Author Topic: The $100 Lab Challenge  (Read 16816 times)

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Offline smackaay

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The $100 Lab Challenge
« on: January 28, 2013, 04:08:50 am »
I've noticed a lot of people come on to these forums asking for what to buy to start electronics and typically they have very little money. Electronics is a very expensive hobby and I know this because even my very modest lab which I've accumulated for the last 5 years or so probably represents a capital investment of 30-40 thousand dollars (Equipment, supplies, parts, boards and software). I'm sure many people here have labs in excess of 100 grand with all thouse things combined.

So I was thinking, if I had $100 and a perfectly empty bench (aside from a computer), what would you buy as a bare minimum kit to be marginally functional. Don't include parts or consumables like solder, wire, etc. Remember, we're buying this all new because technically you can get almost anything for free or bash together all kinds of equipment, at least thats something I think is part of the exercise.

Here's my list:

700 tie point solderless breadboard $2.35
Soldering stand $4.50
Soldering iron (weller 25w) $27.00
Jewellers screwdrivers (super cheap ones) $2.00
Mastech Multimeter (MAS830L) $20.00
Wire strippers/cutters $5.00
Side cutter $3.50
Long tweezers    $4.00
5V 4A enclosed power supply $10.00
12V 2A enclose power supply $11.00
Helping hands $9.00

Total $98.35


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Offline cwalex

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2013, 04:16:55 am »
I like the list but if you remove the 2 psus and soldering iron you could get a cheap regulated temp hakko clone station and use wall warts / atx psu that you have lying around but maybe that violates the fact you have to buy everything  :-[
 

Offline DavidDLC

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2013, 04:50:24 am »
I don't like the super cheapo screwdrivers, it's money on the trash can.

And the helping hand is not a must, rather use that money for something else.

David.
 

Offline cwalex

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2013, 05:46:56 am »
And the helping hand is not a must, rather use that money for something else.

Like bluetack or whatever name it goes by these days. The stuff you use to hold posters on your wall. Hemostats to hold the board and a heavy weight on them (big pliers or something) are better from my experience. Hemostats are cheaper than "helping hands) too. I do find the helping hands helpful sometimes when soldering 2 wires together that are difficult to persuade in the right position. :)
 

Offline vtl

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2013, 05:50:50 am »
Some comments:

Flux tube and braid you can probably get with the change remaining.
I've seen Hakko 936 50W clones go as low as $35, it will definetly be better than that low power Weller
A $2 screwdriver set will be worthless, theyll end up chewing up any screw you attempt to use them on

I'd just leave out the wirestrippers and just have the cutters for stripping. Spend the saving on assorted test leads/wires
 

Offline jaqie

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2013, 07:10:07 am »
I have a set of "husky" screwdrivers, and the smallest in them are actually quite capable of being used in place of a jewler's set. the largest is standard size.  They are not expensive and are built surprisingly well. they were like $10 for an 8 piece set, the one i got.
 

Online mariush

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2013, 07:19:00 am »
The 25w weller can be found on amazon.com for about 15$ : http://www.amazon.com/Weller-SP23LK-25-Watt-Soldering-Iron/dp/B0009ZD2AG/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1359266089&sr=8-9&keywords=soldering+iron

Good and cheap Uni-T multimeters can be bought from eBay for 10$ and up (and they're perfectly good for someone that starts dabbling in electronics and works with low voltage only): http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=uni-t+multimeter+NOT+probe&_osacat=92074&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313&_nkw=uni-t+multimeter+-probe&_sacat=92074


My best advice to anyone that wants to start in electronics is to start with a breadboard, some perfboard (breadboard like pcb), some quality solder wire and a decent solder station like Hakko 936 or Hakko 888.  If you're lucky to be in US, the Hakko is 80$... which is cheap for its quality. 

Watch some tutorial videos on youtube, some simple circuits, and DO them on breadboard, then move them to perfboard... this way you get experience soldering and so on.

