When you're starting out it's all too easy to spend a lot of money on equipment that you find out either doesn't work for you or was a waste. Assembled here is a collection of items that represent either what I am using myself every day, or that which has been found to be most useful by others in the same industry.
The boardview software used by Louis Rossmann, FlexBV which additionally couples with PDF Schematics to provide substantial productivity improvements when trying to track down faults on boards.

The new "preferred hot air station" for rework, the Quick 861DW. An excellent balance of features and cost.

Available from;

If you want to get started with hot-air reworking but are on a budget, it's hard to go past the Aoyue 852++ / TENMA SS-952BC. Outwardly these both look different but internally they're the same machine. The TENMA unit is available in Australia and is frequently on special for as low as $199 AUD with a omnivice/clamp as a bonus from Element14.

Element 14 supplies the TENMA SS-952BC in Australia/NZ, they frequently have specials on, so just check to see which is the lowest pricing, often it's the combo with some other part (frequently a desk vice).

For microsoldering work, the Hakko FX-951 is an excellent piece of equipment that'll get you through a lot of jobs. Couple it with the JS02 tip (T15 for US, or T12 for Asia/AU) and jobs are a lot easier under the microscope.
(Australian version here)

Working at such small scales it's useful to have solder that's also very fine. This Kester 63/37 blend is only 0.38mm (0.015") diameter so you have a decent chance of getting solder to the join under the microscope.

All techs need a multimeter that'll help them track down those shorts, open resistors and 12.24V SMC faults. The Owon B35 is an excellent value-for-money meter that has a few very important features that you'll come to appreciate;

  • Diode, resitor, and voltage measurements all use the same sockets on the meter. If you've seen me use my Protek you'll understand
  • Bluetooth data connectivity. This helps avoid dreaded ground loops and doesn't limit you to being tethered to the machine
  • AA batteries for power source. Even though it's "less volts" than the 9V, typical 2xAA Eneloops hold more power than a 9V rectangular unit.
  • It's under $60 (so if you blow it up, no massive loss)
This meter will not win prizes for being the most accurate (0.5~1%) nor having a particularly high display count (6000), but it is more than ample for the sort of repair work being done. Likewise there's no real need for the True-RMS ('T') or offline-data features ('+'), the basic B35 does the job.

Openbroadcaster can now use the OWON B35 on Linux (sorry, no Windows or OSX yet). Source code available here. Very simple program, only requires that you have the BlueZ package installed which provides the 'gatttool' that lets you talk to BLE devices.

  • Does not turn off on its own, which is a great thing for data logging
  • Has been tested over 48 hrs without it disconnecting from bluetooth
  • Updates roughly ever second ( a bit of a shame, would have been nice to have 3~4 updates/second )

AmScope SM-4TP-144. Without a scope, you cannot do a lot of the work required with modern phones and computers. This AmScope gives 7x~45x magnifcation and the stand along with the 144-LED adjustable light make a good combination. NOTE: there's no Barlow lens on this configuration, but I do strongly recomment the use of the 0.7X reducer to give you more working room without sacraficing maximum magnification too much.

0.7X Barlow lens to suit the SM-4TP-144 microscope combination.

For getting a good quality audio, without breaking the bank too much (since you probably have with the camera/microscope), you'll be pleased to know that you can get decent wireless audio results using the SAMSON XPD1. Very simple to use and works with macOS and Linux under OBS with no trouble at all.

Set the trimmer gain to about 80%, macOS mic gain to max, linux PulseAudio input gain to about 6dB, keep the mic just away from your face at about your lip-crease. Another note, keep at least 2m distance between the transmitter and the USB receiver, else you'll get odd artifacts)

For getting good quality video footage for YouTube videos, the SONY sensor equipped 1080PHA from RisingCam does a very nice job. As a bonus, it'll let you record via USB if you do not yet have HDMI capture/encoding hardware

Buy from AliExpress

To complement the above HD microscope camera to your AmScope SM series head, you need the right adaptor (toss away the AmScope one!). To obtain maximum FOV (Field Of View) with the 1/2.8" sensor, use a 0.35X reducer. This reducer from RisingCam matches perfectly with the SONY camera and the new AmScope trinocular heads with the smooth-bore mount. It is expensive, but it makes things compact and easy.

Buy from AliExpress

Logitech C922 USB2 1080p@60fps webcam makes an excellent companion to the microscope camera. This webcam works without any trouble on macOS, Linux and Windows with OBS.

High temperature fibrous PCB holder from AliExpress. Have found this to be very useful with a nice 250g weight it keeps things from moving around (rubber feet underneath too). Definitely a good investment.
TENMA triple output PSU 30V 3A (two outputs) and a single fixed 5V output. Nice thing about this PSU is that the voltage/current adjustment knob is a rotary encoder, rather than a resistor pot, so it won't suffer from sensitivity issues. There are single output versions of this unit but I find it handy to have the triple.
Other people you really should consider watching for entertainment and learning:
* Paul Daniels is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.