Looking for suggestions: Tiny Toolkit

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,659
Howdy.

A perennial project, it seems, is putting together a travel toolkit for those times I don’t expect to be doing anything that requires tools. We have been traveling a fair amount to see children and grandchildren and so I am away from my tools fairly often lately.

We drive, and I don’t want this to be air travel safe, so to speak. If I need that I will make a subset that fits the bill. For now I want to be able to do a reasonable set of things, though “reasonable” is for me, it is probably unreasonable for many others.

For a very long time I carried tools and built up a very nice, compact kit. I was used to having that around. But when I retired and mostly stopped traveling to teach, or for conferences, &c., that kit seemed to disperse into the general tool collection and some parts are MIA.

I actually want this kit to be a little more extensive, at least I plan on including an oscilloscope to complement the DMM. I don’t know if I need to add anything else to what I usually carried. The goal is optimizing for bang-for-the-buck in terms of weight and volume. It should be easy to put in an overnight bag with other things but there’s no particular constraint otherwise.

So, here’s the state of things:

Oscilloscope
I have a very tiny scope which does let me see waveforms in the audio range and somwhat above. I’ve tested it out to about 500KHz and could still use it though of course the quality of the trace suffered. It doesn’t have trigger controls, only auto, and it is single channel.

1652351151882.png
It is certainly better than nothing, but it’s not that much better. I am looking for a nice, small, two-channel pocket scope that has the appropriate controls to use it well. It doesn’t have to work like a bench scope, but I would like it to work well for troubleshooting, including serial data (though I think decoding is too much to ask).

DMM
I am very confused about what to buy for a DMM. I have a very inexpensive and small one right now. I bought it to have something but I don’t particularly like it. I want one, ideally, with pluggable leads (not captive like this one), and with a decent autoranging capability. Like the scope, it’s not intended to replace a bench version, or even a good handheld, but to provide reasonable accuracy and precision in a small package. I like the c;a shell idea so it protects itself but that is not a requirement.

I have a $20 candidate on the way, but I don’t really want to have to buy 10 cheap meters until I find one that is acceptable, so if you have any ideas, please let me know.

Screwdrivers
I have a variety of screwdrivers that might be candidates but none have really made me happy. I lean towards Wiha and Wera, but I am not averse to other options. I have been using Wiha drivers for about 40 years. I originally bought them from the small importer who was the exclusive source in the US. He used to travel to hamfests and I still have the System 6 handle and blades in the roll pouch I brought so long ago.

Unfortunately the bits have been largely overtake by events and the assortment is marginal. They include some very useful ones: PH and slotted bits for a reasonable range, but also some currently rarely needed ones: metric hex. It also completely lacks important things like Torx and various omron security bits. So, I am looking to replace it with something more modern.

I have a nice set from Xiaomi who collaborated with Wiha. The handle (very nice) and aluminum case form Xioami and the bits from Wiha. THe trouble with that kit is the weight. The aluminum case and plastic tray make it very heavy. But, it does has some attributes I think I want: 4mm microbits and a good selection for modern disassembly.

For larger sizes, I have a Wera collapsible multibit that will probably work.

Pliers
Most pliers I have are too large for travel because the handles take up so much room. But, I used to have a nice set of “Merry” pliers from Muramoto in Japan. These pliers have compact, curved handles and they take up much less room. Where they went I can’t say, unfortunately. In looking for them I came across the same pliers but branded by GC electronics and much more expensive than I think is justified. They are price from about $50 to about $60. Still, in the absence of an alternative I might buy them anyway.

1652353158333.jpeg
A bad photo but all I could easily find, sorry.
Soldering Iron
I used to use butane irons and they “worked” but the temperature control was very poor and the burning fuel was never my favrotie idea. But this one I have sorted. I recently bought a Pine64 Pinecil open source STM-32 controlled iron which has been great. Definitely worth looking into.

Case, bag, ???
This is a real problem so far. I cant seem to find anything I really like to hold all of this stuff. It may turn out to be the hardest part of this. I was thinking to use one case for test gear, one for soldering and supplies, and a last for hand tools. But I still don’t have any solid candidates. Do you have any ideas?

So there you have it. There are other things to add, of course, but these are the elements I am/was focusing on. Please, though, do not hesitate to suggest something that should be added. I really hope to hear from you.

 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,659
Hello

For screwdrivers, you might want to have a look at the Wiha system 6 or Wiha system 4.

Bertus
Thanks, @bertus. I have a System 6 set and I might just add to that. It is very good and has the advantage of slim profile for deep holes. I might just have to also carry a microbit handle for the specialty security bits as well.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
1,762
When I travel for pleasure, I assume I am traveling and not on the clock and not in any need of owning any problem so I only carry one item and use it to locate people/companies needed to solve any problem and find great pleasure watching other people solve problems.

My strong recommendation is the Angi app on my phone and the Google maps app on my phone which can find local contractors, repair shops, etc.
 