If needed, start with some simple circuits like a simple linear regulator on perfboard... it's enough to open the datasheet for a lm317 and make the example circuit on perfboard and you have your adjustable power supply (that you can power from a phone charger or your computer's power supply). You'd be proud you made something by yourself, and it also helps you power other experiments.

Yes, a soldering station is somewhat expensive but it will last you for years and you'll be able to sell it without much loss, and with a cheap solder iron you'll only be disappointed or discouraged frin experimenting when you have issues soldering.

I had no need for wirestripper, I have one now but even so I still often just use an utility knife (those things with retractable blades). They're cheap.  Instead of cutters, in a pinch you can use some nail clippers, the leads are thin enough and soft enough to be cut easily.

Breadboard wires can also be bought cheaply on eBay, but if you want you can get some network cable that has solid strand wires, strip the jacket and you have 8 different colors. 

Tweezers can help, but these can be bought at any store that sells stuff for women - sure, ideally you'd get esd safe tweezers and so on, but for small simple experiments until you gain confidence, any tweezer will do.

You don't need helping hands, you'll only be frustrated with the poor quality. I got some from eBay and I rarely use them. They're not heavy enough to keep the board or whatever's connected to it in place when soldering, it moves or bends on the desk.
 

Online Simon

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2013, 07:59:07 am »
I've found that waiting to buy that slightly more expensive bit of kit pays off. 100 dollars is not alot and if your serious then treat it seriously. 30-40 thousand ? did you come here just to gloat ? I'm sure for 5 grand tops anyone would be happy unless they had specific needs. The most important bit of slightly more expensive kit thesae days is a scope and you can get one for a few hundred bucks/quid/eu.... after that a decent meter for 30, a decent antex soldering iron for well under 30, and you can start on around 5-700, morw than your hundred I know and I've been medling since I was a kid so I know what it is like to have equipment that is out of reach and it is only now that I can afford a scope.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2013, 08:02:15 am »
I've noticed a lot of people come on to these forums asking for what to buy to start electronics and typically they have very little money. Electronics is a very expensive hobby and I know this because even my very modest lab which I've accumulated for the last 5 years or so probably represents a capital investment of 30-40 thousand dollars (Equipment, supplies, parts, boards and software). I'm sure many people here have labs in excess of 100 grand with all thouse things combined.

Umm, 100K?  :o
Kidding right?
If I spent that on my hobby I'd be a dead man.
If I spent that for business, I'd still be a dead man!

Dave.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2013, 08:04:53 am »
I've found that waiting to buy that slightly more expensive bit of kit pays off. 100 dollars is not alot and if your serious then treat it seriously. 30-40 thousand ? did you come here just to gloat ? I'm sure for 5 grand tops anyone would be happy unless they had specific needs.

Yeah, $5K would equip you with a pretty kick-arse lab these days.
Even more so if you are in the US or other countries that have oodles of cheap 2nd hand gear on ebay.

Dave.
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2013, 09:20:44 am »
I've found that waiting to buy that slightly more expensive bit of kit pays off. 100 dollars is not alot and if your serious then treat it seriously. 30-40 thousand ? did you come here just to gloat ? I'm sure for 5 grand tops anyone would be happy unless they had specific needs.

Yeah, $5K would equip you with a pretty kick-arse lab these days.
Even more so if you are in the US or other countries that have oodles of cheap 2nd hand gear on ebay.

Dave.
Assuming someone isn't after brand new or top end for every bit of gear, $2 - 2.5k can do quite alot in the US.
 

Offline psycho0815

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2013, 10:17:57 am »
I'm with dave and Simon on this one.
In most cases going super cheap will come back to bite you eventually.
As for the 30-40 k Dollars: really?
I mean i consider myself fairly decently equipped these days (except maybe for a decent function gen) and i paid like 1,5k€ in total.
And i bought most of it new.
You could propably get away with half that, if you go 2nd hand, which i would've had no problem with, if there were any decent offers, but in germany that's fairly rare.
The one piece of 2nd hand equipment i got is a Weller 2002 EC Soldering Station. Got it for free, when the local university reequipped its labs.
Still works great after 10 or so years.

