Author Topic: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.  (Read 3025 times)

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Offline zeeawk

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Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« on: July 30, 2016, 11:03:00 pm »
I would like to get into learning about electronics and repair.
Can someone recommend some decent/cheap basic test equipment to get me started?
Specifically I have never used an oscilloscope but would like to learn. I know there are
analog and digital ones. I would like to be able to diagnose and repair small electronics
like headsets, video games, etc.
 
Thanks,
William
 

Offline bitseeker

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2016, 11:20:48 pm »
Hi William,

Knowing your budget is helpful as well.

To fix basic low-voltage electronics, you'll need some screw drivers, a pair of pliers, wire cutters, a power supply (or a variety of batteries), wires, a soldering iron, and a multimeter. You can get a lot done with just those.

What else you might need depends on the types of devices and/or problems you need to deal with. For an overview of various common tools, check out this video.



To keep the cost of equipment down, be sure to check out used gear on Craigslist, eBay, the Buy/Sell/Wanted forum here, etc. Very few things in my lab were purchased new.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2016, 11:25:04 pm by bitseeker »
I TEA.
 
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Offline zeeawk

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2016, 11:50:22 pm »
Thanks so much. That's good news since I have all of that stuff already.
I'm trying to keep costs down to a  minimum in the beginning.
I thought I needed an ESR meter and oscilloscope as well.

I'll check out the video. Thanks again for the reply.
 

Online blueskull

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2016, 12:16:09 am »
Thanks so much. That's good news since I have all of that stuff already.
I'm trying to keep costs down to a  minimum in the beginning.
I thought I needed an ESR meter and oscilloscope as well.

I'll check out the video. Thanks again for the reply.

Get a proper digital oscilloscope. Analog scope allows only for repetitive signals, while digital scopes can catch rare glitches, let along it makes documentation works easier.
A ESR meter, if you have some extra money, you should get a LCR bridge instead. It allows you to measure not only ESR, but LCR, tanD, and more.
I would suggest a SmartTweezer ST5S as a handy small LCR meter. In a tweezers from factor, it offers a complete 10kHz LCR meter with fairly good accuracy, and it makes SMD works much easier.
 
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Offline Seekonk

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2016, 01:16:28 am »
Electronics can be a lot of fun, but the chances of repairing anything these days is pretty slim.
 

Offline zeeawk

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2016, 01:19:49 am »
Get a proper digital oscilloscope. Analog scope allows only for repetitive signals, while digital scopes can catch rare glitches, let along it makes documentation works easier.
A ESR meter, if you have some extra money, you should get a LCR bridge instead. It allows you to measure not only ESR, but LCR, tanD, and more.
I would suggest a SmartTweezer ST5S as a handy small LCR meter. In a tweezers from factor, it offers a complete 10kHz LCR meter with fairly good accuracy, and it makes SMD works much easier.

Is there a digital oscilloscope you can suggest in the $0-$200 price range?
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2016, 07:13:30 am »
So what do you want to do in life ? design or repair ? they are two different branches of the electronics world. Most electronics engineers that do design are often left groaning by those near and dear and not so dear expecting them to fix stuff in a flash.

If you actually want to learn about designing electronics then repairs is not your first source of study, it won't help you. It's a common misconception that you start learning to repair stuf and learn how it works and go on to design. I hate repairs beause it means I've got to reverse engineer someone elses design that may or may not be a good one and then fix the problem.
 

Offline zeeawk

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2016, 07:22:49 am »
As far as electronics go, I'm looking to learn how to repair them mostly.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2016, 07:25:34 am »
Fair enough. But you will need a grounding in theory too. Reapiring stuff does not mean changing that resistor that burnt out because it will just burn again. Most visual effects of a fault are side effects.

I obtained from work a scap power supply that is worth £1000 to me but decided against repairing it as I know it will be way complex and I actually know the guy that designed it through work so I made a gift of it to him as it probably has sentimental value as he worked on it many years ago.
 

Offline zeeawk

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2016, 07:29:19 am »
Fair enough. But you will need a grounding in theory too. Reapiring stuff does not mean changing that resistor that burnt out because it will just burn again. Most visual effects of a fault are side effects.

Yes I realize that. I can certainly replace bad caps and resistors but I would like to be able to figure out if there is something else causing them to go bad.
 

Offline Simon

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2016, 07:30:07 am »
a lot of faults on old equipment is caps gone bad. If it's old just replace all the caps.
 

Offline drdanke

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2016, 12:39:34 am »
Is there a digital oscilloscope you can suggest in the $0-$200 price range?

As much as I would like to say yes, it would be best to save the money to buy the Rigol DS1054Z, as your entry level digital scope (It costs $399).  I have been in your exact same boat for a while now, trying to find anything respectable for under $200, including PC USB scopes, which are pretty unsatisfactory for any real work.  I know that the Rigol is definitely worth the investment, because the oscilloscope is also the best tool you can use for learning electronics, and also for troubleshooting while repairing electronics.

Check out Dave's review on the Rigol.. purchasing it is definately a "no brainer" for anyone starting out in electronics!

 

Offline hurricanehenry

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2016, 11:25:05 pm »
Fair enough. But you will need a grounding in theory too. Reapiring stuff does not mean changing that resistor that burnt out because it will just burn again. Most visual effects of a fault are side effects.

Yes I realize that. I can certainly replace bad caps and resistors but I would like to be able to figure out if there is something else causing them to go bad.

As a beginner myself, I would agree with the comments from the more experienced people here, which is that modern electronics is super complex and aside from replacing bad electrolytic capacitors (which you can generally check with an ESR meter), you need to reverse engineer what is going on with the whole circuit. That is very complicated!

I think it's on par with trying to reverse engineer someone's programming (without programming comments or documentation).

What is worse, is that today they use a lot of ICs that put so many functions inside, it's a black box to us.

Then, they use SMDs which you can barely see.

All on tiny PCBs!

So, it's a real headache trying to figure it all out. Then you need to have the specific part that you think is broken, to replace.

I don't think you can get away from learning the theory. It's like trying to patch up a person's injury without having good medical knowledge. Maybe first-aid, but anything more than that, is almost impossible or just shot in the dark.

That's my perspective now, having gotten a little bit of experience with learning electronics. It's a very fun process though! And if you scavenge parts from electronics that others throw away, you can do it real cheap. You don't even need to print PCBs. You can literally wire things up any way you want. The electrons don't care!

Actually now that I've said that, I suggest you get some desoldering gear. A solder sucker is good (pretty cheap). Later you can get a nice desoldering gun that does the job quicker (with vacuum suction). Soldering wick is good but you can't reuse it. Those solder suckers can be reused (like a syringe that has a spring in it, pretty cheap).
 

Offline hurricanehenry

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Re: Learning Electronics need Basic Test Equipment.
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2016, 11:29:13 pm »
Also get some tweezers and magnifying glass. And maybe an anti-static mat (you need to ground that properly).

I'm saving up money myself to get a microscope but that is for later.
 


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