product guides

What you need to know before buying a new soldering iron

One of the tools that cannot be missed in any electrical hobbyists arsenal is the soldering iron, especially if you often work with wires or circuits, then you can’t live without one of these. Although it is a fairly straight forward and basic tool there are some things you must know before you buy. There are also a lot of different options out there when it comes to picking one. If you’re just getting started with this great hobby – then opt for a cheap soldering iron. Otherwise, if you’re a professional you’ll want a very high quality station with temp control and all of the additional features that the more expensive products tend to come with. Because there are so many choices in this area it’s always a great idea to absorb as much information as you can before you spend any money on a product. So let’s go over some of the key points!

The design of the soldering iron

This is a crucial element to consider. The way in which your tool is designed will determine whether it can get the job done perfectly for your project. The most basic type of soldering iron is known as a “soldering pencil“, this is the cheapest type but also the least capable as it doesn’t have any form of temperature control. There are also soldering stations, these are probably the most common. The soldering stations from well known brands like weller are very well built. Soldering stations feature a stand where you can put the iron while it’s hot. They also have adjustable temperature controls which is necessary when working with different materials. The heat-up time is often extremely fast, and this is a feature you should bear in mind as it can save you a lot of head ache down the road.


Overall, my favorite soldering iron is the weller wlc 100 – check it out here. It has got a fantastic reputation within the electronics community. It also comes with a pretty good warranty, so if anything does go wrong you’re safe knowing that you can get a replacement.

Tips & Tricks

Easy-to-Understand Basics of Excel

This is a brief yet concrete introduction to the world of Excel. This list should be helpful when you’re just getting started using excel. You can use it to create a foundation upon which you will further build your knowledge (with additional study).

Basics Overview:


  • MS EXCEL is used for calculations, databases, and to create reports, etc. that contain numerical data.
  • An Excel worksheet is divided into cells.
  • Each cell is identified by the column and row in which it is located: A3, G6, etc.
  • The active cell is highlighted; it is the cell where data is about to be entered or altered. Upon opening a blank Excel worksheet, A1 is the active cell.
  • Data in the active cell also appears in the function (fx) box above the worksheet.
  • Navigate by using the arrow keys.
  • Access a cell: Navigate to OR click on desired cell.
  • Enter data: Go to desired cell and type in the data/ or an arrow key
  • Alter data: Go to desired cell //use arrow keys to go to desired position in cell
  • Delete data: Go to desired cell /; OR
  • Block desired cells /
  • Alter row width: Block cells to be altered/Format/Column/Width; change the measurement to your specification
  • Alter column width: Block cells to be altered/Format/Row/Height; change the measurement to your specification; OR, at the top of the worksheet where the column letters are located, place cursor on column line between the column to be expanded or retracted and the column to its right; opposing arrows appear; drag column to desired width
  • If no cell can be activated after pasting a formula: ,OR left-click in the function (fx) box above the worksheet then Left-click on any cell

Check out this Video:



Tips & Tricks

Photoshop Tutorial: Create a Professional Charcoal Drawing Out of Any Photo

What many people do not know is that Photoshop just is not for photographs anymore. It can also be used for creating fun, original, and unique drawings. So in this tutorial you will learn to do just that: create drawings out of photos! Specifically in this Photoshop tutorial, we will be creating charcoal drawings. Often charcoal drawings can be very abstract, even portraits, but Photoshop allows us less talented people to create a gorgeous charcoal drawing that is perfectly professional looking. A lot of other Photoshop tutorials on the web will show you how to just apply a basic filter, which is boring and can make your pictures look even more drab than you might have started with. But with this tutorial, you will also learn how to make a professional and antique looking background. This will make your new work of art perfect for printing, framing, or scrap booking. It will even be web-ready if you want to post it online.
So to begin with, you will need to find an image to work with. In this tutorial, I decided to use a portrait, but you can use basically anything. Landscapes, portraits, sports scenes, macro shots, etc will all work just fine in this tutorial. If you just want to practice on a picture for the sake of learning or you can not find a suitable picture of your own to work on, you do not need to use one of your own. There are tons of free (yes, free!) stock sites that have tons of pictures for you to use. A good site to start looking is

Once you have found a good picture to work with, you can start making it into a work of art!

Step 1) As always, open your image as its own document in Photoshop. Make sure that is 300 DPI and in PSD format.

Step 2) Now once you have your image in front of you, you will need to add a new layer. Click Shift+Ctrl+N on your keyboard. On the color drop down menu, you will need to add a color to this layer. A yellow works good with the charcoal effect, but you can choose any color you like. Make sure you name this layer so you can easily refer back to it.

Step 3) Next, go back to the image layer and copy it. Then place it as the top layer on the layer menu bar. Apply the glowing edges effect by going to Filter gt;Stylize gt;Glowing Edges Filter. A preview will be show in this new little menu. Move around the sliders until to achieve an effect that you are happy with. Every picture if different, therefore some setting will look better.

Step 4) Then, you need to “Invert” this layer by going to Image gt;Adjustments gt;Invert. You will also need to make it black and white because obviously charcoal is in black and not color!

Step 5) Right click the image layer again on the layer menu and go to Blending Mode. Change this to Multiply.

Step 6) Again, copy the background layer and desaturate it by going to Image gt;Adjustments gt;Desaturate. Place this on top of all the layers and add noise to the image by going to Filter gt;Noise gt;Add Noise gt;Monochromatic/Gaussian. Once you have selected the amount, set the opacity to about 80%. This will show the right amount, but not be overpowering.

Step 7) On that same layer add a layer mask by going to Layer gt;Layer Masks gt;Hide All. Change the charcoal to a large smudge or smear brush and paint on the white mask to reveal the new charcoal effect.

Step 8) Now select the layer mask a choose a full motion blur by going to Filter gt;Blur gt;Motion Blur. Then apply Filter gt;Brush Strokes gt;Cross Hatch.

Step 9) Go back to the original paper layer and will it in with a new pattern by going to New Fill Layer gt;Pattern. Choose any one you like and then change the blending mode to multiply or overlay. Multiply tends to work better on most images.

Then you’re done and you have a new professional looking charcoal drawing.

Some additional tips:
Crtl+Alt+Z will take you back a step if you make a mistake. You can use this hot key at any time.

Check out this useful resource: photoshop for noobs