As for the Challenge:
a breadboard with jumper wires
a handful of components
and a decent meter

that should get you started enough to figure out if you're really into it. Buy the rest when you need it. that's pretty much the way i did it anyways.

Cheers
Psycho
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Offline ftransform

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2013, 10:34:31 am »
Maybe this guy does hardcore spectrum analysis of 40ghz signals..

 I don't think its so bad, consider the people who will buy luxury cars.... or planes... or gun collections or spend 40 grand renovating a kitchen with granite tiles.. or 5000$ cabinets... or boats...

What do you buy when you don't like partaking in activities which can leave you a paraplegic or in dave jones locker? (lol!) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Davy_Jones%27_Locker
Dangerous high speed car vs PFANG...

Or don't care for crystal chandeliers and vacation homes?
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 10:40:06 am by ftransform »
 

Online Simon

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2013, 11:38:49 am »
BUT SPENDING 30-40K ON LAB EQUIPMENT IS LIKE BUYING A YACHT AND KEEPING IT IN THE GARDEN POND.
 

Offline vk3yedotcom

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2013, 12:00:50 pm »
Some thoughts in italics

700 tie point solderless breadboard $2.35 OK
Soldering stand $4.50  Not essential. Can make own.
Soldering iron (weller 25w) $27.00 OK
Jewellers screwdrivers (super cheap ones) $2.00  OK
Mastech Multimeter (MAS830L) $20.00 OK
Wire strippers/cutters $5.00 A utility knife will do instead if you're careful
Side cutter $3.50  OK
Long tweezers    $4.00  Yes for surface mount. Otherwide not essential.
5V 4A enclosed power supply $10.00 Not needed. Can just use the below with a 7805 regulator.
12V 2A enclose power supply $11.00 OK
Helping hands $9.00 Not needed

I consider the following essential even for wiring basic kits:

* Long - nose pliers (these often also have wire cutters in them)
* Utility knife (eg Stanley knife or cheaper plastic versions)
* Screwdrivers x 4 (Phillips x 2 and flat bladed x 2 / small and large)
* Metal tray to stop stuff rolling off bench (30 x 40cm - obtainable from op-shops)
* Boxes Boxes Boxes - to store your parts (Sistema containers from supermarkets are excellent quality and see-through)

Plus these if you're making your own stuff (as opposed to putting together kits)

* Hand drill and bits
* Nibbling tool
* Tapered reamer (an old pair of scissors can sort of work)
* Hacksaw
* Mitre box
* Hammer (for if your project doesn't work)

« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 12:09:28 pm by vk3yedotcom »
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Online Simon

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2013, 12:11:28 pm »
FOR PEOPLE STARTING MAKING YOUR OWN IS A GOOD EXERCISE AND SOMETIMES COST EFFECTIVE, OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVE TO BUY WHAT YOU CAN'T MAKE: PARTS, BREADBOARDS, VEROBOARDS, SOLDERING IRON, MULTIMETER.

OH AND YES IS IT SPARKFUN THAT FOR A JOKE PUT UP FOR SALE A KIT SOLDERING IRON (THAT NEEDED SOLDERING IRON TO MAKE IT) AND PEOPLE ACTUALLY BOUGHT IT..........
 

Offline TerraHertz

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2013, 12:37:53 pm »
Those workshop cost estimates don't include building the workshop in the first place.... (Sigh.)

