Iown two grab-and-go bags: one for survival and one for the phone calls
for help on a friend’s stereo, computer,
or quadcopter. The survival bag has the
usual flashlight, matches, water
purification tablets, bandages,
tourniquets, and pain killers. My grab-and-go for electronics is a little more
involved, and the contents shift a bit
with the technology I’m likely to
encounter on my “rescue missions.”
As listed below, most of the kit can
be categorized as instruments, tools,
parts, or safety related.
Clamp-on AC ammeter
1” diameter extendable mirror
6” Crescent wrench ( 2)
Driver kit with screw and bolt head
Small rubber mallet
35W soldering iron
Swiss army knife
Solder wicking braid
8” Tie-wraps ( 6)
Alcohol-based hand cleaner/sanitizer
The instruments include a small
Fluke DMM with a set of good sharp
leads. A small inexpensive Extech
clamp-on AC ammeter is my insurance
when working with AC powered
systems in which the circuit breaker is
theoretically in the “off” position. I like
to verify that the circuit is, in fact,
The tools in my grab-and-go bag
are largely generic, multi-purpose, and
self-explanatory. I love my head-mounted light because I inevitably run
out of free hands when working behind
a car dashboard or other tight space.
The mirror is also a life saver in
cramped quarters, as it allows me to
inspect connections without full
A standard 35W Weller soldering
iron with a lightweight cord works in
just about any environment that has
AC power available. If I’m going to
work on a circuit installed on a boat or
otherwise away from the mains, I’ll
bring along a small butane torch. The
Proxxon Microflame Burner works well
in windy environments and is easy to
refill with generic butane.
I’ll add to my core selection of
parts as the task demands. However, at
a minimum, my bag contains an
assortment of fuses — both automotive
and the standard 0.25 x 1.25” 3AG
variety — with a few values ranging
from one to five amps.
My favorite method of solder
removal is to use braid. It’s less messy
and much more compact than the
Teflon-tipped solder suckers.
On the top of my list of safety
supplies is a set of clear closed
goggles. By closed, I mean that the top
and sides are rubber/plastic, with small
ventilation holes. I don’t like the simple
sunglasses style eye protection because
it’s all too easy for debris to enter the
Band-aids and sanitizer are for the
inevitable minor cuts that I’m likely to
encounter, simply because accidents
As with my disaster grab-and-go
bag, my electronics grab-and-go is for
quick response to an immediate need.
I’ve found it covers 80% of my house
calls to friends. Your grab-and-go might
include other instruments, tools, and
parts depending on your interests and
the typical needs of your friends.
If you don’t have enough spare
tools to create an electronics grab-and-go, then the next best thing is to create
a checklist of what to pack when you
get a repair/help request.
I’ve found the hard way that
simply tossing tools and parts in a
backpack and heading out the door
without thinking through what I’m
likely to need is a recipe for
disappointment and wasted time.
What’s in your grab-and-go? NV
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What’s in Your Grab-and-Go?
July 2017 5