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Author Topic: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?  (Read 7830 times)

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Offline TheBorg

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What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« on: December 03, 2013, 03:50:40 PM »
This problem has been annoying me for a while, just because I'm a bit anxious and I know what is going to happen. In less than two years, I will head off to college (university for the rest of the world), probably to get a degree in some form of ME/EE/electronics. Most of the schools I am looking at force you to stay in the dorms for at least the first year.

Which leads to my question- where am I going to put all my crap? How can I continue to work with electronics? I probably can't do it in the dorms, even with a scaled back lab due to safety reasons and a roommate. That, and most of the dorms I've seen are the size of a postage stamp. I don't want to totally go cold turkey with my projects (I like my soldering iron!). Is there anyone who has been in my position? How did you solve it?
To me, the solution seems to be either rent out some space somewhere, or try to get in at the electronics lab and use their stuff. Thing is, I'm already pretty far into building my own lab and I love having "my" own equipment. I already have a hot air rework station, power converters, and am working on getting a decent lab power supply, an oscilloscope, better soldering iron, and better multimeters, etc soon.

 :scared:

What to do?
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Offline Rory

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2013, 03:55:19 PM »
Are you bound for U of I?
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2013, 04:08:00 PM »
I think you might have to learn to live without "your" equipment for a while. Particularly the soldering iron... Try to get permission to work in a school lab, and maybe have on hand some basic and small items for simple testing and whatnot in the dorm. DMM, maybe a small scope if you can afford it, and a small power supply.
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Offline NiHaoMike

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2013, 04:13:51 PM »
Most of the stuff is not going to be an issue. To be on the safe side, do your soldering outdoors (or near an open window with a fan blowing out) to avoid bad smell complaints or accidentally setting off the fire alarm. You'll also want a relatively small isolation transformer (or a larger isolation transformer with a light bulb limiter) if you work on mains operated DUTs not only for safety but also because it's a pain if you accidentally trip a breaker.

Keep in mind that Dave's original lab was pretty tiny. (Forgot just how much but I'd imagine even a dorm room would be bigger.) If you can, elevate your bed in order to get more space underneath for storage. If you have a huge collection of parts and equipment, you will have to be selective but you'll be surprised how little you actually use on a regular basis. Stack equipment where it makes sense.

Offline c4757p

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2013, 04:24:07 PM »
When I lived in dorms, they would have had a fit if they found me using a soldering iron... They were ridiculously picky about anything that could ever remotely be called a fire hazard. I wasn't doing much with electronics at the time, but friends who were found the school labs quite accomodating once they befriended a few instructors.

Then, when I moved into an on-campus apartment, I just had to make sure I didn't have any dishes on the stove during the monthly safety inspection. :-+ And plenty of room for a workbench, of course.

I guess it really depends on where you are.
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Offline smashedProton

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2013, 04:29:01 PM »
Which college are you going to? Im in the exact same situation here.  Im going to go to WSU, maybe transfer somewhere better after I get on research.
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Offline TheBorg

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2013, 04:47:43 PM »
Are you bound for U of I?
Likely, aiming for Cal-Tech but I have a sister up at U of I. Depends on what scholarships I can pull off :D but yes, U of I is very likely.

Which college are you going to? Im in the exact same situation here.  Im going to go to WSU, maybe transfer somewhere better after I get on research.
Undecided yet, I have another year to choose. Looking at Cal-Tech or University of Idaho. Isn't WSU ridiculously close to U of I? I've driven through it if its the one in Pullman. I think I can actually get in-state tuition as well, since its so close to Idaho :D

I think you might have to learn to live without "your" equipment for a while. Particularly the soldering iron... Try to get permission to work in a school lab, and maybe have on hand some basic and small items for simple testing and whatnot in the dorm. DMM, maybe a small scope if you can afford it, and a small power supply.

Pretty much sums up what I would likely end up doing. I know at U of I they don't even allow toasters on the dorms because they are a fire hazard (I do know that they keep one in the bathroom on one of the floors  ::) ).

