21 Replies Latest reply on May 16, 2019 1:12 PM by philertman

    Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment

    mudz

      Hi,

      I am an independent designer/hobbyist. I am getting serious on few electronics stuff and need to setup my home lab. I am more inclined towards precision and digital stuff. Love technology of today, compact/handheld solutions. I have a budget of around $1500.

      Kindly suggest me :

      Multimeter

      Oscilloscope

      Any other stuff??
      Power supply I wish to make myself but welcome opinions..

       

      I already had a Fluke 115 True RMS meter but someone stole it.

       

      Open to all suggestions.
      Thank you

        • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
          colporteur

          First thought is solder station and accessories. Don't chintzy out a get something that just works.  It is something that will last a lifetime on a bench and get used often. Look at a good professional unit with temperature control and you will be much happier and reduce the dread of having to solder boards.

           

          Sean

          7 of 7 people found this helpful
          • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
            fmilburn

            I am sure you will get lots of good responses but here are some videos that may be useful:

             

            This one a but old now from Dave Jones but still good:  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=R_PbjbRaO2E

            From Andreas Spiess:  https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=inW57njiq1A

             

            Both of the video bloggers above have additional detail on their channels.  Be sure to check out RoadTests here on element14 on particular tools and lab instruments. 

             

            What you buy and use will depend on your interests.  For example, if you do pure electronics you might not need a 3D printer but they are very useful for robotics and different projects.  My approach has been to not buy things until I need them for a specific project.  And then research carefully what is available and read the reviews before buying.

             

            It is a rewarding hobby.  Good luck!

             

            Frank

            10 of 10 people found this helpful
            • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
              andrewj

              I'd have to second Frank's point: wait until you know you need something before you buy it.  I know I want an Oscilloscope but I don't have the project yet to use it on, ditto a microscope for SMD soldering.  Things change too fast to jump in earlier than necessary.

               

              I started with nothing more than a Extech EX330 multimeter and a v.cheap 15w/30w soldering iron.  I've since scored a Fluke 287 on eBay for a bit of a bargain (IMHO) but the Extech works well for me. 

              Don't buy a cheap soldering iron, you'll regret it every time it lifts a blasted pad off your protoboard.  Get one as outlined by Sean above - I lumped out for a Hakko FX-888DFX-888D, it's very good and I wish I hadn't spent the (albeit little) money on the crap one.

              I quickly obtained decent lighting as well - daylight and ceiling lights couldn't cut it for me.  There's some good LED strip lighting and desk lighting available in daylight white.

               

              The last thing I'd add is that eBay and Amazon seem full of cheap Chinese crap to the extent it's become difficult to find quality stuff on those sites.  You should stick with respectable, known suppliers (including quality Chinese ones of course) - it's more expensive but you will not you are getting originals not counterfeits and also getting safe tools.

               

              I think you're a bit beyond the following, but I add for the benefit of other readers who might be starting out...

              You can try some of the cheap Chinese solder and see how you get on but be prepared to lump out on quality lead solder and quality solder wick.  They're quite expensive but do work and the last thing you need is to be 'fighting' your tools.  You could of course go straight to lead free and work with that, it's just that the general opinion is that it's harder to use than its leaded counterpart.  However, what you don't know you won't miss, right??

              Helping Hand for soldering. 

              You'll be wanting some breadboards and some prototype board, solid core 22AWG hook up wire of multiple colours (preferably), double-ended crocodile clip test leads, flush side cutter, wire stripper.  Heat shrink tubing might be useful as well, depends what you end up doing.

              You'll also be wanting an AC/DC wall wart, preferably 5V, 6V, 9V and 12V.  Although with a little work you can set up a simple regulated output with an LM7805 or LM7806 to convert the 9V/12V down. 

               

              It may not seem like it, but I got a long way with just the above whilst I was experimenting and building simple circuits.  I can't believe how expensive it ends up being buying the parts you'll be wanting to prototype and explore with so that will sink some of your budget but you do end up building quite a stash!  I now have one to rival my wife's material stash for her sewing. 

               

              Andrew

              6 of 6 people found this helpful
              • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
                dougw

                I did a tool blog that might help:

                The Magic Tool Kit

                There is a basic set of tools/instruments needed to tackle most projects:

                • bench
                • hand tools (pliers, cutters, screw drivers, tweezers, files)
                • adjustable DC power supply
                • DMM
                • temperature controlled soldering station

                There is a lot you can make with just this set.

                The next level gets more expensive:

                • oscilloscope
                • stereo microscope
                • vise
                • drill press
                • fume extractor
                • crimping tools
                • LC meter
                • signal generator

                These cover most of the basic hardware

                But you will also need a computer and software tools like:

                • ECAD
                • firmware IDEs
                • circuit simulation

                The third level starts to get into equipment that isn't used on every project:

                • spectrum analyzer
                • network analyzer
                • FPGA development tools
                • programmable load

                At each phase you will start to collect parts that will need a storage system.

