Author Topic: What Metcal?  (Read 97580 times)

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Offline AndersAnd

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #100 on: May 11, 2014, 08:27:43 pm »
the new alum wand is marketed toward the 5000 series, but as I understand it, its still the 13mhz stuff with the same rf connector, right?  so 500 = 5000 for wands and tips (??)
Yes the alloy MX-H1-AV and the plastic predecessor MX-RM3E use the same tips and power supplies.

For the new MX-500 with display (not to be confused with the original MX-500), they even sell solder station systems with both options and with the "cheap" and expensive stand.
But there's only a $30 price difference between the two systems. With such a small price difference I don't know why they even bother marketing it with the cheaper MX-RM3E + WS1 option.  :-//

MX-500S (with MX-RM3E and WS1 sleeper workstand) $535.00: https://www.okinternational.com/us-web-store/english/globalnavigation/us-webstore-product-detail?productId=44acb82c-91c4-4ddb-a828-973dd0a249e2
MX-500AV (with MX-H1-AV and MX-W1AV adjustable workstand) $565.00 https://www.okinternational.com/us-web-store/english/globalnavigation/us-webstore-product-detail?productId=f848e03d-2614-4a98-a06d-aa6b73f111bb


I just bought and repaired two of the original MX-500 (with no display) power supplies and got a new MX-H1-AV alloy wand to use with it and it works fine.
I was originally looking for a used or new MX-RM3E. But I found out even a the used MX-RM3E's at eBay was almost as expensive as a new MX-H1-AV. And the Thermaltronics plastic clone of MX-RM3E was almost as expensive too.
So I got a MX-H1-AV instead, it's more compact and comes with 3 replaceable rubber sleeves with different patterns (as if they were selling different ribbed condoms).

MX-RM3E at Newark $103.68: http://www.findchips.com/search/MX-RM3E
MX-H1-AV at Newark $114.60: http://www.findchips.com/search/MX-H1-AV
EasyBraid [Thermaltronics] SHP-1 $93.06:
http://www.digikey.com/product-search/en/soldering-desoldering-rework-products/soldering-irons-tweezers-handles/1311717?k=EBSHP-1
EasyBraid / Thermaltronics SHP-1 is cross compatible with Metcal MX-RM3E and  MX-H1-AV too. Can use the same tips and power supplies.
SHP-1 looks like a mix between MX-RM3E and MX-H1-AV. Plastic like MX-RM3E, but with replaceable rubber sleeves like MX-H1-AV.


The broken MX-500's also came with a free WS1 auto sleep workstand:
http://www.okinternational.com/Hand_Soldering_Systems/id-WS1/Solder_Auto_Sleep_Workstand



It says "Compatible with MFR-H1-SC, MFR-H2-ST, MX-RM3E and MX-H1-AV hand-pieces."
It works fine with my new MX-H1-AV, although it sits a bit loose in the hole, but it's not a problem. Don't know if the diameter at the end of MX-H1-AV is smaller than MX-RM3E, I think it is, so maybe  MX-RM3E has a more tight fit. But it's not like MX-H1-AV can fall out or anything.
So I'm not going to spend a small fortune on a new stand. Stands for the high end brands like Metcal and JBC are way overpriced for what they are. So no reason to spend money on a new stand if you already have a compatible one.

The auto sleep part in the stand is just two big flat magnets, placed one on each side of the tip inside the stand. I believe they simply lowers the curie temperature of the tips magnetically to lower the tip temperature while the tip sits in the stand. Once removed the temperature rises quickly again. So you should be able to just glue two strong magnets inside any workstand to add auto sleep function. Lowering tip temperature can improve tip life a lot.
It's not the same as the auto sleep function in the power supplies. The auto sleep stand just lowers the temperature, while the auto sleep function in power supplies like MX-500 turn of the power permanently after sitting approx 30 minutes unused. There's a sensor circuit inside MX-500 which detects power changes to the tip. If no change has occurred in 30 minutes it simply turns off the power supply to the tip permanently until restarted. This function can be deactivated by loosening a a screw, if you solder very small loads where the circuit can't detect the power changes and if you don't use a wet sponge to clean the tip but the brass wool.

