Author Topic: The $100 Lab Challenge  (Read 16973 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline SeanB

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 15577
  • Country: za
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

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 4303
  • Country: ca
  • Canadian po
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.
 

Offline Simon

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 15859
  • Country: gb
  • Did that just blow up? No? might work after all !!
    • Simon's Electronics
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

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 644
  • Country: us
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.
http://www.garrettbaldwin.com/

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

Offline TerraHertz

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3841
  • Country: au
  • Why shouldn't we question everything?
    • It's not really a Blog
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.
Collecting old scopes, logic analyzers, and unfinished projects. http://everist.org
 

Offline SLJ

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 657
  • Country: us
  • Antique Test Equipment Collector
    • Steve's Antique Technology
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

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7274
  • Country: us
  • "Don't turn it on - Take it apart!"
    • Facebook Page
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.
Cryptocurrency has taught me to love math and at the same time be baffled by it.

Cryptocurrency lesson 0: Altcoins and Bitcoin are not the same thing.
 

Offline JuiceKing

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 233
  • Country: us
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

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 510
  • Country: nl
  • ³²µ º'ºººº³²
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

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7653
  • Country: us
    • SiliconValleyGarage
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...
Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 

Offline TerraHertz

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3841
  • Country: au
  • Why shouldn't we question everything?
    • It's not really a Blog
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.
Collecting old scopes, logic analyzers, and unfinished projects. http://everist.org
 

Offline free_electron

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7653
  • Country: us
    • SiliconValleyGarage
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)
Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 

Offline Simon

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 15859
  • Country: gb
  • Did that just blow up? No? might work after all !!
    • Simon's Electronics
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

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 214
  • Country: ie
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

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 742
  • Country: us
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.
 

Offline Simon

  • Global Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 15859
  • Country: gb
  • Did that just blow up? No? might work after all !!
    • Simon's Electronics
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

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 104
  • Country: 00
  • Genuine Girl Techie
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

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1157
  • Country: nl
  • instruments are like rabbits, they multiply fast
    • PA4TIMs shelter for orphan measurement stuff
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  ;)
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
https://www.youtube.com/user/pa4tim my youtube channel
 

Offline ftransform

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 729
  • Country: 00
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

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 302
  • Country: au
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

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 657
  • Country: us
  • Antique Test Equipment Collector
    • Steve's Antique Technology
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

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 385
  • Country: england
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

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1118
  • Country: us
    • The Solid State Workshop
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

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 644
  • Country: us
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

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 1257
  • Country: us
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.


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf