In a previous topic What tools do I need to work in electronics? I covered a few basics that someone would need to start working with some basic electronics. I know the list can go on forever. Tell us below what tools you have on your bench. Make sure to tell us what you use them for and what makes essential to your electronics bench and why it should be on everyone’s tool wish list!
The Saleae logic analyzer is one of the best tools around, unfortunately we don’t carry their product at the moment (we once did through microchip). https://www.saleae.com/
The UI and continued advancement of their software is leaps and bounds beyond all the other competitors.
I have a few tools that I use for projects at my desk.
Eye-Loop: 638002810 helps sometimes if markings are too small
Wire Kit Plus Solderless Breadboard : TW-E41-1060 all of my personal experiments and basic posts use this kit for prototyping
TI-89 Titanium Graphing calculator (we don’t carry this), I would recommend this type of calculator for solving systems of equations and graphing.
Basic Wire Stripper: 0640160040 in a pinch this stripper is pretty decent since most of my wires I use are 22AWG
Fancier Wire Stripper (multifunction): TOL-14872 this is a higher quality more consistent stripper, cutter, and crimping device. This makes more involved projects quicker and easier to strip wires consistently.
Digital Caliper 6 inch: 3C301-NB for getting precise measurements such as pitch and diameters
The Digi-Key ruler: PCB-RULER-ND this ruler has so much information on it that is incredibly useful beyond just a good ruler, I didn’t know about the PCB trace stuff before this ruler.
I have a Simpson 260 (that I once repaired and calibrated many while in the service)
https://d1v51qgszgkqrr.cloudfront.net/media/catalog/product/cache/e4d64343b1bc593f1c5348fe05efa4a6/7/8/7865e.jpg and a Fluke-87
https://www.digikey.com/short/z7qzf0 both are used for different applications.
I enjoy using both.
I use ADALM2000 (ADALM2000-ND) from ADI and like it very much, it is a low cost All-In-One lab tool that combines together the functions like logic analyzer, digital scope, pattern generator, programmable power supplies, triggers and some other useful function. The tool is controlled by PC via USB and uses the scopy sw as an interface. It is ideal tool for students, hobbyists, self-Learners and design engineers and is good for debugging the designs with low speed signals
At home I have a 50 watt ATTEN SA-50 soldering iron from Adafruit. I like that it’s portable and has an adjustable knob on the handle for setting the temperature. I replaced the stamped aluminum stand it came with and upgraded to the AVEN Tools 17530 Stand with scourpad.
I have the wire stripper pair from Tempo that I love, have a pair at home and at work- PA70058-ND. 1691-1037-ND flush cut trimmers from Hakko are inexpensive and super handy. I tend to misplace them so I have probably 10 pairs around. If you do any electronics repair, a precision screwdriver set is a must. I have a surprisingly inexpensive kit from Sparkfun, part number 1568-1964-ND. A good high wattage soldering iron such as the FX-888D or the FX600 with a few different tips for an array of applications suits me well both at home and at work. I also have the handy Global Specialties 1325 power supply that can supply up to 5.5A at voltages from 0 to 16.5VDC. I also have a good assortment of different USB cables for any development board I may be programming. Although it may not be a “tool” in the traditional sense, KiCAD is a great open-source (FREE!) and full-featured PCB design software. Check out the KiCAD instructional video series on our YouTube channel. My favorite tool that Digi-Key doesn’t carry is by far my DCF887 DeWalt 20V impact driver.
Edit: oh, and of course PCB-RULER-ND
I have been working with the RASPBERRY PI 3 MODEL B+ for a while now. Many ups and downs, breaking things then trying to fix it, re-installing operating systems or simply using the Recovery Mode option.
Recovery Mode. This is the option that works when you are out of options (just cannot fix what you broke).
Power up the Pi. When the screen comes up that shows the shift key, click the shift key and you will be able to re-install the operating system without having to format the micro SD card and install the operating system again.
Recovery Mode is much less time consuming that re-installing the full operating system. Yes, you are starting over but that is half the fun of having the Pi.
I tend to like a larger amount of room to work with on my breadboards and the 1286-1220-ND from Digilent gives me all the room I need - sometimes I even keep multiple circuits on the board instead of tearing down after each use. It also includes four screw terminals to easily organize power supply connections.
Two other items that have not been mentioned that I use quite a bit for my projects are a precision screwdriver set and a heat gun. I’m not sure which brand I currently have at home for the screwdriver set but it is very similar to our part 243-1222-ND
For the Heat gun, I currently have part 1568-1602-ND which has worked well for what I have used it for. Also if you need a good chuckle, read the datasheet/operating instructions for this.
I have been doing component level service work on electronics for the last 40 years and have a few items I have learned are well worth having on the bench.
I keep a dispenser bottle with denatured alcohol for cleaning boards like the 16-1144-ND. The bottle will keep the alcohol clean and keep it from getting contaminated while use.
And by the side I also have the CT200-ND swabs. A little alcohol on these will clean up the flux off the board when desoldering and after the component is replaced.
My favorite desoldering braid is the Chemtronics CW10-25-ND
And a trick I like to use on the wick when trying to clean out small diameter via holes is to cut the wick at an angle as I showed in this previous TechForum post.
(Removing thru hole components from two sided circuit boards).
You can’t beat the Molex 10x magnifier. WM9650-ND will get you close to inspect the work you have done for see the component markings on those little 0603 parts.
The Aven tweezer set, 243-1056-ND won’t disappoint you either.
And if you work on RF circuits such as myself, a good set of ceramic drivers is a must. The 243-1265-ND fits the bill very well. The ceramic tips are durable and will not de-tune the circuit while adjusting variable inductors and variable capacitors.
And the PROBEKIT-ND from Chip Quick will prove to be handy on the bench.
So this is a quick run down on some of the items which I end up using quite a bit when doing service work on the bench. I hope this helps you out.