Connect with us

Home lab suggestions?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Phil Hobbs, Aug 2, 2006.

Scroll to continue with content
  1. Phil Hobbs

    Phil Hobbs Guest

    Well, after raising two very fine daughters who both turned out to be
    gifted in fuzzy subjects such as languages and history and bunk like
    that, my son is showing signs of technical aptitude and interest.

    Therefore, I'm putting together a lowish-budget home lab off ebay, with
    an eye to doing some Jacob's ladders or Tesla coils or stuff like that
    there, with maybe an electro-optical thing now and again, such as a
    machine to detect deer and hit them with paintballs. ;)

    So far, I have:

    Tek 475A 250 MHz scope with DMM;

    2x HP 6286 20V, 10A power supplies;

    1x HP 8013B 50 MHz pulser;

    HP 400A AC Voltmeter;

    Various Simpson meters and Fluke DVMs and such like.

    Enough probes and test leads for now.

    I already owned the DVM, but so far the rest have cost me about $400 all
    told. Some of this stuff I had to get my second line manager's approval
    on, when I bought it for work long ago! Nice old test equipment is
    monstrous cheap.

    I'm bidding on various HP universal counters and Exact function
    generators, which I like. Haven't got enough dough for a spectrum
    analyzer, unfortunately. Remaining budget is ~$400.

    So which of your favourite old instruments have I forgotten?


  2. What sort of mechanical tools do you have?
    A descent bench vice, pillar drill and assorted blunt drills

    and a variac

  3. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

    HP5245L counter with various plug-ins.
  4. Phil Hobbs

    Phil Hobbs Guest

    Good point. Don't have enough of those things, especially no drill
    press. I have a Panavise and hand drills, but that isn't the same.
    Variacs I've been looking at, but I'm mostly going to be starting from
    good-quality DC power, at least initially, so I can do the "gradual
    smoke test" with the panel knobs.


    Phil Hobbs
  5. Tim Shoppa

    Tim Shoppa Guest

    Not exactly "instruments" but you'll need some breadboards, good
    lighting, probably a magnifier, complete set of hand tools, electric
    drill (maybe a drill press), tin snips, chassis punches, etc. too
    to actually build something.

  6. Paypal for online ordering?

  7. Phil Hobbs

    Phil Hobbs Guest

    I have most of that stuff already, thanks, as well as a reasonable stock
    of electronic parts. Chassis punches I don't have, but I find I rarely
    use them at work so I can probably get along without them for awhile.
    Breadboards I usually make dead-bug style, on a piece of Cu-clad board
    mounted to the lid of the box via the BNC connectors. Of course I
    usually use Lemo connectors for power, which I'm not going to do for
    home projects.


    Phil Hobbs
  8. Phil Hobbs

    Phil Hobbs Guest

    I've used those, maybe 25 years ago. IIRC it's a 50-MHz counter with
    harmonic mixers for different frequency ranges--is that right? Nixie
    tube display, anyway.


    Phil Hobbs
  9. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

  10. Use cone cutters or step cutters in your pillar drill (carefully!) Much
    more sensible than chassis punches. Even for octal tube holders. (;-)
  11. And when it comes to lighting, don't use fluorescents if you are going
    to be working on sensitive circuits. One place I worked was a nightmare
    because all the bench lighting was fluorescent and it was impossible to
    breadboard high gain amplifiers anywhere near them.

  12. Phil Hobbs

    Phil Hobbs Guest

    Hard for D-shell cutouts, though!


    Phil Hobbs
  13. Chris Carlen

    Chris Carlen Guest

    What are you supposed to do your soldering with?

    Crimp tools and terminals are real cool too. I can't believe how many
    years I spent thinking before I did electronics for a job that all
    terminals had to be soldered. Now I save loads of time and get better
    results with crimps. Duh!

    Good day!

    Christopher R. Carlen
    Principal Laser&Electronics Technologist
    Sandia National Laboratories CA USA

    NOTE, delete texts: "RemoveThis" and
    "BOGUS" from email address to reply.
  14. Guest

  15. Tim Shoppa

    Tim Shoppa Guest

    Step drills are great, yeah, but I personally find it more satisfying
    to use a good punch.

    Especially for those rectangular and square holes!

    But some people really like making bazillions of little aluminum chips
    (not too mention when the drill grabs your 19 inch chassis and starts
    spinning it around on the drill press) and I'll let them use their step
    drills all they want.

    Nibblers are great for those holes that aren't round, too!

  16. I thought that you would have a CNC laser( borrowed from work) at home

    Nice to see you posting here again

  17. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    You've already got WAY more equipment than you need for a starter lab. :)

    Instead of buying more equipment, I'd say to look into the workspace.
    Where will the lab be? What kind of workbench? Shelves? Storage? Lighting?

    And a minimal sat of hand tools would be a whole set of screwdrivers,
    a utility pliers and a needle-nose pliers, maybe two different sizes,
    a large and small diagonal cutter - a precision dikes is way cool for
    doing snazzy perfboard work - soldering iron, magnifier, third-hand,
    static-dissipative surface, an outlet strip or three, and so on and
    so on and so on...

    Have Fun!
  18. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Hello Chris,
    It depends. My first car (Citroen 2CV) had a 6V system and tons of
    electrical problems. Then I soldered all those crimp connections and the
    grand total of electrical faults over 6 years was zero. By then the car
    had become unroadworthy as determined at the mandatory German TUEV check-up.

    Of course, I wouldn't have done that with RoHS solder :)
  19. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    One word: Nibbler.

  20. tlbs101

    tlbs101 Guest


    Sounds like a nice setup so far. I wish I had that kind of dad when I
    was growing up.

    I agree with most all the suggestions above.

    My additional 2 cents: Buy an anti-static mat for your bench or
    table-top, and a couple of wrist straps -- not so much for the
    high-power tesla-coil-type experiments, but for the smaller stuff
    later-on. You'll save you and your kid hours of head-scratching when
    something doesn't work correctly, and it turns out to be a zapped input
    on an IC.

    Good Luck,
    I hope your son gets "in" to it.

Ask a Question
Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?
You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.
Electronics Point Logo
Continue to site
Quote of the day