Author Topic: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?  (Read 13199 times)

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Offline NiHaoMike

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #25 on: January 30, 2013, 02:30:27 am »
Considering that a 60MHz scope (which I already have) is good enough for working on power electronics and that a FPGA board can be used as a logic analyzer, I probably would first be looking at isolated probes for the scope so I can probe the mains side of a power supply. Then I would build all sorts of interesting inverter drives for HVAC and whatnot (mostly for learning how to design that stuff), and pocket the energy savings afterwards. Once that's done, I would get some solar panels and start building up an elaborate power system that tries to immediately use the power generated rather than (expensively) storing it. There would only be a few small(ish) batteries to handle the "always on" loads. (You'll be surprised just how far a few hundred watts goes in today's low power world.)

Actually, just prior to getting the solar (PV) panels, I'll probably branch off into doing mechanical engineering to build a solar thermal (as in absorption chiller) HVAC system. That'll use up a large part of the budget, but it would likely net a win since I'll need fewer PV panels to support the remaining load. (And again, more learning!)

Sure, I could go the easy route and just buy everything I need, but why when the alternative provides great education and a whole bunch of custom equipment?
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #26 on: January 30, 2013, 02:52:24 am »
Deep memory and fast update rate will easily pay for itself in saved debugging time. Also 4 channels.
Spending such a small fraction of the budget on the most important  piece of test gear is false economy.

I'm not advocating skimping on your scope, it's your most important bit of kit.
But if I was spending my own money, would I buy (for arguments sake) a 4 channel Agilent 350MHz DSOX3034A 4 Channel for $8500, or a Rigol DS-4034 350MHz 4 channel for $4300?
Sure it doesn't have the wavegen or logic analyser options, and 1/10th the peak update rate. But it has 70 times the memory, and the 110Kwfm/s update rate is good enough that I wouldn't feel like I'm skimping.
I'd almost certainly buy the Rigol, and have $4K left over for other really nice toys, like a DSA-815 spectrum analyser ($1500), DG-4162 160MHz function gen ($1300), good PSU ($800), and logic analyser ($400 left over).
So would I rather have those 5 bits of Rigol kit for the price of one Agilent scope? You bet!

Dave.
 

Offline atwoz

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #27 on: January 30, 2013, 03:38:55 am »
Wow! I didn't expect to get such good responses to be honest! Thanks a lot everyone!

The JBC soldering equipment looks really nice! Is it easy to get replacements and tips?

Dave, i'm now looking at the DS4012 from Rigol, it's only 100Mhz and it looks great! I usually do low freq designs. What type of designs would require a 350Mhz oscilloscope?

Could someone share their experience with the MSO's? I own an USB logic analizer (from saleae), its good but it's a pain to wait for the sampling to finish. It would be cool if you could start looking at the data even while its sampling. I'm rally interested since most of the stuff I do involves at least one type of serial communication.

Thanks! :-+
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #28 on: January 30, 2013, 04:23:15 am »
Wow! I didn't expect to get such good responses to be honest! Thanks a lot everyone!

Quote
Dave, i'm now looking at the DS4012 from Rigol, it's only 100Mhz and it looks great!

They have several frequency range versions in different price brackets. I'd only spring for the 160MHz because of the generous $25K budget  :-+
The 60MHz one is plenty for most, and it great value at $800 IMO.

Quote
I usually do low freq designs. What type of designs would require a 350Mhz oscilloscope?

Even a 1KHz one, if signal integrity is important to you!
I chose the 350MHz as an example once again because of the big $25K budget. With the Agilent for example, it can be upgraded to 500MHz, but the 200MHz model cannot. The Rigol ones can't be upgraded, so the choice is a bit more arbitrary there. For general use I'd be happy with 100MHz, but 200MHz would be nicer, and considering the price bracket, that's what I'd spring for.

Dave.
 

Offline John_L

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #29 on: January 30, 2013, 05:36:29 am »
With that budget I wouldn't be buying main scope and main multimeter on high specs and lower cost from China.
Rigols have nice specs but I would not tolerate their issues like firmware bugs and very poor support if I was setting up a $25K Lab, at least not as my main equipment.

You can buy used Certiprime Agilent equipment with full warranty and support that will give you reliability and peace of mind. I have purchase 7000 series MSO scope from them recently that was presented absolutely as new for about half price, on top of that I negotiated a UART protocol analyzer to be included for free, included is 3 year warranty. I repeat presentation, packaging, accessories, documentation absolutely as new, some actually new.