Anyway, here's a zero cost way to improvise a useful work holder. You're going to have one or more pairs of pliers already, and elastic bands are free, so....
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Online Simon

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #17 on: January 28, 2013, 12:39:35 pm »
THAT IS STURDIER THAN A HELPING HANDS AND THE ONLY WAY ON LARGE STUFF
 

Offline SLJ

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2013, 12:42:12 pm »
This question is highly dependent on what you want to do in the electronics field.  The bare minimum would be hand tools, soldering iron, and a meter.  After that it entirely depends on what you plan on fooling around with.  Circuit design, service, restoration, analog, digital, vacuum tube, transistor, ICs, etc.  The first list is pretty close for someone not knowing what they will get into. 

I'm pretty sure most of us don't have $40,000-$100,000 to set up a lab unless we plan on being single the rest of our lives.  In that case you better be into vacuum tubes because that's about the only thing you'll have to keep you warm at night.

Offline jaqie

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2013, 12:57:31 pm »
a little sexist there, aren't we?  ::)
 

Offline smackaay

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2013, 01:27:21 pm »
With the 30-40k thing or even the 100k thing, think about how much stuff you accumulate in parts, software, boards, equipment and tools. I think it's deceptive especially on the parts end because they're small but there's a lot of money in parts especially if you're like me and tend to keep some aside. Also look at how much software you use that you've paid for, that shit adds up.
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Offline SLJ

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2013, 01:36:33 pm »
a little sexist there, aren't we?  ::)

No, it goes both ways.  No gender stated.

Offline (In)Sanity

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2013, 01:40:52 pm »
Spice,  breadboard,  Chinese parts kit,   followed by disappointment when the cheap parts don't do what spice did.   On another note blowing stuff up can be so much more entertaining. 
 

Offline robrenz

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #23 on: January 28, 2013, 01:46:25 pm »
I think many of us would be shocked at the total if we were realy objective and counted every penny related to the EE hobby. :scared:

Offline nixxon

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #24 on: January 28, 2013, 02:02:21 pm »
THAT IS STURDIER THAN A HELPING HANDS AND THE ONLY WAY ON LARGE STUFF

Do you know how to fix a broken Caps Lock LED indicator?  ;)
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #25 on: January 28, 2013, 04:53:45 pm »
Simon is multitasking, and unfortunately one of the windows is running a DOS box that is totally brain dead, and expects that input will be all upper case ASCII.

I got a tiny program years ago called flip, that all it did was set caps/num/scroll keys to a defined state, as otherwise the brain dead software would crash horribly ( blob-o-code with no source, and so old that maintaining it involved sacrifice of a rooster) on login. This little utility did wonders as part of the batch files to force caps on when booting, when logging in and when running the actual inventory program. 3 instances so it would always work. Stopped working with WinXp, though luckily we also finally migrated onto a new package ( with all the headaches of retraining, still have to do it 10 years later for some) with a whole new set of issues and known bugs that are "due for fix in the next release".
 

Offline Lightages

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #26 on: January 28, 2013, 08:29:06 pm »
My take:

$100 is an arbitrary amount, but seems to be a popular one so here goes my kit list.

http://dx.com/p/ut10a-1-8-lcd-digital-multimeter-red-black-1-x-cr2032-113628                  UT10A   $14.50
http://dx.com/p/ut33c-2-0-lcd-digital-multimeter-red-black-1-x-9v-6f22-134965               UTT33C   $17.10
http://dx.com/p/16-in-1-screwdrivers-complete-electronics-diy-set-13347                          $3.64
http://dx.com/p/rewin-5-electronic-wire-cutter-yellow-black-116062                              $5.00
http://dx.com/p/5-mini-long-needle-nose-pliers-jewelers-electrical-tool-115017                     $4.30
http://dx.com/p/ll-135a-vacuum-desoldering-pump-removal-solder-sucker-black-173691               $3.20
Soldering Iron      (any soldering iron on dealextreme in the 25-50watt range)                                             $10
http://dx.com/p/professional-2-led-voltage-display-dc-power-supply-for-cell-phones-repairs-0-15v-39508           $43.90

Total delivered to your mail address anywhere in the world:   $101.64

This gets you two multimeters which are more necessary than most people think, the necessary tools to strip old parts from discarded equipment for reuse, and a variable power supply. If you don't want two meters then get then this one:
http://dx.com/p/uni-t-ut136c-2-lcd-digital-multimeter-red-dark-grey-1-x-9v-battery-961168367 UT136C looks like a bargain for $24.52 ( I know, Uni-T again?).

