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Welcome. --DavidCary 15:46, 9 April 2009 (UTC)
Purduecer's Future Workshop
Thank you for posting "Purduecer's Future Workshop" on Instructables.
After thinking far too often, "I know how to do this. I've done this before, and it was easy. But that was in a different city, with tools that I had to leave behind.", I decided I need to assemble my own workshop with my own collection of tools.
Perhaps if we talk to each other about ideas for a workshop, we will both end up with better workshops. I'm already posting what I know about electronic tools I'm buying for my workshop here at OpenCircuits -- for example, oscilloscope.
- "Build a Computer Desk, in One Weekend, with One Sheet of Plywood, For Under $100.00" -- how would you tweak this design to fit electronics work -- soldering iron, an o'scope, etc. ?
- "Optimizing Your Workspace" -- some good ideas that will apply to my electronics work, even though it's about automobile work
- John Doran: "a tour of my laboratory" -- This is what Purduecer and I both want, right?
--DavidCary 23:15, 13 April 2009 (UTC)
I am a college student (go Purdue!) who interns in the summer and lives in a different location each year. As such, I currently live a very transient lifestyle, and lack a permanent workshop. Thus, for the time being, I require all of my tools and equipment to be very lightweight and portable (My current "workshop" consists of 2 toolboxes, a tackle box, a small package that contains all my parts in individually labeled bags, my laptop, and a cordless dremel tool.) Conveniently, if you keep everything well organized all you really need to be up and running is a folding chair, a table, and a power outlet.
My current equipment list reads something like as follows (in relative order of importance):
- Prototyping Equipment: solderless breadboards (recommend having at least 2), jumper wire set
- Power Supply: For now, I use a 5V AC Adapter with the jack cut off. I can then screw the free wires to the barrier strip on the breadboard for testing with most CMOS logic. In the future, I may upgrade my power supply to an Converted ATX supply or possibly a professional version
- Basic Equipment: Hemostat, Screwdrivers, Pliers, Wire-Stripper/Cutter/Crimper, Diagonal Cutters, Exacto Knife, Reliable Multimeter (I use this one myself, and can only say good things about it), Safety Glasses (never can be too careful)
- Storage: I have a tackle box dedicated to electrical parts and a toolbox dedicated to tools
- Programmer: Many of my projects involve the use of a microcontroller. I've taken a liking to Microchip's PIC Microcontrollers, and so I got a PICkit2. Thus far it has handled everything I've needed to do very well. Some day I may upgrade to Microchip's ICD 3, but it could be awhile before I have the time to engage in projects that would require such a sophisticated piece of equipment.
- Soldering Iron: I started out with a cheap $15 dollar pencil-style iron, but ended up investing in a Weller WES51. Again, I can only say good things about this machine.
- Soldering Accessories: Spare Solder Station Tips, Solder (do you prefer leaded or lead free?), Desoldering Braid, solder fume extractor, smd tweezers (probably one of the best uses of my money to date), electrical tape
- Dremel Tool: I went ahead and grabbed Dremel's 10.8V cordless tool, as well as a second battery and a few accessories. It has been very helpful on projects so far and will continue to be so in the future.
- Hot Glue Gun: Along with the Dremel Tool and Soldering Iron, the Hot Glue Gun (I grabbed the version you can see in the picture) completes the holy trinity of hobby tools (at least as far as I'm concerned).
- Workbench: Currently, I use a cheap computer desk I got from Office Depot. It's a little cramped, but gives me enough project space for the time being.
Anyhow, that's what I work with currently, and it has allowed me to do a great deal of hobby work. I will add to this list with stuff I'm looking forward to getting when time permits. --Purduecer 03:44, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
Fascinating. Thank you for the list.
Solder: My understanding is that lead solder is more reliable -- and, unfortunately, more toxic -- than lead-free solder. So I plan to continue using my spool of leaded solder (and washing my hands carefully afterward) until it is used up. I won't be too surprised if the next spool of solder I buy is lead-free -- not because it is better, but because I expect that leaded solder will soon be taken off the market. (See Wikipedia: ROHS).
Multimeter: I've bought a handful of the cheapest multimeters I could find. Sometimes I think this is great -- I can lend one or two out and still be able to do my own work; I can measure current *and* voltage simultaneously, and so measure "apparent power" (not to be confused with real power). Other times I regret this -- they don't even have a beeper for audible continuity test; I've already killed 2 of them by probing around in a live 12 V circuit with the selector set to the "wrong" setting (resistance).
I've been tempted to buy a hard-shell hard-shell laptop briefcase or aluminum utility case   to make something vaguely similar to a briefcase tool case or "base station built into a briefcase" (on page 240 of "101 Spy Gadgets for the Evil Genius" by Brad Graham, Kathy McGowan). Except mine would have little cutouts in the foam for exactly the tools I actually use, rather than the tools some big company thought I might use plus whatever tools they have the highest profit margin on :-). I'm pretty sure that they make large utility cases that all my favorite tools would fit into. Alas, I'm also pretty sure that the resulting case, after filling it full of tools, would be too heavy for me to lift :-(.
Your tool list seems adequate for digital logic, but whenever I do anything with op-amps or switching power supplies I find myself reaching for an o'scope. Even though, in theory, I should be able to breadboard up a little Microchip PIC and program its ADC to collect exactly the information I need for far less than 1/10 the price of a low-end o'scope, and funnel it to my big computer display. But I never do that, because (a) it would take much longer, and (b) I'd always be wondering if those little bits of weirdness I see on the display are real, or merely a lurking bug in my PIC code. --DavidCary 08:05, 7 May 2009 (UTC)
If I forgot to mention it, I do have a third hand, although I use it somewhat minimally. It sees the most use when I have to solder wires to a board I made, rather than for work with surface mount or through-hole components. Some day I may consider building a ThirdHand++.
For now, most of my work is embedded electronics, and so when I do get a new piece of equipment, odds are I'll take a logic analyzer over an oscilloscope. That said, if you wanted a reasonably cheap oscilloscope, one fellow on Instructables made a DIY version that may be worth checking out.
--Purduecer 23:55, 7 May 2009 (UTC)