I thought I would give a brief overview of my current lab setup to show the equipment I use and how I have things configured, and outline how I want to change things etc, and what additional equipment I would like to have which will lead into a future blog post outlining some of the projects I am planning to augment my current setup. I should note that what you cant see in the picture below is that the other side is another two desks with my other computers on them which is where I do most of my EAGLE work so the Brix isn't the only computer in the setup.

 

So to start off here is a picture of my lab:

 

IMG_0701.JPG

 

Here is a list of the main equipment in its current form:

 

Keysight MSO-X 3054A Mixed Signal Oscilloscope with all options unlocked

Keithley 2015 THD 6.5 Digit Bench DMM

Agilent  U1272AU1272A Hand Held DMM

Fluke PM6685 Universal Frequency Counter

TTi QL355T Power Supply

TTi  PL303QMDPL303QMD Power Supply

TTi  CPX400SCPX400S Power Supply

TTi LD300 DC Electronic Load

Metcal MX-5000 Soldering Station

Metcal MFR-1300 Desoldering Station

Metcal  HCT2-120HCT2-120 Hot Air Rework Station

Gigabyte Brix BX-BT-1900 running Linux Mint 18

Dell 24" Flat Panel Monitor

Luxo Magnifier Lamp

 

I also have an assortment of cables, programmers, USB-serial widgets, etc, etc which come in handy but I always seem to find I need something else! Maybe in time I will build up enough kit that I stop being held up by needing to source some extra random piece of kit!

 

So you can see I have a reasonable amount of test kit but there are a few gaps which I would like to fill:

 

Spectrum analyzer Unfortunately these are very pricey so I have to wait until I have a very good justification before I buy one I'm currently leaning towards a Tektronix  RSA306BRSA306B or a Signal Hound BB60C I've seen reviews on both of these on The Signal Path Blog http://thesignalpath.com/blogs/) and I can't currently make up my mind which I would prefer. Tek are obviously the bigger company with more resources but I would like the SignalVU software to run native on my Mac ideally which isn't currently an option but then it's not an option for the Signal Hound kit either. I think when you add in the cost of all the paid for options for Tek which are included free with Signal Hound then this is probably the more cost effective option if you need those features. What do others think of these two options? I'd also consider something older from eBay if I could find something decent at a reasonable price. A lot of the affordable ones are so old they have a floppy drive in them and they weigh a lot and make a huge amount of noise when turned on so I don't want anything like that, hence my current two top choices.

 

Vacuum manual assisted pick and place. This is similar to what shabaz is doing as outlined in one of his recent blogs (https://www.element14.com/community/groups/open-source-hardware/blog/2016/11/07/building-a-smt-pick-and-place-buddy) and I have some ideas for enhancing this further and integrating with EAGLE and some other cool additions (more on this in another blog).

 

I'd like to get my oscilloscope on the network. I've in the past connected to it using USB via SCPI using a python library and whilst it works it's not the most efficient way of doing things so I don't bother with that at the moment. Having access to the scope via the network will make controlling it and grabbing screen captures to put into write ups so much simpler. Unfortunately the DSOXLAN add on for it is £300 which is quite a lot as it combines a network port with a VGA port (Which I don't really need). I've seen some blog posts which show how to build a board which basically provides the RJ45 connector and connects it up as that is all that is required to make the network port accessible it seems so this seems quite a good option.

 

I'd also like a really stable and accurate 10MHz clock source which will feed into various equipment. Currently only the Frequency counter can accept an external reference clock but Spectrum Analysers and Signal Generators will as well. I've got an idea to build a GPS disciplined oscillator with multiple buffered outputs to take to various pieces of equipment. This will probably be a topic of a future blog post too.

 

One thing I do need to improve is the lighting setup. Whilst it's not too bad for the soldering station when the magnifier lamp is turned on, over the other end of the bench can get quite dark on dull days or at night so I need to have some additional lighting installed to improve this aspect.

 

Thanks for reading and feel free to make suggestions for things I should add to my lab setup.