# What's in an electronics hobbyist's toolbox?

by MATLABdude
Tags: electronics, hobbyist, toolbox
P: 8
 Quote by Bob S Besides the excellent above list, I still (surprise!) have my 50-year-old Simpson (model 260) multimeter. I have an old 1 KVA Variac mounted in a box. I also have a good collection of npns, n-channel fets, Hall effect sensors, LM324's, 741's etc. No digital stuff though. Bob S

Yes I am not the only one! The spimson meter is awsome and almost indestructable for most electronic readings. digital meters some time dont show the proper readings. thats why the simpson meter is the best choice
 P: 247 Wow, I would consider a DSO an absolute MUST. Here is my partial list: DSO Bench MM Hand-held MM's Soldering/De-Soldering Station STK-500 Avr Programmer A bunch of Breadboards & Pre-Cut Color Coded Wires Half a dozen 72 drawer "Organizers" for Parts Parts, Lots and Lots of Parts :-) Drill press & Carbide PCB drill bits Ferric Chloride & Sodium Persulfate for etching Photo resist coated PCB material A PC with a pair of RS232 inputs and a Parallel Printer Port A PC Power Supply (+3.3V, +/-5V, +/-12V) Dozens of various sized Wall-Worts Lighted Magnifying Glass While I wouldn't want to do w/o any of my tools, I would consider a DSO the single most helpful tool I own. I cannot imagine troubleshooting a new design w/o one. Sadly, in recent years the second most helpful tool I own is my lighted magnifying glass, LOL! Fish
 P: 23 I think that it is also important to have a lot of TTL chips, such as logic gates, FFs, etc ... Too many people want to use microprocessor but do not know what a logic gate is
 P: 505 Multimeter: I got PeakTech 2010DMM which can measure capacitances and inductances, which is extremely handy. Plus a cheap Chinese multimeter which I converted to use old mobile phone wall wart for power. I use former for testing/checking stuff and latter for persistent measurements. Breadboards are good to have. Speaking of parts... i recently ordered this, 10$for 2500 resistors, 50 values 50 each: http://www.satistronics.com/50-value...pcs_p2164.html and a bunch of other crap in bulk. Can't wait for it to ship (then I'll brag, err, give review). Anyone else got good component kits to recommend? I'd like to get a cheap capacitor kit up to few nF.  P: 12 Sort of a "depends" question. For starting out, you can do a lot just with a solderless breadboard, a multi-meter, and some through hole components. If you want to make something more complex you can actually use, then the list gets pretty big. Most everything you would want has already been mentioned, but for me doing my own projects at home, I'm pretty well covered in the instrumentation department with a good DC power supply, a relatively inexpensive 20MHz scope, and a professional DMM. The one thing I've needed on occasion that I don't have on my workbench is a frequency generator. For the few times I've needed one, it's hard to justify the expense. I've managed to get by without it. The #1 tool that I could absolutely not get by without is my magnifier. I use a 10x stereo microscope for PCB assembly because my sight is limited, but most people can get by well with a jeweler or watchmaker visor style magnifier. My soldering station would be next on the list. The one I use is purely a soldering station, Weller WESD51. I use de-soldering braid in lieu of a de-soldering station. The good soldering/de-soldering stations are pretty expensive. As far as parts, I do as much as I can with µcontrollers. I just don't see the sense in using discrete components for any kind of logic anymore. Basic 8 bit MCUs are no more expensive than a higher value tantalum capacitor. I have a stock of thru-hole stuff for breadboarding which I do only on limited ocassion anymore. Most of my stock is SMD, hence the dependance on the magnifier and DIY PCBs (for basic stuff) or manufactured PCBs (for more complex stuff).  P: 767 Hello all, I was wondering if any of you could suggest some beginner equipment for ee major that eventually wants to design circuit boards. For example, would it be wise for me to start practice soldering? Thanks in advance. Regards. Mentor P: 39,720  Quote by sandy.bridge Hello all, I was wondering if any of you could suggest some beginner equipment for ee major that eventually wants to design circuit boards. For example, would it be wise for me to start practice soldering? Thanks in advance. Regards. Yes, definitely. Visit a Radio Shack or Frys Electronics or similar store (or shop online), and find an electronics kit or two that looks interesting. You will probably need to buy a basic/cheap soldering iron to assembly your first kits. Building kits and then starting to put together your own projects is a very important step for practical EEs, IMO.  P: 767 Are there any kits you could recommend via online? Mentor P: 39,720  Quote by sandy.bridge Are there any kits you could recommend via online? Maybe others have suggestions. Mainly I'd look for kits in the$20 range that require soldering (not snap-together thpe), and that involve something that is interesting to you. Like build a small AM radio receiver, or an alarm clock, etc.
