What's in an electronics hobbyist's toolbox?

  • Thread starter MATLABdude
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  • #26
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Are there any kits you could recommend via online?
 
  • #27
berkeman
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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.
 
  • #28
798
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Alarm clock sounds fun for starters. Thanks :)
 
  • #29
turbo
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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
 
  • #30
828
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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.
 
  • #31
798
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Has anyone had experience with a DSO Nano V2? It's essentially a handheld oscilloscope that supports up to 1MHz.
 
  • #32
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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.
 
  • #33
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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.
 
  • #35
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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=tektronix+465+oscilloscope&_sacat=0&_odkw=oscilloscope&_osacat=0&_trksid=p3286.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=function+generator&_sacat=0&_odkw=tektronix+465+oscilloscope&_osacat=0&_trksid=p3286.c0.m270.l1313


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

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!!!
 
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  • #36
berkeman
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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...
 
  • #37
turbo
Gold Member
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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...
When Leo Fender was in business, he was not the type to keep stocked up on resistors, capacitors, etc. Run out of one value? Use components that would "work". I have rebuilt a lot of Fender amps and have found factory-installed components that were "off". This was most prevalent in the late "blackface" and early ""silverface" years IME, but there could be problems in the tweed series, as well. If you have a nice-looking old tube amp that just sounds harsh, blatty, or flat, start tearing that rascal down. Chances are, Leo and company were running out of components and started swapping in others.
 
  • #38
5,571
200
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...

I am even talking about resistor from HK that said 68.1K and measured 75K.....every one of them!!!! But they are so cheap that make measuring it worth while. You can go broke buying a kid from Digikey!!!!.
 
  • #39
510
1
Ya. Can't stress it enough - measure the stuff, sometimes something gets mis marked. I got resistor kit in pieces of tape (as for feeding into machine), 50 values each with 50 resistors, and I measured one each value and wrote it on tape itself. I still can't quickly read the colour codes, especially as the paints vary and if i didn't see full paint set they used the very dull orange can either be orange or brown, etc. Heh.

Re: when you don't have correct part, you can just use several resistors in series/parallel. Ditto for power ratings. I recommend using in series as this increases max. voltage (resistors can arc over). Also, in many places the value itself is picked semi arbitrarily (and can be substantially different either way), but needs to be equal, or correctly related to another value.
 
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  • #40
5,441
9
However you would need a 40 tonne artic to carry all the stuff mentioned here, rather than a toolbox.

:biggrin:

We seem to be continuing this older thread.

https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=478363&highlight=meter&page=2

One cheap sig gen solution in post#23
Meter solutions in post#5
Attached is a useful older portable audio and telephone test set pic. It incorporates sources, load and metering.
 

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  • #41
jim hardy
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Simpson 260 forever

i like my HP-180 o'scope

and a DOS PC with DCCAD for printed cuircuit boards and QBASIC for computing.
 
  • #42
798
1
Hey guys,
Do any of you guys know of any "assortment" packages for circuit elements? For example, an assortment package of diodes, transistors, capacitors, resistors, etc? I want to get a vast variety to play with, but everywhere I go is about singles, and I'd prefer to not have to sift through a list of 200 transistors to pick ten!
Thanks
 
  • #43
948
2
Hey guys,
Do any of you guys know of any "assortment" packages for circuit elements? For example, an assortment package of diodes, transistors, capacitors, resistors, etc? I want to get a vast variety to play with, but everywhere I go is about singles, and I'd prefer to not have to sift through a list of 200 transistors to pick ten!
Thanks

I don't think thats such a good idea. Chances are, that the thing you are building, needs components that not usually(Murphy's law) in that assortment kit.

Best bet is that you pick a project, and buy components for that project. But buy 2-3 more than you need, unless its expensive, that is how you build your own assortment kit.

At least I did.

And I was on 10 dollars away from buying those assortment kits. I am glad that I didn't. But still, if you still want it:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Electroni...al_Components_Supplies_ET&hash=item3f12e68624

or pick your own poison:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/Electrica...ctronics+kit&_catref=1&_trksid=p3286.c0.m1538

Enjoy
 
  • #44
798
1
Going to be finalizing my order for tomorrow. Is a 10MHz function generator suffice? For a beginner, that is.
 
  • #45
5,571
200
Going to be finalizing my order for tomorrow. Is a 10MHz function generator suffice? For a beginner, that is.

It depends on what you are working on. I work on music electronics, I only have a 2MHz generator for $99 as I born cheap!!!! Make sure to get one with square, triangular, pulse, DC offset etc.
 
  • #46
1
0
Oh,Very Good Topic.
Magnifying glasses,pliers(very Important Because I had Bad Situation Without Pliers),Nut,screw and screwdriver and etc.
 
  • #47
2
0
ElectroDroid. It's an app for your Android phone that puts together a LOT of very useful tools and information for the electronics geek. I downloaded it for free but ended up donating to the developer just because it is worth it.

Here are just a few of the tools it has:

Under the "Calculators" tab:
resistor color code
smd resistor code
inductor code
ohm's law
reactance resonance calculator
filters
every circuit simulator
voltage divider
resistor ratio
resistor value/series/parallel
cap charge
op amps
lm 317 calc
ne555 calc
power dissapation
battery life calc
PCB trace width calc
voltage drop calc
AND MORE!

It also has Pin Out chart for a PILE of common connections:
USB
Serial
Parallel
Ethernet
RJ
SCART
DVI HDMI
S-VIdeo
VESA
RCA
OBD-II
SD Card
...just to name a few

It also has a lot of resources like microcontroller pinouts, amp tables, schematic symbols (in case you forget what that weird one is!) logic gates, batteries and a pile more.

Look, I can't highly recommend it enough. It's really a sweet app!
 
  • #48
phinds
Science Advisor
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I find it REALLY odd that no one mentioned electrical tape.

Also, I'd add shrink-tubing
 

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