stores at the ready.

Regarding the tip temperature, it all boils down to what you need to work on, and how quick you can do that. Note that Metcal tips come in 500/600/700 and 800 °F, while the 500/800 types are not available for every tip geometry. The 700°F is just a good compromise. What makes the difference is the thermal recovery that can only be reached if the tip/heater/sensor is a single assembly. This is true not only for Metcal, but also for the JBC stations. With conventional stations, the heat is sucked out of the tip rather quickly, and it takes time for the control loop to compensate for that. Which in turn leads to a longer time of contact of the tip to the joint, which in the end also transfers more heat into the part/pads itself for a longer time. Not to mention the overshot you will get at that point with most conventional stations.

Sure, if one scrapes the tip on the pad/pin for a long time, at high temps, there is a risk of delamination and such. But then, learning how to solder properly and quickly will in the end reduce that risk, while the higher _stable_ temp actually helps to speed up the whole process. After all, the melting point of the solder does not change just because it is on a small or huge pad/copper plane. The goal is to have it melted as quickly as possible, to transfer enough heat into the pad and pin as quickly as possible, without needing to crank up the dial...

Also, note that in production environments it is crucial that the person working can not fiddle around with the temp settings. And these environments are where Metcal's are usually used. All that fiddling around with temp settings is more of a hobbyist thing for the past decades. Would be interresting to know how folks who now have a JBC, for example, handle the temp settings. My guess woulld be that now they just leave it at a set temp and simply forget to bother about that, compared to the fiddling they did before with simpler stations.

Greetings,

Chris
 

Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #68 on: January 06, 2014, 01:58:14 am »
I have a question: what is the difference between the RFG-30 power supply and the PS2E-01 power supply (and the PS2V-01 power supply for that matter)? I know that the PS2E (and probably the PS2V) power supply has an auto-shutoff feature that the RFG-30 lacks, but is there any difference in power/performance?

The PS2V does not have that shutoff-feature. And from what i know, neither do the PS2E or RFG30, but only the MX500 and onward. About the differencies between them all, my guess is that it is just minor circuit changes to upgrade to newer parts. The driver and final FET's in these units are old. For example, the main circuit part in my PS2V is the same as in the MX500-P, but it uses different FET's. Also, the PS2V is missing the auto-off and the power-meassurement circuitry that the MX500-P has (going by the available schematics, one only needs to hook up one of these analogue instruments, the circuitry itself is already in the unit).

Fun thing, a friend of mine also has a MX500, but it also uses different FET's in the driver and output stage, compared to what is shown in the schematics. So really, my guess is that these different version are just accomodating for newer parts (like swapping in new transistors/FET's for the then-obsolete types) and don't really change the overall circuitry. After all, the principle is rather simple (after all, i built my own supply unit that i also published here on the forum), and not much room to do it much differently either, if you want to keep it cost effective. Just build an square-wave oscillator, connect to a driver, which in turn connects to the final. Then transform and filter the result to get close to a sine wave. Monitor reflected power or RF current, and use that to regulate the DC supply to the final.

Greetings,

Chris

Thanks for the reply. So would you say that the RFG-30 through the MX-500 are all 40 watts?
 

Offline mamalala

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #69 on: January 06, 2014, 02:11:43 am »
Thanks for the reply. So would you say that the RFG-30 through the MX-500 are all 40 watts?

No. from what i know (which may be wrong, of course) is that the RFG-30 and PS2V/E stations have 30 watts nominal, the MX500 has 50 watts, and the MX5000 is 80 watts. Problem is that i can't really meassure the actual output power due to lack of proper instrumentation.

The actual maximum power output is a function of reflected power meassurement, and thus the DC voltage applied to the final output stage. You can adjust that in these stations. All tip cartridges behave differently during heat up. They do not really start out with the maximum power when cold, but at a high power output that, during heatup, just peaks at some point, and then goes back down. In a direct comparison with brand new 126 tips, my own circuit heats it up just a tad faster than my PS2V, while at tthe same time it uses a generally lower DC supply to the RF final, as well as a "smaller" FET there. Maybe i just got lucky with that design, dunno.

In any case, there won't be too much difference beetween them, assuming the same _small_ tips are used. Thing is that in these tips the "active" mass is really small. Pumping in much more power only gains very small. Where it will make a real difference is with much bigger tips (i.e. much larger thermal mass), i think.

