• Mike Brixius

My Favorite Tools

Updated: Apr 1



Here are some of the tools in my toolbox that I absolutely love. These are those few items that are a pleasure to use every time! In cases where they are available on Amazon, I will include a link.

Auto Wire Strippers

Vice-Grip Self-ADjusting Wire Strippers, 8 Inch

I have had my automatic wire strippers since my college days in the late 1980s. These have worked flawlessly for me for over 30 years so I guess mine are vintage but you can still get a brand new pair. The ones I have are branded Kronus but these Irwin Vice-Grip branded ones look absolutely identical in every way except the color of the handles. I remember paying something on the order of $80 for these back then (I was doing a huge wire-wrap project at the time) so I was pleasantly surprised to see they are now just over $20!

Available on Amazon

Dueling Soldering Stations


I recently replaced my 30-year-old, 15-watt, soldering iron with a Weller WE1010NA soldering station. I did a lot of research and came to the conclusion that the Weller or Hakko stations would work well for me. I honestly think that the Hakko has a slight edge when it comes to performance but for me the Weller was a no-brainer because it is the modern version of the vintage stations we used in college in the 80s.

I love how fast the Weller heats up and the ability to set a specific temperature. It does drop a bit when working on a heavy trace, like a ground plane but then it quickly ramps back up. My buddy has the Hakko and recommended it to me but I honestly hate the way it looks (and that's just me).


Weller on Amazon


Hakko on Amazon



Siglent SDS1104X-E Oscilloscope

When buying an expensive item like this I tend to research obsessively to find the best bang for the buck so when I decided it was time for a newer oscilloscope in January of 2021 I spend weeks trying to figure out what to get. In the end, I settled on this Siglent because of its deep feature set and upgradability. I have been using it for a few months now and it works quite well. I admit I am still getting used to having all the options since it replaced/Supplemented a 1972 Tektronix 453A.

The Siglent SDS1104X-E on Amazon

BongoTies

I recently discovered BongoTies and am absolutely in love with them. They make cable management and any task, I would have used Zip ties on, quick and easy. They save a lot of time or such an inexpensive product. You simply wrap the rubber band around the item and insert the hourglass-shaped dongle through the end.


Available on Amazon




Mega328 Tester

This little tester is amazing for how little it costs. I mainly use it for capacitor testing but it can do much more. Test transistors, diodes, resistors, inductors, and a lot more with the push of a button.


Its ESR accuracy is a bit limited but, for me, it is more than sufficient to see if an old electrolytic has failed.


For well under $20 I think there is room for it in any toolkit!


Get it on Amazon





DeoxIT D5

DeoxIT D5 is great for contact cleaning

Deoxit D5 does an amazing job of cleaning and de-oxidizing electrical contacts.


I use it on virtually every electrical restoration I do. I like the spray can (It comes with a straw) because I can direct it into old switches and contacts or just spray it directly onto a cotton swap for application.


It is also very useful for cleaning up old sockets and connectors that have become unreliable or completely failed due to oxidation.


Get it on Amazon





Torx T-15 (Mac Cracker)


To get into classic Macs you need a T-15 Torx driver with a long shank. I found this one fits well and, as an added bonus, it is a security driver so it can be used for XT-15 fasteners as well. I got it on Amazon but any long shank T-15 will work.



More coming soon...

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