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newbie needs toolkit

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
This oughtta be the easiest question for this forum ever. I'm going to order my first interconnect kit this week and see what I can do. Eventually I'll be doing other things and would like to go ahead and invest a little in getting some decent tools. So... what do I need and where is the best place to buy?

The Weller WES50 soldering iron has been recommended to me. It's $99 locally at Altex. Is this overkill? Worthy investment?

I'll definitely need at least a heat gun, good wire cutters and wire strippers. If I search enough I have ubber-crappy cutter/striipper combos, and misc. crappy tools around the apartment somewhere but I'd rather just get some good tools now. Are any of the kits worth it? What are the good brands and bad brands?

As always, thanks for all your advice.
post #2 of 6
I use WES50, that I just bought for Christmas. Before, I used another Weller iron, which doesn't have a separete temperature controll unit and costs about 1/3. I did some advanced projects with that one and that's likely all you'd need. WES50 is very good, but unless you plan to do a lot of DIY work and use it regularly, standard Weller iron will do the job for you just as well for much less money.
post #3 of 6
I have an article on my audio web page that goes into this. (The "DIY newbie" article.)

One thing that article doesn't recommend, and it probably should, is the Craftsman miniature plier set. It contains the 3 most useful pliers for about $20: long needle nose, serrated chain nose with cutters, and standard wire cutters. This is all you'll really need. Sure, Craftsman is no equal of Wiha, but they're darn good, reasonably priced, and oh so available. Be sure to get the small ones -- a 4-5" plier is much better for this sort of work than the standard 6-7" ones.

As for the iron, I like the $100 level temp-controlled irons. I know it may be overkill, but I'm also the kind of guy who carefully adjusts the temperature on my stove when cooking. If you're the sort who just turns the stove on High and flash-cooks, you should just get a good pencil iron instead.
post #4 of 6
Tangent's suggestions regarding the pliers set is a good one. I would also get some desoldering braid and a sharp knife (like an Xacto knife) of some kind. If you are just starting out, I have a Weller WP35 (35 watt) soldering iron that has about 10 hours of use on it that I would be willing to let go. I'll even include a brand new tip for it. If you're interested, PM me.
post #5 of 6
Well, since your profile says you're in Dallas, you might also look at Tanner's and <gasp> Frye's. Tanner's is one of the last "good old" electronics surplus stores, and have a nice collection of tools. Personally, I wouldn't spend $100 on a soldering station, unless you thought you were really going to get into this. As previously stated, a 20, 30 or 35 watt temp. controlled one will be fine. (I know a lot of people say 20 for ckt. boards, but I find 30 works a lot better for the wires, connectors, power supplies, and heavier stuff, and is not too much for a components if you are a little careful).
Tanner's has a nice selection of soldering irons and tools, I like to pick out individual pliers and screwdrivers, rather than in those sets, that way I get exactly what I need, and they are nicer.
P.S. Tanner has some of the components for cmoys/47's, even szekeres, especially some nice caps, connectors, and a few pots.
They are in Carrollton, Valwood Pkwy and I-35...

db out
post #6 of 6
WP35 is the iron I used for the last 2 years as well. I was able to construct all of my projects with it, even very small SMD with default cone tip. Skill is a big factor in using an iron. Temp cotrolled irons cost 2 times as much but they won't make you a superman overnight.
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