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Old 28th August 2004, 09:10 PM   #1
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Question Pace Soldering Station

I might be able to buy a Pace MBT250 soldering station, but it would cost me quite a lot, about $500 I'm guessing. Still, that's a lot less than the price you'd pay for it in a store. What can I say, that soldering station looks like one of the best there is (and I'm sure it is), it looks like something fantastic. I read a lot of reactions here on the forums and a lot of people seem to find a temperature controlled iron invaluable. I'm also starting with SMD stuff so this would be a great help in soldering those tiny parts, since it's got a vacuum pump and an air supply connection.

However, if I'd buy it for such a high price (compared to my current soldering iron, which is a very simple non-temperature regulated Weller model), I'd like to be sure that this will last for at least 20 years. I'm a student and I can't afford to spend amounts like this all the time. I'm going to start studying electronics at university next month and while I know that I won't have to do a lot of soldering for school, I can be sure that somewhere in the future this thing will have it's use (next to using it for my hobby).

So, now, the question (finally ): how long will this thing last? How long would a tip last if I, let's say, solder for 6 hours a week (which probably won't even be the case)? I guess years, but I'd like to be sure.

Do you guys think this is a good investment to make or should I pass it on? The soldering station is used, but in very good condition, some of the (de)soldering irons that you get when you buy it new aren't even used. It also comes with quite a lot of tips, both used & unused. I guess it would cost about $2000-3000 new (how's that for an acurate guess ). So, is this a good deal?
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Old 28th August 2004, 09:46 PM   #2
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It's pretty stupid I have to add a reply, but I was to late to edit my message .

Anyway, I need to decide quite quickly, so any thoughts/opinions are appreciated.
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Old 28th August 2004, 10:41 PM   #3
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I have used one of these units for the last 10+ years at work and have had no problems with the main unit in that time, it still works basically as new. This unit is used on average 5 days a week for a couple of hours, for new soldering and repairs. The most annoying problem with it is the reliability of the heater elements in the desoldering handpiece, we have gone through 5 or 6 of these. However, that's the tool that gets the most use, and I've experienced similar problems with a Weller unit as well. Certainly for your level of use I would expect this unit to last virtually forever. You may find Pace irons and accessories to be expensive though, and there are other types that are a lot cheaper that would probably work just as well for you, although with less features and quality.

Take care,
Doug
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Old 29th August 2004, 07:00 AM   #4
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I like the part that it will last forever. I don't think desoldering will be the main thing I'll do with this. It will probably be SMD soldering (I haven't even finished a project with SMD, but already I like it more than though hole). And since you say that in 10+ years you've needed to buy 5 heater elements and I will use the desoldering iron a lot less, I guess it isn't that bad. The thing I like so much about this station is that it allows for more than 1 iron and has both vacuum & air air supply. I know there are others, but I don't have the chance to buy them at a lower price right now.

I'm pretty sure I won't stop with this hobby, the more I make electronics stuff or read about it the more I like it. So, is spending $500 on this justifiable or not?
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Old 29th August 2004, 08:34 AM   #5
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Pace irons are good quality but that is a lot of $$$. I use Metcals almost exclusivly now and have had no bad experiences with them (I have 4). The tips last forever and since the heating element is integral to the tip burnout doesn't happen.

I get Metcals on eBay and have never had to pay more than $150 for one, which is why the $500 seems high. It may be harder to get them in Europe.

The instant change tips allows switching to the appropriate tip with no down-time when going from through-hole to smt.

Pace is good for solder removing systems and BGA rework stuff.
-Demian
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Old 29th August 2004, 09:20 AM   #6
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I just found a Belgian store and they are selling a Pace MBT250 used one for $1850 (although it's only used during demonstrations). So, it looks like $500 isn't even that much for such a unit.

I've searced for Metcals on eBay too, but it looks like there aren't any all-in-one units. For example, the MX-500 looks great, but it doesn't look like it can blow air. For vacuum it needs shop air, something I obviously don't have. Meaning, that if I wanted to have a desoldering iron I'd need to buy the SP440 self-contained desoldering system. Combine this with shipping costs and I think I'd reach the $500 mark soon. Shipping heavy stuff from the USA to Belgium is quite expensive, yesterday I asked about shipping of a Tektronix scope that was on auction for $10 on eBay, the shipping would cost me $190 ! The Pace on the other hand has got everything included, no shop air needed, both vacuum & air capabilities, etc.

I know it's a lot of money, that's why I'm still a bit in doubt. But then again, I guess that if I do buy it, I won't have to buy anything new (except for tips, etc of course) for at least 15 years (and probably a lot more than that)... Decisions, decisions ...
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Old 29th August 2004, 01:59 PM   #7
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You might try to contact this forum member, as he seems to offer good qulity soldering equipment at very reasonable prices:

WTT: My Ultimate Soldering/Desoldering Package for a nice receiver
PACE MBT Rework Station on Ebay
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Old 29th August 2004, 02:32 PM   #8
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Thanks, I mailed him.

In the meanwhile, the price has risen to $635 . I guess that's too much. Still, I've spend the last 2 hours browsing the sites of Hakko, Metcal and Pace (not Weller, since they seem to make not so good quality irons these days and if I spend money, I better spend it good) and the Pace MBT-250 seems to be the only station that can solder/desolder both THT & SMD and has both hot air & vacuum. The Hakko 850 doesn't seem to allow THT soldering. The Metcal MX-500DS has vacuum but you need shop air for it and it hasn't got hot air.

I guess I'll wait for another MBT-250 auction then... (well the MBT-201 is fine too of course, but the digital MBT-250 is even nicer ).

* The price has now risen to $650 .
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Old 29th August 2004, 03:26 PM   #9
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Well, the auction's finished. I hope the guy who got it has fun with it: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...tem=3834726471
Final price: €525 ($650) + €20 ($25) shipping (to me in case I got it that is) = €550 ($675)

The bids do look pretty fishy though, take a look: http://offer.ebay.com/ws3/eBayISAPI....tem=3834726471
The same guys keep bidding higher and higher even though they are winning, what the hell is up with that? Don't they understand that the only thing they're doing is making the final price higher? Djeez... Stupid people... (That enough ranting for today .)

* I just took a look at the Weller stations and the WRS3000 is the same as the Pace MBT-250 (well, except that the Pace one will most probably be better quality). So, if anyone's got any experience with it, please tell me .
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Old 29th August 2004, 04:49 PM   #10
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You are a candidate for esnipe (www.esnipe.com) the poker face for ebay. Bids a few seconds before the auction closes and hides your interest to keep the prices low. Many people use it. For me it allows me to change my mind about bidding up to 5 min. before the auction closes.

You said you are more interested in SMT than through hole. And a hand-held solder sucker works great. I can remove a 40 pin IC or a big connector faster with one than with the fancy systems. I will use them on a delicate PCB but for general work its usually not worth the effort. For SMT you don't need the pump either, just controlled heat.

Put money into the best hand tools you can find, really good cutters are more important to me than the soldering iron.

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