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some Basic Tools For Building A Synth

If you are just getting started with building an analog synthesizer, there are a few basic tools/supplies you should get.  These are in addition to tools found in a standard tool box (screwdrivers, long nose pliers, hammer, etc…).  You do not need anything particularly fancy to start, just get something basic.  After you have actually built a few things, you will have a better idea of what you would like.  At that time, you can upgrade. I am including part references for convenience only.  These are not the best or only options you can choose. All prices were accurate when this article was published..

  • A Soldering Iron – A basic 20-35 watt soldering will do to start.  Higher wattage provides additional power for soldering hardware (jacks, plugs etc…). You could start with the Weller 23SPL.  It currently costs $13.84 from Mouser Electronics.  If you want to move up a step, you cold buy the Weller 7760BK handle, with the Weller 1235-S 33 watt Heating element, with the Weller PL-331 tip.  This set up is currently $43.00 from Mouser Electronics. What I particularly like about these setups is that you can replace the tips.  The tip is usually the first thing to go. I personally like the Weller soldering Irons, however if you would like something very inexpensive, Parts Express currently has soldering irons as low as $4.85.  If you wear this out, you can then decide if you would like to move up to one of the more expensive options.
  • Soldering Accessories
    • A Sponge – To wipe off the tip of the soldering iron.  Basically any small sponge will do
    • Soldering Iron Holder – A place to put the soldering iron when you are not using it.  I personally like the Weller 8000. Parts Express has a similar soldering iron holder for $8.09.
  • A Digital Multimeter – Something basic to start.  Primarily, you will need to check DC voltage, resistance, and continuity.  Every multimeter I know of has these basic functions. I would also look for a multimeter that uses a common battery (9 volt, AA or AAA).  Parts Express has an inexpensive multimeter for $12.92.
  • A Breadboard – This is used for building test circuits.  You can get various sizes, but I recommend something in the medium range.  Parts Express has a decent size breadboard with 3 terminals (which are very handy) for 13.89.
  • Test Lead Set – You will constantly have a need to make temporary connections.  It is great to have some cable around for this.  You can currently get a set of 10 test leads for $2.95 at Parts Express.

Along with a basic tool set, this is enough to get started.  As you begin building, you will certainly find additional tools to make the work easier. These tools, however, will get you building.

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