What tools to build the TPR1


Dedicated elf
Jun 20, 2009
Canberra, ACT, Australia
For many of you this will be your first experience with Surface Mount Devices (SMD), there are a number of tools and accessories that could be considered mandatory and others that are highly desirable.
All the links will be local to Australia or eBay, for our overseas members eBay or Amazon will be places to search for similar products.

SMD Tweezers.
Without these you will not be able to pick up parts and place them on the printed circuit board.
For a cheap set that will get you started Jaycar has the following set.
I own a set of these and they will get magnetised if you put them near any magnets and this a pain when dealing with some parts as the component will lift off with the tweezers.
They also list non-magnetic tweezers which was out of stock when I was buying.

For something with a finer point you need to start searching eBay, I ended up buying another set from eBay that was not that expensive that provided finer tips that are easier to use with most components.
I find the curved tip to be the most useful such as these ones here,
Doing a search for Tweezers will turn up any number of options. This set looks to be quite good value, http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Electronic-Engineers-TWEEZERS-TOOLS-EPOXY-COATED-NEW-/250666558075?cmd=ViewItem&pt=UK_BOI_Electrical_Test_Measurement_Equipment_ET&hash=item3a5ce4227b

Magnifying Lens.
This is in my opinion is essential and certainly makes life easy, the only real small part for the strobe is the PIC chip.
General purpose PCB Holder and magnifier, that is quite good really.
You would have seen one of these in many of my videos without the magnifier attached as I use a lighted magnifier, the bigger brother to this one from jaycar.
and this one is the big brother.

Soldering Iron or Station.
There are many videos available that will show you how to do SMD soldering with quite a few different techniques on how to solder large pin count IC’s. We are not however dealing with more than a few IC pins and some resistors and one of the best choices will be a fine tip for the resistors.
The Strobe PCB has for it’s size quite a large copper area to help dissipate heat from the constant current LED driver and the LED itself. Due to this I will not yet make any recommendations until I solder a couple up.

Solder or Solder Paste
If you are going to hand solder then either can be used, if you plan to use normal solder then 0.7mm would be the largest size I would suggest and is available from Jaycar.
If you can find 0.5mm then that is a better option.
Solder paste will allow you to place the components on the boards and just apply heat without trying to have three hands doing different things.
Solder paste does mean buying the paste preferable already in a dispensing syringe and then the correct size needle(s) to dispense the paste onto the pads on the PCB. There has been discussion in Chat about conducting a bulk buy for these.

Now for the Desirable Bits

Toaster oven or Griddle
A toaster oven can be turned into a quite useful SMD reflow soldering oven (do not use for food again). Sparkfun have some great information on doing this and even sell a kit to do full temperature control.

……….. other suggestions welcome and I will update this post.


Way behind schedule - again...
May 13, 2010
San Jose, CA
Thanks for providing the "shopping list" Phil - very handy with all the links! As I noted in another post, SparkFun currently has the Oven controller on hold and will be coming out with a newer version in a month. The new one is supposed to be compatible with the controller software they provide on their site as well for the older/current one.


Full time elf
May 9, 2010
Paris / France
This is exactly the one i got few months ago and works perfectly.
Maybe the length of the pen cable is a little too small...

About the tips, you can use HAKKO tips 900M series.... (HAKKO and SAIKE, seems to be produced in the same factory)
it matches with the soldering pen ( tips are made in Japan).

For the air iron, you have a security, when you place the air on it's socket, it cuts the air automatically.
But, this is for small uses... there is no air pump, but a small fan embedded on the pen directly...

Take care, 110v and 220v versions, ( no switch to choice, but request the right voltage when you order).

For the price : nothing to say... perfect...
$2 for the tips...
You can add and extra iron as spares for around $12.
Ceramic heat for the pen (around $4)

Cheers..... Henri