When you start building Arduino projects, it is hard to know what tools and equipment you should buy. We can distinguish two types of equipment. Equipment needed for solder-less prototyping and equipment for soldering. One of the big advantages of solder-less prototyping is that you can use the same components for various projects while soldering makes the component useless for other projects. For our tutorials, we will use solder-less prototyping. However, you can always choose to solder the components. Below, are the tools that I use for solder-less and soldering.
Tools for solder-less prototyping
- Breadboard: This allows you to prototype a circuit without permanently fixing anything in place.
- Jump wires: These are tiny lengths of wire that are ideal for building circuits on a breadboard.
- Needle-nosed pliers: These have a pointed nose to allow you to hold tiny objects with great precision. They’ll save you a lot of swearing!
- Power supply: Similar to the power supplies for laptops. A 12V DC power supply with a 2.1mm jack is good for many small applications — just make sure that it supplies enough current!
Tools for soldering
- Soldering iron: Comes as fixed-temperature, temperature-controlled, gas-powered, or a solder station. Getting a temperature-controlled iron will set you back about $30 (£20) and is a good investment until you can justify getting a nice solder station, such as those made by Weller.
- Solder: Buying lead-free solder is a good idea for your health and the environment.
- Third hand: Also known as a helping hand, this tool is good for holding boards and components in place.
- Adhesive putty: Cheaper than a helping hand and often more reliable for arranging your circuit and components for soldering.
- Wire cutters: A good set of wire cutters will have a pointed nose for precision clipping.
- Wire strippers: Can be manual or mechanical. If you can, try them out in a shop to find your preference for the wire you are intending to strip.
- Solder sucker: This is a vacuum tube that’s useful for undoing soldering mistakes.
- Solder wick: Another way to undo mistakes is to melt excess solder into a piece of solder wick.
- Equipment wire: Buying a few short reels or multicore equipment wire in various colors is always a good idea.
Where to buy everything?
Buying your Arduino boards, sensors and components can be tricky for beginners since there are many vendors out there. The most important decision that you will have to make is whether to buy from official Arduino resellers or from to buy cheaper clones from China.
There are a couple of reasons why you should by from an official reseller. You support the developers of Arduino, you will receive your order in time ( buying from China will take between 3 – 6 weeks), and you will get the board with the correct PCB layout. Also, the boards from official resellers will work instantly while boards from China need other drives that you have to install manually. Even though these are good reasons for buying from official resellers, I also buy boards and components from Aliexpress and Amazon.
If you carefully look at offers at Aliexpress, and you know what you should buy, then it is okay to import your boards and components from China. Sometimes you see the Arduino Logo on boards from China. Remember, this is illegal and will not support the Arduino developers.
I suggest that you buy your Arduino Board from official resellers. You will get it in time and it will work properly.
For sensors or components, it is different. They are the same quality and functionality if you buy it from Aliexpress or from a local reseller. If you are patient enough you can buy it from Aliexpress. They are sold separately and shipping is always included. Some parts are very cheap, even with shipping.
In the next tutorial, Components needed for the tutorials , you will learn more about the components used in the upcoming tutorials.