Over the last few months I have been very fortunate and a lot of my readers / followers has clubbed together to buy me some much needed tools. But it took quite a journey to figure out what was worth getting and what was not. Aliexpress / eBay can present as many duds as they can treasures. Below is a curated list of the equipment I orders, and have now used for at least one month, and can vouch that I am quite happy with them (:
- The lil’ blue side cutters: I ended up buying another 3. These beat the $12/pair ones I got locally, hands down. I’ve had one for over a year, still sharp as the day I bought it. Handles are of a hard plastic (I hate those soft touch rubbery materials that corode under exposure to skin oils, this one – much better than that)
- Scalpel: I can’t count the number of things I have used mine for! It really is indispensible, whether for plying prints of a bed, or trimming wiring, or enlarging PCB holes that you accidentally picked a wrong drill size for when ordering and you just have to make this prototype work!
- Vernier: Yeah, you get the fanboys of fancy verniers. I don’t need one super fancy, but it is nice to not have to count lines on a ruler late at night with weary eyes. This little $5 jobbie has served me very well over the past two years.
- Gas Pencil: Using the buddy’s lighter all the time gets them angry, and a normal cigarette lighter burns your thumb. No fun at all. This little pencil style works a treat for all those jobs where you need fire (a.k.a detroying failed prototypes, evidence, etc lol)
- 868 Hot Air station – I worked with a $200+ magnum air pencil at my local hackerspace for a while, and this, to me, works better than the expensive ones. I use it for all kinds of things from SMD rework, to assembly, heatskrinking to even just blowing some warm air over that darn DHT11 sensor that I am not sure if its picking up temperature changes or not…
- AMTech No Clean Paste Flux – I learned about it from the local cellphone repair Pakistani, and he’s right, for the price it can’t be beat. Order 10 pack, you will go through it in no time! Even soldering connectors and wires together – with added flux – goes sooo much easier. If you think you suck at soldering, get some flux and watch how your soldering starts to look pro in 0-6seconds.
Time to go pro?
Decide now whether this hobby is sticking – the sooner you get these the easier starting out with electronics will be (making it more likely to stick anyway)
- Lab PSU: I waited way too long because of what people kept telling me. Get a linear. Get an expensive dual channel one. Get a $12 power supply PCB and build it yourself. To all those, just NO. This little PSU has been used non stop since I unpacked it. The DIY version never got a case so was never used due to the shock risk and pure lazyness (i want a PSU, not the pain of designing an enclosure) – don’t kid youself that you need a super fancy one either. Adjustable voltage, current limit and some displays. Thats ALL you need