My Arduino Air Compressor Controller Project – Tools

Welcome back to my Arduino Air Compressor Controller Project!

I know last week I stated that we were going to begin moving to code this week, but I have some bad news… My project box cracked down the front, and it’s not safe continuing with the box – it is housing 240 volts, and it is going on a piece of equipment with a lot of vibration.


So, I have a new aluminum box, that is much sturdier, and I am working on getting all the parts switched over and mounted on it, as well as doing some upgrades (a larger display 20 character by 4 line display, instead of the 16 character by 2 line display).

New aluminum box

Since we’re not ready to move on to code yet, I figured it would be a good time to take a step back look at the tools I used to create the prototype board and assemble the controller. So, for this project the necessary electrical tools include:

  • Mini nipps – tremendously helpful when soldering new components on boards – they make it really easy to cut off the excess wire protruding from the bottom of the board
  • Multimeter – not entirely required, but highly recommended – it will help troubleshoot problems
  • Pencil tip Soldering iron – for finer electronics, I recommend using a low wattage, pencil tip soldering iron – the pencil tip makes it easier to work with the smaller boards, and the lower wattage prevents it from getting too hot and damaging delicate components
  • Wire stripper/combo tool – there are nicer, separate wire cutters and wire strippers you can purchase, but these type are cheap, and they work

You really don’t have to have anything special or expensive. Most people swear by more expensive multi meters, like the Fluke brand (which are very nice), but for most hobbyist, a cheap Wal-Mart multi meter will do – at this level you really don’t need to worry about being precise.  You can pick all of these up for under $50, and you can find everything but the mini nippers at Wal-Mart or a hardware store.

Also, you need a few more basic tools:

  • Screwdriver (both phillips and slotted) – this will depend on the hardware (nuts and bolts) you choose
  • Mini pliers – This set includes mini nippers
  • Dremel – or a cheaper clone will suffice
  • Drill with drill bits – any drill will do, but make sure that you have or get bits specifically for the nuts and bolts you will be using.

If you really get into electronics as a hobby, you may look into getting a desoldering iron (very handy for fixing soldering mistakes or repurposing boards), and a hot re-work station. The hot re-work station is really for SMD’s (surface mounted devices), which I find the occasional need for, but I also use it for heat shrink and other things, and most of them come with a temperature controlled soldering iron (another must for the hobbyist).

Again, I apologize for not getting into some code yet, but I promise we will get into some code in my next blog in this series. Thanks for joining me, and please check back later for more.

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