The ULTIMATE workbench

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Bear_2759, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. Bear_2759

    Thread Starter Active Member

    May 23, 2008
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    Tell me guys, what gear would you have in/on your ultimate workbench?
    I've just been given a 1.8mx1.8m office desk (brand new) and plan on building a divider like wall at the back of it (both sides) with all sorts of gear built in. e.g. a range of different voltage supplies ac and dc, fuses on the front that can easily be changed, exhaust fan to suck those nasty fumes away that I've had up my nose a few times, handy circuits like frequency generator, a few meters and other stuff, a 17 inch touch screen hooked up to a PC mounted on the underside of the desk. the PC I'll use as my oscilliscope as I've only ever made low voltage/amperage dc gear. there'll be some component storage space too. so what would you guys have? I need ideas?
     
  2. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
    4,769
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    A fridge to keep the BEER cold...
     
  3. marshallf3

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2010
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    I've found that space (including storage space) is always a priority so build as large as you can and don't worry about adding shelves all the way to the ceiling if feasable.

    I also like to keep an old (but still useable) 12V battery under the bench with a trickle charger on it and (fused) binding posts up top. There are times you'll appreciate the extra current capability and the 12V will always be so without having to fiddle with power supply knobs. This could be expanded by adding a switch and some 78xx regulators so you've got quick access to common voltages from a small plate that takes up very little real estate.

    I've also got some Avery templates worked up to label the Stack-On series of storage drawers and I'll share them some day when I figure out how to upload files here.
     
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  4. kingdano

    Member

    Apr 14, 2010
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    1. OScope - not a PC based one just in case.
    2. Function generators - 2 preferrably
    3. A triple output power supply, for +/-20 and constant 5VDC (for op amp rails)
    4. a logic analyzer module
    5. solderless breadboard/wire
    6. pc
    7. basic toolbox - screwdrivers, hammer, saws, files clamps, drill etc
    8. soldering iron/solder/flux
    9. wire of gauges from 14 - 30
    10. boxes of connectors and discrete components, well organized.
    11. a uC module (dev kit or similar)
    12. an FPGA module (dev kit)
    13. access to various line voltages
    14. air compressor
    15. cleaning supplies
    16. proper ventilation



    good start?
     
  5. tom66

    Senior Member

    May 9, 2009
    2,613
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    My bench has;

    1.) A digitising oscilloscope (HP 54501A) A 1988 model, capable of 100 MHz (generally this is about the maximum I think I'll ever need) works good as new and was a bargain at £150.
    2.) A laptop, which is also my main computer.
    3.) A desktop computer. Used as a TV monitor and for its ATX power supply. Also powers a small computer fan which keeps air flowing in the room which makes everything better. A Compaq machine I got for next to nothing. (I have two more... long story.)
    4.) A cheap auto-ranging multimeter.

    I have found this is about enough for me.

    Soon, I will be building a few power supplies and probably getting a basic function generator.
     
  6. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
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    This one ?
     
  7. kingdano

    Member

    Apr 14, 2010
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    i laughed.


    that was pretty funny.

    sick setup though!
     
  8. Bear_2759

    Thread Starter Active Member

    May 23, 2008
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    ha, nice one.
    thanks guys, good start, I'm an IT guy so I have plenty of spare PC's that I don't mind if they blow up so using one of those as my o-scope to begin with will do as I can't afford a real one:(
    I might have to look into some of those things as I'm a bit of a noob still and don't know what half of them are:rolleyes:.
    keep the suggestions coming, I'm putting the desk itself together today...
     
  9. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
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    Here you can hear Dave from EEV blog ranting about what kind of scope a beginner should get. http://www.eevblog.com/2010/05/11/eevblog-86-buy-a-real-analog-oscilloscope-please/
    I do not like all the stuff from Dave. But he is into something here
     
  10. Bear_2759

    Thread Starter Active Member

    May 23, 2008
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    looks like an old analogue o-scope is the go then, I've setup the desk and started moving in. will slow down now though as I don't have any storage on the desk yet other than the little I already had.
    so Dave's an Aussie? I recognise some of the stuff he was driving past. lol.
    first project I'll (hopefully) be completing is repairing a 42" LCD. no power and out of warranty. I've pulled it appart, replaced some popped caps on the power board but still no power. but that's for another post. then it'll be an LED grow light. exciting times having a dedicated electronics workbench.

    @mcgyvr: I have got a little bar fridge, that now you've mentioned it will fit perfectly. ;)
     
  11. marshallf3

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2010
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    Allow me to let you in on a secret. If they still have any you can pick up a really nice condition Tektronix 2465 for less than $200 from http://www.techrecovery.com/

    It isn't the A or B model but far more than sufficient for the average experimenter. I bought one several months back for $167.50 + shipping. The pots and switches have a tiny bit of noise in them but not enough to affect operation. It was in good calibration, the CRT is bright and in sharp focus - I use it often.

    Quite honestly I work mostly in analog and low frequency RF so nothing is complicated enough that I'd need a digital storage scope. Even though this isn't the A or B model it still cheerily displays signals above 500 MHz, just not as accurate in the voltage display up there as it is when used under its normal operating design range of 300 MHz.

    I also like the reference lines, you can position one on the top peak of a waveform and the other on the bottom peak and it will display the voltage between the two points as numeric at the bottom of the display - likewise it will do that with time periods for the horizontal plane as well. I think it was the last of their premium analog scopes.