Soldering iron is my main concern, and is quite a safety hazard, combined with flux, leaded solder, and fumes. I suppose it will only be a year or so if I decide to move to an apartment second year.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2013, 04:55:59 PM by TheBorg »
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Offline NiHaoMike

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2013, 04:57:40 PM »
Put all of the soldering stuff in a box (for easy carrying) and only use it outdoors. Use (good quality) lead free solder if you like but the leaded stuff isn't that bad.

Offline c4757p

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2013, 05:00:06 PM »
Let me just say that not allowing toasters is a good thing. I know a girl who managed to evacuate an entire seven story dorm building by attempting to microwave popcorn. God, college kids and kitchen appliances do not mix. :-DD :-BROKE
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Offline Phaedrus

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2013, 05:07:52 PM »
Parents exist for a reason, and so do their closets. Store your kit at their place, and retrieve it when you have the room for it. Make sure to keep it in easy-to-carry boxes in case they move, and make sure they know it's expensive and dear to you so it doesn't get tossed, dropped, or lost.

Good luck at college; prepare for an endless of parade of blind panicked course work mixed with interminable boredom; and try to figure out when you should be in each mode. Also, shower.
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Offline sleemanj

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2013, 05:19:02 PM »
Most of the schools I am looking at force you to stay in the dorms for at least the first year.

Wait... wut?  Is this a US thing?  You literally can not attend the school unless you live in their facilities?

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Offline marshallh

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2013, 05:30:16 PM »
I soldered and dremeled in my dorm all the time... Even built up guns in it (this is the midwest)
If they complain and decide to kick you out (after you reminding them of the large sums of money you are throwing at them), you get to find a bigger apt or room inside a house where you can have privacy and do what you want.
If you love tinkering and building stuff you will not enjoy your time at college... unless you can somehow channel that energy towards "projects" that are for a class, which are usually never what you want to do.
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Offline apelly

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Offline EEVblog

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2013, 06:48:13 PM »
Most of the schools I am looking at force you to stay in the dorms for at least the first year.

Force you to stay there? Really? How can they possibly do that?

Quote
Which leads to my question- where am I going to put all my crap? How can I continue to work with electronics? I probably can't do it in the dorms, even with a scaled back lab due to safety reasons and a roommate. That, and most of the dorms I've seen are the size of a postage stamp. I don't want to totally go cold turkey with my projects (I like my soldering iron!). Is there anyone who has been in my position? How did you solve it?

There is often space under the bed that is wasted...
 

Offline Gath

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2013, 07:52:47 PM »
Which leads to my question- where am I going to put all my crap? How can I continue to work with electronics?
Try and store it somewhere, a big box or two should do the trick. Don't you have an acquaintance who could keep your 'crap' in his her attic while waiting for you to get a bigger room.

In order to keep on working on electronics as a freshman, I think a good solution would be to check if there aren't any students group doing some hacking, robotics, ... I mean, every university/college I know at least has a small room somewhere in an obscure basement where student gather and build stuff. This is also a good opportunity to get together with others ;) ... and eventually store your gear if you become a regular :o
 

Online AndyC_772

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2013, 08:32:23 PM »
You're making a classic mistake for someone about to go to university for the first time.

You're assuming that you'll still have the time, the energy or the desire to carry on doing the same stuff you've been doing in your pre-university life. You won't... or at least, if you do, you're missing out on a huge range of opportunities which you'll never have again. Don't waste them.

If you're studying electronics, you'll have more than enough of it with your course material. When you finish work at 11pm you'll be ready to call it a night, not stay up soldering some gizmo together for fun. You'll be out with friends, playing sports, running a club, getting involved in student politics... anything but even more electronics.
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2013, 10:52:49 PM »
Most of the schools I am looking at force you to stay in the dorms for at least the first year.

Force you to stay there? Really? How can they possibly do that?

By not allowing you to attend otherwise? I suppose you could probably commute to school, as I do, but usually dorms are the only choice of campus housing for freshmen. My previous school explained it like this: way too many freshmen, now that they just left high school, are convinced they need a car, an apartment, etc. This ends up being a huge expense for them. So the school requires them to at least try going without these things for a year. No cars, no campus apartments for freshmen.

If you're studying electronics, you'll have more than enough of it with your course material. When you finish work at 11pm you'll be ready to call it a night, not stay up soldering some gizmo together for fun. You'll be out with friends, playing sports, running a club, getting involved in student politics... anything but even more electronics.

