There are two stations at my main work bench. The first station is for bread boarding and testing components, circuits and prototypes. The bulk of my test equipment is arranged at this end of the bench. The other end of the bench is set up for soldering and desoldering as well as minor mechanical operations. After setting up this arrangement I found myself frequently jumping back and forth from one end to the other to test this or that component as I removed them from salvage circuit boards. Finally I got tired of the slide back and forth and I added a couple of meters to the solder station end of the bench. This solved the problem of having to move to do the minor testing. Here is a picture of the two meters at the solder station end of the bench. I always like to have a small analog meter handy as I find it much more intuitive for checking transistors and diodes. Of course the digital meter is a real necessity when it comes to resistance or capacitance readings.

 

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Yesterday I was busy testing capacitors when I noticed that I was having trouble seeing the smaller print on the read out of the digital meter. Was it a uF, an nF, or a mF in the small units indication? I reached up and pushed the back light timer on the meter and went back to make my test again but before I could get the probes positioned the back light would time out. This happened twice before I gave up. Now I know I can adjust the time that the back light will stay lit but I don't like using the back light as it eats up battery time. The solution would be the installation of a small LED under the counter light. I remembered that a while back I bought some inexpensive automotive bulbs. These are 12 volt 100 mA so you know there isn't going to be very much light but all I needed was enough to highlight the display on the Digital meter.

 

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I checked in the parts grave yard and found a medical equipment wall wart the bragged 12 volts 2.5 A. I always get a kick out of situations where some of this once expensive, elite dental equipment gets tied into running something like a fifty cent Chinese LED. My bench lights can be controlled so that I do not have to have them all on at one time. I light, with spots,  which ever end of the bench I am working at and leave the other end with just the ambient room light. Fortunately I had a spare switched outlet for the solder station end of the bench so that is where I plugged in the 12 volt wall wart. I had to extend the wire of the wall wart about a 30 cm to reach the proper position. Here is a picture of the wall wart plugged into the switched outlet.

 

 

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Here is the LED positioned behind the shelf edge above the digital meter.

 

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Here are the before and after pictures of what I can see from my working position at the solder station.

 

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This is a very small and simple project but it will lower my frustration level and it will make working at the bench much more enjoyable. Perhaps there are little irritations that you are dealing with everyday as you work at your bench. No time like the present to get out the tools and make that simple modification that will put more enjoyment into your experience. Then post a blog like this one so we can all enjoy your triumph over life's little irritations.

 

John