Please note there's also the ultra fine MX-H2-UF alloy wand. This one use different ultra fine tips than MX-H1-AV and MX-RM3E. For general purpose get MX-H1-AV, this is fine for even 0603 size components for which I've used MX-RM3E a lot in a previous job. Only get the MX-H2-UF if you already have a MX-H1-AV or MX-RM3E and need to do a lot of ultra fine soldering. In most cases you won't even need MX-H2-UF as you can also get very fine tips for  MX-H1-AV / MX-RM3E. But MX-H2-UF is smaller if you solder in very tight spaces.


MX-H2-UF vs. MX-H1-AV www.auelectronics.com/forum/index.php?topic=205.msg508#msg508

You will probably get a lot more use out of MX-PTZ Precision Tweezers Hand-piece, this is very nice to have for SMT rework, but pricey. I have only used the predecessor MX-TALON and loved it. It makes removing SMT components extremely easy, bot tiny resistors and large ICs.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 09:14:13 pm by AndersAnd »
 

Offline mamalala

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #101 on: May 11, 2014, 11:04:58 pm »
The auto sleep part in the stand is just two big flat magnets, placed one on each side of the tip inside the stand. I believe they simply lowers the curie temperature of the tips magnetically to lower the tip temperature while the tip sits in the stand.

Not exactly. What it does is saturating the core/cladding. This also changes the load matching that the supply sees (after all, the inductance changes), which in turn lowers the output power. And that, finally, keeps the temperature lower. At least that is what i was able to figure out by using large neodym magnets close to the tip cartridge and observing what my DIY circuitry does.

Greetings,

Chris

Edit: Since there was some discussion about tip/heater life. The wire used in these tips is rather thin. New stations have far more output power than the older ones. Also, the newer ones heat up a bit faster than the older ones, due to that increased power. I can imagine that this also puts a bit more stress on the cartridge, resulting in reduced lifespan. This is of course just me guessing, but i think it's quite plausible. After all, i also have an old STSS supply (which is one of the lowest power units in that 13.56MHz system) and had it running 24/7 for days quite regularly (which is why i added the auto-power reduction and wakeup in my DIY version). All in all i have tips that have way over 2000 hours on them, and they are still as good as new, as far as thermal capacity/heatup time is concerned. And no, i'm not exactly nice to the cartridges either ;)
« Last Edit: May 11, 2014, 11:10:25 pm by mamalala »
 

Offline AndersAnd

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #102 on: May 12, 2014, 03:09:06 am »
Edit: Since there was some discussion about tip/heater life. The wire used in these tips is rather thin. New stations have far more output power than the older ones. Also, the newer ones heat up a bit faster than the older ones, due to that increased power. I can imagine that this also puts a bit more stress on the cartridge, resulting in reduced lifespan. This is of course just me guessing, but i think it's quite plausible. After all, i also have an old STSS supply (which is one of the lowest power units in that 13.56MHz system) and had it running 24/7 for days quite regularly (which is why i added the auto-power reduction and wakeup in my DIY version). All in all i have tips that have way over 2000 hours on them, and they are still as good as new, as far as thermal capacity/heatup time is concerned. And no, i'm not exactly nice to the cartridges either ;)
All the dead heaters I've experienced has been with MX-500. But as mentioned earlier it was in the late 90's I last used Metcal at work, so maybe they have improved heater life since then, but not sure.
 

Offline linux-works

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #103 on: May 18, 2014, 04:24:48 pm »
thanks for the very long post - very useful info there!

