April 2, 2007 AT 9:24 pm

The tool-kit for kits (how meta!)


So now that you have a fun kit from one of the many reputable electronic kit makers, you are wondering “what soldering iron should I get?”

A fine question, grasshopper! And one that I can easily answer…I have researched three “kits” of tools for amateur electronics hobbyists: The $60 basic kit, $115 better kit, and the $275 best kit.

Mix & Match soldering irons, multimeters and wire cutters to get the set that fits you best.

Click “Read the rest…” to see the full “basic kit” as of this moment (it won’t be updated so be sure to bookmark http://www.ladyada.net/library/equipt-kits.html instead )

Here is the “basic” kit, a $60 investment in tools that you can use no matter how good you get (the soldering iron is the only tool that you will eventually replace if you want to get serious about tinkering with electronics.

"25W adjustable" soldering iron (marginal quality)

Xyltronics SUPERPASE 258VL

Jameco 116572 $16.95

Datasheet

Do not get "cold heat" or other butane irons: they are not suitable!

Combination "3rd hand" and soldering iron holder Jameco 681002 8.75 You can either get a third hand tool and, seperately, a sponge/iron holder but this device is pretty functional and is a bit cheaper.
60/40 Lead Solder, rosin core .031” 1/2 lb Jameco 141794 $5.95

This is a good general purpose solder. Also look into getting 63/37 solder. Getting a 1 lb roll is only $0.75 more so consider it if you plan on doing a bunch of soldering!

Don’t buy silver solder (yet) or lead-free solder. You will have a lot of difficulty using it and its not ‘less dangerous’

Solder sucker / Desolder pump Jameco 19166 $4.95 Extremely useful for when you make mistakes or bridge pins!
Shear cutters

Cooper Tools "Xcelite" 170M

Jameco 146712 $5.75

Essential, these are fairly inexpensive and high quality.

Don’t ever use these to cut anything but copper wire (electronic leads). Steel wire, or aluminum will basically destroy them instantaneously!

Basic Multimeter

MASTECH M300

Jameco 220812 $9.79

This is the cheapest meter that Jameco carries that has continuity testing, a necessary function.

However, it’s a very limited meter.

Wire strippers Jameco 78992 $3.95 This is the defacto standard issued to all students. But hey, they work!
Total $56  

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for the suggestions, this is useful for n00bs like me.
    There’s a typo in the link for the $60 kit… it uses llibrary instead of library.

  2. As always Limor, your advice and information is excellent!

    Speaking as someone who originally got started in electronics back in the mid 1980s with about $30 in assorted tools bought from Radio Shack and the remainder scrounged from my dad’s basement workshop, my advice is to acquire the best quality tools you can afford. You will thank yourself later.

    Otherwise, get ready for what I refer to as the “If you give a mouse a cookie” syndrome! :-)

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