A guide to Multi-Meters

The aim of this page is to help beginners and experts alike become familiar with all the various features that a multimeter has. If you’re an expert, perhaps you will find the most value by skipping through to the sections that you find relevant. But if you’re a beginner or just getting started with electronics hopefully this guide can teach you some things about using a multimeter to measure current, resistance, voltage and much more.


Why Use a Multimeter?

For a start, a multimeter is simply a measurement tool mostly used in electronics, or by tradesman and electricians. It has several important features such as; measuring voltage, ohms and amps. If you work with circuits, you’ll know that these are important measurements that can give you valuable information about the work you’re doing. If a circuit isn’t working you’ll need a multimeter to figure out why it’s not working, and locate where the problem is.
Some of the most obvious applications for these features:

  • Checking is the battery alive?
  • Is enough current flowing through this wire?
  • Is the power switch functioning correctly?

Different types of Multimeters

Most multimeters that you can find on the market will support all of the features listed above. However, not all products are created equal. There’s also a huge variety in the amount that they cost, from budget up to very expensive high quality models. If all you need is those basic functions, then you won’t have to spend much money – if you go for the cheaper option though, you’re device will not be so accurate at measuring voltage. Which is okay if you don’t need 100% precision for the job that you’re doing. Some jobs, particularly working with circuits on computers and similar devices will require pinpoint accuracy – in which case a fluke multimeter might be the best option for you.

Getting to Know the parts

There are several parts that serve various purposes. There are also basics functions which you will find on all devices no matter how cheap or basic the model you choose is. All digital multimeters will have a digital display readout. There is also the selection knob, this is a switch that you turn to the metric that you intend to measure. Click the arrow towards amps, ohms, or volts depending on what you need. Most will also feature various ports, you can plug the probes into these.

Guide to Choosing the Best Wire Strippers

If you’re reading this article you already know, it is important to have a good tool to carry out your wire stripping task efficiently. Although having the right tools won’t save you having occasional difficulties, it can help you tackle problems which may not be possible without the proper tools/equipment. It will increase your tolerance level and you will be able to handle things much more effectively. On the other hand a bad tool can destroy your work completely, no matter how carefully you work. Every electronic instrument is made up of a variety of wires. These wires come in a number of sizes and having a wire stripper with you while working with these wires is an absolute necessity to be able strip wires of all different sizes. Wire strippers come in large variety of models. These strippers may be of different shapes, sizes and colors. The cost too varies a lot. Some of these may cost much more than the others. The cost of the strippers depends completely on their specifications and how efficiently and effectively they carry out the work.

You may be thinking, why do we need to have specialized tools? well you don’t have to, you can actually use a knife but it may cause problems and injury. you may end up cutting the wires as the knives are sharp. Your knives become blunt and it may also cause your fingers to bleed. The wire strippers are specially meant to strip the wires and the work done by these is much more precise and tidy. You can see the difference between a stripper cut and a knife cut yourself. People also make use of their teeth to strip the wires apart. These also have adverse effects on your teeth. Teeth can be used to strip the wires easily but, it is certainly not advisable to do so. Stripping wire using your teeth may cause your teeth to get chipped. The dental treatment cost much more than the expensive wire strippers. Obviously, the enamel on your teeth is much more precious right?

Parts of a wire:

  • Insulator
  • Conductor

Conductor

The conductor is surrounded by the insulator which acts as a protective covering. There are two types of conductors in a wire namely the stranded core and the solid core conductor.

Solid core-The solid core is rigid and is easily breakable if bent a number of times. If stressed the conductor in these solid core wires break and the insulation remains intact. You cannot see any problem in the wire easily.

Stranded core– the stranded wire finds application where there are chances of more number of deformations. The wire is flexible and is more in use.

Insulation

Every wire comes with an insulation which prevents external flow of current. These insulators include materials like Teflon, plastic etc. PVC is the most commonly used material as it is non corrosive and resistant to oil and water. It is flexible and is suitable for applications.

 

Types of strippers

The strippers also come in a number of varieties. There are a number of good brands, such as Klein. These strippers are an important part of any electronic project. Now, as we know the importance of the wire strippers, let’s talk about the various strippers that are available in the market. You need to match the strippers to the wire. It is the most important aspect to consider for selecting a stripper. The strippers come in two types of wire gauges-Thin gauge and Thick gauge. The only difference in the two gauges is that each of these have a different hole size. These strippers are inexpensive and used for general purposes. Read more here, for a more comprehensive list of the top 5 wire strippers for your electrical needs.

