Author Topic: Fixed temperature cartridges or classic adjustable temperature stations?  (Read 2575 times)

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Offline SceekerTopic starter

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Hey!
My chinese Hakko 936 clone just breathed his last so I need to buy a new soldering station. I solder a large variety of stuff, from SMD components to large ground planes.
I don't have an enormous budget, about 150€. Right now I am hesitating between two choices: the famous Hakko FX-888D or a used Metcal station such as the MX-500 or the MFR-1100.
My problem is, that I'm wondering if stations with fixed temperature cartridges (like the Metcal ones) have advantages (temperature speaking) over classic adjustable temperature stations.
Even if Dave's not talking about Metcal stations in this video, he says that temperature controlled stations are better. Is it true in this case?
I also like the fact that the Metcal ones use cartridges ("new" technology soldering stations as Louis Rossman says) and not just tips.
Thank you for reading!
P.S: Sorry if my english's not perfect, it's not my native language.
 

Offline SceekerTopic starter

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Re: Fixed temperature cartridges or classic adjustable temperature stations?
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2018, 08:15:00 pm »
Well, an electronic repair shop near my house is closing down and they're selling an MX-500 in very good condition with 2 cartridges they had for around 150€.
That's why I was asking. Thanks for you opinion!
 

Offline GreyWoolfe

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Re: Fixed temperature cartridges or classic adjustable temperature stations?
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2018, 01:15:47 am »
Well, an electronic repair shop near my house is closing down and they're selling an MX-500 in very good condition with 2 cartridges they had for around 150€.
That's why I was asking. Thanks for you opinion!

Grab it up.  I have an MX-500 and it is no joke.  I use the 600 series tips for leaded (650F) and have no issues soldering anything.  I have even soldered PL-259 connectors to coax just to see if it could be done--it can.
"Heaven has been described as the place that once you get there all the dogs you ever loved run up to greet you."
 

Offline Smokey

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Re: Fixed temperature cartridges or classic adjustable temperature stations?
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2018, 02:46:09 am »
Metcal = Yes.  You will never go back.  If you happen to live in bizzaro world and you don't like it, then it will be easy to sell on ebay.
 

Offline Shock

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Re: Fixed temperature cartridges or classic adjustable temperature stations?
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2018, 08:55:47 am »
There are only a couple of soldering specialists I've seen on youtube (so far) decent enough to teach, John Gammell and Marc Siegel. Most of what you see otherwise is people jabbing and poking at a PCB.

Cartridge tips are a newer technology but they have been around for decades. They have been historically quite expensive which means elaborate setups at home were unlikely. 

Set temperature tips may not need calibration and can have faster heat up times, thermal response and temperature accuracy, but that comes at a cost. If your process requires a lower or higher temperature you would need to either use a different tip or station which is why some people prefer temperature adjustable.

The Metcal is a far superior station to the Hakko. As long as it's in a reasonable condition and you have the budget for additional tips (if you need them), you should be fine.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 08:59:40 am by Shock »
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 189, 87V, 117, 112   >>> WANTED STUFF <<<
Oszilloskopen: Lecroy 9314, Phillips PM3065, Tektronix 2215a, 314
 

Offline SceekerTopic starter

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Re: Fixed temperature cartridges or classic adjustable temperature stations?
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2018, 09:27:07 am »
Ok, thank you very much for you advices!
I'll probably go for a used Metcal then.
I just need to decide if I'll buy the MX-500 or the MFR-1100 now.
Thanks!
 

Offline Shock

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Re: Fixed temperature cartridges or classic adjustable temperature stations?
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2018, 11:29:56 am »
I'm not familiar with all the differences in these models, but if it comes down to choosing one over the other some things to take into consideration is the iron model and the amount of tips that come with each of these as it can significantly change the value.

Here is an example of what I found online you will want to double check the exact models though and see if either of them take two irons. The MX-500 had a display I know that.

MX-500 Output Power 40 Watts max. Output Frequency 13.56 MHz.
MFR-1100 Output Power 60 Watts max. Output Frequency 450 KHz.
(edit: with RF power bigger is not always better so do your homework)

Typically if in good condition and there is a demand for resale, paying less than 20-30% on the lowest discounted new price you can find for an item is an easy purchasing decision. Most people who crunch the numbers in your position if worth it would negotiate on both and sell one for a profit to offset the costs.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 12:28:22 pm by Shock »
Soldering/Rework: Pace ADS200, Pace MBT350
Multimeters: Fluke 189, 87V, 117, 112   >>> WANTED STUFF <<<
Oszilloskopen: Lecroy 9314, Phillips PM3065, Tektronix 2215a, 314
 

