Tools and Equipment
Next to the components needed for the boards themselves you are also going to need some tools and equipment to solder and hook-up the board. Below will be a convenient list with the tools and equipment I can recommend! It will also feature some additional items like screws, wires or anything else related to the QuinLED project. Get what you need! 🙂
Screw drivers in all sorts and sizes always come in handy. Although most people have some lying around, for the QuinLED boards you are going to need small sizes with + and – heads. If you have watched my videos you’ve probably seen the kit I’m using and you can find it here:
9 Piece Aliexpress screw driver set (I use this one personally, very nice kit!)
Precision bit set (I use this one personally)
During the building of the boards you are going to need some snips or cutting tool. I use angled types so you can reach the pins better! Very useful cutter which makes nice sharp and straight cuts.
Most of the resistors, caps and diode’s I use are mostly in SMD 0805 size. Although this size can still be soldered by hand, a set of good tweezers helps A LOT with that proces. I use a kit you can find here:
Better Quality Ceramic Tweezers
When you are working with little SMD components more often a better set of tweezers can really help. Recently I’ve been using a set of the below Ceramic tweezers and I really like them, if you like quality tools, get some of these instead of the cheaper one’s!
Set of nice ceramic tweezers (I use these personally)
Automatic Wire Stripper
How did I ever live my life before owning one of these. Incredibly strips all kind of gauges wire perfectly every time. If you don’t have one, if anything from this list, buy this!
Better automatic wire stripper (I use this one personally)
Ferrule crimping tools
A lot of wire is of the stranded variety, to make sure you get a perfect fit that holds I recommend using wire ferrules on the ends of stranded cable, they provide for a much better surface contact in screw terminals.
The ferrule crimpers come in a 4 sided and 6 sided variant, I like the 6 sided best myself.
Connector crimping tool
For longer length LED wire runs (see below for wire) you want the ability to connect and disconnect your lights. Using the following spade connectors and crimping tool makes it very easy. The crimped connector forms a good electrical connection that is fully insulated when connected together! This tool can also be used to put ring terminals for connecting with big power supplies.
Wires and accessories
Terminal to Barrel Plug
I use screw terminals on all of my designs because when screwed down they form an excellent connection. But when you want to disconnect and connect more often or use different power supplies the screw terminals can quickly become annoying. For this I use little plugs which convert from barrel to terminal and the reverse!
I quickly use a lot of these so I’ve included a link to a 50 pairs pack, very handy!
Warning: Do not use these if continuous power is above 3-5Amps, they can become too hot! This makes them more suited for 12v then 5v.
To connect all kinds of wires (AC or DC) together, solid or stranded I use the following connector blocks. They work for everything and are even good enough to use them in a permanent installation, highly recommended!
I advise to get a lot of the 3pin blocks and a few 5pin blocks, they make your life a whole lot easier!
Special 2 wire split connection blocks (Aliexpress only)
Dupont wires are useful in a lot of situations! They come in male-male, male-female and female-female variants and can be used directly on pin headers used on most QuinLED modules. They can also be used to make connections with breadboards or loads of different external modules such as relays, motion sensors, etc.. They can’t carry very much power but are well suited as signal wires or to power small modules.
They are cheap and basically you need to make sure to always have some in your collection! Here is a link to a kit which includes all above mentioned types:
2 pin LED cable leads
If you want to connect a lot of LED strips it’s easiest to use these little connectors. Be mindful though and don’t use these for connecting long strips which draw a lot of load, these tiny little wires aren’t suited for that! Short lengths of strips, etc. are fine though.
The connectors are also called 2 pin JST connectors!
3 pin LED cable leads
To connect most generic WS2812b or SK6812 LED strip you need a 3 pin connector. Easy to connect to the often factory soldered on connector! But as with most of these connectors, don’t try to push a giant amount of amperage through these little cables, use beefier cables for that!
4 pin LED cable leads
To connect digital LED strip such as APA102 or ws2815 strip you need more than 3 pins. That’s where these 4 pin JST connector sets come in! Very easy to quickly connect and disconnect LED strip. Again, the same warning as above, don’t try to push too many Amps through these little cables, use thicker wires for longer lengths!
Multi-color LED cable
To use analog or digital LED cable further away from the controller you can use these multi-pin extension cables. They work well for low amperage setups like connecting 1 meter of RGB+CCT or ws2815. If you are connecting longer strips, make sure to use seperate thicker gauge (see below) power cables!
To connect LED strip or lights to your new QuinLED controller you are going to need some wires, especially longer lengths or high power (long strip) needs a decent gauge of wire. Tip, sometimes speaker wire is cheaper then electrical wire in the same gauge, in the end they both contain copper! Also remember to double feed (or even triple) if your LED strips get longer then 1m to 2m (depends on the quality of the LED strip), see this article for more information why.
Here are some examples:
High Quality wire
I like using high quality stuff even though it isn’t always needed. Silicon wire is a lot more flexible then normal PVC wire and can also withstand a lot more heat. You get yourself one or both of kits of wire and you’ll have lots of different color wire available for using in your projects!