                I haven't acquired anything from that third level yet, although I have a scope with built-in FFT ...

                 

                I'm sure I missed some important tools that other members will suggest....

                When you decide what will be your next purchase, you can indicate your requirements, uses and price range and ask for advice on that specific instrument and get plenty of advice from the members.

                8 of 8 people found this helpful
                  • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
                    fmilburn

                    That is a good list!  I started out with the items in the basics set and over a period of years now have the items in the next level with the exception of a LC meter and signal generator.  As for additions, two DMMs are handy for measuring voltage and current simultaneously.  One item not listed that I use fairly frequently is an inexpensive logic analyzer (with sigroc software).  A 3D printer might fit in there somewhere also...

                    4 of 4 people found this helpful
                  • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
                    colporteur

                    G'Day,

                    Not big bucks by no means but great to grab and chock to take aim at some nagging hot solder painting a board. Some suggested solder wick to do this job. I prefer this approach.

                    Sean

                    solder sucker

                    3 of 3 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
                      mudz

                      Thank you all for your kind reply.
                      I think I was not clear before, I am sorry for that.
                      Actually I need to know specific equipment name like I was looking for FLUKE 87v multimeter.
                      I know it is good multimeter what I wish to know from your experience is there any other better multimeter which I can get around this multimeter price?
                      Or take an oscilloscope for example I already have an very old phillips 20MHZ one but I wish to get technology of now.

                      I took this question to the community as I was confused which particular one to get. I have already seen so many reviews that got me confused which one to pick.
                      I am looking for a good multimeter. Should I pick Fluke 87v or there is something better now?
                      I am looking for an oscilloscope which is good, not so costly but will be helpful for general electronics use.
                      Looking for Power Supply unit. Is tenma any good? Please suggest me one good dual Power supply with good voltage and current range?

                      Also looking for function generator unit.

                      Might as well I am looking for good soldering unit with temperature control? I already have one but that is for BGA desoldering unit and have pin point soldering iron with temperature control. I am currently using 5$ soldering iron for general soldering. So suggest me one good soldering station.

                       

                      3 of 3 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
                          shabaz

                          Hi!

                           

                          That's a really nice budget for equipment, but it won't provide much equipment if you're looking for stuff like a Fluke 87V. There was a video linked earlier by fmilburn that recommends spending $50 for a multimeter, and suggests some model (I can't recall which one). Such a recommendation sounds good I think. This isn't skimping, because modern $50 multimeters can be great.

                          Since each project can easily cost $100 in parts, it's maybe better to spend this money as you work on each of the projects you want to do (and do stuff like buy a pack of resistors, rather than just enough for the project), and choose the equipment to test them with - that equipment will last for other similar and different projects, and means you won't end up with a lab that doesn't get used.

                           

                          Anyway, there's only about 3 essential tools - a soldering iron and multi-meter and power supply, possibly in that order. The video makes recommendations on these, but some stuff may be location-specific. For example, where I am, there are UK and European manufacturers for soldering irons and they are popular, but in the USA different manufacturer products are popular. What models are you considering? (in case people have experience of them).

                          You may be able to acquire cutters, screwdrivers etc from family or hand-me-downs - I'm fairly sure I didn't buy that sort of stuff for years, because homes have this for DIY anyway.

                          4 of 4 people found this helpful
                            • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
                              fmilburn

                              Along the lines of what Shabaz recommends... Don't worry about filling up your lab overnight.  Get the basics and buy the rest as your projects require them.

                               

                              The $50 meter that Dave Jones recommends is an Extech EX330 which I own.  It is a good meter and I can recommend it although there may be others as good or better for the money.  He also recommends the Rigol 1052 (2 channel) oscilloscope - I recently purchased a used Rigol 1054 which is the four channel version and again no problem recommending it although there may be others as good.  I can't recommend the cheap power supply I have and am on the lookout for a dual supply myself - I am watching to see what Shabaz does with the Tenma supply he just bought :-).  I have a Hakko 888D which is a classic and works well but there are other models which some prefer.  Up until now I have used a microcontroller and parts to generate square and sine waves - no pressing need for anything more.  For the most my projects are not that demanding, I don't work with high voltages, and as Shabaz suggests I spend most of my money on the projects.

                              5 of 5 people found this helpful
                          • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
                            mudz

                            Hello all

                            Well, I've given a lot of thoughts about things and with all pro's and needs, first thing I am going to go for is FLUKE 87 v.

