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Equipment for Electronics Lab

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by [email protected], May 31, 2008.

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  1. Guest

    I'm setting up a hobbyist electronics lab. What kind of equipment
    should I buy to equip this lab? My budget is $3000.
  2. CDESC

    CDESC Guest

    Here is a short list of the content of a basic hobby lab... I'll try not to
    forget too much!

    - Precision and standard screwdrivers sets (~15$)
    - Precision pliers of all kinds (~10$)
    - A good wire cutter (the kind used to cut excess leads under pcbs) (~5$)
    - A set of tweezers (~20$)
    - A lab power supply (~100$)
    - If your budget allows it, an oscilloscope is always useful (~350$+)
    - A multimeter (~50$)
    - A breadboard or two with jumper wires (~30$)
    - A soldering iron and soldering wire (~40$)
    - A de-soldering pump (aka a sucker) (~5$)
    - Aligator clips are always good (~5$)

    - Lots, Lots, Lots, Lots and Lots of assorted parts of all kinds. ICs,
    Transistors, Resistors, Capacitors, Pots, everything you can get. (~1500$+)

    - Prototyping PCBs or blank PCBs with everything needed to etch them might
    be useful if you intend to keep your projects in one piece. There are
    several techniques so the hardware will vary.

    If you're going to work with programmable ICs, SMD/SMT and the such, I
    suggest to consider the following too:
    - A SMD rework station (hot air gun) (~100$)
    - A pick and place vacuum pen
    - A set of wax carver tools (these are useful to manipulate parts,
    straighten small IC pins, etc.) (~15$)
    - A microscope (~100$ to 300$)
    - A programmer (the Willem kind is fine as it covers most of the basic
    programmable ICs out there) (~35$)
    - A computer dedicated to your hobby room (running with the project board
    all over the house isnt a good idea) (~I bet you have an extra one!)
    - A signal/function generator is not a must but might save your day, one
    day. (~200$)

    For added paranoia, or if you're going to work with expensive or sensitive
    microcontrollers, get an anti-electrostatic mat for your desktop
    and/or an electrostatic protection wirst strap.

    The rest is up to your needs depending on your specific projects and the
    type of work you're gonna do.

    All of that hardware can be found on eBay. The prices I gave are based on
    what I remember (or think I remember) I paid.
  3. Ecnerwal

    Ecnerwal Guest

    "What you need" depends a huge amount on what you plan to do. Radio,
    microprocessors, audio, ...

    One approach is to buy stuff as your hobby project of the moment
    requires - that will tend to match up your equipment to what you are
    actually doing, or have done, rather than tying up bunches of money in
    things you never use for your particular projects. If you are somewhat
    vague about projects, start in with things you need - you can build
    power supplies, buy kits to build meters, etc.

    Oscilloscope (but there's a huge range, depending on what you plan to
    do.) Big differences are Analog .vs. Digital, number of channels, and

    Function generator

    Frequency counter (perhaps, depending...)

    Spectrum analyzer (perhaps, depending, but even old ones will probably
    blow your budget, so perhaps not)

    Soldering tools - a combined iron/hot air system is one approach.

    Anti-static (not essential for some things, but cheap enough to just do
    right once - get a good rubber bench mat and wrist-band)

    meter(s) - multimeter, perhaps more than one or some dedicated less
    capable meters (advantage being that you can look at two parameters at
    once if you have more than one meter). Simpler meters have the advantage
    of being dirt cheap. One that does L/C (inductance/capacitance) is
    invaluable, especially if getting used parts by scrapping old equipment,
    as the markings are often obscure - or if winding your own inductors.

    Power supplies

    Parts to play with - resistors, capacitors, transistors, diodes,
    op-amps, ...

    cables, wires, breadboards etc.
  4. That is a huge budget for a hobbyist setup!

    If you can seriously afford that sort of cash, then spend $1000 to maybe
    $1500 on a decent digital oscilloscope, this will be by far your best
    investment. For that price you can get one with decent memory, bandwidth,
    and a digital logic analyser as well.

    Then all the other basics like function generator (say a 20MHz one),
    multimeter (nice accurate autoranging Fluke or Meterman), lab power supplies
    (plural, you need more than one), and a decent SMD soldering system. Plus
    all the usual cables and hand tools etc.

    As other have said, you need to know what sort of stuff you will be working
    on before you can know what to get in the more exotic line of test gear.

    Save a good chunk of that cash for specific development boards, parts etc
    for specific projects you are interesting in.

  5. Guest

    I guess I forgot to mention this, didn't I?

    I intend to work mostly with micro controllers, such as the AVR and
    the Propeller chip, and with various peripherals such as motion
    sensors, pressure sensors, and motor controllers.

    Does this knowledge change the list?
  6. neon


    Oct 21, 2006
    take your $3000 and buy a tektronic scope OLD all the other crap is loose change do not buy a spectrum analyzer at this time. buy a good 2 ch analog scope with delay sweep all other scope are specialty scope that corp.$$ buy.
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