The Tools You Will Need
You will have these tools for the rest of your life so buy the best you can without going overboard.
  1. Soldering Iron System
  2. This is one of your most important tool. You don't need a fancy temperature readout, but you do need a iron that will recover very quickly. I personally have a Metcal PS2e/STSS-001 and wand (this holds the cartridges, or tips (both are right), which there are hundreds). For a good used Metcal w/o the tip you can find them on eBay. The Base will set you back about $60.00, the wand are $112.00, and then are the tips for about $15+. Now you might not see the need for such an advanced system, but the wand/tip combination is very light and you will not get fatigued. And the Metcal base is very heavy has room for you sponge and extra tips. But there are others such as PACE, Hakko and Weller
  3. Solders and Fluxes
  4. There are four main types of solder: lead-based without flux, lead-based with flux, lead-free, Silver solder.

    60/40 (tin/lead) blend with a melting point around 180-190 °C. which has a Rosen core which must be cleaned off after soldering with Flux Remover, and stiff blush, flowed by Alcohol to remove the residue.

    60/40 (tin/lead) blend with a melting point around 180-190 °C. no flux and is used repairing cars and used in plumbing.

    SAC (Sn-Ag-Cu) is used in wave soldering.

    Silver Solder is manly used in making jewelry (brazing), and some aerospace applications.

  5. Pliers and Cutters
  6. These are not the tools you use on your car. Please leave those in the garage. Most of my hand tools are about 4 inch overall and are from a company called EREM. Some of my pliers are shown in the right, the two on the left are not EREM but are of high quality. These don't get any better but they are not cheap. Again eBay is your place to shop prices are from $9.00 to over $50.00. The way you can tell that you have a good set of pliers is look at the jaw and check to see that you can't see light where the jaws touch, and make sure there are not nicks, if they are nicked, toss them. I must have 20+ of different shapes and sizes. You just can't buy one.
  7. Wire Stripers
  8. Again, these are not you car tool, or what electricians use, or the Klein Tool 1003 with the "adjustment" on it. I have two StripMaster wire Strippers which are little pricey. Recently I got a Pro'sKit 8PK-371 for about $10.00 no muss no fuss, it just works well. I also have a "Kinetics Stripall TW-1, These are Thermal Wire Strippers, and are a must if you touch Teflon which are used Aircraft, Military and harsh temperature between -90 °C to 260 °C.
  9. A Word about wire
  10. Wire come in 3 major types: PVC, Teflon® and Kynar® also the first two come in both solid and stranded, the last only comes solid and the good stuff is silver plated. Btw you will only run into Kynar® if you are Wire-Wrapping®. In which case you will need some optional tooling and supplies. For the most part you will be using some form of stranded hook-up wire which has PVC for its insulation, electricians use THHN which is basically PVC with a Nylon Coating.

    PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a highly durable and versatile thermoplastic material that has several beneficial characteristics for wire insulation applications. For example, in addition to being moisture, flame, and abrasion-resistant, PVC functions optimally in temperatures ranging from -55 °C to 105 °C. It is also resistant to UV and many types of chemicals, including acids, oils, and alkalis. PVC offers a less expensive material option for wire insulation. This makes it a popular choice for applications involving a large volume of wire or where cost is a significant consideration. It is the most readily available wire insulation material choice and provides a long service life, typically exceeding 25 to 30 years. PVC is also easy to process and recycle.

    Teflon® is a registered trademark name for the material polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This synthetic fluoropolymer is one of the most popular insulating compounds. Teflon® can withstand extreme temperature fluctuations between -90 °C to 260 °C and is used in many challenging environments. It is also highly durable and exhibits excellent electrical properties. In comparison to wires insulated through extrusion, Teflon® insulated wire is tape-wrapped and therefore features a uniform thickness. For this reason, Teflon® tends to be a higher-grade wire and is typically significantly more expensive than PVC insulated wire.

    Kynar® or poly-vinylidene fluoride (DVDF) has good high dielectric strength and excellent mechanical properties over a broad range of temperatures, allowing for a thin wall insulation. Kynar's cut through resistance is far superior to PVC and is a pure and clean polymer. It exhibits very low weight loss when exposed to a high vacuum. It is also resistant to a wide variety of chemicals including: Most organic acids, Bases, Alcohols, Halogenated solvents, and PVDF's cut through resistance is far superior to PVC and is a pure and clean polymer. It exhibits very low weight loss when exposed to a high vacuum. It is also resistant to a wide variety of chemicals including: Most organic acids, Bases, Alcohols, Halogenated solvents, and Aromatic Hydrocarbons

  11. Other Tools, that you can use
  12. A solder pot this is must for tinning wires. (never use your soldering iron), solder pots are not cleanable, in other words If you use it for Rosen based solder you can't just empty it and use it with Non-lead solders. Lead Bending Gauges, this comes in two styles, a form, and a caliper style, buy them both. A good heat gun, I personally have the Master-Mite buts that on the high side you could opt for the EC-Mini Heat Gun and solder sleeve splices for different wire sizes and Shrink Wrap Tubes (This does not mean you can use you lighter, etc), plus you will need the sponges, Flux Remover, Alcohol, Stiff brushes, and other things.

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