Does anyone have 'Build Your Own Electronics Workshop'?

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I am looking to build a bench. The mechanical parts are easy but I need to populate the surface with expensive boxes the go 'beep'. If next week's lottery comes through I can buy everything I want but I want a backup plan in the case my funds continue to be limited. What I am trying to do is build a basic electronics bench for hobby class projects.

I found this book on Amazon's site a couple of days ago. The customer reviews (both of them) seem positive and the preview on Google books looks good from my neophyte eyes.

So the question is does the greater Freak collective have an opinion on this book? Should I look elsewhere?

Links repeated so they are visible.
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Build-Electronics-Workshop-Technician-Library/dp/0071447245
Google: http://books.google.com/books?id=r3ukOOl16Y4C

You can have my mac when you pry my cold dead fingers off of it.

Kevin McEnhill -- mcenhillk@gmail.com

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Ok, if I get you right, you want a guide for buying or building test and measurement equipment? It is not about building a nice wodden bench?

If it is about the test and measurement equipment, from the book excerpts I don't think the book cuts it. Pictures of how some equipment looks like, some few words how it works, and a few DIY projects (frequency counter with a *cough*PIC*couch*). Well, no.

You need:

  • Mechanical tools (screwdrivers, pliers, small saw, drills, etc.) Didn't see that mentioned in the book's TOC.
  • Viewing tools (good lamp, magnifying glass). Didn't see that mentioned, either.
  • Soldering equipment. Didn't see that mentioned, either.
  • Power supply.
  • Multimeter. An expensive bench multimeter, if you can afford it. A second, cheap Chinese toy, can be helpful, too.
From there on it very much depends on what you want to do. Oh, wait an
  • Oscilloscope
is usually the next on the must-have list, although some people mainly working in the digital realm would go for a
  • Logic analyser
if they have to make the choice between an oscilloscope and an LA.

Frequency counter, continuity tester, function generator, clamp amp meter, TV signal generator? All nice if you are into a particular line of work, and totally useless in other areas. And often you already have tools to substitute them. E.g. many of the expensive bench multimeters can do some frequency counting, the oscilloscope can be used to measure frequencies, too.

Stealing Proteus doesn't make you an engineer.

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It is possible to build some of the elektrinik test equipment yourself, but many parts are relatively cheap to buy. And evene the cheap chineese quality is often better and safer than the selfmade versions.

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For self made stuff I'd go for: Frequency counter, simple function generator (or a complex DDS ;-) ), power supply, soldering iron regulator.

As for the other stuff (multimeter, oscilloscope, log. analyzer etc) it would be IMHO better to buy that stuff. The cost of buying a good multimeter would be half of what you'd pay for making a device with the same features.

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I would recomment getting the simple logic probe regardless of if you get scope(s) and/or LA(s). For me it has proved invaluable for checking out circuitry, looking for signal activity etc. It's cheap, its easy to set up and handle, it fints in your pocket when travelling etc...

Examples:
http://buy.maplin.co.uk/Free_UK_...
http://bkprecision.com/www/np_se...
http://www.elexp.com/tst_610b.htm
These are just just examples, not recommendations for those specific products, although the last one looks an awful lot like the one I have and am very pleased with.

The art of selecting a good scope has been up here several times, so do a search. AFAIR there has been no consensus to eg. a DSOs v/s analogue scopes. It will depend on what kind of work you will do. If the answer is "everything" then I guess you need (at least) two scopes. That said, I have managed without a scope for over 10 years, but have always missed a logical analyzer (working on that right now).

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Getting an older analog scope won't cost much money. You can do alot of stuff with a 20-40MHz which you can get for practically nothing but if you shop around you can find a decent 100MHz fo little money too.

First on the list would IMHO be a good multimeter. Getting one that does frequency counting and measures capacitors is not much more expensive than one that does not...

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I really think ArnoldB nailed the requirements from "start" to "Finish"!!

John

Just some guy

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Thanks for the comments folks. Your thoughts mostly line up with what I was thinking. It is nice to confirm that one isn't lost in left field or if one is at least there will be company.

