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3. Beginner's Tools for Starting Electronics

Created on: 27 July 2012
Updated on: 4 September 2021

Some basic tools are needed for beginners in electronics. When starting electronics and building breadboard circuits, some basic tools are needed such as side-cutters, pliers and a multimeter.

The following basic tools are needed to start building breadboard circuits:

  1. Electronic Breadboard – for building circuits on. Connecting wires or jumper wires are also required.
  2. Side-cutters – for cutting wire, stripping insulation from wire and cutting component leads.
  3. Long Nose or Half-round-nose Pliers – for straightening component leads.
  4. A Multimeter – for testing voltages, component values and more – not essential, but very handy.
  5. Soldering Iron – may not be needed right away. Used to solder leads or connectors onto some components in order to plug them into a breadboard. It may be possible to use Dupont wires to connect components to a breadboard instead of soldering.

1. Electronic Breadboard

A full size 830 tie point breadboard is fine for use with this beginner's electronics course. A half size 400 tie point breadboard can also be used, but two half size breadboards are needed to build some of the circuits.

In addition to a breadboard, connecting wires are needed to connect electronic components to each other when using a breadboard. Both breadboards and connecting wires were discussed in the previous part of this course.

2. Side Cutters

Both side-cutters and long nose or half-round-nose pliers need to be the small type intended for electronic use. Do not get the bigger tools intended for use by electricians. The photo below shows the difference in size of electronics tools (left) and electricians tools (right).

A comparison of electronic tools and electrician tools
Side Cutters and Half-round-nose Pliers: Left - Electronic Tools and Right - Electrician Tools

Side cutters are used to cut lengths of single-strand wire for use on a breadboard. After cutting a length of wire, side cutters can be used to strip the insulation off each end of the wire in order to plug the ends into the holes or tie points of a breadboard. Purpose made wire strippers can be used to strip insulation off the end of wires instead of using side cutters.

Other uses of side cutters are to shorten the leads on components if needed, or to cut components from paper tape if they are supplied this way.

3. Long Nose or Half-round-nose Pliers

Long nose or half-round-nose pliers are used to bend and straighten wire and component leads. They are also handy when trying to insert a connecting wire or component into a new breadboard that is stiff.

4. A Multimeter

A multimeter is optional, but can be very useful in testing the voltage of a battery or power supply that is used to power a circuit. Some components can be tested using a multimeter. The value of a resistor can be checked using a multimeter on the ohms scale.

Although it is good advice to buy the best equipment that you can afford, some of the better multimeters are expensive. On this course a cheap multimeter can be used, such as the one pictured below. Only use this type of multimeter on low voltage, low power circuits. Never use a cheap multimeter on high voltage, high power or mains powered circuits.

A Cheap Digital Multimeter
A Cheap Digital Multimeter

5. Soldering Iron

A soldering iron and stand or soldering station may also be needed by beginners. Although you will be building circuits on breadboard initially, with no soldering needed, some components will need to have wires soldered to them so that they can be plugged into the breadboard. This is only necessary from tutorial 12 in this series of beginner's tutorials.

If you want to get a soldering iron when you are ordering other tools and components, then first read the article on soldering irons and then the article on soldering.

The next part of this article shows the electronic components needed to follow the tutorials.

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