I had about half a dozen hand held multimeter's on my bench until I bought HP 34401A. I have since bought another 2 HP/Agilent 34401A and kept only one hand held. As a Lab bench multimeter HP 34401A just WORK without compromising tantrums.



« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 06:33:28 am by John_L »
 

Offline Lightages

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #30 on: January 30, 2013, 07:10:29 am »
For the lowest budget it is something more like $250 to fully equip and for a higher budget $5,000 would be enough for a really nice setup.

Can you share your thoughts on a really nice setup for $5000? It would be really helpful!

This is not an exhaustively researched best buy list and it is left rather open for you to choose other things but roughly:
UEi DM397  multimeter with PC connection and software x2  $500
BK 879B   LCR                                                                           $300
Mastech MS2108 clamp meter                                                 $70
Rigol DS4014  100MHz 4 channel scope                                  $2400
Instek GPS-3303 0-30Vx2 0-3Ax2 5V/3A Power Supply           $420
Hakko FX888 soldering station                                                $100
ATTEN AT858D+  Hot air soldering station                                $60
Zeroplus LAP-C 16064 USB PC-based Logic Analyzer 16 channels  $250
BK 4003A 4 MHz Sweep Function Generator                            $280
Electronic Load, build one! or use a power resistor.               
Total                                                                                         $4380
All the other various bits an easily be had for the rest of the $600.

$25k would equip you for more than you an manage by yourself I would think.
 

Offline PA4TIM

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #31 on: January 30, 2013, 07:24:51 am »
Quote
Could someone share their experience with the MSO's? I own an USB logic analizer (from saleae), its good but it's a pain to wait for the sampling to finish. It would be cool if you could start looking at the data even while its sampling. I'm rally interested since most of the stuff I do involves at least one type of serial communication

I know have a 350MHz Hameg MSO ( made in europe by R&S ) it is around 4000 euro and I really love it. But theu have lower bandwith scopes too.

My first DSO was , thanks to the good review of Dave and the fact there was a huge gap at that time to more decent scopes, a Rigol DS1102E ( 900 euro at that time, so around 1200 dollar). I have never cursed an instrument more than that bloody excuse for a scope. Probes died, one within months, knobs started to refuse duty and one broke off just when turning it ( but it is the most flimsy construction I have ever seen) pure garbage and a waist of my hard earned money. And I think I have not used it more as 100 hours because after a few months i started to use my analoge scopes again. I gave it away to a student who now turns it of by pulling the plug because the powerbutton failed on him.

Sorry to say it like this, escpecially with the whole Rigol fanboy clan here ( please do not linch me or send a Chinese Tirade ;-) ) but someone has , as you can read on many topics on many forums I'm not the only one that had troubles with Rigol. I like the forum, i like Daves videos, i think he knows a lot of electronics but I do not follow his advises about measurement gear.

For professional use I do not recommend a Rigol ( heck, not even for hobby use) i tried to talk a friend out of it, but he did buy it thanks to EEV blog, and now he regrets it, too late !!

I too had a bunch of hand multimeters, now i use one agilent handmeter and 3 keithly and 1 prema benchmeters. Better to read on a distance, never low on batterys, fast, they do not fall when pulling the leads.
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Offline DavidDLC

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #32 on: January 30, 2013, 07:36:33 am »
Do you already have a bench for all the equipment you are going to buy ?

If not, add it to the list.

David.
 

Offline Otatiaro

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #33 on: January 30, 2013, 08:32:37 am »
Hello,

I don't really like those "what to buy with XXXXX$" posts ...

It 100% depend on what you expect, and what your are working on. I just bought a scope (Agilent 2012A) after 2 years working on a project, and did not use it yet (well at some point I needed one and bought a DSO nano that was just fine to scope the power supply ramp up).

But I bought a logic analyser (Saleae Logic) the first days and use it every weeks.
Received my solidoodle last monday and using it every day to print parts.

If you want to solder boards with hot air, a preheater (I have the small aoyue one) is nice to have, prehension pen with foot pedal, a good pair of tweezers (I'll get new ones today designed specifically for SMD components), a fridge (to put the solder paste in it). Binocular is a must have.