I decided to treat myself, so I bought a brand new aluminum handle and also a new tip (all my tips were used; and they did take a bit longer to heat up).  I also decided to go with the matching stand since the size of the pencil/grip is not exactly the same with the old RME style handle.  I tried swapping them, the old stand and the new pencil and they are not really the best fit.  they can work, but its not exactly right.

the new stand is expensive ($80 or more) but since I'll buy it once and own it for a long time, it was not too unreasonable an expense.  I like that it has drilled holes in the back to hold a small collection of tips.  very nice touch.  it also supports both sponge and brass, which is cool (lol).

here's a funny part: I ordered the handle via amazon and while everyone else shows 3 screw-on rubber grips (2 black and 1 green) amazon shows only 2 grips but charges the same price ($100).  when mine came in the mail, I was a little upset that it did come with 1 less grip than it should.  I called amazon, told them about it and they agreed to credit me back the cost of a 3rd grip, which is $30 (!).  the end result is that I kept the 2grip iron package, accepted the $30 discount and I can spend that $30 on more metcal tips, which is really the value of the whole system ;)   $70 for a replacement handle was a great deal.  they may still have that deal for a while before they correct themselves..

the feel is great!!  if you 'like' soldering and want the best, this is it.  very light, very cool to hold, nice feeling rubber (not plastic) grip, and a choice of black or green in case you dedicate irons to various tasks (lead/leadfree, or temp ranges, etc).

the RME handle is ok.  this new alum one with the soft rubber grips is wonderful to the touch.  if you can afford or justify it, get it!
 

Offline Towger

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #104 on: May 18, 2014, 06:32:22 pm »
How does the old pencil fit in the new stand?
I have two of the older handles, but just the one proper stand. Always keeping a eye on eBay, but cant justify the price. Often it would be cheaper to buy a new one.
 

Offline linux-works

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #105 on: May 18, 2014, 06:44:22 pm »
I would have to go and fetch my old gear to do a side-by-side test.  when I get a chance, I'll do that and maybe take some pics.

one pencil is a bit bigger in diameter than the other.  it did not HAVE to be (you could complain about that and be rightfully annoyed they changed that) but it just is.  one would be too wide and one would be too loose.

there is a sleeper stand for the older plastic RME handle.  its even cheaper, $60 vs the $80 or so that the alum handle is matched to go with.

having holes in the rear to hold up and store several tips was part of the reason I bought the expensive-assed stand ;)  it really helped organize the area and most of my go-to tips would fit in that stand and any specialty ones can sit somewhere else.
 

Offline AndersAnd

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #106 on: May 18, 2014, 07:33:23 pm »
How does the old pencil fit in the new stand?
I have two of the older handles, but just the one proper stand. Always keeping a eye on eBay, but cant justify the price. Often it would be cheaper to buy a new one.
I have a new handpiece with an old WS1 auto sleep stand for both sponge and brass wool + tip holder at the back. So if you order a new stand and it doesn't fit, I'm willing to trade your new stand with an old stand that fits your old handpiece. 8)
Or you can simply order the new stand directly to my address to save shipping and I will ship you the old one and pay the shipping. :)

The stand that originally came with MX-RM3E, didn't have auto sleep or room for brass wool, and you had to buy a separate tip holder to place behind it. So in that way WS1 is an upgrade from the first stand.

WS1 auto sleep stand: http://www.okinternational.com/Hand_Soldering_Systems/id-WS1/Solder_Auto_Sleep_Workstand





The first stand for MX-RM3E below [not sold anymore as it has been replaced with WS1 sold with MX-RM3E and MX-W1AV sold with alloy handpieces]. As you can see the metal tray corroded badly due to the wet sponge, especially if it's used daily.
This doesn't happen with WS1 as the tray and the rest of the stand is all plastic, except for the bottom inside the hole where the tip sits, so it doesn't melt from solder dropping of the tip and to add weight so the stand doesn't tip over from the wight of the hand-piece coax cable. But inside the sponge tray there's no metal.
I think it's the same way for the new adjustable MX-W1AV stand for the alloy handpieces, hopefully Metcal have learned their lesson from the original stand and don't use metal under the sponge anymore.

www.ebay.com/itm/161294702726

« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 07:57:28 pm by AndersAnd »
 

Offline linux-works

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #107 on: May 18, 2014, 07:55:47 pm »
that's the stand that came with my mx500 system (my stand was not industrial abused, though!).  and its fine even though it does not support the brass wool very easily.

