Tools for my electronic projects

Inspection microscope, first and foremost. I was taught when fresh out of school by an old technician who told me that failure analysis and modeling be damned, the #1 cause of electronic failures is mechanical and a high quality inspection microscope is the first debugging tool. He was so right! When I saw an item on eBay selling a 10,000 dollars Zeiss stereo inspection scope for 1000, I bid immediately and won.

HP54645D megazoom mixed signal oscilloscope. This one is 20 years old, yet it is a real work horse. 100mhz bandwidth, 2 analog channels and 16 digital channels. We've debugged a lot of circuits together.

Metcal soldering station. This is what all assemblers at work use. Super reliable, fast heating up, and large selection of solder tips. Very expensive if purchase new, but can get one around $100 on eBay (this is many years ago). Camera stand & DSLR camera. “If you don't write it down or take a picture, it didn't happen”. A good camera on a solid camera stand is high up on the list of tools to have. I'm a Nikon man and I'll grudgingly admit that Canon DSLR does a reasonable job as well. 10mil multicore 63/37 solder. 20mil 63/37 is fine for general soldering, but when it come to smt, it is way too big. “Less is more” in smt soldering. You only need solder from heel & toe, no more. No blobs of solder on top of legs. At least that's what my assemblers do–they snicker when they saw my soldering work. Two tweezers. Yes, two, one fine one medium to maneuver wires and loop around pins. Pay$20 for a tweezers. You truly get what you paid for.