I am planning on starting with a Fluke 115 Multimeter and a hacked computer power supply to replace the Radio Hack POS multimeter and 9V batteries. The plan from there is to either pickup a factory refurbished Textronics scope or possibly a Bitscope. I will let my projects dictate what I get next.

The logic probe that JohanEkdahl mentioned sounds interesting. I assumed those were logic analyzer probes. The price seems much cheaper than the scope so I will be looking at picking one of those up soon.

Thanks.

You can have my mac when you pry my cold dead fingers off of it.

Kevin McEnhill -- mcenhillk@gmail.com

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Back in college, I used to love using logic probes. Recently, I visited my local electronics store (Gateway in STL) searching for one and they laughed at me! These probes are not as common as they once were but, are still invaluable in the right hands. I ended up purchasing a small probe "kit" for 18.95 USD

John

Just some guy

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I bought this Continental Specialties logic probe back in 1975. It was a valuable asset back then, and for many years following. I don't use it much anymore, but it does come in handy once in a while for catching the elusive glitch.

At the time, it was a "High Dollar " item - about $100.00US.

And we complain today, about the cost of $35.00US for an ATAVRISP-MK2. The technology in that logic probe is a couple of analog comparators and a couple of TTL logic gates and a couple of LED's - which were the "NewFangled " item of the day.

The ATAVRISP-MK2 would have cost several thousand dollars back in 1975.

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I had dreams of the workshop I would build when I got older. It would have a shelf above the bench with all sorts of test equipment and radios. Sometimes I would fall asleep rearranging the equipment and plugging stuff in in my imagination. It would not be in a shed at the bottom of the garden with sawdust that needed clearing before starting. It would be impressive (to me).

Now, I will settle for a clear desk, good power, good light, good hand tools, quietness, and an oscilloscope. The rest can be borrowed or found at work.

Edit: and an antistatic mat.

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mcenhillk wrote:
a hacked computer power supply
That is IMHO not a good choice. The +12V and -12V regulation of these is usually not very good. Some don't start up without a minimum load. There is no current limit to speak of. Well, at least not in the range needed for µC work. A limit at 10A or 20A is a tad to high. I would avoid them.

The market is currently flooded with cheap chinese-made bench power supplies. Often the same model is sold under many different fantasy brand names and numbers. They aren't as good as real lab bench supplies from reputable brands, but they are IMHO still much better than a hacked PC power supply.

Hey, even a wall wart and a couple of 78xx regulators is IMHO better than a PC power supply.

Quote:
The plan from there is to either pickup a factory refurbished Textronics scope or possibly a Bitscope.

Go with a Tek.

Quote:
The logic probe that JohanEkdahl mentioned sounds interesting. I assumed those were logic analyzer probes.
A logic probe and a logic analyzer are two different things. A logic probe just measures a single digital signal level and event.

A logic probe is something you can build, e.g. with an AVR at heart. And with the AVR you can add some additional features. It is a nice project.

Building an own logic analyzer is a completely different thing. This is a low-end logic analyzer which is often recommended here: http://www.pctestinstruments.com...

Stealing Proteus doesn't make you an engineer.

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Regarding the book mentioned by the OP. Did you check your local library? Mine has two copies and I think I'll check out the book and take a look for myself. You can always purchase it if you decide it will be useful to have around.

If your local library doesn't have a copy they can often borrow one from another library through Inter-Library Loan, visit the circulation desk for help with that.

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Yeah, I thought of that but I will not be home for another couple of months. The one library I have found locally didn't have it. I am still looking though. San Antonio is a big town, it has to be in a library or book store somewhere.

You can have my mac when you pry my cold dead fingers off of it.

Kevin McEnhill -- mcenhillk@gmail.com

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A PC power supply makes for a very nice power supply IMHO, but it does indeed need some more circuitry... I have made myself a small daughterboard with a TPS63000, TPS63001 and TPS63002 DC-DC converters, one 7809, a couple of caps and resistors, that gives me 3.3v, 5v, 9v, and one variable supply 1.8v-5.5v... They are all current limited to 1A simultaneously, and have ample filtering on board...

EDIT: I have the board mounted on brackets in the back of a 5 1/4 floppy slot cover on my PC, it connect with a regular hard disk power connector, and has banana plug sticking out... My PC is on my workbench...