But then, in the end i don't care if it need 5 or 6 seconds to heat up from cold to operating temp. It still is friggin fast, and heatup time is only one side. Keeping the tip at the temp is far more important, and that they all do just fine, from what know.

Greetings,

Chris

Edit: Just for fun i attach two pics of a coin soldered to a bare copper clad PCB, using the 126 tip. The whole process took a bit over one minute, where most of that time was spent rotating the board properly to reach all around the coin. And yes, no problem touching the thing rather close to the just-soldered parts. heat transfer into the actual joint area was fast enough to not heat up the surroundings too much.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2014, 02:17:23 am by mamalala »
 

Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #70 on: January 06, 2014, 03:36:45 am »

No. from what i know (which may be wrong, of course) is that the RFG-30 and PS2V/E stations have 30 watts nominal, the MX500 has 50 watts, and the MX5000 is 80 watts. Problem is that i can't really meassure the actual output power due to lack of proper instrumentation.

The MX-500 has always officially been rated at 40 watts, and Metcal made of point of stating that the MX-5000 has double the power of the MX-500. You can see this in the MX-500's owner's manual (page 18 of the manual itself, which corresponds to page 20 of the PDF file):

Quote
SYSTEM SPECIFICATIONS
POWER SUPPLY
Tip-to-Ground Potential < 2 mV True RMS, 50-500 Hz
Tip-to-Ground Resistance < 2 ohms DC, unit on
Idle Temperature Stability ± 2° F (± 1.1°C) Still air
Ambient Operating Temp. 50 - 104° F (10 - 40 °C)
Maximum Enclosure Temp. 150 ° F (65°C)
Thermal Switch Setpoint at 150 ± 3° F (66 ± 1.2°C)
Auto-reset once cooled to 110° F (43°C)
Input Line Voltage 90 - 130 VAC (-11) 190-260VAC (-21)
Input Line Frequency 45 - 70 Hz (-11) 50-60Hz (-21)
Fuse 250V, 1.25 A, “Slo-Blo”
Output Power 40 Watts maximum
@ 72°F (22°C) ambient temperature
Output Frequency 13.56 MHz
Auto-Off Feature 10 millisecond lag time
Power Cord (3-wire) 6 ft (183 cm) 18/3 SJT
W x H x D 5.3” x 9.5” x 4.7” (13.5cm x 24.1cm x 11.9cm)
Weight 7.5 lbs. (3.41kg)
Standards Compliance MIL-STD-2000, -1686, -45743E, WS-6536D/E

The newly redesigned MX-500 is rated at 40 watts as well:

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New MX-500P Power Supply
MX-500P
Metcal’s MX-500 Soldering and Rework System has been reimagined, adding features and a new look to a bench top icon.

The system utilizes SmartHeat® Technology, wherein each cartridge is equipped with a self-regulating heater which ‘senses’ its own temperature and closely maintains its pre-set idle temperature for the life of the heater-tip. The tip temperature is determined by the inherent metallurgical properties of the heater; no external adjustment or equipment is required. The MX-500 retains switchable dual port, 40W operation while introducing numerous new features in a new housing.

Link

As I mentioned in a previous post, at the PCB factory I worked, we used MX-500s and the older STSS models interchangeably. I preferred the STSS models over the MX-500s as they seemed to keep up better when pushed hard (i.e., under extremely rapid soldering of hundreds of relatively large through-hole terminal block joints in a row). I did everything I could to keep from being slowed down, which included getting a new tip cartridge every 2 weeks (always an STTC-126) and doing my best to avoid getting stuck with an MX-500 (I'd always swap it for an STSS if I could).

The type of slowdown I'm talking about was very slight, as in, you are soldering along full speed ahead and then on your next joint (usually toward the end of the 400-joint board) you feed the solder wire in and instead of wetting instantly like it had been doing all along, nothing happens for a split second; it was annoying. MX-500s would often do that even with brand new tip cartridges. STSSs never did that with new or less-than-80-hours-of-use tip cartridges.

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The actual maximum power output is a function of reflected power meassurement, and thus the DC voltage applied to the final output stage. You can adjust that in these stations. All tip cartridges behave differently during heat up. They do not really start out with the maximum power when cold, but at a high power output that, during heatup, just peaks at some point, and then goes back down. In a direct comparison with brand new 126 tips, my own circuit heats it up just a tad faster than my PS2V, while at tthe same time it uses a generally lower DC supply to the RF final, as well as a "smaller" FET there. Maybe i just got lucky with that design, dunno.

