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Putting together a basic soldering kit

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair Modifications DIY' started by kmetal, Feb 2, 2015.

  1. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    hey all, I'm pretty new to this section of RO and at a beginner level as far as understanding of electronics. I've become progressively more interested in the creative sonic options there are available thru electronics modifications and repair. Anyway my goal is to within the first year to understand the basic principles of how electronics work, and be able to casually solder guitar pickups, cables, and eventually circuit board repairs like caps, and power supply repairs. Basic stuff that seems to go wrong in the studio and live field.

    I've started a kit of stuff, before I give it an official attempt. Please feel free to note anything I'm missing, or could make things easier. Most of the tools are basic generic import type tools, or big box "house" brand. I understand the importance of quality tools. So I have yet to purchase a soldering station, and screwdriver set, and small handheld powered screwdriver. Also anything that I use routinely I will put high on the to purchase list. heres some pics, followed by the two solering stations I'm considering. I'd prefer something professional but not boutique. The idea being whatever I have now will still be usable in the 'b' kit, as I upgrade to the best necessary. My budget is really whatever it cost, just really a matter of how long I have to wait :) thanks in advance for any help and as usual brutal honesty is fine w me, the more I can learn the better!



    I'm leaning toward the weller only because it can measure tip temp. It's a bit more $ but it's within reason. I've heard the new weller isn't built like the old, as seemingly with most things, but there are a lot of replacement parts and both have decent reputations from my searches.

    My questions are is there a significant advantage for me to jump into the next price bracket. And also where does a re work station fit into the scheme? Should I get both, one or the other, one first? Am I missing something(s) important. Am I being obsessive and/or overkill for nothing. My taste ears toward 'best in class' and I'd rather buy once, or at least have things not rendered obsolete when replaced ect. I will eventually have some sort of area for this kinda stuff, where the good bench stuff will go, this is more of an "elaborate field kit" as I work mostly out on location. But a nice soldering station I think is necessary.

    Immediate things when I can solder.

    3 speaker cables 1/4"
    16 xlr ch wall plate (got a drill press for the holidays, gonna need some good bits)
    Guitar pickup swap (single coil)
    Custom wiring for my cousins modest home studio rack
    Fix my broken car stereo system! (That broke the camels back on me putting off learning electronics much more than I do)


    Caps, power supply's, solar powered batter backups, simple mic mods, clone builds, ect. I don't know what level I will want to reach but it's a facinating open world to me, and yet another way to express musical creativity. I've always said I'm a sound guy, the engineers are the poeople who build the tools. Between fixing my washer, to a bars sound system, electronnics knowledge and repair seems necessary to me as a skill to obtain. Starting at white belt, on my way to ninja!

    Attached Files:

    Chris likes this.
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    A couple more shots.. Love the handy new foldable cart there holding some amps that are busted. Gonna help save my body some water and tear on the way to and from the shop. The thing folds up about the size of two dinner plates, and is realistic.y sturdy for light weight stuff. I'd like to put bigger and rubberized wheels on it so it doesn't bang at hard on crevices and streets.

    Attached Files:

  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Nice kit!
    kmetal likes this.
  4. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Lol thanks Chris! We got about 3ft of snow last week so I geeked out. I cleaned all the basic surface machining oil off the metal tools with some degreaser detergent, whipped everything down w 91% alcohol. If you told me the day I bought a guitar 20 years ago I'd be buying a kit to fix recording gear for hire I'd probably laugh. Figured it'd be a dog kid and a white fence. What a journey the music world is. Art in general! Wait till I get the personal recording rig together, your gonna love it, it's up next!
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I've got to get one of those kits.
    I'm using such crap right now. Are you getting more into the install, studio setup,, studio maintenance, cabling etc? I better there is a good side business in that. We need you in our resource.

    Don't be shy to push your services Kyle.
  6. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Cool! Life is great when we are doing anything in this business. Sounds like you've got a good energy going. Looking forward to seeing more.
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Ya know it's always kinda been there, I just wanna get to the next level of it. Instead of neatly coiling up people's fixed length worse in racks and my stuff, it just makes sense to use the energy towards a much better final product. It just means I need more skills. Meeting Dan Zellman, at Zeletc, in NYC, last summer really showed me a different light on 'tech'. My attitude is I need to stay relevant by doing things others can't or don't want to do. Seems like my calls are split about equally in thirds between studio live and tech/installations/design. Danny literally rebuilt a cpu power supply while I was out getting more gear from the car. He's obviously a master, but it's facination how he could read equipment, he's a damn good mixer and recordist too. his shop was full. Backed up. Lol I mean he's got abbey road waiting type busy, lol. im never satisfied, and I see this area as the biggest hole in my game right now and is costing me time or money in some way, present and future.
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    It sounds like you are surrounding yourself around good people, Kyle. Its a nice time in life for you. The vets see good in you. :)
    How cool.
  9. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    That's looking a good kit you have there! Don't skimp on the soldering irons - you need serious heat when dealing with power semiconductors, and a watty iron with temperature control and interchangeable bits is essential. Consider having a small iron with a fine tip for the more detailed work as well. You will also need an illuminated magnifier of some sort on an adjustable stand.