                            I'm little bit saddened that I have to choose amazon over element14 as product listed here costs almost double what I'm getting from amazon. I really don't know why there is such a huge difference in price.

                             

                            I'll purchase other items one by one and after getting my hands on this one. I'll post my selections here soon. I haven't ordered it yet but I'll soon after giving a final thought.

                             

                            Any thoughts/suggestions?

                             

                              • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
                                shabaz

                                Make sure it is a Fluke 87 V if it's cheap.

                                I did hear that someone purchased one, but it was actually a used 83 V, inside a new 87 V shell (easy to tell because when you power it up, the LCD screen mentions the model number briefly).

                                You will be happy with the 87 V capability (who wouldn't!) but it's a large chunk of money considering it will be a third of your $1500 budget for a single instrument. I feel it's a mistake. Maybe you could get more productivity with a 'scope and a decent mid-range meter, all for the same price.

                                 

                                I only use a more accurate multimeter if the Fluke 170 series isn't good enough (I think I have a '175). The 115 you had was not very good for electronics design (any of the $50-100 multimeters mentioned by people in this thread would be better). I remember when you purchased it (and to be honest we did suggest those low-end Fluke series was not that great (for electronics design) at the time: Multimeter? TENMA 72-6130 or FLUKE 106 any good?  ).

                                Anyway, I don't want to put you off if your heart is set on it, it is a capable meter.

                                4 of 4 people found this helpful
                                  • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
                                    mudz

                                    Make sure it is a Fluke 87 V if it's cheap.

                                    I did hear that someone purchased one, but it was actually a used 83 V, inside a new 87 V shell (easy to tell because when you power it up, the LCD screen mentions the model number briefly).

                                    Duly noted will take a deep look at that. I'll post my unboxing and review video here if I made one.

                                     

                                    You will be happy with the 87 V capability (who wouldn't!) but it's a large chunk of money considering it will be a third of your $1500 budget for a single instrument.

                                    Actually I'm getting it for nearly one forth of my budget ! I have my doubts on that but will return if I found something suspicious about it.

                                     

                                    I feel it's a mistake. Maybe you could get more productivity with a 'scope and a decent mid-range meter, all for the same price.

                                    I have seen every good reviewer or hobbyist comparing other meters with the quality, accuracy to this meter.  So, I think one should have a good meter if budget allows it. Also, it will be helpful at my workplace(factory where there are faults most of the time). It will be helpful in debugging those faults and I can put my trust on its safety.

                                    I'm considering Rigol 1054z for scope. I need four channels for some reasons. any views on this one??

                                     

                                    Thanks shabaz for digging up that old thread. hah . I went through the thread again. I remembered that time budget was $100 and how times have changed now. It was an OK meter I had fun with that too. Thanks for your concerns and suggestions for that time as well as for now, helped this fellow member a lot.

                                     

                                    Actually I'll buy one more meter soon. It will be either one you all are suggesting or FLUKE 289.

                                     

                                    Just ordered Fluke 87 v costed me around $328.

                                     

                                    Cheers !

                                      • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
                                        shabaz

                                        Wow. If you're considering a '289 as your next purchase, there was really no need for the 87 V. In comparison it's not a very feature-rich meter, but accurate and reliable like all Fluke's. The '289 is better in almost every way as I understand (I've not used a '289), a lot more exciting features. If I had to choose only between those two, my choice would have been the '289.

                                         

                                        You may feel these to be overkill eventually, when you want other gear, if large amounts of budget are already used up), but you'll know better than me about your requirements.

                                        Regarding review I bet people would love to see a review of whichever ones you go for. I'd like to see the '289 reviewed for sure..

                                        2 of 2 people found this helpful
                                  • Re: Need to setup lab.. suggest equipment
                                    philertman

                                    I always liked Tektronix scopes. They where very good and easy to set up and use. I favored Weller soldering irons with temperature control in base. I liked there pinpoint and blade tips. For multimeters I liked Simpson. If you can't or don't like Simpson Fluke is a good second choice. If you get a variable power supply I would suggest one with voltage and amp meters. Possibly B&K.

                                    For tools I would suggest a set of jewelers screwdrivers, socket drivers, standard screwdrivers and needle nose plyers. The most important thing is a magnet for holding screws. They sell magnetic trays at Menards. While you are there pick up a Levi apron and some thumb tacks. Tack the end of apron to your bench to catch runaway screws. Get a decent magnifier/fluorescent  light to attach

                                    to bench. Storage of small parts is your choice. Multi drawer cabinets or maybe just some old baby food jars.

                                     

                                    Phil

                                     

                                    A lot of this stuff can be found on a website called Governmentliquidation.com. It is an auction site so patience will be well served here. Of course there are hamfests, estate sales, antique stores(you would be surprised).

                                    1 of 1 people found this helpful