I'm a student, and I have (very) limited access to money (people, be kind and donate to the Help-Rohit-Fund. Donations for this noble cause will not be taxed...I promise Anyway, since most of you are students as well, and are in a similar state of monetary paucity, I've made up a list of tools/components that you must have. In fact, I carry the stuff mentioned below everywhere I go....if my trip to a place is more than 4 days long, this stuff goes with me. The list is by no means comprehensive, or complete - its simply what I find most useful. If I dont have something, I do a bit of jugaad.
1. Simple multimeter - MAS830, Rs325 (no fancy stuff, no capacitance meter, or inductance measurement,etc, etc - this add heavily to the cost)
2. 25W soldering iron - Soldron, Rs120 (dont compromise on this .you do get cheaper imitations for 35-80 bucks, but its not worth it.it doesnt heat up fast, tips are useless, coil burns out super quick; buy a pointed tip with the soldering iron; you'll find it useful after you get the hang of soldering)
3. 60/40 SnPb pre fluxed solder wire, Rs30 - I usually have the standard 0.05" dia wire, as well as the fine SMD solder wire
4. Wire stripper/cutter, crimper (Rs20)
5. Smooth file (Rs 10)
6. Wire - I carry around single strand hookup wire (Rs3 per m) for use on solderless bread boards, and multistrand ribbon cable( Rs6 per m) for prototyping
7. Breadboards - two solderless (Rs, 60 each), and two DM2030 (Rs 7.50 each) (this is the VIsha Electronics part number, they're just veroboards)
8. My Microchip PICKit2 USB programmer - Rs.2000, - this is one of my most useful tools. It programs the entire PIC range of controllers (10,12,14,16,18,24,30,33,PIC32 - thats over 500 controllers), plus loads of memory EEPROMS, it can acts as a Logic output, a Logic analyser, a USB to Uart converter (no need of the MAX232), a 2.5 to 5 V power supply, etc etc
9. Some LEDs (Re1 each) and push buttons (Rs2 each)
10. A homemade 3Amp, 1.2 to 21V variable power supply (Rs150)
11. A 16x2 character LCD based terminal UART that I whipped together for Rs130.this way I dont need access to a PC for RS232 based debugging
12. A few resistors, capacitors, molex headers, pots (potentiometers) - not more than Rs30
13. Chips, circuits that I'm currently working on
The total cost of the above stuff is around Rs3000, out of which the PICKit2 is 2 grand. I find most of this stuff indispensable; you may have a slightly different kit-out depending on what electronic stuff you work on.
Coming up next.my wish-list.(this is where the Help-Rohit-Fund comes in ) haha