The Spark Gap Podcast - Episode 13

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Show Synopsis

Corey and Karl talk about setting up your workbench.

Lighting your work area

Dave Jones went through a lot of trouble to get the proper lighting in his lab.
If you think about how long you are going to be in there. It makes sense to invest the time and money.

Soldering Iron

This is what I started out using. The big Soldering Guns by Weller.
I wouldn’t reccomend soldering 0201’s with a Soldering Gun.

I also had the displeasure of using a cheapo soldering pencil from Radio Shack.
Gauranteed to make you think you are a terrible solderer.
But look at that price. 5 pieces for $9.89. What a deal…no thank you.

I also bought an Aoyue 968.
Works okay a hot air gun.
Not so great as a soldering iron.
Handle feels cheap, doesn’t have enough heat capacity, and genuine Hakko tips don’t fit correctly.

Corey and I both own a Hakko FX888-D.
Works great even with its lack of a down button.

I’ve also had the pleasure of using some expensive Metcal soldering stations.

I should probably mention Weller as well.
I know there are some diehard fans out there. And I have heard good things about the WES51.


Picking the right solder can make a hard job easy.

There has been a major push towards using lead free solder.

One issue that seems to be exasterbated by the use of Lead Free solder is Tin Whiskers.

Just buy a Fume Extractor already. I don’t care which one.
Here is just one example:

Buy a bunch of Soldering Tips why you are it.


My favorite magical chemical.

Flux Cleaner

There some commercial available Flux Cleaners or you can make your own.

Comercial Versions

Homemade Versions

Solder Paste

A good tutorial for using Solder Paste and Solder Paste stencils

Tip Tinner

Good tip practices can extend the life of your tips.
Coat your tip with some solder or Tip Tinner before putting it away.


There a bunch of different tools and techniques to desolder components.

Helping Hands

$2.99, I’m sold.



I see a lot of people buying AmScopes.
It is nice that there is a low cost microscope available.
If you buy one, compare its performance with an older well known brand. Then decide if its worth the money.

Would be nice if I could afford a Mantis 3D Microscope

A microscope is pretty useless without a good light source.

I like a lot of the projects on this blog, including his AZIZ lighting ring.


Who would of guessed you can spend $30 on an pair of tweezers.

Lab Bench Pictures

I could spend way too much time looking at pictures of workbenches.
Send us some pictures your workbench too.