Here are some products and tools I use and recommend. Buying from these links earns us a small fee that supports the channel.
Warning! I am told that the page will not work if you have an add blocker. You need to disable it for the pictures and links to show!
Tools I use in the lab
This thing actually works! Goosenecks don't have spring back and the claw is all aluminum.
The old time standard to hold small stuff when you run out of hands.
A safety dispensing bottle than can actually hold acetone without it evaporating nor eating the plastic! It also dispenses just the right amount. This was a tip from Adam Savage.
What I use to organize my transistors, IC and component collection. I wish the vintage ones were still available, but they are not. That's the best replacement I found after much searching. Very expensive for what it is, I usually wait for a promo where you can buy them for $40. But the cheap Chinese ones all have problems.
The original shop rag that does not tear apart when you use it. Can't live without it. Packaged in a reasonnable quantity.
5 min epoxy in perfect lab quantity. Ah the joy of not having to squeeze it out of a tight syringe or a mushy tube.
Dielectric grease. That's the stuff you need to lubricate sliding contacts in your HP XY plotter or graph recorder.
I finally got tired of fumbling with small Allen wrenches, and sprung for a metric set of hex screwdrivers.
I finally got tired of fumbling with small Allen wrenches, and sprung for an imperial set of hex screwdrivers. They didn't have Wihas, but the imitation "Weras" were just fine.
Vacuum chamber for outgassing molding compounds or generic vacuum mayhem. This one is a higher quality one, and I am glad I paid a little extra.
What do you do when you have to power up an Apollo communication setup with a godzillion boxes? Well you need power strips with a godzillion outlets.
Cable covers to prevent tripping all over the lab. Plus you can roll stuff over it. Weighty but supple, lays flat, does not slip, casters roll right over it.
Tool to pluck the keys from your vintage keyboard without breaking them. It just works.
If you got HP instruments, you got Pozidriv screws. They look deceptively like regular Phillips screws, but they aren't. A normal Phillips screwdriver will not byte in them and will mangle them up. I don't know how I ever managed to live without them.
For the smaller Pozidriv screws.
For the even smaller Pozidriv screws.
It's a genuine Fluke, and it's only $45. I ended up purchasing 3 of them for the lab so we don't steal each other's. There are two limitations though: it does not measure amps, and the probe leads are really stiff. I usually add a set of ProbeMaster probes to them.
The ProbeMaster test leads in question. Pure awesomeness. Costs more than the multimeter! Warning, I have not bought mine on Amazon, I got them for slightly cheaper on eBay. But these look like they are the same thing.
Long, stiff and very pointy pokey probes from Fluke. They slide right over most probes ends and fit the ProbeMaster probes perfectly. This was a tip from Mike Stewart. I don't know how I ever lived without these.
My trusty Hakko desoldering tool. A tip from Carl. Don't know how I ever lived without it before either. Beware, you'll need to purchase a few extra tips with varying diameters.
Deoxit. The quintessential contact cleaner and restorer. A must for vintage equipment repair.
Deoxit Gold. You need this different chemistry if you are lucky enough to have old-fashioned gold plated contacts. Vintage HP anyone? And yes, gold DOES oxidize. It just does it slower.
The tried and true Lead-Tin solder with rosin flux core. Lots of flux, will solder anything. Flux requires cleaning with solvent if you want it to look pretty afterwards.
Lead-Tin solder with activated rosin core. Activated rosin is more potent than rosin, so they can use much less in the core. Therefore it does not leave a rosin mess like the traditional rosin, and you don't need to clean. That's what I use for new builts, when I know the PCBs and component pins are not oxidized. No mess left behind like the traditional rosin.
ChipQuik. Miracle low melting point solder that will stay molten for an incredibly long time. It will allow you to safely desolder surface mount chips with hundreds of connections without heating up nor damaging the stuff nearby. Warning, it tends to eat into your solder tip too, so reserve a solder tip just for that.
Solution containing the perioxide and activator you need for retr0brighting old yellowed plastic, all pre-mixed. Just dilute in water, dunk your yellowed plastic parts in there. No need for UV either, just a little bit of low heat will do.
