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First post, by Hezus

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I've got a bunch of broken motherboards and cards that I can't seem to fix.I know my way around the software side and basic stuff like jumpers and BIOS, but when it comes to knowledge of chips and components, I feel I'm underequipped.

Are there any good starter references or books? I've seen a lot of hardware repair videos but somehow those often just show you one particular issue that never ends up being the same issue I'm experiencing. Or I'm just not knowledgeable enough to see the issues 🤣. I think I need to know more of the basics to really start troubleshooting.

I've got a simple soldering station and a multimeter but I would like to aquire some more tools. What would you recommend? Are there some good all purpose chip testers or component testers? Do I need microscopes and oscilloscopes? It's supposed to be a hobby so I'm not looking to spend a lot of money but I also don't want to end up buying garbage.

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Reply 1 of 2, by Joseph_Joestar

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Hezus wrote on 2023-04-30, 09:37:

I've got a simple soldering station and a multimeter but I would like to aquire some more tools. What would you recommend?

A desoldering station is a good investment if you're going to be replacing a lot of capacitors. It makes the process much easier.

Do I need microscopes and oscilloscopes?

A magnifying lens or a microscope is extremely helpful when working on SMD components. I have a couple of magnifying lenses with a mounting stand, which allows me to place a component under it and still have both hands free to work.

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Reply 2 of 2, by Shponglefan

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This is based on the equipment I find most useful:

* Circuit board holder and vise clamps
* Heated de-soldering pump
* Soldering supplies (solder mat, solder braid, various types of solder, flux, solder mask)
* Various pliers and tweezers
* Flush cutters
* Wire strippers
* General disassembly kit including prying tools and various screwdrivers/bits
* Cleaning supplies (compressed air, swabs, IPA, anti-static brushes, corrosion cleaners, etc.)
* Plastic repair supplies (acetone, plastic epoxies and fillers)
* ESR tester - for capacitor testing
* Magnetic component bins - highly useful for keeping small metal bits from disappearing during disassembly
* Safety equipment (chemical filtration mask, dust masks, fume extractor, disposable gloves)
* Storage and organization (shelves, pegboard, component bins, etc.)

For SMD work specifically I would recommend:

* Hot air station
* Microscope

If you decide to work on CRT monitors, you'll want to make a discharge tool. I've also been getting into glass polishing for CRT scratch removal, but that is a bit more of a niche specialty.

I recommend a PIC programmer if you're doing anything involving programmable ICs. I use a TL866ii Plus and have found it invaluable for flashing firmware on various chips.

Regarding an oscilloscope, I have one, but haven't had a great use for it yet. I suppose it is useful for checking things like clock signals or possible outputs from ICs. But mostly I find voltage and continuity testing to be the most useful.

A couple things that I don't have yet, but are on my shopping list is a bench power supply and a thermal camera. And maybe a general component tester, although I haven't had a big need for one yet.

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