Here are the essentials. It's a lot of stuff to buy at first, but good tools will last you for years, and you're worth it. Spending a few dollars on yourself to get good equipment will save you so much heartache down the road.
Use the good wire! Cheap wire breaks, especially in wearables. Yes, it's a couple dollars more, but your project will work for 10x as long (I wish someone had convinced me of this when I was first getting started).
Microcontrollers for Testing
Even if you've got a different microcontroller in mind for your final project, having a Circuit Playground Express and/or Gemma M0 on hand for testing your pixels is a great idea. You can hook either board up with alligator clips, so even if your final code isn't ready, you can still test your solder joints.
I always keep a Circuit Playground Express near my workstation with simple test code loaded onto it, so I can test connections as I build.
Items in this section are not 100% essential, but can be super helpful if you're tricking out your workstation. I've also added a few things that I'm grateful to have on-hand since they get used in so very many projects.
I have a few other tools on my workstation that I use in almost every project. Most of these can be found at your local hardware store or craft store.
- Hot glue gun -- find one with a low AND high temperature setting
- Lots and lots of glue sticks to fit your glue gun
- 99% Isopropyl alcohol -- great for cleanup, de-sticking hot glue or for electronics repair
- Cotton swabs for applying 99% alcohol
- Heat Gun -- Very useful for melting heat shrink or re-melting hot glue
- A good steady work light. Mine has a magnifying glass built-in.