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Basic Tools To Get Started In Component Level Electronic Repair

When I was a kid I’d disassemble everything I could get my hands on from phones, laptops, game consoles etc. I was obsessed with finding ways to modify them to make them run better and part of that obsession also meant repairing things that broke or went wrong. I have many memories of going down into my fathers lab, who was also an electronic engineer, and tearing apart customers phones to fix on component level. It was sort of a little business operation I had going even at the age of 6. It’s never too soon to get started in your passions. Since I have been in this field (electronic repair and design) basically my entire life, I have acquired a lot of knowledge that I can share with someone just getting started in repair.

If you could only purchase a few tools, these are the fundamental necessities I’d suggest for a beginner:

-multimeter (fluke is a good brand)

-smd rework station for soldering and hot air work. (862D+ is cheap but good)

-bench top dc power supply with current limiting (wanptek is cheap but good)

-ultra fine tip tweezers for SMD work (hakko)

-microscope may or may not be necessary depending on what you are repairing.(amscope with 10-20x is good)

-fume extractor to use when soldering or doing rework. While not a necessity it is if you care about your health or intend to be doing a lot of repair work since you don’t want to breathe in the solder and flux fumes. (Hakko is good)

You will also need some basic supplies to go along with them.

-solder (I prefer leaded loctite multi core)
-flux (amtech nc559 is good)
-solder braid (any is fine)
-jumper wire
-acrylic conformal coat
-Isopropyl alcohol (at least 90% preferable)

Of course you will need the actual components necessary to complete each repair as well. However, these parts will depend upon what you are repairing and can be either stocked up on once you know what is most common to need or can be purchased as you go.

Some reputable distributors for quality parts are

-Digikey
-Mouser
-Arrow

This will allow you to very inexpensively get started but if you have the cash up front to purchase more I’d grab the following, otherwise you can purchase them as you go along.

-ultrasonic cleaner(crest makes some of the best ones. Get one with heat and timer function and a large enough tank to clean devices you need.)

-Branson EC fluid, and distilled water (for the ultrasonic cleaner)

-oscilloscope (rigol makes great and affordable ones)

So how do you use all of this equipment? There will be an entire future series dedicated to this.

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