Total delivered to your mail address anywhere in the world:   $94.56

I still think it better to have the two meters.

As other have said, some tools you make yourself from an old coat hanger or a couple of pieces of scrap wood.
 

Online Simon

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #27 on: January 28, 2013, 08:47:19 pm »
THAT IS STURDIER THAN A HELPING HANDS AND THE ONLY WAY ON LARGE STUFF

Do you know how to fix a broken Caps Lock LED indicator?  ;)

Sorry, they took me off electronics at work and put me back on doing drawings of lumps of metal where I'm told everything has to be in caps and mostly forget I have it on.
 

Offline smashedProton

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #28 on: January 28, 2013, 11:41:23 pm »
If you only have 100 dollars to spend, we shouldnt be thinking about the soldering iron yet...  get a passive component kit, a bunch of 555 timers, lm317,lm324, arduino, and 2n2222 bjt.  If you are still pressed for money, you can get the meter later.  A beginner can make basic circuits without a meter or oscilloscope.  It would be tricky, but if you are clever and have the passion, it is a great excercise.
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Offline TerraHertz

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #29 on: January 29, 2013, 12:06:19 am »
I'd agree with leaving the soldering iron for later. If the aim is to begin learning about components and simple circuits, then a plugboard and leaded parts are the way to go. (Besides, all the better to throw the beginner in at the deep end of the Parasitics Pool, so they learn to never, ever assume 'ideal circuits'.)
In which case it's much more important to be able to see what the circuits are actually doing, than being able to build soldered circuits.
The trouble is, a multimeter isn't really going to help much with understanding dynamic circuit operation. That absolutely requires a scope of some kind.

Would it be fair to assume that anyone at this point of starting electronics would already have a PC? Considering that decent 'street toss' PCs are free these days, I don't see why not.
If so, a USB oscilloscope could be considered the most useful test instrument they could buy.

There are some amazingly cheap ones. I seem to recall seeing a bare board one somewhere for under $50, but can't find it now. There's this for $99 from Sparkfun: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/10244

Can anyone recommend a very cheap, bare bones USB scope? A bare board, USB-powered, no LCD, no controls, everything done via the PC and USB.
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Offline SLJ

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #30 on: January 29, 2013, 01:12:54 am »
I disagree with leaving the soldering iron out.  My bet is that many of us started out scavenging parts.  A soldering iron is of prime importance when on a low budget as many used components may be found still attached to whatever.  Besides, it's better to learn soldering skills on used parts.

Offline NiHaoMike

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #31 on: January 29, 2013, 03:25:17 am »
Also look at how much software you use that you've paid for, that shit adds up.
Unless you count the various firmwares whose cost is rolled into the price of the hardware they go into, I have spent exactly nothing for software on my PC. (Gotta love Linux!)

I suggest that instead of buying separate 5V and 12V power supplies, just look for a deal on an external hard drive enclosure. For less than $10 (especially if you get one of the outdated USB 2.0 ones), you'll get a power supply that does both 12V and 5V (and maybe even 3.3V) along with a USB to SATA converter and a nice project box.
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Offline JuiceKing

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #32 on: January 29, 2013, 04:02:08 am »
I think $50 on an all-in-one kit like this:

http://www.sciencekits.com/ak00905t.jpg

plus $50 for a good budget DMM is going to get you the most for your money. I can't vouch for this particular kit. Hopefully, the book that comes with it has good project ideas that are well explained. Even if the book is lame (which I think it likely is) at least you can freely access many excellent tutorials and textbooks on the internet, and most all can be done with the parts included in this kind of kit.

I wouldn't buy a scope... Join a club and find an old analog scope that you can borrow (or just get) for free.

