I decided to do a follow-up on my previous post about Electronic Tools to talk briefly about parts.

With regards to parts, this is one area where being a hoarder can be an advantage. I find that there are three main sources I use for components.  Firstly is to put an order in with a supplier like Element 14 or RS Components (there are others,  but these are the main two I use).  They are good because they carry a large range of components (and carry plenty of stock), you can order online (including free shipping in these cases), and provide fast turn-around times. The downside being that you have to plan and order in advance.

The second place I tend to obtain components from is one of two local retailers. In my case that's either Jaycar or Altronics. Being local it is easier to take a quick trip to the shops if I need something in a hurry.  The downside being that they have a far smaller range of stock.

The third place I will source components from (that can sometime easier) can be from other  old / broken electronics. As a habit now, any electronics that are broken / being thrown out I will disassemble and see what parts I can salvage off them.  The advantage is that I have a ready supply of various components that are alawys on hand for those cases where I need something over an above what I thought I would need in the original order.  It can also be a good time to practice your soldering / desoldering skills.

One thing I should mention is that, in electronics, there are two main categories of circuit components: Through-hole and surface mount. Generally when you are starting out in electronics, through-hole components can be easier to work with.  As you get more advanced, or the types of circuits you are building require it, you can move onto surface mount components.  (see the links for more details on the two types of technologies). In old equipment I am disassembling, through-hole components are generally easier to remove and reuse.  However, they are also becoming less and less common in electronics, as surface mount component have several advantages for large scale manufacture.

Just be sure that, regards of where you get your components from, you have a good storage system with good labelling.  Otherwise it doesn't matter how many components you have, because you won't be able to find the one you need.


As a part of a larger project I am working on at the moment, I have decided to invest in some new equipment for manufacturing / fabrication. This is the fifth in a series of posts where I will discuss some of the equipment I am looking at.

As mentioned in an earlier post, today I am going to talk about Electronics Tools.

When working on electronics, there are a few basic tools you should have.  At a minimum I would suggest:

  • Multimeter
  • Soldering iron (and solder)
  • Side cutters

This will enable you to do basic circuit construction and repair.  Of course the following items will make your experience easier (and don't really cost a lot):

  • Sponge (for cleaning the soldering iron)
  • Solder wick and/or desoldering pump (for fixing up mistakes)
  • Isopropyl alcohol (for cleaning up the finished PCB)
  • Hook-up wire

If you are prototyping your own boards, or troubleshooting more complex boards, then the following may also be of use:

  • Protoboard / Vero board / Strip board
  • Logic analyser
  • Oscilloscope
  • Bench top variable power supply
  • PCB design software
  • Spare parts

Learning to designing your own circuits is a very large topic, and unless you're someone who has studied doing this, there is a lot to learn.  However if all you interested in is troubleshooting / repairing simple circuits,  or indeed building a circuit from a kit, then the top two lists will see you well on your way.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.