I bought my first mx500 system (first metcal system for me) just a few weeks ago, but loved it so much I wanted to upgrade it a bit.  so, new pencil, new stand and I found yet another power supply (very old rg30 unit that works fine) and now I have two full systems.

I may sell the mx500 system.  it take up more room than my older square RG box and the mx500 psu box hums a bit.  not sure if the trafo just needs tightening or replacing, but I prefer quiet over the hum, personally.  it hums even when the switch is off, that's what is weird.  other than that, its in good shape cosmetically and functionally.

I will use the new alum wand and the new stand and it will feel like a whole new system to me ;)

the metcal stuff seemed strange to me, coming from an all weller and hakko background, but I now prefer it and will put my hakkos and weller up for sale ;)
 

Offline Towger

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #108 on: May 18, 2014, 07:56:43 pm »
My stand looks like the bottom one, complete with corrosion :-)
 

Offline Towger

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #109 on: May 18, 2014, 08:03:00 pm »
The switch is between the transformer and board.  Another thread covers this and some people have hacked there's.
 

Offline AndersAnd

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #110 on: May 18, 2014, 08:26:51 pm »
it hums even when the switch is off, that's what is weird.
That's because the switch doesn't actually turn off the MX-500 power supply completely. The switch sits on the secondary side and it just turns off the DC supply for the 18 V linear voltage regulator which in turn disables the LM2576 SMPS regulator. But the main 53 Vdc supply before the LM2576 is still powered on and a bit of the circuitry is still powered. So it still use some stand-by power with the switch off. So I always turn my Metcal off at the mains outlet when I leave my workspace.
Check where they placed the ON/OFF switch (S1) in this schematic: http://www.mikrocontroller.net/attachment/193474/MX-500P-11.pdf

I guess Metcal did it this way because the power switch also acts as a reset button. If it was placed on the primary side the main capacitor might still hold charge while quickly cycling the on/off switch to reset it, so it wouldn't even register it had been turned off. But it's easy to test by turning off and on the mains outlet quickly and see if it resets.
Metcal could have placed a separate reset button instead.

the metcal stuff seemed strange to me, coming from an all weller and hakko background, but I now prefer it and will put my hakkos and weller up for sale ;)
I came from Weller too, and had the impression it was a high end soldering station, but only until I tried Metcal and now I would never go back again. The only other system I would consider than Metcal/Thermaltronics at the moment would be JBC as it the only other system with as much (or more) thermal capacity and quick heat up time and easy changeable tips and an equally large tip collection as Metcal 13.56 MHz selection. The JBC's I once tried wasn't impressive, but that was a long time ago and very different from their current top of the range systems. Metcal/Thermaltronics and JBC are the two best soldering systems now from what I read. Don't think I've tried the German Ersa though, but have tried other big brands like Weller, Hakko and Pace and none of them come close to Metcal (or JBC by the looks of it).
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 08:31:00 pm by AndersAnd »
 

Offline linux-works

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #111 on: May 18, 2014, 08:31:39 pm »
mine is the oldest kind, the slip of plexiglass with the color logo and a light bulb (no led) behind the plastic.  the bulb burned out and I put a blue led there just to have something.  its not the single or dual led version of stss.

so, the switch is, circuit-wise, in the middle.  ok, strange but I can understand.

but what can be done about the hum?  during use its kind of loud for me.  can I just buy a new trafo or are they pretty custom?
 

Offline AndersAnd

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #112 on: May 18, 2014, 08:40:21 pm »
Here's and idea for a Custom Metcal Soldering Iron Stand
http://blog.shop.23b.org/2012/08/custom-metcal-soldering-iron-stand.html



Easy to make you own with a peace of plastic, metal or wood and the right size drill. If you have a 3D printer you can even print your own instead.

