Well, I don't have it yet, but I won the auction, and for cheap too (link
I'm not sure why it went for so cheap, except for maybe the seller's less than stellar 98.8% positive feedback and/or the beat-up/well-used appearance of the unit. Oh well, for less than $40 shipped, I'm willing to take the chance on the seller. The beat-up/well-used appearance doesn't concern me, since the Metcals I used at work for 2 years looked as bad or worse. Commercially used industrial tools are rarely babied.
Additionally, with the Metcal, due to the way it works, replacing the tip cartridge essentially = new soldering iron, given that the heat control mechanism is all contained in the tip cartridge:
MX Systems reduce maintenance costs because they use no separate control circuits and minimal parts. When you change a tip cartridge, it's like getting a whole new system.
So basically, as long as the power supply works (the seller claims it does), then I'm all set.
The tips start to lose their normally lightning-fast recovery time after about 80 continual hours of use, something you'd probably only notice on a production line. I liked to get a new tip cartridge from my supervisor every 2 weeks (80 hours of soldering). Some people went longer, then again, they weren't the fastest solderers in the world either. In any event, a new tip cartridge would last me a long time at home. I doubt I've done 80 hours of soldering in the 7 years since I worked at EST.
This is the RFG-30 power supply, which is an older discontinued model. The closest equivalent being manufactured today is the MX-500. The PS2E-01 model came after the RFG-30, but before the MX-500. We had all three types of units at work and used them interchangeably. They all accept the same handpieces and tip cartridges (which is the important part for me), so the ones currently available new from OKI/Metcal for the MX-500 are compatible with the older RFG-30's and PS2E-01's.
The model differences are as follows:
RFG-30 -- Basic no-frills power supply. Uses the RM3E (STSS or MX) handpiece and associated tip cartridges.
PS2E-01 -- Added a 30-minute no-use shutoff circuit. That is, if the iron is on for 30 minutes without being used, it shuts off automatically to save on tip cartridge life. This feature was a minor annoyance to me on occasion, and is the main reason I'd grab an RFG-30 unit over a PS2E-01 or MX-500 at work when I could (first-shifters liked to move crap around). Cosmetically about the same as the RFG-30. Uses the RM3E (STSS or MX) handpiece and associated tip cartridges.
MX-500 -- In addition to the 30-minute circuit, the MX-500 adds a second port to plug a handpiece into (not useable simultaneously, a switch to select one or the other) and curvy new cosmetic styling. I preferred the boxy, finned heat sink look of the previous models. Uses the RM3E (STSS or MX) handpiece and associated tip cartridges.
So I'm going to keep my fingers crossed. Hopefully the power supply works like he claims. If all goes well, ~$40 shipped is a hell of a deal for a functional Metcal complete with handpiece (the handpieces sell for about $80 to $90 new), a tip cartridge (not my preferred tip geometry but whatever) and a stand.