Author Topic: What else do I need?  (Read 5559 times)

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duskglow

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What else do I need?
« on: June 22, 2013, 09:09:26 pm »
Alright, so I've spent the last couple of months (on and off, of course) setting up a small lab.  I've got an old Tek o'scope (100MHz digital), a couple of bench multimeters (both of which I repaired myself - one of which is five digit), a cheap hot air gun and soldering station, and a couple of cheap portable multimeters.  Oh, and a linear power supply and a bunch of other more specialized (single voltage) power supplies.  I think I spent less than $400 on the whole shebang.

I can't think of anything else, as a hobbyist, that I need.  Oh, I can think of a bunch of things that I *want*, sure, but I think this is a pretty good setup.  Is there anything I'm missing and should look out for on ebay?  The only thing I can think of is a variac, and maybe a logic analyzer, but I'm not sure I need that at the moment.

Thoughts?
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2013, 09:13:15 pm »
Do you have breadboard, spools of hook-up wire, component stash, a few decent hand tools etc?

Offline jpb

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2013, 09:13:57 pm »
some sort of signal source/function generator?
 

duskglow

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2013, 09:15:43 pm »
yeah, yeah, yeah, and yeah.  I have several breadboards, some hook up wire, a rather large component stash I've mostly built up through scavenging, and I got some cheap tweezers and chip/soldering tools.  So I think that's covered.  Any recommended hand tools?  I have some screwdrivers, PLCC puller, etc., so it's mostly covered there.
 

duskglow

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2013, 09:16:50 pm »
jpb, hmm, good thought.  I've seen some cheap DSS ones on ebay, what do you think of those?
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2013, 09:17:08 pm »
What kind of hobbyist are you?  Digital, analog, general repair, prototyping ..... ?

duskglow

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2013, 09:18:06 pm »
digital, general repair, prototyping.  Specifically, I want to build microcontroller applications.  There may be an analog component, but I don't have a huge interest in the really in depth analog stuff at the moment.
 

Online Andy Watson

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2013, 09:28:46 pm »
You need something to do, a project or goal. Everything will suggest itself as needed.
 

Offline don.r

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2013, 09:29:15 pm »
You have, of course, checked out Dave's video on the subject:
 

Offline jpb

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2013, 09:35:55 pm »
jpb, hmm, good thought.  I've seen some cheap DSS ones on ebay, what do you think of those?

They are probably cheap enough to just experiment with (I'm talking about the circuit board ones which cost a few $). DDS function generators/arbitrary waveform generators vary hugely in price (I'm thinking of spending an outrageous amount on one). Like oscilloscopes, the prices rise with frequency as the analogue parts are probably more tricky than the digital parts which are ics.

Extra cash buys you higher frequencies, faster rise times, less jitter more arbitrary waveform memory, perhaps a variable sample clock rather than a fixed one.

There is a thread on this forum somewhere (I can't find it now - but if you do some searching you may locate it) on the very cheap (like around $5) development board examples which are a slightly updated version of Dave's circuit  - these are very cheap but need to be controlled by an external processor of some sort (perhaps a PIC).



 

duskglow

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2013, 09:41:07 pm »
don, I've seen that video around but I've been kind of hesitant to watch it.  Not sure why, might have something to do with feeling like as a hobbyist I'm not in the same class as people like Dave.

Maybe a waveform generator would be a good project. :)
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2013, 09:42:47 pm »
Maybe a waveform generator would be a good project. :)

Building stuff is way more fun than collecting equipment!  Pick something that's been on your mind and make it happen, you'll love it!

duskglow

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2013, 09:44:59 pm »
Oh, don't get me wrong, I have.  I'm building a lightboard controller now.  I just got the atmega2560 chips yesterday, am waiting on the QFP breakout board so I can get to prototyping.  (I already prototyped it on an arduino, but now I want to go straight atmega).
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2013, 09:46:12 pm »
You're on the right track my friend, keep building and what you need will come by necessity..

duskglow

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2013, 09:49:11 pm »
Thanks.  I battle feelings of inferiority on this topic daily, and I'm trying to push through and do interesting stuff anyway.
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2013, 09:52:09 pm »
Thanks.  I battle feelings of inferiority on this topic daily, and I'm trying to push through and do interesting stuff anyway.

Absolutely nothing inferior about learning and making your own way.  Your hobby is partially unique to you, you only need what you need, nothing more!

duskglow

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2013, 09:57:01 pm »
It is good to get back into a hobby I've been into since I was seven, and actually do something interesting with it for the first time, so there's that. :)

I should see if I can get that PIC talking via USB...  that would be a good start.
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2013, 10:00:09 pm »
Great!

You mentioned some soldering equipment, do you have any through hole desoldering?  I personally hate wick, something that "sucks" might be a good addition to your stash?

duskglow

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2013, 10:13:50 pm »
I do have a sucker, but it doesn't seem to be a very *good* sucker.  <Insert awful innuendo here>

I actually find it works kind of well to hit it with a hot air gun and then bang it on something (obviously for things that aren't vibration sensitive).  The solder just falls right through the hole.
 

Offline Lightages

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2013, 11:40:33 pm »
It seems to me that you could use a DMM Check Plus or just a DMM Check from www.voltagestandard.com  If you are going to use "cheap" handheld meters and repaired bench meters you better have a reference to know if you are even close on your measurements. If you are going to measure anything higher than say 50 volts, like wall sockets, then you might consider getting one modern not "cheap" multimeter for safety. A good example might be the Amprobe AM270 or the Brymen BM25X series. I would HIGHLY recommend the BM257 as a good $135 (shipped to your door for that price) meter if you want spend that much.

Other than that you seem to be doing fairly well at equipping your lab all by yourself. A general signal generator is very useful. Unless you know you need to generate signals more than a coupe of megahertz then don't worry about getting higher end AWG or high frequency generators.
 

duskglow

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2013, 11:56:25 pm »
The Triplett actually seems pretty high quality (and is cheap just because of its age), though your point is well taken.  Money is an object right now, though, so I'm being really careful how much I spend - that's why I went cheap in the first place.  :(
 

Offline don.r

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2013, 01:33:54 am »
don, I've seen that video around but I've been kind of hesitant to watch it.  Not sure why, might have something to do with feeling like as a hobbyist I'm not in the same class as people like Dave.

Maybe a waveform generator would be a good project. :)
LOL! I have been an EE for 1/4 of a century and I'm not in the the same class as Dave! You have some excellent company.  ^-^

There are some excellent DDS parts and you could control it from an Arduino or other micro and toss in a USB interface. Probably even a few kits out there to get you started if you wanted to.
 

duskglow

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Re: What else do I need?
« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2013, 02:00:55 am »
Yes, i just bought a module on ebay.  It's just one of the cheapy $5 ones, but I bet I could use one of my PIC32MX16Fblah chips to control it.  Maybe I should buy more of them. :)  I've also got a bunch of LCDs/VFDs lying around, so...  won't be perfect but a good little project.

I did try to watch that video.  To be honest, I couldn't finish it.  I felt like a faker.  I do appreciate what Dave's trying to do, honest I do, and when I'm in the right mood I love watching his videos, but there's something about his approach that makes me feel like I'm just playing at this when I'm in the wrong mood.  :(  And the sad thing?  I've been playing at this since I was 7.  That was exactly 30 years ago.
 


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