Dangerous Prototypes gift guide, stuff we love


Things we really love, that we think you should have too. Based on Ian’s Hack a Day comment, with additions by Jer, Vimark, and Machine Geek:

  • Aoyue 968, the best 3-in-1 soldering station for about $100. Ian reviewed it on Hack a Day. $100 and up
  • Proxxon TBM220/110 drill, for super clean PCB holes and PCB mods. Also reviewed on HaD. $200 and up
  • 5x head visor from Adafruit. It’s on our list this year, we’ll review it. $15
  • Jewelers loupe and bright light, for inspecting SSOP soldering. Even a $1 loupe works great
  • 00 tweezers, scalpel, and other surgeons tools for placing SMD parts by hand, other ‘corrections’. $1 and up
  • real debuggers: ICD/PICkit ($20-$200), FT2232-based JTAG debugger for OpenOCD ($50+), MKII (or whatever AVR is doing these days, $150+), something MSP430 (if you’re into that kind of thing, $20+)
  • Prototyping tools like the Bus Pirate ($30)
  • A logic analyzer like a Saleae ($150) or Logic Sniffer ($45)
  • An oscilloscope like the DSO Nano ($89)
  • SmartTweezers to test surface mount components. Only for the serious SMD geekĀ  at $315+. Ian reviewed them
  • This year there were tons of cheap development platforms with integrated debuggers such as the STM32 Value Line discovery kit, TI Launch Pad, and more. $10 and up
  • Flux. lots and lots of flux. You can never have enough really. $1 and up
  • Solder wick, lots and lots of wick. See the previous bullet. $1 and up
  • Female jumper wires, they make your life better. $1 and up

What’s on your list?

Join the Conversation


  1. for AVRs the Dragon is a better choice. it’s cheaper ($50+) and has more features (includes debugging).

  2. I think I’ll get myself a OLS this year, or maybe spend the money on pcb fabrication (but that’s not really a nice gift). The DSO Nano also looks nice, but I would maybe save some more and get a ‘real’ digital oscilloscope. Do you have some advise on that?
    Any other gift suggestions in the $40-$60 range? (already have a BP and Aoyue 937)

    What type of flux are you guys using? I got the ‘Liquid Flux Pen – Water Soluble’ from SparkFun, but didn’t got the chance to use it yet. I would rather have a no-clean type, but dind’t find a cheap source.

    Boy I would love a small laser cutter, but that’s just a little above budget :)

    1. My flux is in a syringe and labeled “Philips Flux Gel 5ML Lot 35177 Use before 02/2000”. I got it at a surplus (Baco) in the Netherlands, explaining the Philips labeling :) It was probably 6 years past the use-by date when I got it, but it still works great. I don’t think it’s water washable, I use acetone to clean up all my boards.

  3. I’m waiting for the DSO Quad :) Also on my list is info LED matrix board, dual color 32×16 for just $20 (5mm version for $26) at Sure Electronics. They should have it available already but they keep delaying it…

    I just checked, they seem to be in stock now :)

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