Electronics Lab

One of the skills that is helpful in the area of Control is electronics. One does not have to be a full fledged electronics technician, but being able to solder components together in a meaningful way and to test them is a skill that will help a lot when it comes to connect devices to and controlling them from a computer.

And we need equipment to do that. The tools I use in my workshop are shown on this page.

Soldering station

Soldering station

Being able to put things together – i.e. on PCB’s (Printed Circuit Boards) – is one of the first things for the electronics DIY hobby. To be able to do that I have my trusty soldering station. It’s ability to control the temperature comes in very handy at times. The sponge (no, it’s not Bob), when kept moist, is a neat addition to clean the soldering tip every now and again. The solder I use has a little bit of soldering flux mixed into it. The long blueish contraption is a de-soldering pump.

 

Simple multi meter

Simple multi meter

A multi meter – as the name states – can measure multiple things. In our field that amounts to Volts, Amperes and Ohms; units of electric potential, current and resistance.

This simple multi meter is enough in most cases, it can measure DC from 0 to 500 Volts, AC from 0 to 500 Volts. DC current from 0,5 to 250 mA. Resistance can be measured from 0 to 1 Mega Ohm.

 

More complex multi meter

More complex multi meter

A multi meter – as the name states – can measure multiple things. In our field that amounts to Volts, Amperes and Ohms; units of electric potential, current and resistance.

This is my heavy duty multi meter, a Fluke 73. It can measure up to 10 Ampere and up to 600 Volts Ac and DC and resistance up until 32 Mega Ohm. It is well protected, It can withstand being connected to 220Volts while in resistance measuring mode (I tried, no smoke and it still works!).

 

Power supplies

Power supplies

To experiment with electronics one often needs to be able to have different voltages available. You can use these little power supplies that come with all kinds of equipment, but that can be a drag, because the often supply only one voltage each. That’s why investing in some good laboratory power supplies can pay of.

Here you see my power stations. One old one that my father built long ago and two new ones I acquired more recently.

 

Breadboards

Breadboards

Breadboards are boards on which you can make an electronic circuit and test it without having to solder things together. There are different varieties, in this picture you see one with three rows for mounting IC’s and the components, with integrated connections for power supplies.

Components are linked together by plugging them into the same strip or by jumper wires. Great advantages is that you can switch components easily and test which one fits the purpose best before soldering things.

 

Little tools

Little tools

Of course you need little tools as well. Flat head screwdrivers, Philips head screwdrivers, various forms of tweezers, etc.

Even the odd specialist screwdriver for opening up proprietary contraptions that are “protected” by the use of five lobed screws… (yes, that’s the orange one on the left).

 

Third hand with magnifying glass

Third hand

A golden oldie is the third hand to hold thing while you work ons them, in this case one that has a magnifying glass to support my old eyes.

I mean, some of these components are so small, or have such small print on them. It’s just like the they get smaller every couple of years…

 

Oscilloscope

Oscilloscope

An oscilloscope is a machine that can make images of electrical potential or potential variations (wave forms).

This can be a great help in debugging circuits.

This is an old one (also belonged to my dad and I do not use it often, but I can’t put myself to throwing it away… (fond memories).

Digital 25MHz DDS Dual-channel Signal Generator‎

A wave (or function) generator is a very handy contraption that allows us to generate wave-forms. Mine’s a digital one and it can, at least theoretically) be operated from a computer over USB. It features two independent channels, each of which can generate several wave forms:

 

My MHS 5200A digital function generator

 

Wave forms

The wave forms that it can generate from every channel are:

  1. Sine wave
  2. Square wave
  3. Triangle wave
  4. Sawtooth wave
  5. Inverse sawtooth wave

 

Examples

Check them out here:

Square and Sine wave
Triangle and sawtooth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Triangle and inverse sawtooth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vice

Vice

Sometimes we need to hold some stuff under more force than the little third hand can muster.

In that case I use this desk mountable vice.

It can withstand filing and some light hammering.

 

 

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