Soldering and electronics work station

turfdoc

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Hey all...just finished successfully rewiring my old TLAC-100 tele, and it was so much fun (once I found a diagram!), that it made me feel like I was back in chemistry lab geek days. So I think I'm gonna start doing electronics as a side hobby and am wondering if you all have any recommendations on work station items. I have a cheap but serviceable iron, cheap multimeter....and nada as for table protection, parts bins....Any word on most reputable suppliers/ways to buy cheap parts to practice on, would be most appreciated.
By the way, the TLAC sounds better than it used to, after some new wires and fresh soldering.
 

Peegoo

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Get yourself an 18" x 24" silicone baking mat. This is a thin, flexible heat-proof rubber film that makes an ideal surface to protect your work top when soldering. They're cheap too.

For practice, scavenge circuit components and PC boards from broken/discarded electronica. If you pop open an old-school CRT TV, be very careful because the large capacitors can store a vicious jolt of voltage. Older PC boards with through-hole components are great for practicing your desoldering skillz.
 

Greg70

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Unfortunately the good electronic parts stores are mostly gone and you often have to buy 100 resistors to get 1 of the resistance that you need. However Amazon sells resistor assortment sets that you can add to your stash.

You can hit up Goodwill or other thrift shops and buy old electronics dirt cheap to pillage and practice on.
 

Willie Johnson

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Unfortunately the good electronic parts stores are mostly gone and you often have to buy 100 resistors to get 1 of the resistance that you need. However Amazon sells resistor assortment sets that you can add to your stash.

You can hit up Goodwill or other thrift shops and buy old electronics dirt cheap to pillage and practice on.
Micro Center still sells this stuff brick-and-mortar, and does business in 15-20 states. Go to the back wall where they have hobby/robotics parts and supplies.
 

mistermikev

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hakko fx888 - bought mine on sale at fry's electronics about 8 years ago... tips last a long time and are easily aquired... gets up to temp in about 8 seconds. absolutely love it.

multimeter... i have a fluke clone that I bought for $40 on amazon... I don't think I'd use it to do high voltage but for measuring transistors, resistors, caps, connectivity - it is absolutely accurate and also have had it for years. auto selects resistance/cap range which is nice. vici vc99

afa parts - the usual suspects. when I need to be sure I am getting a real chip - mouser. when i just need caps/resistors/etc taydaelectronics.com.
that's my 2 cents.
 

dsutton24

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You've really got a good start. A good pair of diagonal cutters, good long nose pliers - both on the small end of the size range. An Ideal T5 wire stripper or its equivalent are necessities. I learned to strip wire without a wire stripper, so do what works for you.

A heavy duty soldering gun of 100 watts or more is nice for pot backs and the like. It's not a necessity if you're doing okay with your current rig.

Life's a lot easier if you have something to hold your work. A small cheapie hobby vise is good, those things that look like a pair of alligator clips on a base can be good, some of them even come with a magnifier.

Once you've been at it a while and learn to solder well you should think about a temperature controlled iron. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a serviceable iron. I'll tell you, though, that I soldered for many years with just a basic iron. If you learn to solder well with a cheapie iron, and you get a temperature controlled iron at some point, you'll be invincible!
 

Swirling Snow

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Fishing tackle boxes. If you qualify for a card, used 'medicine' containers. My grandfather was a machinist, and my father inherited about a 1/2 ton of cigarette tins full of screws and drill bits, etc.

I'm getting new tools myself, and so far I trust StewMac the most.

Guitar headrest
Guitar work mat
Klein Tools Multimeter

(I know you said you had a meter, but if you or anyone wants to step up I offer this as a killer overkill "the best" choice. It does capacitors, and doesn't cost as much as a Fluke. Klein is one of the few brands that seems to be maintaining their quality.)
 

KyAnne

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Hey all...just finished successfully rewiring my old TLAC-100 tele, and it was so much fun (once I found a diagram!), that it made me feel like I was back in chemistry lab geek days. So I think I'm gonna start doing electronics as a side hobby and am wondering if you all have any recommendations on work station items. I have a cheap but serviceable iron, cheap multimeter....and nada as for table protection, parts bins....Any word on most reputable suppliers/ways to buy cheap parts to practice on, would be most appreciated.
By the way, the TLAC sounds better than it used to, after some new wires and fresh soldering.
Pace soldering station
Fluke 87V Digital Multimeter
Simpson 260 Analog Multimeter
Jensen or Excelite electronic tools
Menard Electronics or Southern can supply bins
 

Cam

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Mar 16, 2003
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Eh!nada
Peegoo:"Get yourself an 18" x 24" silicone baking mat. This is a thin, flexible heat-proof rubber film that makes an ideal surface to protect your work top when soldering. They're cheap too."
That's a "why didn't I think of that" idea. Thanks for that one!
 

Swirling Snow

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Dec 4, 2021
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I installed some PRS pickups yesterday and discovered I don't have alligator clip leads. Must have. Many!

Put the screw through the mounting ring. Slide the spring over the screw and push it down. Place an alligator clip on the screw so 1/4" or so of threads are showing and then gently let the spring up to rest against the clip. Carefully line the screw up with the hole in the pickup's leg and get the threads started.

It might take a little practice, but it's way easier than fighting with a spring only to have it shoot off across the room!
 

skunqesh

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May 17, 2008
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West Coast
I can't recommend my current system of little baggies with no labeling...
the struggle is real (lol) I have so many little baggies of caps, resistors, scraps of vintage wire, etc.
lately I've gotten ahold of some clear plastic compartmented boxes and have begun the process of de-bagging my weird little horde of bits n bolts.

another useful tip I got from the experts:

Get a variety of little alligator (wire) clips - they make great "heat sinks" for delicate components when soldering/desoldering.
 
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Old Verle Miller

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Apr 7, 2022
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Texas
I tend to dual-purpose things.

My bench-top cover is a roll-up silicone gun mat. My neck rest is a range bench rest (beaded bag). Gunsmith screw and nut drivers are extremely precise so they work well, too.

Surgical instruments are handy and I also have what Amazon calls a Helping Hands Soldering Third Hand Tool that clamps to the table-top.

Get yourself a headband lamp or combo magnifier lamp and if you're going to get serious about dismantling stuff, I highly recommend something called a solder-sucker.

I'm also a fan of heat-shrink tubing so I have a small heat gun.

As for electronics, if you're going to get serious about amp and pickup work, you'll want to learn how to use an oscilloscope (SAFELY). At least you won't have to spend anywhere near what I did many years ago; today they are even combined into small single unit devices with signal generators and multimeters in the same box.

Good luck!
 




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