AWG18 is recommended for power carrying wires. AWG26 or AWG28 is generally good for signal wires.
Multi kit available from AWG18 to AWG30 (Great for signal wires)
18AWG Red/Black silicone wire (Good for power delivery wires)
I use these wire clips everywhere, they come with a very good thick glue pad and it will stick to most things. Very easy to bunch or hide away a few (or lots) of wires, get a bunch of them in different sizes, trust me, you’ll be using them for everything for years!
Heat shrink Tubing (with glue)
If you are going to be doing projects with LED strip you want to be able to attach cable to it yourself, for instance for double feeding the cable or connecting thicker wire then comes stock. Using some heat shrink tube over these connections protects the connection and also insulates it from accidental contact. I like to use heat shrink that has a glue inside that automatically gets released when the heat shrink heats up. This forms a very tight and permanent bond allowing it to function as a bit of strain relief.
I use the 6mm size, it fits well over 10mm LED strips before shrinking and makes for a very tight fit when it’s shrunk. The easiest to shrink the tube is using a hot air soldering iron (see below). If you don’t have one of those or don’t want to purchase one a normal soldering iron can also work or a simple flame.
Plastic glue Stand-offs
When mouting down one of my boards it’s often a good idea to give is a little bit of breathing room on the bottom. With lots of Amps running through them, a little bit or airflow over the top + bottom keeps them cool.
To make it easy, I’ve used glue on plastic stand offs! They should work for all of my boards, although the boards with M2 holes (Like Dig-Uno) might be a bit of a tight fit.
Most importantly you are going to need a soldering station. Now these come in a lot of different forms and shapes. It’s best to buy a middle of the road, temperature controlled soldering station. You both have cheaper options and (a lot) more expensive solutions, but value for money is in the soldering stations
Cheap Soldering Iron
If you really can’t spend the money, you can buy one of these “bottom of the barrel” irons. Still, you won’t have a very pleasant time soldering and I really can’t recommend it.
Good Hot Air + Soldering Iron station!
Recently we did a test of a combined Hot Air + Soldering iron station and it turns out it’s excellent for a very reasonable amount of money. If you are starting out and you are looking for a decent iron and either want hot air or aren’t even sure you’d like it, I can really recommend getting this combined station!
Good soldering Irons and stations
A step up to around the 50$ to 60$ mark you come into the territory of soldering stations and temperature controlled irons. Much much better and they will give you a much more pleasant experience the the above one. Even if you don’t solder often, I really recommend to invest into one of these options:
Hot Air SMD station
Next to normal soldering irons there is also something called hot air soldering stations. These aren’t used for through hole components but for SMD (Surface mount) components. Most of the QuinLED modules are based in through-hole but some components are SMD because of convenience and routing reasons. However, every component I use is hand solder-able using a normal soldering station. If you however intend to build a lot of boards with SMD components (such as QuinLED-Quad) a Hot Air station may be nice to have.
I recently bought one of these cheap air soldering stations and they actually work surprisingly well. Maybe not suited for big time production work but for home soldering they are perfect!
If you want to go die hard and need all the things, get one of these combined ultra stations! They do through-hole, hot air and some even have a vacuum pump inside of them for easy desoldering!
To solder you are going to need some tin wire to melt to your soldering joints. Most of the QuinLED stuff is built around THT and uses this type of wire, if you are also going to do SMD soldering with a hot air gun, also pick up some soldering paste
I mostly use 0.6mm soldering wire with resin (so you don’t need extra flux)
For soldering with a hot air gun, make sure you also have some tweezers!
Sometimes, especially when soldering small pins, you need some extra flux to make sure everything flows correctly
Or as I like to call it, “mistake wire”. If you get too much solder in the wrong place, this can help you clean it up!
Solder suction pump
For Through hole components just using wick isn’t enough sometimes. A solder sucker can help with that! Good to have in your tool arsenal
Electric Desoldering Pump
I did a video review about this electric desoldering pump, if you make a lot of mistakes or want to get some components back, it works quite well!
During the setup of a QuinLED you will need to measure some voltages to set the DC-DC converter to 5v, a multimeter is easiest to use for that!
Want to know if the MOSFETs you got are correctly triggering below 3.3v? Use one of these little testing boxes, it can show you before you solder it on the board!
110v/230v Accurate Power Measuring plug
I’ve shown the PR-10C power measurement plug in lots of my videos, it’s a bit on the expensive side but it’s the best plug-in power measure device I know. If you even want to measure power, this is the plug to get!
(No WiFi or remote connectivity, see below)
PR-10C Energy Measurement plug (You can choose country style)
0805 Sample books
When you do a lot of DIY project you often needs lots of different values SMD capacitors and resistors. The below linked books contain ample capacitors and resistors in the commonly used 0805 format, you’ll never miss out again!
And that’s it, I believe those are all the tools you might need next to the components from the component list. Make sure to check out my articles about Great Quality White Analog LED strip, RGB(W) LED Strip, Digital LED strip, COB lights or what kind of power supply you can use!