In descending order of must have to nice to have.
Lead solder, with a rosin core. Trust me, the lead free stuff is terrible.
A fume extractor (aka a fan) or a good draft, so you aren’t breathing said lead.
Hot soapy water - for use afterwards, so you don’t transfer said lead from your hands to your food.
A multimeter, even if you only ever use the beeping continuity tester.
Something to hold the board/components in place. I’ve used/use pliers + an elastic band around the handlers, a brick + blu tack, masking tape, helping hands.
A solder sucker & a reel of copper braid. Solder removal is a skill in itself. None of the methods work for all situations.
TS 100 soldering iron. Just because it’s a cheapish, temperature controlled iron that fits in your pocket. Needs an old 12-24v PSU you probably have lying around. I just got one, used it a few times and been impressed.1
Side note: Maplin are convenient, but you pay through the nose. RS Components have a Birmingham branch & you can order online/collect in store.
A pack of assorted components and some strip board (aka vero board). Don’t try to make a functioning circuit - just pack em in until you’ve run out of space or components. Hopefully you’ll see a progression of your improvement.
- I also have a nice prepared rant about this product as an object lesson in good interfaces, I’ll bring both along to Silicon Canal next time.