Up until now I’ve worked exclusively with through-hole components. While they’re great for fast prototyping, it’s becoming more difficult to find DIP versions of every part I need, especially for some of the more recently released devices (USB controllers, ARM-based MCUs). You may find a DIP package here and there, but the majority is only available in various surface-mount sizes. The only way for me to keep up is to learn how to solder surface-mount packages.
Over the past few months I’ve been gathering all the tools I need to move my soldering techniques to the next level. Last week I received the final parts on my list – a high-quality soldering station, iron tips for soldering surface-mount packages and a head-mounted magnifier. With everything ready for my first surface-mount experience, I grabbed one of my I2C EEPROMs and an adapter board, and gave it a try.
After several months of tinkering with the cheapest tools I could find, it’s time to move my electronics engineering hobby to a more serious level with some upgrades. These replacements still fall in the hobbyist price/quality category, but are definitely a step up from what I used to work with. As a Christmas present to myself, I upgraded my soldering iron, multimeter and magnifier, and converted a wooden shelf rack into a neat tool storage solution.
In my quest to organize the large amount of components piling up on my workbench, I’ve gone through dozens of Chinese websites and eBay listings in search of the perfect storage cabinets. What I came across was either perfect but too expensive, or low cost but mediocre quality. Surprisingly I ended up finding what I was looking for at an unlikely place for cheap stuff – Farnell element14.