Tools I’ve used so far. Some I liked, others not so much:

  • My old Tektronix 314:
Analog storage oscilloscope. It runs with anything, even 12V DC. Running from battery is a bit dangerous though, it’s very easy to short circuit things as the GND is now the battery’s negative pole.

  • Lecroy WaveAce224 [Siglent rebrand]:
Well, I’ve had one of these. Now I don’t. No more words about it.


  • Weller WSM 1:
Digital soldering station. Not cheap, but worth every cent. A good soldering iron brings you a long way, but the unavoidable SMD parts benefit hugely from adjustable and stable iron temperatures.

  • The mini mill:
Compared to the really big machines it’s a toy, but for milling off some edges or drilling holes precisely where I want them it’s plenty good. There are also CNC mods for it. It’s a Proxxon MF70.

  • Circle cutter:
It doesn’t come cheap (about 60€), but I consider this a ‘once in a life time’ purchase.
This ‘circle cutter’ is made by Styro.

  • ChipQuik:
The 16$ test KIT will remove quite a lot of small chips. The supplied alloy is plenty, the paste flux just comes as a 1cm³ syringe and will run out much sooner. Better get an extra syringe of that. If you don’t want to buy a hot air rework station, this is a must have.

  • Wire wrapping tools:
Although my soldering iron heats up quasi instantly, sometimes I just don’t see the point of turning it on. Especially when prototyping and I need just a few non-permanent connections ‘right now’, wrapping a bit of wire around the leads is a very quick and efficient way. The teflon insulation of the AWG 30 wrapping wire also requires a dedicated wire stripper. Using finger nails, a sharp knife or wire clipper either doesn’t work at all or damages the wire fatally.

  • Openbench logic sniffer (OLS):
A very powerful tool, and open source too! Brought to you by Dangerous Prototypes

  • FLUX:
EDSYN FL-22 paste flux. This stuff IS GOOD! No smoke (at 285°C at least), no significant smell.

Sidenote: I kind of like the smell of the ChipQuik flux. Reminds me of evergreen trees.

EDSYN FL-88 liquid flux pen. It is OK, but not more. Not suitable for SMD rework as it evaporates very quickly. I use(d) it to add some more flux when the rosin core solder wasn’t good enough. Leaves a white residue. I think I’ll switch over to the paste flux.

  • Solder-paste:
EDSYN CR-44. It easily comes out of the syringe, even when taken right out of the fridge. Results have been very good so far (using a hot-plate).