The main categories of wire strippers available

Adjustable strippers– it is also a general purpose stripper though. These look like scissors except for the notch. You can easily adjust the notch according to your requirement. These adjustable strippers are suitable for cutting all sorts of wires. All you need to do is to make sure that you cut the insulation and not the wire. These strippers are inexpensive but need close adjustments to work properly and accurately.

Gauged strippers– it is the most common stripper that you will find in the market. It is a perfect balance between performance and price. The stripper is cheap and requires no adjustments. You simply need to place the wire in the slot and pull it. These strippers work with specific gauge sizes only and may damage the wire if you are not careful. The blades cannot be sharpened or replaced once they become blunt.

Self adjusting automatic wire strippers– this is the best out of the lot and does your work effortlessly. It is like you put the wire in the slot and get a wire that is perfectly stripped without any imperfections. These are super easy and fast to use. Some models also come with inbuilt crimpers. The stripper ensures cutting equal depth in each cut. Although, these strippers are quite expensive unlike the other manual strippers, they make your work easier and effortless.

Gauged automatic wire strippers– this stripper is a combo of gauged and automated wire strippers. They are fast and easy to use and are extremely handy. You can easily replace the jaws when they become dull. This feature makes it unique. The manual strippers come with irreplaceable jaws. The gauged automatic wire stripper will not cause any damage to your wire. These strippers are fun to use. These are also the most expensive out of the 4 strippers mentioned. You need to fit the wire in the exact slot to get your work done.

You should select your stripper wisely according to your needs, if you are not too much into electronics, or are only a hobbyist. A simple stripper will be sufficient for your needs and you need not spend extra cash on the expensive strippers.

Choosing the Best Soldering Iron

Soldering is a process used in electronics, plumbing and metalwork, or for the likes of creating jewelry. Soldering consists of joining together two metals (often wires) using a filler metal, or a ‘solder’, into the joint. The solder used is an alloy that has a low melting point—lower than the adjoining metals. So, soldering is a process that is required during a number of procedures, and using the best soldering irons could help you in carrying these out. Electronic soldering joins wires and electronic components and circuit boards using solders. Soldering is also used to repair electronic appliances and circuits etc. It is used in creating jewelry where pieces of metal are joined together to create a bond that is invisible but permanent. This can, in fact, be one of the most satisfying and creative activities for those interested in jewelry creation or for anyone who likes to get creative and design things. Thus, soldering is an essential skill used in quite a few procedures and therefore a useful skill to develop. It may appear to be tough, but it is quite easy and quick to learn. All you need to do is experiment with simple tools and practice the art and you are good to go! So below we will present to you our top soldering iron pick for those looking for value for money.

 

The different types of soldering stations

If you are interested in using a soldering station for your work as an electronics expert or a jewelry maker, you aught to choose the right type for the job at hand. Whichever type you decide on buying, it should fit whatever tasks you will mainly use it for. There are several different options, as outlined below.

Pencil Soldering Irons that connect into the wall socket and do not feature adjustable temperatures.(beginners)

Adjustable Pencil Soldering Irons are a lot like the Pencil Soldering Irons but with adjustable temperatures.

Cordless Irons, These come in handy when you need to transfer them from place to place for your work.

Soldering Stations are made up of two parts: the base and the soldering iron. The base comes with holder/stand, cleaning sponge and a temperature dial to help in adjusting the temperature.

Soldering Irons come in various types, as above, but there are certain features that need to be taken into consideration before making the decision to purchase.

Features to look for

WATTAGE:

You should select a soldering iron that comes with 30 watts power at minimum. Soldering at lower wattage requires longer time to heat up and also means that it wont be as effective at maintaining the temperature.

TEMPERATURE CONTROL:

Different kind of soldering tasks require different temperatures. So, selecting one that comes with temperature control makes your job easy – and means you won’t have to buy more than one station for different jobs.

TIP COMPATIBILITY:

The tips of the soldering iron must be replaceable and the iron must be adaptable with a variety of tips. This is because different jobs require different tips with different sizes and shapes.

HOLDING STAND:

A holding stand holds the hot iron and thus is a necessity for you when you work.

 

Some of our Top Picks

THE HAKKO SOLDERING STATION is one of the top soldering irons which contains everything you would need in a soldering station. This iron heats up very quickly and maintains the temperature throughout. It also has temperature adjustment and a digital display, a cleaning sponge and a stand. It comes with 7 tips.

