Here are some tools and resources that we've found useful when building the Alice series of hobby computers.
- Rigol DS1054Z oscilloscope: Outstanding scope for this kind of work. We didn't use it often, but when we needed it it was indispensable. Highly recommended.
- DPS5015 bench power supply: Super cheap little supply. Again, didn't use it much, but was critical when we needed to power a part that was potentially badly soldered without frying it. Got it with its aluminum enclosure. We regret not getting it sooner in the project.
- Hot air and soldering rework station: This machine worked great when we had to replace a QFN part. The soldering iron heats up incredibly quickly.
- Soldering mat: For protecting your dining room table and keeping track of the many small parts and screws as you assemble a device.
- Lead-free solder paste: We used both this and a leaded paste, and it felt like the leaded one worked better. We don't have a link to the leaded one, but it was similar to this one.
- Anti-static tweezers: These are great for picking up SMD parts.
- Double eye loupe headset: These aren't the highest quality, but they sure are useful. It's nice to have different magnification on each eye, and being able to flip an eye piece up to see normally. The LED lights are useful too.
- No-clean flux paste: We learned the hard way that flux is critical to getting a good solder connection when working with individual SMD parts. We didn't use this when reflowing a whole board.
- 3.7V lithium rechargeable batteries: These and a simple regulator are a great way to run your project. We charge them with the next item.
- PowerBoost 1000 charger: Charges your battery (like the previous item) and runs your project off that battery.