Another DIY tip holder, to hold a lot of tips: http://www.kijiji.ca/v-view-image.html?adId=529417902&image=0&enableSearchNavigationFlag=false




The original Metcal AC-TSTAND designed to fit around the first MX-RM3E stand looks like this:


http://www.all-spec.com/products/ac-tstand.html


http://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/AC-TSTAND/389-1045-ND/427650
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 08:47:20 pm by AndersAnd »
 

Offline linux-works

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #113 on: May 18, 2014, 08:44:27 pm »
what is yours made of?  acrylic?

I might try that.  was wondering if plastic would be ok.  if you place the bottom part of the tip, that is always room temp, so it should be safe.
 

Offline AndersAnd

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #114 on: May 18, 2014, 09:09:42 pm »
that's the stand that came with my mx500 system (my stand was not industrial abused, though!).  and its fine even though it does not support the brass wool very easily.
Just buy a separate holder for brass tip cleaner. They only cost from aprrox $4 at eBay and Aliexpress including brass wool.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/271271949920



http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Free-Shipping-BEST-brand-Soldering-Iron-Tip-cleaner-iron-clean-mouth-Wire-Sponge/1865157561.html


The first one pictured looks more like copper than brass to me though.
 

Offline AndersAnd

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #115 on: May 18, 2014, 09:17:57 pm »
what is yours made of?  acrylic?

I might try that.  was wondering if plastic would be ok.  if you place the bottom part of the tip, that is always room temp, so it should be safe.
As long as you put don't put the hot end down the hole any plastic should be fine. The connector end is never hotter than you can touch it. On the other hand if you ever forget which end to put down the hole, plastics with low melting temperature could soon become messy and smelly. If you make a tiny stand alone holder a heavy metal holder might be better so it doesn't 'tip' over easily when you accidentally hit the long tips.

The 5 tip holes at the back of the WS1 stand are quite deep (5 cm) and made of two different diameters, a large diameter at the top to make it easier to hit the hole and a smaller diameter at the bottom to make it sit up more straight and stable. But the holes are quite loose even at the bottom so the tips more around if you push the stand. The 5 holes sits very close to each other, so the loose holes also helps making room for large tip, e.g. PLCC desoldering tips, by having them tilting in different directions so one tip doesn't take up all the room above all the holes.
To replicate these holes make sure you have material more than 5 cm deep. Then first drill a 6 mm hole 5 cm deep followed by a 9 mm drill but only 2 cm down the same hole.
This is fine when you often change tips. But if you have a more permanent storage with a large tip selection on a separate board, I would make the holes smaller so the tips doesn't wobble around as much when you move the board. Then have the tips you often swap at the loose holes at the end of the tip holder. Then you also know which tips are still hot and don't accidentally touch a hot tip on you large tip board when looking for the right tip.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2014, 09:45:30 pm by AndersAnd »
 

Offline AndersAnd

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #116 on: May 19, 2014, 12:10:51 am »
mine is the oldest kind, the slip of plexiglass with the color logo and a light bulb (no led) behind the plastic.  the bulb burned out and I put a blue led there just to have something.  its not the single or dual led version of stss.

so, the switch is, circuit-wise, in the middle.  ok, strange but I can understand.

but what can be done about the hum?  during use its kind of loud for me.  can I just buy a new trafo or are they pretty custom?
I guess you have a Metcal RFG-30 power supply? I think this is very similar to Metcal PS2E except for no 30 minute auto shutdown feature. The PS2E model came after the RFG-30, but before the MX-500: http://forum.arcadecontrols.com/index.php?topic=66275.0

PS2E use a 'Signal Transformer' model 241-8-28 [single 115 V] or DP-241-8-28 [dual 115/230 V]. Read here:  https://www.eevblog.com/forum/reviews/metcal-mx-5251/msg434729/#msg434729
This could very well be the same transformer used in RFG-30.