Last edited:

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
4,194
I've bought 3 of these so far and gave 2 away. They actually do capacitance and have a square wave output I've never used. Armored but the flip out back support doesn't. Fully fused though. And the price has dropped. The probes are crap but I prefer minigrabbers so replaced them.
1652361277182.png
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
26,088
I have two suggestions for you to investigate:

1) Hantek 3in1 Digital Oscilloscope. There are four models to choose from, 2C42, 2D42, 2C72, 2D72.

1652362374470.png


2) Metal equipment case. You can install foam with custom cutouts to suit your tool assortment.
1652362505782.png
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,659
I've bought 3 of these so far and gave 2 away. They actually do capacitance and have a square wave output I've never used. Armored but the flip out back support doesn't. Fully fused though. And the price has dropped. The probes are crap but I prefer minigrabbers so replaced them.
View attachment 266998
That's certainly cheap! I have to keep it in mind for people who need to have a meter around but not for anything serious. I kind of wish it didn't have current, though and the PP3 isn't my favorite power source.

Still for 10 bucks...
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,659
I have two suggestions for you to investigate:

1) Hantek 3in1 Digital Oscilloscope. There are four models to choose from, 2C42, 2D42, 2C72, 2D72.

View attachment 267001


2) Metal equipment case. You can install foam with custom cutouts to suit your tool assortment.
View attachment 267002
How big is the Hantek? Can it use scope probes?

The case looks nice but too large for my application I am leaning to soft sided cases because they can take up less space.
 

shortbus

Joined Sep 30, 2009
9,372
When I travel for pleasure, I assume I am traveling and not on the clock and not in any need of owning any problem so I only carry one item and use it to locate people/companies needed to solve any problem and find great pleasure watching other people solve problems.

My strong recommendation is the Angi app on my phone and the Google maps app on my phone which can find local contractors, repair shops, etc.
Such a plebeian! Your workshop is probably filled with Craftsman, Klein and other commoners tools too. you can't even understand the need to have the most expensive or elite brands to do a job correctly!
 

ElectricSpidey

Joined Dec 2, 2017
2,146
I think "tiny" and having everything you might need will end up being mutually exclusive. ;)

I can't really give any suggestions as I have never needed a general purpose travel electronic toolkit, but I do have a medium sized red plastic toolbox into which I throw the tools I need for any given job that I need to do around the house or somewhere else, then after the job the tools are returned to my workshop.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,659
I think "tiny" and having everything you might need will end up being mutually exclusive. ;)

I can't really give any suggestions as I have never needed a general purpose travel electronic toolkit, but I do have a medium sized red plastic toolbox into which I throw the tools I need for any given job that I need to do around the house or somewhere else, then after the job the tools are returned to my workshop.
It's always a compromise with something like this but I prefer to think of it as an optimization rather than a compromise in the sense of lacking integrity. I used to carry a lot more than I need because of fear of needing something and not having it but I am mostly over that.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
1,762
Such a plebeian! Your workshop is probably filled with Craftsman, Klein and other commoners tools too. you can't even understand the need to have the most expensive or elite brands to do a job correctly!
Actually, some of my basic hand tools are a mix of Craftsman and KMC. KMC was K-mart Corporation's house brand.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,659
In fact, I have the slightly larger Juice S2, and a few of the full sized versions. Right now my tiny toolkit is whatever knife I am carrying and a Surge, mainly because that one takes sabre saw blades instead of a dedicated file so I can have a metal saw with me. Otherwise, it would be the Charge Ti which certainly weighs less.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
9,726
In fact, I have the slightly larger Juice S2, and a few of the full sized versions. Right now my tiny toolkit is whatever knife I am carrying and a Surge, mainly because that one takes sabre saw blades instead of a dedicated file so I can have a metal saw with me. Otherwise, it would be the Charge Ti which certainly weighs less.
My old genuine RadioShack Leatherman version has seen better days but we have great memories together.
1652371833934.png
1652372187166.png
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
1,762
My old genuine RadioShack Leatherman version has seen better days but we have great memories together.
View attachment 267016
View attachment 267018
Wouldn't it be great if multi tools had great side cutters, scissors, pliers, screwdrivers...
It seems that Leatherman and clones use some hybrid of steel and peanut butter for screwdriver tips and they just can't figure out how to design jaws for a pair of pliers. They seem suitable only for grabbing fabric/leather/canvas but the jaws/teeth design and materials used just don't bite into any steel parts and easily slip off.
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
5,659
My old genuine RadioShack Leatherman version has seen better days but we have great memories together.
View attachment 267016
View attachment 267018
I remember those. They were a bit pricey for me at the time since I already had a Micra (with the scissors) and I didn't really need a pocket stripper. But if the stripper was any good, it would be nice for a kit like this. I'll bet trying to buy one now would be very costly.
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
9,726
The scissors are mainly useless IMO on the modern models but the old RS tool has saved the day for more than a decade.
The squirt ES model is close to the old RS.
PXL_20220512_172131030.PORTRAIT.jpg

The strippers work fine with standard electrical wiring but the smaller electronic stuff is a challenge for them.
 
Top