Hakko FX-888D soldering station
Electronics-related skills seem more important now than ever, especially with the number of maker spaces opening up. When I was in high school I always wanted to take an electronics course, but we had none in the "Advanced" stream at our school. Oddly enough we had an advanced typing course. At the time there were three streams in high school, Basic, General, and Advanced. My impression (which was mistaken) was that in order to go to University you had to only take Advanced courses. So I never ended up learning any soldering or basic electronics skills. Luckily enough over the past 12 years I've been blessed to passively learn some electronics basics from some of the awesome volunteers at The Working Centre's Computer Recycling Project. One volunteer in particular, you know who you are, ahem - Dave, loaned me his old Weller soldering iron. It's been a great soldering iron to learn on, but I always had this itch to get a temperature controller soldering iron. Santa was really good to me this year and a Hakko FX-888D temperature controlled soldering iron appeared under the tree (well beside it actually since the box barely clears the bottom of the tree).
First job was to solder an extra length of stereo cable together so I could place our surround speakers in their proper position. Last year Santa bought me a Sony DAV-TZ140. It's a very affordable 5.1 surround system. As a starter system it's pretty good. However the length of the cable on the surround speakers was too short to reach around where we have our couch placed. Speaker wire isn't something we often see at Computer Recycling, but as it turned out someone dropped off a short length yesterday. Truth told I initially soldered up some CAT5 cable to the surround speakers and it worked! But it didn't seem like a great idea because the CAT5 cable was twisted whereas stereo cable doesn't twist around each other. So last night I spent about 5 minutes desoldering the old cable and soldering the new stereo cable. I have to say that it was a dream using the Hakko FX-888D for the first time. The solder ran beautifully and I the job was done faster that I've ever done a soldering job. Part of the reason might be that I've gained a tiny bit more experience soldering, but I think the iron definitely helped. Thanks Santa, and all the volunteers who've taught me over the years!