TABIGER SOLDERING IRON KIT is perfect for beginners. It comes with quite a few accessories. It comes at an affordable price. This kit comes with a 60W soldering iron with adjustable temperature, cleaning sponge, stand, 5 tips and anti-static tweezers. It also has a special case to hold the instruments.

X-TRONIC SOLDERING IRON STATION comes with a 75W soldering iron, a strong stand, and also accessories like solder roll holder, brass sponge tip cleaner and a cleaning flux. This iron also comes with a digital display.

BEST PORTABLE SOLDERING IRON comes at an affordable price and is much better than other regular soldering irons that come in the same price range.

AOYUE SOLDERING STATION comes at a 60W iron and is compatible with different tips. As the pencil is lightweight, it is easy to use. It comes with a little LED that shows when the station is on and blinks when it heats up. It comes with a cleaning sponge, a holder for the iron and also a solder spool holder.

WELLER 40W SOLDERING STATION is one of the best sellers at Amazon and comes with an on-off switch with a power-indicator light and a temperature control knob. The iron comes with a cushioned foam-grip that makes it easy and comfortable to hold it while working. As it comes with a replaceable heating element, you can use it for a long duration. The stand that comes with it can hold your iron and cleaning sponge. It does take more time to heat up. Also, its tip is slightly thicker for use in smaller electric components. Replacing this tip with a thinner one is the solution.

Accessories

THE SOLDER, and the best type to work with is 60/40 lead or tin.

SOLDER WICK soaks up the molten solder and can be used to clean the excess solder.

CLEANING SPONGE is used to clean the tip of the iron while working.

TIP TINNER is used to clean the tip of the soldering iron.

DIAGONAL CUTTING PLIERS are used to trim the leads after soldering.

HELPING HAND is used to hold the components while soldering.

FLUX PEN has contents that help in the flowing of the lead-free solder.

SOLDER VACUUM PUMP helps remove the solder left behind when de-soldering.

SOLDERING MAT is needed to protect the surface of the workbench.

 

Conclusion

Soldering is a skill that can be grasped quite fast if practiced frequently. Using the best soldering iron and also the various accessories listed above helps not only an experienced solderer, but also beginners. Hopefully after reading this article you are better equipped to take up a great new hobby in electronics.

 

Decorate Your Windows – Ideas and Tips

Decorate your windows with easy crafts that you can make yourself and you’ll give your home a new look for each season. Almost everyone’s heard of window clings – thin plastic cut into shapes like Christmas trees, candy canes, hearts or pumpkins. The clings are easy to put up and give character to windows during the holidays.

You can now find window clings that are more like corner borders. The lacy strips come in packs of four and one goes on each corner of the window to look as if it’s been etched. These clings come in all sorts of patterns so you can do middle-of-the-pane designs or borders.

Make your own glass etchings easily with new kits that provide everything you need. Basically a design is drawn on the window, the etching liquid is applied, and the design is then permanently etched into the window. There’s lots of nice designs, which use stencils to create, making it easy to have a beautifully etched piece of glass without the bother of conventional methods.

Look at a home improvements store for vinyl window coverings. The coverings come on a roll and you cut them to fit the window. There are designs that look like stained glass, ones that have scenery printed on them, and simple ones that just have a lace look. The roll application is meant to cover entire windows but designs can be cut from the plastic. The covering is a peel-and-stick type of window print that’s easy to use in large pieces or small.

Use clear contact paper to make virtually any design on any window. Simply cut out images from post cards, calendars, Christmas cards, wallpaper, or other sources, align them on the contact paper and place the paper on the window. You can also purchase kits that allow you to “frost” windows for privacy and beauty.

Tiny suction cups, sold at craft stores, make for all sorts of interesting window decor. Flat-type ornaments, like snowflakes, are perfectly suited for the suction cups. Try hanging ceramic dolphins on a bathroom window, string peppers up to hang in kitchen windows, or make a beaded cross or heart to hang on another window. Make shapes like initials out of pipe cleaners to hang in the windows as a monogram. Or, twist the pipe cleaners together then bend them to spell “Noel” or “Happy Easter”.

Craft stores have kits and supplies for new and easy techniques in stained glass windows. No more heavy lead to install or hours of work for small areas. The new staining is done by simply outlining the design in a squeezable liquid “lead” then colored in with a watercolor or jewel tone design. These are great for small door windows, to keep guests from peering in, but can be used on most any window.

If you have large panes of glass but would prefer smaller panes you don’t have to replace the window itself. Just purchase the new grids that snap into place giving any window a new look. The grids are easy to fit to any window size or shape and can be found at home improvement stores.