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Adafruit Industries has a nice toolkit for those venturing into electronics. The “carefully selected hand tools” in their kit, shown above, include a 30W adjustable temperature soldering iron complete with indicator LED, a soldering stand with sponge and iron holder, a solder sucker, a 1/4 pound spool of 60/40 solder, a 5′ spool of solder wick, a PanaVise Jr. PCB holder and general-purpose 360° mini-vise, a basic digital multimeter, wire strippers, diagonal cutters, needle-nose pliers, three 25′ spools of solid-core wire in black, red, and yellow, and a half-size solderless breadboard. As a bonus, you also get the parts needed to build a 5-volt power supply. All this for $100.

I did not try to add up the best online prices for all the individual parts (a couple of links to parts available on Amazon are listed below), but others on the web have done so, and the range for buying all the parts piecemeal is ~ $90—$110. So, given the time for ordering individual items and the separate postage involved, this toolkit seems like a good value.

Ladyada’s Electronics Toolkit [Manufacturer’s Site]
PanaVise Model 201 “Junior” Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Xcelite 170M 5″ Shearcutter Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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14 Responses to Ladyada’s Electronics Toolkit

  1. Eli says:

    I can attest to the quality of Xytronic soldering irons like the one in the kit above. I replaced my generic soldering iron with a Xytronic station last year, and I could not believe the difference it made. They also have many different tips available.
    This seems like a pretty fair price and a good selection of tools for someone who is looking to get started in electronics.

  2. Mike says:

    Comparing it to my own electronics tools, that’s pretty much everything a beginner would think to use. If I were to add anything for a beginner, I’d maybe stick in a hemostat and clip on heat sink. Solder wick might be easier for a beginner than a solder pump, but otherwise it’s a pretty decent starting point.

  3. Cameron says:

    Throw it an solder fume extractor

  4. Blind says:

    There is also this one here:

    Which has 2 cheaper varieties as well

  5. Toolhearty says:

    Cameron Says:
    Throw it an solder fume extractor

    Expensive and unnecessary. Use a salvaged box fan or open a window to keep the fumes out of your face.

  6. Autobot says:

    I actually like the tool kit at Curious Inventor better then the Adafruit or sparkfun kit.
    This tool kit doesn’t have any electronic bits like a breadboard, wire or power supply kit but the tool list is better especially the solder station, but you do pay for it with the higher price. ~$140.

  7. Dennis says:

    this look remarkably like my electronics bucket, except I collect transformers in the “wall wart” style and have them clearly marked with voltage.

    I am working on creating a set of LED tailights for my 77 chevy but I keep getting distracted.

  8. The kit looks solid except for the wire strippers, I wouldn’t wish that style of strippers on a beginner. The only reason I can see that they threw these in is that they can handle a larger range of wire gauges than a real pair.

  9. Toolaremia says:

    Ladyada rocks. I’m happy to see these different “getting started” sets. They are all good enough to get somebody going in electronics. The world definitely needs more hackers to keep picking at the corporate locks the CEOs want to put on everything we buy.

    “If you can’t open it, you don’t own it.”

    I have a shirt with drawings of a bunch of tamper-proof fasteners, over which it says “I void warranties.”

  10. Toolaremia says:

    Shirt link (got swallowed when I posted):


  11. David Bryan says:

    Benjamen, I agree that they’re not the best choice for beginners, but those are real wire strippers. About as real as they get.

  12. shopmonger says:

    Yeah this look like what i have in the electronics section of the shop, but i agree for beginner a set of click strips or the old style with multiple selection of sizes would be more conducive……. Another good thing would be the electricians pocket guide


  13. @David Bryan:

    Real was not my first choice of words, but since I have no idea what you call the type of wire strippers that are flat metal pliers with individual strippers for every even wire gauge from 10 to 22 or some other range, I was frustrated.

    There’s always self adjusting wire strippers too, but good ones tend to be more expensive.

  14. Mark says:

    Spend the extra money and get an iron with controlled temperature.
    It’s not that you can’t get by without it. It’s more like not owning a cordless drill and using a $30 corded wallmart drill.

    A $60 Hakko with a selection of tips makes a big difference in the work you can do. Especially when repairing existing devices.

    For desoldering, use briad or buy a $20 desoldering iron.

    Use the remaining $20 for hand tools and solder.

    Forget the white “protoboards”. They were banned at the first real company I worked at. You’ll spend hours trying to find out what’s wrong with a circuit, only to find it was a bad connection.

    The panavise is great.

    Chances are you already have a meter.

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