With 25k$, what would I do ? Just put it in a drawer waiting for a new need to come up. I'm buying things as I need them, no need to speed tons of money on stuff you'll never use (I have no electronic load, spektrum analyser, I have the wavegen in the agilent scope but never used it).

But I'm more on the digital / robotic side ... things would be totally different for someone playing with power supplies all days.

And I'm doing it for business, not hobby.

Thomas.
 

Offline JuKu

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #34 on: January 30, 2013, 08:57:17 am »
> A good microscope for soldering and inspection (could be an USB microscope) for around $300

You want an USB microscope to look and measure really small stuff (the Adaftruit one is fine), but for general lab work, you want stereo vision. A Mantis is great (I used to work with one), but unless you work hours a day with one, it is an overkill, IMO. In my lab I now have C2-D microscope from GX Optical (in US, they are called GT Vision): http://www.gxoptical.com/html/gxm_stereo_microscopes.html#c2d). I have the optional 0.5x lens (to get 5x mag., 10x is too much), and I'm happy with it. I don't solder every day, but I do all SMD work under it. Plan to upgrade the lights, though.

> A reflow oven for stencil soldering (from $500 to $1200)

You don't need to spend that much, the pizza oven route is good. Mike says you don't need a controller, but imo, the 129€ I paid for one is well worth it. You gain a true controlled soldering profile (which is nice for the peace of mind, if not anything else) and ease of operation, just press a button.

> Could someone share their experience with the MSO's?

Compared to a logic analyzer? You want both. A MSO is good for insight and responsiveness. With a fast real time view you'll see issues like "that doesn't look stable", "it was there for a while but went away", "activity here seems to affect something there", that an analyzer does not tell you. A logic analyzer is a much better analyzer and gives a much deeper look to the actual logic of the system. I have an Agilent MSO and a ZeroPlus, and while there is some area where they overlap, on both ends (hw vs sw) there are tasks where one tells the story but the other would not.

> What type of designs would require a 350Mhz oscilloscope?

Anything digital, really. It is not about the clock rate of your system, it is about the speed of the transitions. You want to see the cleanness of your signals, and modern ICs are fast. i have a 350MHz scope, and it is slow for microprocessor/DSP hardware work.

To add to the list:

*A license for Altium.

*Spend as much money as you can to the specific instrument on the area that you plan to work on. If you work on audio, look at Audio Precision stuff. If you work on RF, get the best RF tools you can afford etc.

*As said, some spare money for stuff that you didn't think of and stuff that comes to market next month.

*Really good lights

*ESD protection (bench and floor mats, ESD storage cabinets etc)

*endless supply of prototyping stuff: plain boards, modules, general parts, connectors, wires etc. You mentioned PICs. There will be numerous situations like "It would be handy if I could hook up some buttons / a serial terminal and a processor to these lines and have it to do X on command". You want to be able to go to your lab, take a PIC module, put it on a veroboard and solder some connectors to it. Then you take your standard software template for that board, drop some code and off you go. You don't want to start ordering stuff at that point! (I'm a fan of serial terminal debug: I can take a board, interrupt driven serial communication, a command interpreter and driver for LEDs and buttons from my toolbox. Very handy!) To really benefit from this, you need at least two debug/programming tools and development software (IDE) that you can run multiple simultaneous copies.

*A really good PC with a 30" display (or two). You want to be able to have a datasheet, schematic, PCB, processor debug and some other windows open, all at once. The more pixels and screen estate you have for this, the better. I have no idea where the practical upper limit is. With a 30" I'm switching the top window all the time. Btw, you want SSD on that.
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #35 on: January 30, 2013, 10:12:40 am »
My first DSO was , thanks to the good review of Dave and the fact there was a huge gap at that time to more decent scopes, a Rigol DS1102E ( 900 euro at that time, so around 1200 dollar). I have never cursed an instrument more than that bloody excuse for a scope. Probes died, one within months, knobs started to refuse duty and one broke off just when turning it ( but it is the most flimsy construction I have ever seen) pure garbage and a waist of my hard earned money. And I think I have not used it more as 100 hours because after a few months i started to use my analoge scopes again. I gave it away to a student who now turns it of by pulling the plug because the powerbutton failed on him.

