# Beginning Electronics Tools

#### Kalagaraz

Joined Sep 18, 2010
6
So I'm looking for some tools and stuff for a good start on an electronics lab setup. I kicked my family out of my dining room ready to set it up as a place for me to learn electronics. I do want an oscilloscope, but I want the kind that hooks into PC as they are a bit cheaper. Does anyone know a good one that has a decent number of channels? I'd like one that hooks in via a serial port or something for my laptop, not a sound card version.

#### loosewire

Joined Apr 25, 2008
1,686
meter with pointer that measures resistance accurate.Not
cheap,not expenstive.

Joined Jun 1, 2009
499
A decent analog meter can actually be superior to a digital one in many respects, mainly because they're constantly updated by the signal, most cheap digital meters have a horrendously low refresh rate. You can see signals on an analog meter that would look like random numbers on a digital one.

#### Jaguarjoe

Joined Apr 7, 2010
767
If I only had $300 to play with, a VOM would be on the very bottom of my wish list. I haven't used, or needed to use, a VOM since the mid 80's. A nice used one acquired very cheaply, like off eBay, might change my mind but it is still of limited use. #### Kermit2 Joined Feb 5, 2010 4,162 You should get a meter. I use one everyday, multiple times a day. I would be crippled without one. If you get a soldering iron and a breadboard kit, you WILL need a meter. It's like an auto mechanic who says he doesn't need a tool box. #### Nik Joined May 20, 2006 55 Playing around with transistors and solderless breadboards, perhaps working through on-line tutorials, you may find you need two (2) DVM / VOM, typically to measure and compare base and emitter / collector currents. So, budget for *at least* two 'cheap and cheerful' meters instead of one. You may have to make up extra leads to allow you to go straight from DVM or scope into breadboard's ~0.8mm holes. Some pins, heat-shrink, silicone sheathed super-flexible wire and 4mm plugs should do the trick. I do recommend you get a loupe or stamp-inspector magnifier to see component markings. Also, get a soldering 'helping hand', preferably with twin clips and a 85~90mm diam lens. Uh, a USB 'scope may eat most of your budget in one bite. #### Kermit2 Joined Feb 5, 2010 4,162 Scopes are a bonus, but a meter is a must. #### sceadwian Joined Jun 1, 2009 499 Jaguar, what do you do that doesn't require the use of a basic meter? I don't care if it's a 5 dollar meter or a 500 dollar one everyone needs a basic meter. Breadboard are good and will let you play but you'll find their limitations soon enough, a soldering iron would be next. Other than that a basic set of plyers and wire cutters help. One decent wire stripper is good too, but when I say decent I don't mean expensive, the on I have cost about 5 bucks. I have three meters, one was a gift, the other was 60 bucks, and the third was 5 bucks. I've found one commonality between them, they are very useful. If I knew now what I'd known then I'd rather have 2-3 5 dollar meters than the 60 dollar meter. I've had to use the extra features it has so few times (and I could have done what I needed at the time without those features) that the basic VOM is an essential tool. Last edited: #### marshallf3 Joined Jul 26, 2010 2,358 They aren't showing them on the website but they may still have some to get rid of. I bought a Tektronix 2245 scope in great shape & calibration for$167.50 from http://www.techrecovery.com

Look up the specs and specifics, these were considered to be one of the best they ever made before they went digital. It's ony rated for 100 MHz but so long as accuracy isn't a necessity it will easily display 400 MHz waveforms. I have better things to do with my PCs than use them for scopes.

No probes but they can be bought cheap on eBay or about anywhere. I just bought a Hitachi probe from them when I bought the scope.

I'm sure you've covered the basic hand tools and we all agree that the $2 HF meter is a bargain and surprisingly accurate as a starter, for the next step up I'd look around that multimeter website someone posted a while back. In mid-price I'm somewhat partial to B&K. You'll find that PATIENCE and eBay can be your friend on a lot of things. Just missed out on a nice 400 MHz frequency counter the other day that went for something like$14, keep your eyes out for a cheap signal generator too. DO NOT fall into a bidding war on eBay, unless it's a rarity the same or similar will show back up within a week or two.

You'll also want a power supply, two or a dual output model can be handy.

Craigslist occasionally has stuff people find in their dad's garage they haven't a clue as to the value and you can score there at times too. You might also look up when the next "Hamfest" is coming up near you, and don't rule out any surplus stores, especially if your state has one or an occasional auction as ours does and if you call around to auction companies some may know when an old TV shop is closing. If you ever get lucky enough to fall into one of those you'll find few bidders and a veritable bonanza of test equipment and especially parts - sometimes entire bin boxes already sorted out into values.

Finding someone else that has the same hobby will often lead you to bargain places as well.

#### prb22786

Joined Sep 19, 2010
15
As far as components goes, I'm a big fan of DigiKey (www.digikey.com). They also carry tools. If you're just starting out in electronics, I wouldn't get an O-scope. I've had one for 3-4 years now, and I've used it maybe three times, and that was as a logic probe.

I'm surprised no one mentioned wiring. For breadboarding, you want to get some 22 AWG PVC solid core. My favorite tool is my soldering iron, but my second favorite is a good pair of wire strippers. I tend to spend my money on strippers and cutters, they'll last forever if you get good ones.