- Ken
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 03:26:04 pm by JuiceKing »
 

Offline Spawn

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #33 on: January 29, 2013, 06:02:56 am »
I think $50 on an all-in-one kit like this

This is much better  ;D


Offline free_electron

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #34 on: January 29, 2013, 06:17:52 am »
Umm, 100K?  :o
Kidding right?
If I spent that on my hobby I'd be a dead man.
If I spent that for business, I'd still be a dead man!

Dave.
Says the man that uses a PFANG to prop the door open...
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Offline TerraHertz

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #35 on: January 29, 2013, 06:19:40 am »
I disagree with leaving the soldering iron out.  My bet is that many of us started out scavenging parts.  A soldering iron is of prime importance when on a low budget as many used components may be found still attached to whatever.  Besides, it's better to learn soldering skills on used parts.

The trouble is, you & I grew up in the days when discarded electronics was all leaded components. But have you looked at the kind of stuff that's in typical consumer discards these days? Boards with usable parts are getting rarer and rarer.
Also, salvaged parts tend to have short leads, fat leads, or leads with old oxidized plating. And anyway it's bad to shove desoldered leads into the holes of a prototyping board, as the solder wipes off on the spring contacts, and makes them unreliable.

Salvaged parts are OK for building things, when you already know what you are doing. For a beginner, they'd be much better off buying cheap kits of resistors, transistors, LEDs etc via ebay, and messing around with the plug-in prototyping board. Using components with nice clean, long leads.

Of course a soldering iron is still a high priority. But not the highest.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #36 on: January 29, 2013, 06:22:29 am »
I think many of us would be shocked at the total if we were realy objective and counted every penny related to the EE hobby. :scared:
Jep. I did that once. Decided never to do the calculation again. Frightning. Then again, i don't smoke and only drink water and fruit juice... Throw the cost of beer, wine and other spirits in a pile and i say money spent on the hobby is money well spent. ( hobby can be anything. Mine includes scuba diving)
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Online Simon

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #37 on: January 29, 2013, 06:54:39 am »
without a soldering iron you buggered, you can't put plugs or connectors on anything, and you can't recover free parts  :palm:
 

Offline BillyD

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #38 on: January 29, 2013, 08:30:36 am »
without a soldering iron you buggered, you can't put plugs or connectors on anything, and you can't recover free parts  :palm:

Agree. Plus it severely limits your ability to dismantle/reassemble/repair anything, which is a key part of learning and understanding electronics. Granted most new stuff is smd and doesn't lend itself well to having a new hobbyist poking about inside, but there's also lots of older kit out there waiting to be investigated.
My essential tools for getting started would be:
 - multimeter
 - soldering iron
 - screwdrivers
 - pliers/snips

 

Offline DavidDLC

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #39 on: January 29, 2013, 09:34:41 am »
I had a solder iron, before I had a multimeter. The solder iron is a must have.
 

Online Simon

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #40 on: January 29, 2013, 09:35:15 am »
I started with a lab stocked entirely with recovered parts. I used to get old TV's from a shop round the corner, pull them apart down to the resistors, store and categorize everything. I used the wooden frame of the TV's to make wall cabinets by putting a shelf through the middle and hanging them and stored all my parts in tea boxes in tea bag bags.

This was partly due to no money but alot to do with NOT BEING ABLE TO GET THE BITS.
 

Offline jaqie

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #41 on: January 29, 2013, 09:46:52 am »
This is the absolute cheapest soldering iron I have ever not hated using. it's great in a pinch, and it's the only one I have at the moment besides a nichrome element weller 140w soldering gun.

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062758

35W, basic non-regulated pencil, you can get blade type tips for it.
 

Offline PA4TIM

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #42 on: January 29, 2013, 03:39:54 pm »
I do not dare to count all up, but 5K to 10K is more realistic as 1K. And then to think I got most gear for free. But I do not smoke, drink or go out.

