||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|we used 3 types of Metcal soldering equipment for Avionics repair. all were outstanding ,like no other soldering equipment. ONCE YOU used IT ON HIGH HEAT AREAS AND FINE APPLICATIONS YOU WILL NEVER WANT TO USE ANY THING ELSE. marvelous...!!!!!!!!!!!! NOTHING ELSE COMES CLOSE..!!(39 YEARS AT AIRLINE).|
|Metcal/OKI SP200 hard to beat iron!
||Time Owned: 0 to 3 months.
|Like the others posting, I too heard about the Metcal (now OKI) RF heating irons. After seeing a rework station tech on a power supply rebuild use a 10 yr old SP200, compared to a temp controlled Weller station twice as expensive, I was sold! |
This SP200 model has been discontinued, but are still sold at suppliers for under $250 and readily available on eBay for under $125 in new condition (usually open box). The tips are readily available on eBay as well for 1/2 to 2/3 the cost from electronics suppliers.
Get yourself at least a couple of tips to take advantage of the two temp ranges (700 series and 600 series) and multiple tip configurations from 1/4 flat tips to tiny conical tips. The 700 (hot) series tips work well on silver solder, 600 series (cooler than 700, see doc below) works great for lead based solders and sensitive components. Here is the SmartHeat tip guide:
And check out the old manual:
and here is one of my favorite YouTube comparison videos of Metcal vs two other traditional regulated temperature thermal conductive irons. Note the Metcal demonstrated is the dual iron version of the SP200:
And HSM's marketing overview, the PS900 is the replacement for the Metcal SP200, uses the same SSC tips with the appropriate "handset":
Be careful many of the eBay entries offer ONLY the power supply, no handset and no tip.
Hard to beat these SmartHeat soldering tools for fast heat except with a butane iron.
|Mercedes Benz of Soldering Stations
||Time Owned: 6 to 12 months.
|I've owned a Weller WLC100 for 4-5 years and it is a good tool for light duty/occasional work. Recently, I have been building more electronic projects and have wanted a soldering tool capable of better temperature maintenance. After reading some of the glowing eHam.net reviews of Metcal soldering stations, I bought a well-used, discontinued RFG-30 STSS-002 station off eBay from a reputable seller for $100. Bought a selection of new 600 degree tips from another eBay vendor ($9/ea).|
After nearly a year of constant and sometimes heavy use all I can say is, Wow! Fantastic temp regulation, I can quickly solder repetitive junctions and the tip is always at full temp. Reaches operating temp in less than 10 seconds from a cold start (600 degree cartridges). Silent operation. Simplicity, a single on/off rocker right on top. Well-balanced in my hand, the suppleness of cable that connects the wand to the RFG-30 power supply has to be experienced and the cable is plenty long. Soldering delicate components is very fast because of the great temp regulation, this greatly reduces the possibility of thermal damage to semiconductors. An absolute joy to use, I look forward to soldering, now.
My Metcal saw at least 8-10 years of prior industrial use before my purchase, it is cosmetically challenged but will definitely out-live me.
If you appreciate fine tools, get one, you'll love it!
|The best I have used.
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|I have the Metcal MX500 soldering system and desoldering system.|
I have tried many other systems over the years and this is the best.
Very fast reheat time, so the tip cools very little when you touch it on the job, this means you spend less time on the job and the tip doesn't need to be as hot in the first place.
Scores of plug in tips available and with less than 10 seconds heat from cold, you don't mind changing the tip whenever necessary.
There are the finest point tips for miniature work and I soldered a radiator core with the largest tip they make.
The desoldeder is fantastic, easy to clean and also has many different plug in tip sizes available.
|METCAL Smartheat SP-PW1-10
||Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
|I have a used METCAL SP-PW1. I got it after using the big MX model in our engineering lab. The METCAL system, now OK Inc, is far superior to any other soldering system. |
The tips are temperature locked at 500, 600, or 700 degrees and will draw more or less RF power to maintain the ideal temperature, instant by instant.
The tips do not interchange between models. Watch the codes on the tips.
If you build or repair electronics, a METCAL is a must-have tool. If you work with older electronics, solder irreplaceable antique boards such as those fragile old phenolic boards used by Heathkit in the 1960's, you need a METCAL.
I would not get a new, top end METCAL station. The list price on those is over $1,000. METCAL made smaller stations such as my SP-PW1, the list price was about $250 and these are occasionally available used for about 1/2 to 1/3 that. Check out the usual auction sites.
Highly recommended for builders and fixers.
||Time Owned: N.A.
|I have one of these soldering stations as well.|
1. Instant heating, don't need to wait for the unit to warm up.
3. Interchangeable tips. I use the larger tip to solder PL259s. The smaller tips are great for PTH or SMT devices.
If you can get one of these, get one!
Carl - W9PMZ
|Good high-end soldering iron
||Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
|I got the base station used at a surplus place, and got the iron, stand, and tips from a swapmeet soldering iron vendor, making it about $100 for the setup, I have the first model with no LEDs. It works great! These are apparently 14MHz radio transmitters used to power the soldering iron element/tip, so don't attach an antenna, just the specified tip! And, don't run it without a tip or with a nonworking tip! (They do go bad after a while.) |
I'd heard people raving about these irons so I was glad to be able to try one. It's the size of a 12 or 15 watt iron, but heats connections as well as my Weller WTCPT, although I do use my Weller for the big chunky stuff like PL-259s, ground braids, etc. This iron heats just about instantly when turned on, and I can see where the slim, light pencil handpiece would be a lot more enjoyable to use (I've gotten used to hefty Wellers over the years and don't care either way myself!) Tip replacement is easy, and there are a lot of different tips available.
Cons: Mine is the first model and has no LEDs to show it's turned on or off at a glance, so at times I leave it on and it stays on for a day or two before I notice and turn it off. Later models have LEDs for this purpose. Leaving it on does not seem to hurt it though, and it doesn't get overheated sitting on for a long period of time - like any good industrial iron it takes this in stride.
I'd say if you have a chance to get one affordably, and like a small light iron with the performance of a larger iron, give it a try!