I find it can be useful to look over other people’s tool kits and see what neat things you may be missing out on – I’ve certainly found out about a few things this way!
The main tools I currently use, in order of use, are:
- Soldering iron: I use an “AUTO-TEMP SOLDERING STATION 369“, but anything with temperature control shoud do you. I use it with 0.8mm tips.
- Solder: I use a combination of 0.8mm leaded, 0.8mm lead-free and 1.2mm lead-free. The thinner stuff is great for surface mount work, the thicker stuff works nicely for everything else and tinning the tip.
- Wire cutters/strippers: I use a great automatic wire stripping thing which cuts and pulls the insulation off pretty much any thickness in one squeeze. You can get them from Rapid here.
- Tweezers, Snips: I have a 6-pack of these with needle nosed, normal and bent tweezers and two types of flat snips. They’re pretty useful!
- Multimeter: There are loads of these and I won’t bore you with the details, but they’re an essential if you’re going to be doing much work.
- Helping Hands / 3rd Hands: These things are so useful for any PCB wor, soldering wires together, all of that. Mine have a magnifying glass on them and I got two in case I need four hands.
- Solder wick / solder sucker: These both remove excess solder. Great for accidental bridges.
- Flux: I have a flux pen that I use to cover PCB pads before soldering, and a flux syringe ful of gel that I use for surface mounted chips since it holds them in place at the same time. Both are really, really useful for soldering.
- Loupe. Mine has a white LED at the end and offers 10x magnification, I got it from Farnell here. It’s ideal for surface mounted work, really helps check that things are correctly soldered.
- Hot glue gun. You can pick these up anywhere and they’re great for fixing things in place and even potting projects if they’re in cases. Try not to get a cheap one that’l drip things everywhere.
Am I missing anything? Feel free to let me know in the comments.