It's hardly the worst he could do. Enough people waste their college days in a drunken stupor... yeah, he could do those things, or he could do something else he is passionate about (and learn more than the school teaches). Different people like different things.
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Offline dr.diesel

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2013, 11:04:31 PM »
What to do?

I kept my DMM, TDS220, Soldering gun and a few others while I lived on campus.

Most schools only require the first year on campus if you're not a local resident.  You could always change your address a year or two before you get there, use your sister's etc.

Don't be afraid of the dorms though, it's a good experience.  Lots of fun running around naked when your roommate takes your towel and clothes from the community shower, or getting a trash can of freezing cold water tossed on you while showering, or sitting on the toilet.

Or setting the entire building fire alarm off cooking Mac & Cheese.    :palm:
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2013, 11:25:23 PM »
By not allowing you to attend otherwise? I suppose you could probably commute to school, as I do, but usually dorms are the only choice of campus housing for freshmen. My previous school explained it like this: way too many freshmen, now that they just left high school, are convinced they need a car, an apartment, etc. This ends up being a huge expense for them. So the school requires them to at least try going without these things for a year. No cars, no campus apartments for freshmen.

I still don't get it. WTF does a university care where you live and what you spend your money on?
Will any university seriously force you to live on campus, otherwise you can't enroll and study there? I can't believe this is the case anywhere.

Quote
It's hardly the worst he could do. Enough people waste their college days in a drunken stupor... yeah, he could do those things, or he could do something else he is passionate about (and learn more than the school teaches). Different people like different things.

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Offline JohnnyGringo

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #19 on: December 03, 2013, 11:26:09 PM »
  +1 Pack it up for your first few semesters. Besides all the good reasons previously mentioned (space-time) 50-80% of students will change their intended major after the first year.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2013, 11:30:07 PM by JohnnyGringo »
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Offline dr.diesel

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #20 on: December 03, 2013, 11:33:25 PM »
WTF does a university care where you live and what you spend your money on?
Will any university seriously force you to live on campus, otherwise you can't enroll and study there?

Yes, most state funded 4 year universities do, unless you already live locally, ie from that state or county.

I was from Illinois (I still hold this against my parents), went to school in Indiana, was forced to live on campus for the first year even though my Grandparents lived in the same town as the University for 40 years.  I was hoping to live with them, which I did do after the first year.
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Offline SLJ

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2013, 12:11:55 AM »
Many Collages/Universities in the US require you to live on campus for the first year if you are under age. (I think under 21).  If you haven't died after the first year they figure you are now experienced enough to live on your own.   :-DD

Offline Rory

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2013, 12:26:35 AM »
Both WSU and U of I have amateur radio clubs. If anything, someone in that group can steer you onto what you need. Or you can join and become a ham.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #23 on: December 04, 2013, 12:39:34 AM »
Yes, most state funded 4 year universities do, unless you already live locally, ie from that state or county.

That's just batshit crazy, seriously, someone please tell me this isn't actually true... :o
Isn't the whole point moot anyway, because you just rent/buy an apartment or whatever and you are done, right? you "live nearby"  :-//
So much for the land of the free...  :palm:
There are so many "what if's" here it's not funny.
What if your parents or someone buys or rents you a place nearby?
What if you have your own money to buy or rent your own place nearby?
What if you have special needs of some sort?
What if you are a full fee paying student?
What if you just really don't want to stay on campus with the sheeple?, because, you know, it's a free country. Are your parents forced to move house and live nearby in order to fulfill this ludicrous requirement?


 

Offline c4757p

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Re: What to do with beginners electronic lab when I go to college?
« Reply #24 on: December 04, 2013, 12:47:17 AM »
There are so many "what if's" here it's not funny.
What if your parents or someone buys or rents you a place nearby?
What if you have your own money to buy or rent your own place nearby?
What if you are a full fee paying student?
What if you just really don't want to stay on campus with the sheeple?, because, you know, it's a free country. Are your parents forced to move house and live nearby in order to fulfill this ludicrous requirement?

"Sucks to be you."

Quote
What if you have special needs of some sort?

I imagine you'd be accommodated somehow.
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