Offline 0xdeadbeef

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Re: Fixed temperature cartridges or classic adjustable temperature stations?
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2018, 11:57:48 am »
The MFR line is what was branded OKi before (OK International). Actually OK International acquired Metcal in 1996 but until some years ago, the two lines of soldering stations were sold under different brand names: Metcal for the MX line and OKi for the MFR line. Some years ago, they chose to use the same brand (namely Metcal) for both lines. So e.g. I have a Metcal MFR-2200 which was sold identically as OKi MFR-2200 some months before I bought it. Since this was 2014, I guess the brand renaming happened around 2013-2014.
Anyway, the MFR line was (and I guess still is) much easier and cheaper to get in Europe for whatever reason (including accessories and tips). So I chose the MFR line and never looked back.
About the different frequency used I guess some people might argue that the Curie-Temperature regulation thing might work better/faster with higher frequencies. Dunno if this is translates to much better behavior in the real world. My MFR tips heat up very fast and soldering stuff to large copper planes is a piece of cake. So if the MX line is really better, I can't imagine there are worlds between the two lines performance wise. Of course the newer MX stations have these fancy LCD displays and I think the tip selection is a bit wider (but still very good for the MFR line).

And about the temperature: when I still had a temperature controlled soldering station, I only increased the temperature when the regulation failed. I.e. trying to soldering a full metal BNC connector or a TO220 ground to a large copper plane usually didn't work out so well, so I increased the temperature to get the job done. With the MFR, it just works without fiddling around.
So unless you need to solder super temperature sensitive parts, you'll be perfectly fine with the standard tips.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 12:06:56 pm by 0xdeadbeef »
Trying is the first step towards failure - Homer J. Simpson
 

Offline SceekerTopic starter

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Re: Fixed temperature cartridges or classic adjustable temperature stations?
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2018, 12:56:39 pm »
I'm not familiar with all the differences in these models, but if it comes down to choosing one over the other some things to take into consideration is the iron model and the amount of tips that come with each of these as it can significantly change the value.
Yes I thougt of that, but the two ones I'm looking at have very similar handles/cartridges. Only the PSU really is different.

About the different frequency used I guess some people might argue that the Curie-Temperature regulation thing might work better/faster with higher frequencies. Dunno if this is translates to much better behavior in the real world. My MFR tips heat up very fast and soldering stuff to large copper planes is a piece of cake.
Yes I'm pretty sure they both of them perform similarly.
The main difference on the two used models I'm looking at is the price and condition.

And about the temperature: when I still had a temperature controlled soldering station, I only increased the temperature when the regulation failed. I.e. trying to soldering a full metal BNC connector or a TO220 ground to a large copper plane usually didn't work out so well, so I increased the temperature to get the job done. With the MFR, it just works without fiddling around.
That's exactly what I was wondering, thank you!
 

Offline Tarloth

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Re: Fixed temperature cartridges or classic adjustable temperature stations?
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2018, 03:50:07 pm »
And about the temperature: when I still had a temperature controlled soldering station, I only increased the temperature when the regulation failed. I.e. trying to soldering a full metal BNC connector or a TO220 ground to a large copper plane usually didn't work out so well, so I increased the temperature to get the job done. With the MFR, it just works without fiddling around.
So unless you need to solder super temperature sensitive parts, you'll be perfectly fine with the standard tips.

I agree, change temperature it's useful only if you use fancy solders with Indium a something similar or when the thermal accumulation in the tip it's not sufficient or excessive.
 

Offline SceekerTopic starter

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Re: Fixed temperature cartridges or classic adjustable temperature stations?
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2018, 05:42:06 pm »
I agree, change temperature it's useful only if you use fancy solders with Indium a something similar or when the thermal accumulation in the tip it's not sufficient or excessive.
I "frequently" use solder with 4% silver that melt at around 190-200°C but not on huge parts/ground planes so that'll be fine.
« Last Edit: October 14, 2018, 05:49:41 pm by Sceeker »
 

Offline SceekerTopic starter

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Re: Fixed temperature cartridges or classic adjustable temperature stations?
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2018, 06:41:41 pm »
For the debate between MX and MFR: MX uses higher frequency, hence the heating coil is smaller, the heat is more concentrated close to the tip. It's better when you need to solder with smaller tips (<=0.5mm dia). MFR has higher power, but larger coil, so for smaller tips, the tips are farther from the coil, hence higher thermal resistance. They are better used for blades and hoof tips.
The reason why I was hesitating is the fact that the MX-500 will probably cost a bit more than my budget.
But whatever, I'll wait a bit and buy the MX then. Thanks again everyone!
 


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