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Tools for the electronics.

 

Measuring / diagnostic tools:  
The most important tool is the multi meter.

Measuring voltage, current and resistance are the most common measurements. When making your own electronic projects, the extra functions come in handy as well.

A simple multi meter will work for most jobs. This one can also measure capacitors and transistors. This is helpful when making circuit boards, even if it is only to check parts for correct value or connection, like base, emitter and collector.
The power supply.

You can almost compare this with the transformer that runs the trains on the layout. Except the output is optimized for the motors in the locomotives, and not really to power electronics.

To power electronic circuits, that is to provide voltage and current, we need a stabilized power supply.

The wanted voltage is adjusted and the current drawn by the circuit displayed on the Amp. meter.

My power supply provide me with maximum 15 volts and 1 Amp. current.

The oscilloscope.

This tool is not really necessary in the model hobby, but if you have to troubleshoot electronic circuits, then it is very handy to have. Not long ago I had a malfunction in a switch decoder, and thanks to the oscilloscope I located the problem quick. (a transistor was grounded)

Nice. A lot of knobs to adjust a lot of things. My oscilloscope is of a simple, therefore cheap, type. It is a single trace (one channel) scope with a bandwidth of 10 MHz. For just $150 new in the box, no reason not to have. Use it in Troubleshooting only once, and your happy you got it.
Digital logic probe. To test and diagnose digital circuits. Will show logic state of signal quickly, of course a scoop will show more.
Soldering tools:  
On second most important place, actually chaired first place, the solder iron.

Even if you only solder wires to track, install decoders or do small repairs, you can not live without the solder iron. Available in many shapes and sizes. The one pictured in this photo is my dearest solder iron. It is a European solder iron so she works on 220 volt. I have a special transformer / adaptor that converts my 110 volt line to 220 volts.

Besides she feels comfortable to work with, you can easily change out the tip with different types and sizes. Unfortunately  not available in the USA, so during my 2005 vacation I bought a few new tip's.
My other solder iron's. All are from RadioShack.

Some disadvantages are the way the tip's are installed on the iron's, they often and easily come loose, and the cord which is flat instead of round. Therefore the cord get's tangled quick and this is not comfortable, when using the solder iron. I am thinking to change the cord with a round one.

The difference is in the Wattage, from left to right 40, 25 and 15 Watt. Also the 15 Watt model is grounded, and this is better for electronic parts like transistors.

I use the 15 Watt for electronic circuit boards, the 25 Watt for wiring track and the 40 Watt for anything else asking more heat.

 

Pliers:  
 

This page is last updated on 15 July 2012

NLMS - Dutch ModelRailroad - www.nlms.info