Sorry to say it like this, escpecially with the whole Rigol fanboy clan here ( please do not linch me or send a Chinese Tirade ;-) ) but someone has , as you can read on many topics on many forums I'm not the only one that had troubles with Rigol. I like the forum, i like Daves videos, i think he knows a lot of electronics but I do not follow his advises about measurement gear.

Funny how thousands of others like me who have had absolutely no issues with their Rigol, and think that the built quality is quite high for the price :-//
FYI my Rigol has now been used daily by Sagan for a few months. He turns every knob, bangs every button, drops it, stands on it, and it's barely got a scratch. So the one I have IME is very well built and has proved to be quite rugged. I also used to take it too and from work on the back floor of the car every day.  Once again, no problems. I stand by my review, mine is a decent quality well built unit.

Dave.
 

Offline mikeselectricstuff

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #36 on: January 30, 2013, 10:52:23 am »

as you can read on many topics on many forums I'm not the only one that had troubles with Rigol.
Bear in mind that there are probably a lot more Rigols out there than any other cheap scope, so you will see more complaints just by sheer numbers.
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Offline Harvs

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #37 on: January 30, 2013, 11:14:15 am »
Obviously in a developed western country it's quite reasonable to set yourself up with a quite reasonable spread of gear these days for what would amount to a month or two's salary of the average person.


I assume 20yrs ago this was a very different story?
 

Offline baljemmett

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #38 on: January 30, 2013, 12:41:25 pm »
The problem with these discussions is the value of money is so wildly different between the countries and regions. 

Maybe we should relate it to the Big Mac Index -- "my lab equipment budget is 1,500 Big Macs, what would you recommend?" ;)
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #39 on: January 30, 2013, 12:55:45 pm »
Obviously in a developed western country it's quite reasonable to set yourself up with a quite reasonable spread of gear these days for what would amount to a month or two's salary of the average person.
I assume 20yrs ago this was a very different story?

Yes, and no.
As I showed in my recent magazine video, prices haven't really changed a huge amount.
Prices are essentially the same for entry level gear, not counting for inflation, which has a varied value depending upon how you look at it, but it's not even double in 20 years. So to a first order, there isn't much in it.
A basic scope might have cost $400-$800 as it does now. But back then it was 20MHz analog. Now it's 50-100MHz real-time digital with all the whistles.
A basic Hakko 926 soldering iron cost about $150, now it's about the same.
A basic digital multimeter might have cost $50-$100, as it does now.

What has changed, is digital and other technology.
No way you could afford a new spectrum analyser 20 years as a hobbyist. Now $1300 will get you a decent one. or even $500 for trad CRT one on ebay.
Nor could you afford a digital scope (which wasn't even real time, and a few K of memory), now you don't even consider analog.
A function gen, 2MHz basic sine/square/triangle was $400. Now that same money gets you a 20MHz ARB.
A new logic analyser was also out of the ballpark, now it's real time USB for under $100, or $200 for a 50MHz+ local memory one.

Dave.
 

Offline atwoz

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #40 on: January 30, 2013, 02:48:32 pm »
Thanks a lot Lightages, PA4TIM, David and Juku!

The purpose of this post was to find out about great tools to have in a lab based on people experience. It doesnt mean that I will spend $25,000 on what you say. I just take all the info you give me, and decide wether to spend $1 dollar or $30,000 dollars. Right now I have gotten really good information from you guys, more than I expected! Thanks a lot!

By the way, I already have a lab and some equipment, however I have always been very limited on my budget, basically doing all Mike style. I have plenty of stock in all kinds of parts, self built workbench's. I have a diy dummy load (has been extremely useful, highly recommend building one), and other self built test jigs. And of course, a microCurrent!

I entered a contest and I have the possibility of winning big money. I would like to spend some of it in my lab. That's why I would like to know more about what everyone has and their experience. If I don't win, well, I don't get to buy anything, but its always good to dream, it makes it real at least while you are doing it!

 

Offline Galenbo

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Re: If you had $25,000 USD to build your dream lab, what would you get?
« Reply #41 on: February 11, 2013, 11:08:32 am »
The problem with these discussions is the value of money is so wildly different between the countries and regions. 

Maybe we should relate it to the Big Mac Index -- "my lab equipment budget is 1,500 Big Macs, what would you recommend?" ;)

It also depends of time. As our governments keep on printing Money, you can express it better in Kilograms Gold.
My equipment is worth half, compared to 2008.

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