20120815

Custom Metcal Soldering Iron Stand

We recently picked up a Metcal MX-500 Soldering Station. If you've never seen these, they are pretty much the BMW 7-series of soldering and rework stations. They have a fascinating principle of operation - the thing is basically a 50W 13.56Mhz radio transmitter and uses inductive heating, like a steel foundry. These things have an amazing heat capacity, and use a clever mechanism based on the Curie point to regulate the temperature very accurately.

Anyway, once you have one of these, you rapidly acquire a big collection of cartridges. The cartridge/tip sets the temperature and will allow the same iron to do everything from 0402 SMT parts to #12 house wire. In my OCD quest to organize and make my board manufacturing side business more efficient, I decided to build a tip rack that would bolt on to the stand.  Here it is:


I started with a block of scrap Aluminum, cut it out with the band saw and milled it out our 1955 Bridgeport M-series.

There's room for about a dozen tips, and best of all, they are permanently attached to the base with a couple of 8-32 screws.

Since there are some spare holes now, this probably just means that I'll fill it up.

There's a rather extensive catalog of accessories at the OKI site, including some bizarre SMT rework tips and lots more. These units are $600+ new, but they can be had on the usual auction sites for around 1/2 that in good condition.

Arclight









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