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Mini Tools

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by razeksk, Apr 23, 2013.

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  1. razeksk


    Apr 23, 2013

    Check out these tools I made. I designed these circuit debugging tools because I have all these simple needs to switch, drive, amplify, buffer, toggle, and level translate electric signals, but I never had tools that were convenient enough to help me. So I made some! Check them out:


    Here's what I have so far:

    • H-Bridge Driver
    • Level Translator
    • ~20A N-Channel FET
    • ~17A P-Channel FET (with integrated N-Channel gate drive circuitry)
    • Precision Instrumentation Amplifier with customizable precision gain and precision 2.5V virtual ground for positive and negative inputs
    • Push button and toggle switch
    • Push button with schmitt trigger output
    • 40AMP 110/220VAC relay
    • Triac with heatsink and integrated zero crossing opto-islated driver
    • High Voltage bi-directional voltage detector
    • Microcontroller programmer protector: 5V accidental over-voltage auto-clamp (3 Amp current shunt)

    I'm thinking about offering these as kits for beginners and professionals to use for debugging. They can also be used as standalone minitools that can be used like LEGOs (tm) to build complete designs. What do you guys think?

    I am open to making more if you guys think there is something missing from my list.

  2. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    There's probably a market for them if you make the effort to try that.
  3. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    For the low voltage ones, it may be useful to put pins on one end so you can mount them on a breadboard.
  4. razeksk


    Apr 23, 2013
    Hello (*steve*),

    Would you (as a user) mind soldering the pins yourself if I provided the 0.1" post through hole pads?
  5. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    No, i wouldn't. And if I didn't want to use it on a breadboard I wouldn't have to solder the pins in. I might even solder wires to the board. It would add flexibility.

    For your mosfet board, it would be very useful to have integrated protection for the gate. This may be as simple as a pair of back to back zeners between gate and source. I think this is important if you target this to beginners who might otherwise zap the gate in short order.

    I see 2 main uses for this sort of thing.

    Firstly it provides a way for beginners to use surface mount components that are otherwise beyond their skill level to solder. For this, the board needs to arrive with the surface mount stuff populated! There are lots of breakout boards available (look on ebay) but there are still some quite common components that are not often available on breakout boards or in through-hole components (I'm thinking of some low voltage, high current mosfets). For these, an integrated gate driver is probably a must.

    The other use is for people who are comfortable soldering surface mount but would like to breadboard things without needing to make their own breakout boards. There are already lots of boards which "convert" SO outlines to DIL etc., and I have a small collection of these that I use to mount components for breadboarding. However there are often packages where I need to make my own boards. In these cases, having them unpopulated is obviously a good thing.

    As I was typing the above 2, I thought of my nephew who is has receives a small "electronics kit" (one of those that you connect components using flying wires and springs). I guess you could also appeal to people at that level, providing extra building blocks. However you would need to provide simple instructions and wiring diagrams -- essentially sample projects. You would also probably need to extensively protect the inputs and perhaps add a clear conformal coating to help reduce the risk of shorts. Perhaps for this you can also use pins for the connections which allows point to point wiring via the fairly cheaply available connection wires.

    I think there are some good ideas in what you've done, and possibly a few niche markets for them. In the end it comes down to price and the inevitable fact that if you're successful enough, the Chinese will make even cheaper replicas. If you can provide something "extra" that cheap copies don't give you, then you can retain an advantage.
  6. razeksk


    Apr 23, 2013
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