Principles of Electricity

Lesson 72 - Tools


At this stage of the game, I'm fairly certain you are tired of just reading, and want to get your hands into the guts of electronics (if you haven't already). I have already presented you with a couple of projects you could play with (like a power supply), but honestly - there are certain tools and test equipments that you WILL need in order to be successful in electronics.

Jenson makes some really cool tool kits, but in my honest and most humble opinion, they are more money than they are worth, and frankly, usually don't have what YOU need when you need it.

Specialized tool kits are for special jobs, but generically, this is what you will need for most any job you come across in electronics:

    First are your 6x6 tools (Six tools that are six inches long - you may have to buy 1 or 2 tools separately)
    • 6 inch slip joint pliers
    • 6 inch needle nose pliers
    • 6 inch diagonal cutting (dikes)
    • 6 inch channel locking pliers
    • 6 inch crescent wrench
    • 6 way screwdriver

    I've found that the above set (minus the screwdriver) can be had from Sears, Wal-Mart, Harbor Freight, or just about any hardware store for under $20. The Screwdriver is the type with replaceable tips. 2 phillips, 2 standard, and the handle can be used as 2 different sized nut-drivers (both sizes commonly used in electronics).

    Then come your specialty electronics tools
  • solder iron
  • multimeter
  • specialty wire strippers
  • specialty crimping tools
Which "specialty" crimping and stripping tools you use will depend on what kinds of coaxial wires you wind up stripping and crimping the most. I've found that Radio Shack sells a nice stripper, and you want crimpers that are the ratcheting type that don't release until you've compressed a full crimp (don't get your finger stuck in there).

As for soldering, I have another course that covers that as well as the best equipment for the job. Multimeters? Entire websites are dedicated to the sales of them. In short - once you learn how to properly use a multimeter - you can get by with a cheap generic one you can buy for a couple of dollars. However, there are special jobs that require special meters - like a precision True RMS meter, which gives you real voltages instead of averaged ones. VERY handy if you know the difference, but if you can't afford that - often you can simply do the math.

That's it. Those are the tools you as an electronics tech or Field Service Engineer will need more than any others. I carry all that around in a small tool bag, and it handles MOST (but certainly not all) of what I do. I call that my 90% bag. Certainly you can spend millions of dollars on tools and test equipment in the electronics field - but for MOST jobs - you can get by with less than $40 worth of tools.

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