Very interesting information. Thanks.

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In any case, there won't be too much difference beetween them, assuming the same _small_ tips are used. Thing is that in these tips the "active" mass is really small. Pumping in much more power only gains very small. Where it will make a real difference is with much bigger tips (i.e. much larger thermal mass), i think.

I know it. Have you ever tried using one of the big quad IC-removal tips, like the SMTC-144? Those take forever to heat up. I wonder if they would heat up reasonably fast with the 80-watt MX-5000.

Quote
Edit: Just for fun i attach two pics of a coin soldered to a bare copper clad PCB, using the 126 tip. The whole process took a bit over one minute, where most of that time was spent rotating the board properly to reach all around the coin. And yes, no problem touching the thing rather close to the just-soldered parts. heat transfer into the actual joint area was fast enough to not heat up the surroundings too much.

Yeah, I saw those pictures in an earlier post of yours. It reminded me of when I used to solder surface-mount components to pennies to kill time at work when there was nothing to do. In fact, I just went and checked my drawer, and I still have one; it's been there since 1999:

« Last Edit: January 06, 2014, 03:59:39 am by MaximRecoil »
 

Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #71 on: January 09, 2014, 05:08:46 pm »

In any case, there won't be too much difference beetween them, assuming the same _small_ tips are used. Thing is that in these tips the "active" mass is really small. Pumping in much more power only gains very small. Where it will make a real difference is with much bigger tips (i.e. much larger thermal mass), i think.

By the way, I got about the biggest standard STTC tip available for the Metcal in the mail today: STTC-117 (mine's new, not used), which is a 5mm wide chisel tip. I think the only bigger STTC tip that they make is the STTC-165, which is the same width and style as the 117 but a little longer. 5mm means it is as wide as the cartridge barrel itself.

Surprisingly, it heated up to soldering temperature from room temperature just as fast as my STTC-126, which is ~9 seconds with my STSS-002/RFG-30. I think the difference in mass between the small and large tips in the STTC line is too small to make a significant difference in heatup time. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, with a truly huge tip, like one of the big quad IC-removal tips in the SMTC line, it does make a big difference.
 

Offline quarros

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #72 on: January 09, 2014, 09:28:35 pm »
By the way, I got about the biggest standard STTC tip available for the Metcal in the mail today: STTC-117 (mine's new, not used), which is a 5mm wide chisel tip. I think the only bigger STTC tip that they make is the STTC-165, which is the same width and style as the 117 but a little longer. 5mm means it is as wide as the cartridge barrel itself.

Surprisingly, it heated up to soldering temperature from room temperature just as fast as my STTC-126, which is ~9 seconds with my STSS-002/RFG-30. I think the difference in mass between the small and large tips in the STTC line is too small to make a significant difference in heatup time. Of course, as I mentioned earlier, with a truly huge tip, like one of the big quad IC-removal tips in the SMTC line, it does make a big difference.

Yeah. It is a very good tip and interestingly it is not too bulky to use it for trough hole soldering or big SMD removal on not densely packed board. I often find myself using that tip even trough the big stuff (heatsinks, etc)  that needed removal is already done, but I couldn't be bothered to change it. One note tough because of the large surface area it has excellent heat transfer. In some cases a little bit too excellent so if one is not fast enough it could cause some damage.
 

Offline zapta

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #73 on: January 10, 2014, 02:43:58 am »
By the way, I got about the biggest standard STTC tip available for the Metcal in the mail today: STTC-117 (mine's new, not used), which is a 5mm wide chisel tip. I think the only bigger STTC tip that they make is the STTC-165, which is the same width and style as the 117 but a little longer. 5mm means it is as wide as the cartridge barrel itself.

Thanks for the recommendation.  eBay has new ones for $13 shipped, so I just ordered one. My wider tip is about 1.5mm.
Drain the swamp.
 

Offline MaximRecoil

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #74 on: January 10, 2014, 04:12:11 am »

Thanks for the recommendation.  eBay has new ones for $13 shipped, so I just ordered one. My wider tip is about 1.5mm.

Yeah, that's where I got mine, from " laptopsource02" on eBay, brand new for $13 shipped. It looks like he has a lot of them (says "more than 10 available"), and that's a good price for a new, large STTC tip cartridge, especially with the free shipping. He shipped it quickly and it was packed well. I figured it would be good to have on-hand for particularly large-mass joints.
 


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