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    DIY Test Equipment

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    This month's theme is from dougw and is for DIY Test Equipment - Home-made Tool or instrument.


    There's a little bit of something for everyone in this monthly theme.  If you're getting started, it's a fun way to explore design & electronics projects while making something useful. You'll find examples on this page to encourage you to get your hands dirty with microprocessors, development boards, soldering, and tinkering.  DIY test equipment projects will further your understanding of how electronics work. If you are a design & electronics enthusiast, this is an opportunity to make homemade tools & instruments that fits your needs, at a fraction of the price of more expensive equipment.


    Examples of DIY test equipment include oscilloscopes, function generators, audio impedance meters, capacitance meters, AC/DC LED Indicators, 554 Timer IC Tester, digital frequency counters, digital pressure guage, MOSFET tester, wire tracers, tachnometers, mains power line sniffer, and digital voltmeters.


    If you're an electronics & design enthusiast, you probably spend as much time fussing over your hand tools as your hand instruments.   Recently, Ben Heck's been working on one of his favorite hand tools, making the Super Glue Gun of his dreams.  Feel free to prototype the hand tool of your dreams, if the muse strikes your fancy.


    Here are some examples of DIY Test Equipment to inspire you: 


    Cyclops-1000: An Electronic Eye for Rotational Speed Measurement




    This month's featured example, Cyclops-1000: An Electronic Eye for Rotational Speed Measurement , shabaz  shows you how to make a home made test tool to measure how fast things turning. Cyclops-1000 can be used for vehicle diagnostics, to check how fast the drill is spinning, and math/physics experiments to see how fast wheels or other parts are spinning. It's low-cost (<$25) and makes a good introduction to understanding the basics of electronics and learning to solder.  It gives you a chance to work with a microcontroller, a development board, build a circuit, and with the PCB it can be done by someone with no prior experience with electronics & design projects. It will give you experience programming a microcontroller and modifying code. When you're done you'll have an RPM device (tachometer) for measuring the rotational speed of all sorts of machines.


    Building the DSO Shell 15001K Oscilloscope 




    One of the most essential pieces of equipment for working on electronics & design projects is an oscilloscope.  Unfortunately, a decent oscilloscope could run you several thousand dollars. Luckily, you don't need all that money, especially if you're just getting started, because you could easily make your own oscilloscope at a fraction of the cost. Recently,  jw0752 posted about Building a DSO Shell 15001K Oscilloscope  to demonstrate how to make your own oscilloscope for as little as $22 using a kit.  You're going want your project to be original, but this is a perfect example of how you could save yourself a ton of money, with a little know how, and some inexpensive parts. With a listed 200 K bandwidth, it is undersized for many applications, but it makes a good tool for audio and lower frequency.  Much like shabaz's DIY tachometer, it's a good educational tool for the experimenter or enthusiast.


    A simple DIY Oscilloscope with Arduino Uno and Mega




    There's more than one way to build your own oscilloscopes of course!  A lot people take advantage of the Arduino simplified programming and hardware ecosystem to make their own oscilloscope. The Simple DIY Oscilloscope with Arduino Uno and Megafrom vaupell  involves an Arduino Uno and Mega. After trying different versions of code and tutorials (Arduino had tons of tutorials and readily available code snippets) he found a working TFT screen library he could use to read various received signals. The limitations were 0-5 V, which was fine, as what he was looking to know either wave type or frequency.


    DIY fun: Building a Mains Power Line Sniffer




    In this example, shabaz strikes again, with a fun piece of DIY test equipment, a Mains Power Line Sniffer.  He did what all sorts of people working in labs did in the 70s (there's no way for me to verify this), he couldn't find what he was looking for, so he built his own!  While putting up a shelf for a lab for doing electronics projects, he needed a Mains Power Tracer.  Faced between the choice of going to the store on Sunday or making his own, he decided to make it himself.  The more wiring you have in your home, the more important this tool becomes. It took shabaz , an experienced electronics & design projects enthusiast, only took him a couple of hours to complete his project.   When he was done, he was left with a tool that had benefits over what he would have had if he purchased one at the store.  His finished product was ultra sensitive and required no adjustment/calibration.


    Finally, many people think of oscilloscopes when they think of Ben Heck (along with function generators, glue guns, multimeters, etc....).


    Watch Ben and Felix make their own DIY Raspberry Pi using Bitscope and a Pi:  





    Raspberry Pi Bitscope Mod



    Step 1: Log in or register on element14, it's easy and free.

    Step 2: Post in the comments section below to begin a discussion on your idea. Videos, pictures and text are all welcomed forms of submission.

    Step 3: Submit a blog post of your progress on your project by the end of the month.  You are free to submit as many blog entries as you like until the beginning of the next theme.


    You have until September 14th, 12:00 AM CDT to submit your completed project!


    Be sure to include video proof of your project!


    What type of Electronics & Design Project are you thinking about doing? 


    Let us know in the comments below!