Tinker Tools


If you are going to tinker, you will, of course, need some tools. The “Construction Techniques” chapter in the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) Handbook does a good job of showing what you need to get started. Actually, the ARRL Handbook is one of the most useful “tools” you can have, so consider it to be “tool number one” on your list. You can sometimes find used (and unused) handbooks, on the “freebie” table at your local Ham Radio Club meeting. I’ve seen them in used bookstores for five to ten bucks. Even if you pay the new price, whatever that is these days, the handbook is worth every penny.

You don’t need all the stuff mentioned in the ARRL Handbook in order to get started. I think a minimum list should include:

[] ARRL Handbook (tool number ONE)
[] Long Nose Pliers
[] Diagonal Wire Cutter (commonly called “dikes”)
[] Wire Stripper for removing insulation from wire
[] Assorted Screwdrivers (at least a couple sizes each: slot and Phillips)
[] Assorted small wrenches, up to 5/8”
[] Soldering Iron (25 or 30 Watt “Pencil” type)
[] Quarter-inch Electric Drill and Assorted Drill Bits
[] Hack Saw with Blade(s)
[] Pocket Knife
[] Digital Multimeter (DMM) that measures Voltage, Current, and Resistance. You can get a basic DMM that is more than adequate to do all the measuring required of the circuits that will be presented in this blog for twenty dollars, or less. For less than a hundred dollars, you can get a DMM that measures Voltage, Current, Resistance, Capacitance, Temperature, and Frequency; a diode checker, and a transistor checker.

Just about any DMM will serve you well. The meter that I use most often on my workbench is a “cheapie”BBBB import from China that I purchased for less than five bucks.

[] An electrical power source. Batteries of various sizes can be used to power most, if not all, of the circuits that will be described here. Having said that, I should point out that if you plan to do much in the way of building electronic circuits, you will, sooner or later, want to have a power supply that will provide about 12 volts of electricity and electrical current of two or more Amperes. Such a power supply is relatively easy to come by. I’ll have more to say about power supplies in a later post.

OPTIONAL (helpful, and relatively expensive) TOOLS

[] A GENERAL COVERAGE “SHORT WAVE” RECEIVER, preferably with digital read-out. I use a Grundig YB400, which also serves as a back-up receiver for my Ham Radio station in addition to being an excellent AM and FM broadcast receiver. Other, similar, radio receivers will serve nicely.
[] An electric “hobby” tool with assorted cutters and grinders. The “DREMEL” is one such tool, and there are other brands available.
[] An OSCILLOSCOPE is one of the most useful pieces of test equipment you can have when testing and/or troubleshooting electronic circuitry. An oscilloscope is also one of the most expensive pieces of test equipment, but worth every penny if you do very much “tinkering” with electronic circuits. I purchased a used Tektronix ‘scope several years ago at a good price, and it has served me well.


Parts lists will be included with each circuit presented on this blog. A generalized list of things that will be needed when building is shown below.

[] Electric Tape
[] Shrink-tubing in various sizes (more expensive than tape, and much better for most applications)
[] Solder (Rosin Core, NOT Acid Core)
[] Insulated Hook-Up Wire. I recommend stranded, #24 wire. When making connections from one circuit board to another, it can be helpful to have several colors of hookup wire. White, black, red, green, yellow, orange, and blue are commonly available.
[] Bare copper wire, #20, #22 or #24. One inexpensive source for bare copper wire is automobile battery cable. About a foot or two will provide a lifetime supply. Simply remove the outer insulation, and separate the bare strands. Be sure the cable is copper. Some battery cables I have seen in auto parts stores is made of aluminum and/or aluminum alloys, which is worthless for electronic construction because it is virtually impossible to solder aluminum without special equipment and special solder.

Additional tools and materials will be detailed for individual projects, if required.

– END of TOOLS –

About w6bky

Retired 29 May 1987. Now do hobbies: blogging, ham radio, gardening, etc.
This entry was posted in handbook, materials, tools. Bookmark the permalink.

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