Date Sun 24 February 2008

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Solder wick / solder sucker: These both remove excess solder. Great for accidental bridges.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

For some other people's Tools lists, check out LadyAda's page, and the Evil Mad Scientists have a great page here about 5 neat tools.

Am I missing anything? Feel free to let me know in the comments.