Electronics > Beginners

Have $350US to Spend on a Bench Power Supply

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First of all, thanks goes out to Dave and the community. I have learned a lot just catching up on the forums and videos!

Trying to complete my bench so I can get serious with what I have been up to. Long story short, I have been screwing with C#/C++/VB/PHP and Java for the past 6 years in an IT/devel capacity. When I was a kid 20+ years ago, I started with Radio Shack electronic kits and then moved on to playing with parts my dad brought home from his job. Lost focus for 15 years and then discovered the BS2 > Arduino > Make Controller > and a few embedded Linux boards.

I am getting pretty good at prototyping projects but feel I really haven't had quality tools to advance farther. Bought some stupid $120 meter/12v psu/soldering iron combo a year ago and have had no luck what so ever with SMD. Thanks to this forum and Dave's videos, I bit the bullet and purchased the Rigol 1052E (i've needed a scope for 9 months or so) and a Hakko 936-12. I also have an Ideal 61-361 digital multimeter that I purchased a few years ago, drills, drill press, glue gun, dremel, and a panavise circuit board holder...think it does 0 to 10".

I see myself primarily tackling digital circuits. I have one more item currently on my list; I need a good PSU. I was reading the forums and noticed a few people said good things about Instek. I have been looking at their GPS-3030DD, GPS-6030D, and my favorite reading the specs, the GPS-2303.

Wondered if I could get some feedback on PSUs...Would those models work well and last a while or should I be looking in a different direction. Again the budget for a PSU is topped out at $350US and I do not feel comfortable building my own yet as my bench is in a town home man cave/bedroom.

I would also love any additional pointers on any other tools you think I might need for my workbench besides lots of components!

Thanks for the help.

$350 is more than enough for a PSU, especially if you don't want one from big brands like Agilent.

In fact, the market is swamped with Made in China PSUs, of OK quality (and of course some dangerous junk). Although prices have gone up a little bit in recent month. These PSUs are usually advertised as "lab grade". Don't take this to serious, they are OK, but "lab grade" is an  entirely different game, a game you don't need.

The GPS-2303 you mentioned is a dual power supply, isn't it? As an example I randomly picked a typical Chinese power supply from ebay http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=370436827930

This is a triple one (two adjustable outputs, one fixed), for $162. Don't get confused by the label. PSU's looking like this are all from China and come under hundreds of different "brands". Just order enough of them from the factory, and the factory will put whatever label you want on the front.

I can't guarantee that this particular one will last long, and I encourage you to look around. However, these PSUs are usually pretty robust, because they have rather simple technology, and are often build around common regulators that are on the market for decades.  

My example is at the lower end of the scale, still I regard this PSU as OK. If you spend more you often just get a PSU with a nicer front plate, but the same guts. You can pay more if you change the technology, SMPS instead of linear regulation, remote control, more fine grained adjustments, more precision.

If you are in the US, you might look over some of the Mastech power supplies at

They have been happy to send me schematics of power supplies I've been
interested in.  Have the schematic is important to me, because it gives me a
decent chance to repair the supply if something goes wrong.  The Mastech
ones I've looked at are pretty much all off the shelf parts, quite repairable.

I have a power supply from Circuit Specialists:


that I got off of Ebay, and I've been quite happy with it as well.


For smt, the single most important tool I have other than my weller iron is a cheap ebay binocular microscope (10x, 30x, 50x).  I actually solder while looking through the microscope at 10x, then flip to 30x to inspect the joints (for something like TSSOP38 or TQFP64).  A good flux pen and some really thin solder helps too.

@KTP: Didn't think about that addition but that completely makes sense. Just out of curiosity, what 'model' did you grab? I do need to up my soldier and flux pen (fat soldier and brush flex here...bad stuff). Anything you recommend soldier size wise and type of pen?

@slburris: I was wondering about the Mastech. Why did you go with the Circuit Specialists though?

@ BoredAtWork: That makes complete sense. I will look into those. Got to love China...if you are consuming.


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