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Customer Supplied Tools and Supplies
Last Updated: 01/10/2013
As the majority of our products are Do It Yourself, they often require customer supplied tools or materials. This page references some of those materials, recommendations, estimated costs and where you can purchase them.
 
Hot Glue Gun
A number of our products use our hot glue sticks.  These hot glue sticks are .44" or about 7/16" to 1/2" in diameter - a common size for hot glue sticks.  While you may see us use a fairly fancy and expensive hot glue gun in our assembly videos, that doesn't mean you need one that fancy.  Ideally you want a hot glue gun that has adjustable temperatures so that you can control how fast you can run glue through the gun and how long you want the setup (hardening) to occur.  For example, you may want the glue to stick in one spot, not run and have a very low setup (or "open") time so that you don't have to hold the parts together for long periods while they setup.  Glue guns can be found just about anywhere - at retail locations like hobby, hardware and general stores like Walmart.  They can also be found at on line retailers like amazon.com and hotmelt.com.
 
Soldering Iron/Soldering Station
We always recommend soldering any wiring connection (along with heat shrink tubing) as opposed to wire nuts or even worse, just twisting the wires together and covering with electrical tape.  There are many articles and videos on the Internet about how to select one but what we recommend in a soldering iron is:
  • Adjustable temp up to 400 degrees Celsius.  Most often the soldering station will have a temp sensor that ensures a consistent temp at the tip.
  • 30+ Watts of power (though you don't need extremely high wattage units)
  • Iron holder to store your soldering handle while you are not soldering
  • Replaceable tips
  • We prefer manual temp adjustments (knobs) over digital
  • We like the Aoyue 936 at around $45
Solder
Solder is just as important, if not more important, than the soldering iron/station itself.  Here are our recommendations for what to look for when shoping for solder:
  • Do NOT purchase lead free solder.  While it might be more environmentally "sound", it is a major pain to work with and to get to flow right.
  • We recommend "60/40 Rosin/Flux core".  This stands for 60% tin and 40% lead with an included flux/rosin in the center of the core.  The rosin/flux greatly aids in flowing the solder onto the wires being soldered.  The lead allows it to melt at lower temps than lead-free solders.
  • A diameter of around .030" - any thinner and it requires a lot of movement of solder and it's hard to hold straight.  Anything heavier tends to take a long time to heat up.
  • Get a 1 pound roll - it doesn't go bad
Dikes / Sider Cutters
We highly recommend a good quantity, small wire cutting side cutter.  These are useful in cutting in tight places, cutting open sealed shrink wrap connections and a wire variety of other wire cutting tasks.  We personally use the Xcelite 170M side cutter but any high quality unit will work.  If you are paying 99 cents for your cutters, you'll end up with a tool that dulls quickly, often has mis-aligned cutting surfaces, poor quality grips and no spring return.
 
Heat Gun/Torch
We use a torch mainly for just shrinking our hot shrink tubing around electrical connections.  Anything works that generates sufficient heat - such as a BIC lighter, match, etc though we recommend a purpose built torch which makes things easier and safer.  The torch we use is from Harbor Freight and is called the "Micro Torch", item #42099.  Keep in mind that most of these torches don't come shipped with butane to run them - this can be purchased at Walmart or other general stores.


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