 P: 767 Alarm clock sounds fun for starters. Thanks :)
 PF Gold P: 7,367 If you can get 'hold of an old amplifier that is tube-driven (Supro, Fender Champ, etc) you will soon get a feel for what you need that is *not* already in your tool-kit. Decent soldering iron, solder-sucker (to clean out tag-board joints so you can replace parts), flux (solder paste), alligator clips, heat-sinks, jumper-wires (to keep large capacitors discharged), and many, many other things. I realize that in these days of mostly mass-produced solid-state stuff, some of these suggestions may seem archaic, but they are important to me. YMMV
 P: 834 I don't think anyone mentioned a rubbing alcohol bottle dispenser (the kind with the long needle), and some hard brushes with bristles that won't break off. Good for cleaning off soldering work.
 P: 767 Has anyone had experience with a DSO Nano V2? It's essentially a handheld oscilloscope that supports up to 1MHz.
 P: 3,844 I just set up a minimal set up for a project at home like 3 months ago. To me, this is very important. 1) good pair of small needle nose pliers. 2) good pair of small wire cutter. 3) good multi gauge wire stripper. 4) good soldering iron like Weller station with selection of tips of different temperatures and size. Don't get anything less than $100. 5) an old scope like Tek 465 from surplus store. 6) a function generator of about$100 to $160 in surplus store. 7) a digital multi meter. I only paid about$50. 8) set of 22 gauge wires of different colors. 9) assortment of 1% metal firm resistors I ordered very cheap on ebay from Hong Kong. 10) assortment of ceramic disc cap I ordered on ebay from Hong Kong. 11) a box of double sided copper FR4 boards. 12) 50 pcs of 10uF tantalum cap. 13) small parts drawers for parts. 14) copper tape. I am doing guitar electronics, so 9V battery is my only supply. But you might want to get a power supply in the surplus store. Get the parts drawers, if you get the assortment, it is important to have that. If you get parts from Hong Kong or China, you better measure the resistor values before putting it in. But they are cheap but I found error on one value. Don't be cheap on the wire cutter, stripper and soldering iron.
P: 3,844
 Quote by sandy.bridge Has anyone had experience with a DSO Nano V2? It's essentially a handheld oscilloscope that supports up to 1MHz.
Forget handheld, you need at least a 200MHz two channel scope. You don't even need digital scope if you want to be cheap.
 P: 767 Okay, what about a signal generator?
P: 3,844
 Quote by sandy.bridge Okay, what about a signal generator?
If you cannot find a used one in surplus store, you can check ebay or amazon. I just got a function generator used for $100, it is up to 3MHz sine, square, pulse, triangle etc. It even has TTL output. Spend some effort to look for an electronics surplus store, you're going to have fun in it if you can find one. I am lucky living in the Silicon Valley, there are a few. They have all sort of cables, wires, connectors, all resistors, caps transistors................I can stay there for hours!!!! I just went on ebay for you, this is exactly what I have and I am happy with it. I tend to stay with Tektronics or other big brands like HP. There is a reason they are the industry standard at least for these kind of old analog scope. They almost never die. I had mine for like 20 years. http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=....c0.m270.l1313 If mine konk out on me, I'll buy another one in a heart beat. Also here's some of the function generator in the price range of$100 to \$160

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=....c0.m270.l1313

These might look very cheap, BUT I am born cheap!!!!

Just don't be cheap on the cutter, stripper and soldering iron. Get the Xcelite brand hand tools and at least....at least a Weller solder station. These are bread and butter. There are always newer scopes and generators coming out and the used ones get pushed into the used market.

Oh, I almost forgot, I don't know your age, but I have problem read small parts, I love to have a magnifying lamp. But as usual I born cheap, so instead I got the +3 reading glasses instead from the drug store!!!
Mentor
P: 39,720
 Quote by yungman If you get parts from Hong Kong or China, you better measure the resistor values before putting it in.
This is good advice in general, IMO. Even with high-quality suppliers, if you are taking resistors (or other components) out of supply drawers as you kit for your prototype, you should check the values of the parts (both via the markings/color codes and by testing them). I've had one time where a nearby-value resistor got dropped into the wrong bin by somebody, and that confused my bring-up of a prototype circuit. And another time that I noticed that a technician had refilled a resistor bin with the wrong value resistors (missed the "k" in the value) -- luckily I noticed that problem visually instead of trying to use those parts...

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