My essentials would be a good multimeter and a good soldering station. All the kit I bought when I started was a waist of money on the long run. After three cheap soldering irons and one station ( together around 120 euro down the drain) i bought a Weller WSP81, all my el-cheapo multimeters I bought as a kid did not survive my experiments, but i still have a Fluke that is now over 30 years old.
( but i did not buy that new, a friend did and gave it to me some years go)
When I started again after about 20 years I bought a Voltcraft multimeter, you guessed right, dead. A Rigol scope, wish I had not, the old cheap teks outperformed it on all front and after 2 years and 2 defect probes, two defect switched I bought the Hameg. So again cash on "cheap"  junk down the drain ( alltough 900 euro for a flimsy scope still is a lot of money)

So today I save a while and then buy quality and for the rest old GR, HP , Fluke or Teks. ( working or not because I like to repair)

Why so much talk about 50 dollar multimeters, let your car at home for a week nd take a bike and you can buy a Fluke? Or skip a going out for dinner or beernight or wathever and you can buy that Luke that gives you pleasure for decennia instead of a headace the next day  ;)
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Offline ftransform

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #43 on: January 29, 2013, 08:35:03 pm »
Your significant other should help buy you parts and assist in lab work like recording measurements or such every once in a while.
I don't see why people in a relationship cannot work together in a workshop. Test equipment displays make for excellent mood lighting too... :-+

 

Offline cwalex

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #44 on: January 30, 2013, 01:25:25 pm »
Are you in the U.S. ?

Hakko FX888 $80?
Cheap MM to get you started $10

Buy the other parts later as you find need for them. Buy the best you can afford! Ask here before you make a specific purchase, it is much easier to give advice that way.

Buy quality and you will buy once, buy crap and you will struggle with it and find yourself disappointed with this great hobby.

All this advice has probably been given already but I thought I would just put it in one post, hopefully you will read it :)

After you have played around with some breadboards and stripboard projects you will have some much better questions to ask. Then next major purchase to make is imo a decentish multimeter and the uni-t ut61e would be a good one to get. As dave would say, you need more than one multimeter. I would have said get that one instead of the ~$10 cheapie but that would exceed your budget of $100. Be careful with the cheap multimeters, they may say you can measure 250V or more but that would be a really bad idea, stick to below 50V or so. Most of all have fun with it and post what you get and what you have done with it! :)
 

Offline SLJ

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #45 on: January 30, 2013, 01:46:32 pm »
Your significant other should help buy you parts and assist in lab work like recording measurements or such every once in a while.
I don't see why people in a relationship cannot work together in a workshop. Test equipment displays make for excellent mood lighting too... :-+

If your significant other puts up with it you have a winner.  Mine has been very supportive and has attended some swap meets with me and helped on a few projects on occasion. She has no interest in helping with any aspect of it on a regular basis but once in awhile she will bring home some electronic find from a garage sale.  I have taught here some magic words and items to look for like "Western Electric", "tube testers", etc.   We have four antique radios in the living room along with a Victrola and Edison cylinder player which she likes.  I bought a 1929 Philco grandfather clock/radio to restore and resell but once she saw it it became a part of the furniture.  Everything else is banned to my home office, electronics room, or the shop but no complaints from here on my investment in my shop, instruments, or tools.

Offline Kibi

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #46 on: February 05, 2013, 07:54:06 pm »
Your significant other should help buy you parts and assist in lab work like recording measurements or such every once in a while.
I don't see why people in a relationship cannot work together in a workshop. Test equipment displays make for excellent mood lighting too... :-+

It's because she'll always tell you that what you enjoy doing is stupid and "not normal". You can't do electronics / engineering AND have a relationship with someone, it just ends in tears every time.
Relationships are bad, electronics is good. :)
 

Offline FenderBender

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #47 on: February 05, 2013, 11:58:00 pm »
I took my girlfriend into my lab once. She looked at the scope...then at me...then proceeded to ask if I was some sort of mad scientist. There's something about CROs that people just find mystifying.