Both available at Digi-Key for approx $32: http://www.digikey.com/product-search/en?pv258=188&FV=fffc0253&k=241-8-28&mnonly=0&newproducts=0&ColumnSort=0&page=1&quantity=0&ptm=0&fid=0&pageSize=100

Datasheet: http://www.signaltransformer.com/sites/all/pdf/241.pdf

Maybe you can even buy a used 115V transformer from chrisc posting in the above topic as he wants to buy a new 230V transformer to convert his 110V [115V] model. Or buy a used one from notsob who has already replaced the transformer to a 230V model.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 12:13:04 am by AndersAnd »
 

Offline linux-works

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #117 on: May 19, 2014, 01:08:05 am »
rfg30, definitely, for my old silent one and mx500 for the new hummy one.

I can either sell the mx500 to someone and let they worry about the hum (they may not care) or I can try to fix it myself.  I can't figure out how to open the mx500 though; it has security screws and needs a long extension to get TO them (yes/no?).  the rfg30 opened easily and I could see a simple toroid inside that was screwed and glued to one of the metal sides.  but I have not opened the mx500 yet and have no idea what is inside that beast.  might have to get some special screwdrivers for it.

if anyone is in the US and does need either a full mx500 system or just the base, PM me.  I'm happy enough with the older RFG unit and I'll just use that.
 

Offline AndersAnd

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #118 on: May 19, 2014, 06:57:39 am »
I can't figure out how to open the mx500 though; it has security screws and needs a long extension to get TO them (yes/no?).
You need a tamper resistant / security torx 15 screwdriver or a very long bit:
Most bit holders are too wide to go all the way down the holes. I had a very narrow bit holder I was able to get down in two of the holes with a regular lenght bit. But it was just a 'bit' too wide to go down the two other holes.
So I had to borrow a 100 mm extra long bit to open it. If you havew to buy a long bit it's often as cheap to just buy a whole screwdriver.

Here's a German high quality Wera T15s screwdriver:
Wera 05138261004 for $8.05 with free shipping within the US: http://www.ebay.com/itm/181130722495

« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 06:59:45 am by AndersAnd »
 

Offline zapta

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #119 on: May 19, 2014, 07:55:02 am »
... also, IIRC there is a screw on the back of the unit that you need to release but not fully remove. It disengages the thermal coupling to the back of the unit so you can separate the tow halves (after removing the deep screws mentioned above).
Drain the swamp.
 

Offline Towger

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #120 on: May 19, 2014, 11:35:11 am »
The previous guardian of mine, was annoyed at her underlings leaving it switched on. She obviously never realised that they had unscrewed the timeout grub screw/switch. They got their revenge by breaking the switch, and sometime afterwards the unit made its way as faulty to a used equipment sellers eBay listing.
There were signs of a tin of tip cleaner attached to the top, which may have attributed to her tip replacement difficulties.



 

Offline baoshi

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #121 on: June 12, 2014, 06:16:29 am »
Yeah after years of struggling with ATTEN 8586 hotair+soldering station I finally reward myself a MX-500 system.
But it does not comes with stand. I put the hand piece into 936 clone stand but that is way too loose.
Any suggestions how to make one my own or getting one cheaper?
 

Offline linux-works

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #122 on: June 12, 2014, 12:28:28 pm »
the real one is expensive (over $50) but since you went this far, why not just buy the real one?  the sleeper stand is even nicer, but of course, more expensive.

its a first-class system.  do it right and you'll enjoy it for years and years.
 

Offline baoshi

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #123 on: June 13, 2014, 04:37:37 am »
the real one is expensive (over $50) but since you went this far, why not just buy the real one?  the sleeper stand is even nicer, but of course, more expensive.

its a first-class system.  do it right and you'll enjoy it for years and years.

I'm not sure if the WS2 can fit, but element14 sells WS1 at $86, which is almost the price I paid for the whole system  :-//
 

Offline linux-works

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Re: What Metcal?
« Reply #124 on: June 13, 2014, 05:05:35 am »
you're still coming out ahead ;)

I don't see the stands, used, and so I had to buy a new one, myself.  the pencils are not as big as the hakko and weller and such, so they do get you on the price of the stand.  if you are going to pay so much for the stand, might as well get the sleeper stand since its not much different in price and you at least get a new benfit from it.
 


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