    You have to call the company and ask for the best price on one, mention that a friend picked one up for $167.50 a while back and see if they'll match the deal. Telling them you're a starving student never hurts either. :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2010
  12. hspalm

    Active Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    201
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    I have the Rigol ds1052e that Dave is talking about, and if you're about to use 200-300 usd on a scope I would definitely recommend you add a couple of bucks to get this. Shouldn't cost you more than 360 usd. So easy, so neat, so lightweight. I am still a beginner in electronics, but I do find my scope very usefull at times. I remember the times where I only had my digital multimeter and I saw the voltages flimmering on the screen I was thinking "geee, what if I had a scope now and I could really see what is going on". So worth the investment.

    This far my workbench contains
    One bench digital multimeter with BIG screen, nice and sturdy
    One 20v 2A dc power supply
    One 3-12v dc power supply
    One regulated soldering workstation
    A computer with stationary screen right beside my equipment, great for fast access to datasheets and circuit design software (and of course this forum)
    My oscilloscope
    A three-dimensional clamp-jaw thing (don't know what its called) for soldering.
    Some bits-boxes, and some other things that I use for the mechanical part of projects.

    What I wish for is
    Function generator
    More tools for the hardware fabrication part. Like some sort of CNC mill or laser cutter would be nice!
     
  13. tom66

    Senior Member

    May 9, 2009
    2,613
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    I picked up my HP 54501A for £150 from a local brick and mortar store about 10 miles away from me. It was well worth it, the only issue you could have with it is that there is only one jog dial not separate dials for the individual channels/trigger/etc, so you have to navigate menus, oh and it's a bit noisy (has a fan) in operation. The store also sent me a free photocopy of the entire manual (including the HP-IB interface.) I recommend you look around your neighbourhood.
     
  14. Bear_2759

    Thread Starter Active Member

    May 23, 2008
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    hey are any o-scope's rack mountable? the reason I ask is I have a nice neat little rack that will go next to my work bench now that I think of it. having equipment in there rather than on the desk would be real handy.
     
  15. tom66

    Senior Member

    May 9, 2009
    2,613
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    Some can be rack mounted. Often, that is an option that is available when you buy the 'scope, or comes with a second hand scope. You may also be able to find a rack mount on the 'net.
     
  16. kingdano

    Member

    Apr 14, 2010
    377
    19
    the soldering mount is called a panavise.
     
  17. marshallf3

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2010
    2,358
    201
    I do like this supplier.

    http://cgi.ebay.com/5V-5A-DC-Univer...=220647344283&ps=63&clkid=6502558846664936364

    He's also got several diffferent voltage models as well and a ton of other stuff, Free shipping on virtually everything only takes about 10 days to get here from China. Everything I've ever bought from him has been good quality stuff.

    If I didn't have so many good variable voltage with current limiting supplies already I'd probably spring for his +24V one, add some 78xx fixed and an LM317 adjustable, a pair of those $1.99 digital meter movements and put it all in a suitable case. Shoot, at this price you could afford to get two and have + & - sources.
     
  18. Nik

    Well-Known Member

    May 20, 2006
    55
    3
    Stand loupe 'stamp inspector' (50mm) approx 7x for reading chips, checking circuit boards etc etc. Probably the only way to be sure of colour-code markings on sub-Watt resistors if you suffer from middle-age-eyetis.

    A 5-inch hand magnifier for the bigger view.

    'Helping hands' soldering stand with magnifier, 90mm rather than mini 50 mm.

    You may prefer head-band mounted magnifiers, perhaps with LED torch. I found they didn't like soldering irons...

    Circuit-board holder if you expect to work on stuff bigger than palm of hand.

    A second soldering iron: IMHO, one has small cone-tip for precision, other has a flat-tip for better heat transfer.

    Small soldering tools such as scrapers and scribes. Don't forget de-soldering pump and braid wick.

    Several shallow metal trays for small widgets. I found a set of four S/steel hob covers at local thrift store for approx £ 4. If your work-top is metal and grounded, this protection extends to the trays. Otherwise easy enough to rig a grounding wire via croc-clip to tray's M4/M5 bolt...

    Unless your DVM has the options, include both a Peak Atlas(PA) transistor tester and a PA LCR components tester. Though expensive, these are pocket-sized and very versatile. http://www.peakelec.co.uk/

    A white LED or CF work-lamp that's bright enough to see what you've done, and cool enough not to scorch your hair.

    Several cheap 'n' cheerful mini-DVMs for routine use which you can consider 'expendable'. You rarely need the precision and accuracy of an expensive meter, best kept in reserve.

    Uh, if either my RS-232 or USB link DVMs' software was worth having, I'd suggest considering the option. ;-(I really could do with the interface working well, because I plan to collect enough data to graph out the Early voltage on a bunch of opto-couplers...)
     
  19. hspalm

    Active Member

    Feb 17, 2010
    201
    8
    Do any of you use these grounding wrist-bands?
     
  20. marshallf3

    Well-Known Member

    Jul 26, 2010
    2,358
    201
    On occasion, if it's an expensive IC or if it's the middle of winter with low humidity and the static electricity level is high.

    Then again I'm a daredevil. You could be fired for doing without on some jobs, expecially because ESD sometimes doesn't show up right away. A component can be damaged and not fail until weeks later.
     
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