Anyway, you CAN manage a relationship and be an electronics nut...just don't bring electronics up too often.
 

Offline smashedProton

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #48 on: February 06, 2013, 12:35:09 am »
FenderBender... You are my hero!   8)
http://www.garrettbaldwin.com/

Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.
 

Offline george graves

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #49 on: February 06, 2013, 02:23:03 am »
Helping hands are a joke.  They *seem* like they would be really useful - it's the kind of thing you can imagine you'd get some use out of.  I've used mine 2-3 - then threw it in a box and haven't missed it since.  They are a pain to set up for anything.  You'll find quicker ways to do anything that helping hands can do.

Offline Velund

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #50 on: February 06, 2013, 03:38:20 am »
Yeah, $5K would equip you with a pretty kick-arse lab these days.
Even more so if you are in the US or other countries that have oodles of cheap 2nd hand gear on ebay.

It depends... With $5K someone can build quite good lab to work  with microcontrollers and low frequency analog circuits. But my still quite basic home lab with focus on RF design and radio equipment mods/repair (up to 1 GHz for a while) already passed $10K mark (not counting parts), and there is a lot of things that may be considered missing. ;)  I'm not in United States, so eBay is not always a good source, heavy items may cost a lot to ship overseas.

BTW: It may be much more interesting to compile a list of items for "$1K advanced home lab". I can offer to include Rigol DS1052E scope and lower model of Zeroplus LAP-C logic analyzers line to such list. ;) Both is "upgradeable" to quite useful tools. ;)

PS: Should I count an additional room that is used for all this stuff to expenses? Initially planned to purchase 1-bedroom appt, but quickly switched to 2-bedroom one after remembering how many boxes I need to move. ;) And it was quite heavy "investment".
« Last Edit: February 06, 2013, 03:57:19 am by Velund »
 

Offline TerraHertz

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #51 on: February 06, 2013, 03:46:55 am »
I took my girlfriend into my lab once. She looked at the scope...then at me...then proceeded to ask if I was some sort of mad scientist. There's something about CROs that people just find mystifying.

For decades Hollywood and the media have been constructing a cultural illusion that anything involving advanced technology belongs in corporate or government labs, therefore any individual who does that kind of stuff on their own has to be some kind of obsessive nut, and is probably irresponsible and dangerous.  The 'mad scientist' trope is just one example of that corrupted belief system.
Women seem particularly prone to absorbing such subliminal propaganda bullsh*t. Which makes it virtually impossible to find a companion who appreciates our hobby. Let alone practices it herself. Sigh.

Quote
Anyway, you CAN manage a relationship and be an electronics nut...just don't bring electronics up too often.
See? Even you have absorbed the programming to some extent. "Nut"? You may think it's a harmless term of endearment, but it's not.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2013, 03:49:57 am by TerraHertz »
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Offline smackaay

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #52 on: February 06, 2013, 04:01:34 am »
I think the term nut is used for almost any hobby or interest though. How many times have you seen, gun nut, car nut etc?
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Offline smashedProton

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #53 on: February 06, 2013, 06:17:00 am »
Terrahertz, i have read what you wrote on the fun/dumb stuff you did as a kid!  Do you have something to tell us about you nut?  I heard that you like flash powder and microwaves.
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Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.
 

Offline PA4TIM

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Re: The $100 Lab Challenge
« Reply #54 on: February 06, 2013, 07:04:27 am »
Just sabotage the TV just before the old nd the beautifull, Dallas or shit most women like to watch and then do omeinterestimg things with some gear and et het think you will be not ready on time because you have not enough gear, but be sure she misses not much more then the first minute. The next time you see those cute shoes  nice multimeter she will not be so difficult  8)
www.pa4tim.nl my collection measurement gear and experiments Also lots of info about network analyse
www.schneiderelectronicsrepair.nl  repair of test and calibration equipment
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