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Electronics Beginner; What equiptment to buy?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by FrozenSteel, Aug 27, 2011.

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  1. FrozenSteel

    FrozenSteel

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    Aug 27, 2011
    Hi everyone, I'm new to these forums and am curious about what kind of equipment I would need to build an electronics bench. I've been wanting to mess with electronics for years and have some education but have never had time to mess with them on my own. When I was in Technical School, we used AC/DC power supplies, oscilloscopes, clock generators and multimeters along with tools such as your soldering iron, wire cutters, etc. Can any of you guys come up with a list of what every electronics bench should have? And if you could, recommend some manufacturers /w models for equipment.

    Thanks!

    EDIT:

    After Reading some other posts in this forum, I see that many people are recommending the Rigol 1052E Oscilloscope for a beginner/intermediate electronics bench. Is that the best in the sub 500-600 dollar price range?
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2011
  2. FrozenSteel

    FrozenSteel

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    Aug 27, 2011
    Thx for the link. While browsing, I think I found a pretty good deal. Electronix Express has a deal where they give a Rigol® Waveform Generator 20 MHz with DDS Technology (DG1022) and a Rigol® Digital Storage Dual Channel Osilloscope, 50 MHz (DS1052E) for 799.99. Is that a good deal? Is there a better one out there?
     
  3. daddles

    daddles

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    Jun 10, 2011
    One option is to buy used equipment. If you go slowly, learn what things are worth, and watch carefully, you can get some tremendous deals, much better than buying inexpensive new Chinese equipment, some of which is junk (some of it's pretty good too). You can study the auction sites (e.g., ebay) and find some real steals if you're willing to wait (this, of course, can be painful when you're all enthusiastic to get going with things). You can also find measurement equipment in unusual places if you look (I have a superb older Fluke instrument I found for $20 from some guy selling stuff out of his garage). Another example: last weekend my wife found some free wood on Craigslist and we answered the ad. It turned out to be an old friend I had worked with 25 years ago. He is moving out of state and getting rid of lots of stuff, so he wound up giving me a beautiful and working HP 6033A 20 V/30 A system power supply (Agilent still sells the same supply for a ridiculous $4600), as he had three of them for his ham radio stuff but didn't use them anymore.
     
  4. duke37

    duke37

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    Jan 9, 2011
    I would start simple and work up. It all depends on what you want to do. If you wish to repair tube radios, then an isolating transformer is required. If you wish to make printed cicuits then suitable laboratory equipment is required.

    Start with digital and analogue meters, get cheap ones as you will blow them up by connecting them wrongly. Get better ones next time.

    Get safety spectacles to protect your eyes from flicks of solder, snipped off wire ends or exploding capacitors if working on high voltage equipment.

    My scope was thrown out by my employer as it didn't work. Just a faulty mains fuse holder. I use it about twice a year only. I have recently purchased a transistor tester and a C,L,R tester, both very useful.
     
  5. davelectronic

    davelectronic

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    Dec 13, 2010
    Electronic tools

    Hi there.
    I get by on a modest tool kit, probably not much more than about £ 500 worth of tools, mine is put together shopping round, get the best prices, the only thing missing out of my kit is the work shop, i don't have one, long story house to small, kids family etc, i get away with an old kitchen table, clear up when iam done, you can work almost any where, thats not to say i don't wont a work shop, i would love one, but alas its the old table top for now, i still turn out good projects.

    The only other thing missing in my kit at the moment is a decent scope, but money's tight times are hard, and me family comes first, but eventually i will get one.
    I never purchase that cheap Chinese tat, its not worth it, few more quid/dollars gets you better quality, you don't have to run out and buy it all in one go, build a kit up a bit at a time, then upgrade every now and again. Rome was not built in a day.

    I purchased a lot in one go, i wish i had not, some of its yet to be used, i listed stuff i don't use when putting my kit together, so my advice is list what you need carefully, if not essential don't buy it, i expect the tools ive yet to use will come in handy one day, mainly specialist fastening hand tools for them odd fasteners you come across every now and again.

    It all comes together eventually. Dave. :)
     
  6. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    You might be interested in this. It's the EEVBlog's video on setting up an electronics lab.
     
  7. davelectronic

    davelectronic

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    Dec 13, 2010
    Electronics tool kit

    I watched the 27 minutes or so video on YouTube, wow that blokes got some energy, very accomplished work shop. If you did all that in one go, first you would need a bank loan, after buying it all tell the misses a week later your bored, lost interest, ha ha. Dave. :)
     
  8. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    His recommendations come to around $AU1000

    I think you could do worse than follow his recommendations. Sure, you might not get the signal generator and digital scope right away (and that's half the cost).

    You might just buy one of the types of multimeters he recommends, and just one soldering iron.

    The whole thing is, buy stuff that you won't have to buy again later when you find you've bought rubbish.

    If you want to go into more detail, he has reviews of multimeters under $50 (and in several other price brackets too). He talks in more detail about other things (like soldering irons) in other videos too.
     
  9. davelectronic

    davelectronic

    1,087
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    Dec 13, 2010
    Electronic tool kit

    Yes quit right not to by junk, go for the modest well made gear, if best quality is out of reach in price. I will watch the other tutorials he has made, i found myself not wanting to click of, although i know what all the tips and gear he surgested getting. He gave me some ideas on bits of kit i could use to make some jobs easier. I will explore the link and site further when i get a minute, thanks for posting the link. Dave.
     
  10. rootboy

    rootboy

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    Aug 26, 2011
    As for scopes, I would recommend the Rigol DS1052E. They get very favorable reviews, and they are very inexpensive.

    I would forget about the 50Mhz-to-100Mhz hack that you invariably read about. It looks like Rigol has managed to shut that down.

    I bought the DS1102E (100Mhz model), just so I wouldn't be tempted... :)
     
  11. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    I was quite enthused about the Rigol DS1052E until I saw one in the flesh.

    I compared it to my humble 60MHz dual trace scope and I was amazed at how poor it was.

    I'm holding out that it was just that unit, but I'm no longer in the market for one of these scopes.

    Sure, the Rigols have lots of useful features that my poor old scope doesn't, and they may make the Rigol a better buy. But if you want to see clean waveforms... No.
     
  12. rootboy

    rootboy

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    Aug 26, 2011
    Sigh, there's always a tradeoff.

    I do a lot of work with serial comms so a nice, cheap storage scope would be very handy. I generally don't go up very high in the Mhz range, so anything faster would be a waste for me.

    The other scope - don't laugh - is one of those really cheap DSO 203's.

    For no other reason than I will be able to carry a scope around in my shirt pocket. Ever since I misplaced my Control.com "Nerds in Control" pocket protector I've been feeling a bit naked. :)
     
  13. davelectronic

    davelectronic

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    12
    Dec 13, 2010
    Workshop set up

    I would like to find a second user scope, my uses are almost mainly psu, linear and smp's, and the odd audio stereo project, and some opto lighting stuff, and some radio comm's.

    Can you recommend a model a few years old, my faith lies in the Japanese made equipment really. Dave. :)
     
  14. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    Buying an old scope gets you 3 things:

    1) A device of uncertain calibration.

    2) A device with uncertain state of repair.

    3) Something of low cost, but potentially high original (and continuing) value.

    As long as you can check (1) against other instruments, and the device is working, you generally can't go wrong.

    If you're getting it off ebay, 1 & 2 are a big deal, but so is freight -- old scopes can be heavy. Buying something where the seller shows the actual piece of equipment with both/all beams/traces showing is a good start.
     
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