    Unless you want to get into re-work of surface-mount components, you can probably get away without having a microscope. I need one for almost all the electronic work I do these days, as my close sight is not what it used to be.
    kmetal likes this.
  10. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Nice going, everything looks great! If I had one suggestion….. I'm all in favor of the drill press and everything, but I'd either look for pre-punched wall plates, or think about a few Greenlee chassis (not conduit) knock-out punches. Big drill bits of any quality, that aren't just going to chew their way through, are going to get expensive fast. Cheap bits are going to get expensive fast, only because they get dull fast. Crooked holes look make an otherwise perfect job look really amateur-hour. With a knock-out you can use the drill press to get a nicely spaced row of ⅜" holes and let the punch make the perfect clean bigger hole. Either way you're left with getting the mounting screw holes perfect.

    Just a thought...
  11. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Interesting, I'm all about diy, but I'm also for maximum use of time. Middle Atlantic has some stuff I've seen, and I think it's redco? Maybe a company that sells small panels that fit in standard gang boxes? Good thought. That slightly crooked hole that is almost inevitable will haunt me until it's gone lol.
  12. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    You can also buy Greenlee punches for D-Sub, and IEC connectors, rectangular, and square holes, etc. Like most quality tools, they're not cheap, but would pay for themselves pretty quickly vs. drill bits and nibbling tools. A center punch and a good stepper bit would be other items to consider in rack-panel land.

    Redco is hard to beat and very close to you, so delivery should be extremely fast. The label, name, number plate, color-coding options they offer are amazing.

    Be aware that panels pre-punched for Neutrik D-series and panels punched for Switchcraft XLR females are close, but NOT the same. The connector may physically fit in the hole, (there's only about a millimeter difference in diameter of the large hole, but the mounting screw holes are set at different angles - the result, a hideous row of identically crooked connectors, skewed a couple degrees to one side mocking you. So order specifically for the brand of connector you're planning to use (or re-use as the case may be).

    One advantage of the Neutrik D-series is that you can do XLR males, XLR females, SpeakOn NL2, SpeakOn NL4, locking ¼, RCA, BNC, RJ45 / Ethercon, USB, Firewire, HDMI, (& probably more), all in a single standardized hole size. With Switchcraft, the panel mount female and panel mount male XLR are two different sizes and mounting hole patterns.
    kmetal likes this.
  13. Makzimia

    Makzimia Active Member

    Nice kit indeed. When I was young I definitely had interest in all this stuff (technically speaking). Even built a guitar pickup from an cassette player (using speaker as a mic). Too much fiddlly work now, and my eyes are horrible with close work too. Good luck with it Kyle, looks like you have it sorted out.
    kmetal likes this.
  14. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I like the idea of the nuetral d series having uniformity. A couple guys at the studio swear by switchcraft, my personal experience is the are the same in quality level. Really gonna look into the options. Excellent points, that may have missed! Lol I loathe the crooked replacement jacks someone swapped into the switchcraft holes. (Also on the to do list)

    Gonna look into the greenlee line of stuff for sockets, ect. i can see this quickly moving to panels and snake setups for bands rigs as a possibility. Lots to chew on.

    Last thing for now, anyone have any resources books/vids on electronics in general, and as it pertains to musical gear. IE, this is a transformer it (blank) electrically, so when incorporated does (blank to the audio path). Kinda like technical electrical explanations but as it relates to sound / sonics?

    Plenty of cool stuff to look into while I save for the station. I'm gonna practice with little battery powered one and the de soldering iron, on some scraps, in the meantime.
  15. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I think it's cool that you are putting together a tool shop like this, Kyle. And I'd definitely consider what Chris mentioned... don't be shy about advertising your skills and services here. Finding a great service tech is no different than finding a great car mechanic... once you find one that's great (and honest) you hang onto them for dear life. LOL - actually, come to think of it, it is a bit different - in that there are a lot more auto shops than there are good audio/electronics service and mod shops.

    I wish I still had the eyes (and the hands) for this kind of work. I can still fix a mic cable - LOL - but not much more than that these days. My eyes just ain't what they used to be, and my hands have a distinctive "shake".
    I'd make one hell of a surgeon, eh? :LOL:

    At this point, it's only a matter of time before your name to begin to appear on the internet in audio circles as a "go-to" guy. LOL... right next to Boswell, Jensen and Lundhall. ;)

    I can see it now... the "Kyle Mod" for LA2's.... (y)
    kmetal likes this.
  16. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Lol I'm about 2 for 20 in life with soldering stuff well, so baby steps. I'm gonna have to take advantage of the advertising opportunities here. I've got to get a lot of paperwork together and tie up some old projects, and I'll be ready. The eventual life goal is a home with an adjoining/ or separated, fairly large tracking room, full size control room, and a couple others, including a shop to house my contracting tools, and electronics stuff. It's going to take me a while, but I should be about halfway thru in the 10-15 year mark. Which would be a move from my current studios that my boss owns, to my own partenered facility. This coincides with numerous things and me being about 45 at that point a pinnacle time, the current lease on the studio expiring, and a reasonable time to make a move to teaching or corperate, if I want to slow down a little.

    Being a master like bozwell or Danny or Remy even, is beyond my scope most likely, but if I can hang in a conversation w them and have some basic repair skills for credibility, I'll be a happy camper.

    More updates one their way. Cheers!
  17. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Subscribed to this blog. Not necessarily audio centric, but they do hit some things. Lots of good stuff for me to get fumigator with electronics talk. Maybe it'll help someone else too.

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