Jonard spring hook. You will never curse at springs again while repairing your Teletype or your IBM Selectric.
That's quite a specalized tool to work on old telco 66 punch blocks. I added it here because I had such a hard time finding a good one.
Another tool I could not live without, the automated wire stripper. A tip from Adam Savage. This is not the original (which is super expensive), but a very good imitation. An everyday work tool for me.
This wire stripper is for bigger wires, more of an electrician or automotive tool than an electronics tool. I use it less than the Xcelite, but it comes in handy when dealing with larger gauge wires.
Industrial quality temperature meter from Fluke. None of that flimsy and approximate Chinese rubbish. Gets stolen for kitchen use all the time.
99.9% isopropyl is very different stuff from the 70% or 90% you find in stores. It does not leave any residue, and dissolves stuff that the lesser stuff can't clean. That's the only one you should use in the lab.
Wiha insulated screwdrivers. So you don't fry yourself or your device while turning screws in it. A tip from YouTuber Keri Szafir.
The 120V DC power supply I used for my teletypes. Good, inexpensive DC high voltage supplies are hard to get, this is the best I found. Powerful enough that could can do some electro plating with it too.
Electronics cutting plyers.
As requested by a viewer: my lab notebooks. They are art sketchbooks with hard covers. This one has a very sturdy cloth like matte cover.
Another brand of sketchbooks I have been using for lab books. This one has a more glossy leather-imitation cover. Works equivalently well.
I use these as sound signal monitors. Need to listen to your new Quindar tone generator? No problem, hook in this little guy, works on batteries, needs to space on the bench. Plus its look vintage cool. I modify mine and add a BNC and RCA jack on the side for convienience.
Nice high quality MKT capacitor kit for analog boards. Small rectangular caps. I checked the values on my HP meter and they were within specs.
A Mylar Polyester cap kit for analog boards. Vintage green, holds up to 100V.
A great ceramic cap kit for analog boards. Caps are super tiny, and packaged in innovative space saving containers, very easy to find the one you need. Values checked within specs.
A 400V cap kit. Great for smaller power supply caps or vintage tube circuits recapping.
Adjustable 10 turn pots that will actually plug into a breadboard, with the screw adjustment accessible from the top.
Adjustable one turn pots that will actually plug into a breadboard.
The hermetic butt splices that were recommended to me by Sarah at the Connections Museum. That's how they were able to splice back their phone commutators with many 100's of cut connections. Much more reliable, smaller and faster than trying to splice with soldering and heatshrink.
The interphone I hacked in my Apollo Quindar tones episodes.
RS-232 adapter life saver. A top from Usagi Electric. Connect any wire to any other, or just let it go right through using the dip switch. You can monitor the signals with the LEDs. This is a tip from Usagi Electric.
Rubber bands of various length to repair tape drive and other vintage mechanisms. I used them to repair my IBM Executary.
Self polymerising tape. Use to wrap around connectors to waterproof them. It is made of magic material. Once it sticks to itself, it polymerizes, you can never take it apart again unless you cut it. But it is truly hermetic. I use that over exterior connectors to my ham radio antenna.
The USB speaker for my lab computer. Nothing fancy, works well and looks good. Needs just the USB plug to make it work, no external supply or audio jack needed.
5TB external hard drives I use for archiving everything, including my video footage. I have many of these...
My best computer screen purchase ever. This is made from a very high quality QHD resolution LG screen that is usually sold for much more. What you give up is a paucity of inputs (just HDMI and Display Port), and no USB hub. Which I didn't need anyhow.
A USB 3.0 hub that actually works! What a concept. I found this one after I tried a whole bunch of bad ones. Now on every computer in the lab.
Nicely engineered webcam. Autofocus works well wihtout hunting, image is superb, field of view is just right. Sits atop my screen in the lab. Occasionally use it to take quick photos of stuff.
If you do video, you still need old fashioned high capacity hard disks in your computer. This one is a 6 TB entreprise quality drive (7500 rpm, no shingling, recovery warranty), but at a consumer price. I would not touch the consumer grade ones, they are just not reliable enough.