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Old 11th September 2008, 04:39 AM   #1
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Default Any suggestions on setting up a dedicated electronics work area at home ?

At the suggestion of Cal I've placed this question in Everything Else...

Does anyone here in the group have any suggestions about setting up a dedicated work area for electronics repair/rebuilding?
(or guide me to the discussion if it exists on this site) I'm in a position at this point where I have to re-arrange portions of my basement, and now is as good a time as any to set up a work area. I figure an intelligent layout will make things much more enjoyable. I'm already planning to incorporate comfort and safety items ( think GOOD lighting, non conductive [wood] work desk, rubber mat for the floor and an isolation transformer. Any suggestions on layout ? Let me know.

I've also acquired several pieces of test equipment over the past 10 years. What stuff typically gets used the most on the bench? What's essential to have for working on tube equipment?

Again, looking for input from you folks who have been down this road way ahead of me.....

thanks.
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Old 11th September 2008, 05:23 AM   #2
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First off it's gotta be comfortable. Lets face it - you're going to spend a lot of time here.

I prefer to stand at the bench to work so a higher surface level means a tall chair.

A high impedance mat with ground connection is highly recommended to prevent ESD especially if you have one of those "VanDeGraff" floor mats! Connect it to mains ground or 6ft+ of buried copper pipe. Much better than metal suface (shorts batteries) or insulating surface (kills CMOS)

Get a variac especially if you're working on tubes. A 1KW is great but Vexpensive, Vlarge

Other than that, PSU, meters and scope should take front stage. Rack up the analyzers and specialized gear for occasional use.

Get yourself a good soundcard (Prosonus Firebox will be my next one, EMU1616 was my last) and get VisualAnalyser for free and Adobe Audition if you can afford it. These coupled with MATLAB actually make everything other than the DMM obsolete (but I do like my old 465 glowing in the dark)

Don't forget a good amp and a heavy duty pair of speakers, something that'll take some kicking without degrading

My big omission someplace to keep all the &@*?!!#@* cables and a big bucket for adapters. Oh and all the wall warts.........click...brrrrrr
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Old 11th September 2008, 05:43 AM   #3
Nanook is offline Nanook  Canada
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Default no suggestions here, except...

don't do what I do !

I work in my home office, at the kitchen table, in my garage and in any and every corner of our basement. My wife hates it.

If I actually had much more than a DMM, and some soldering stuff, and a few hand tools, I may have actually set up a dedicated spot. Iain's suggestions are good ones, and the results can be seen (and heard) in the completeness of the projects that I have seen. Peace could be attained within the household if his guidelines are followed.

Although I can only say that I heard one and saw another
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Old 11th September 2008, 05:55 AM   #4
2pist is offline 2pist  United States
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Just make it more organized than mine......
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Old 11th September 2008, 06:10 AM   #5
Nanook is offline Nanook  Canada
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Default dude, that's so organized...

compared to my mess...
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Old 11th September 2008, 03:05 PM   #6
pilli is offline pilli  France
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I am in no way "experienced", but since I am also reorganizing my basement, to move diy there from the kitchen table, I'll keep an eye on this thread.

One of my targets is to have some ventilation that takes out the soldering fumes (I love that smell, but it must be really nasty...)

And if you have enough space, of course make a "dirty" area where you drill or saw PCBs, pull components from muddy videos from the dump, or that sort of stuff, separate from the "clean" workbench.



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Old 11th September 2008, 06:54 PM   #7
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Thanks for the suggestions thusfar. To clarify a bit more, I'm pretty much a newbie to repair/rebuilding. So even though I have a lot of equipment, I first have to determine: a) what I need to use b) determine if it's in working order, c) actually learn how to use it.

I'll primarily be working on tube equipment so I'm not sure, is ESD an issue with that, or only the Solid State equipment?

Iain, point taken about comfortable working height. I guess a high bench would allow standing or sitting with a tall stool, and I have one of those (nice padded one at that) I do have a few variacs, even a large 20 amp unit. And amplifier/speakers will be no problem. Unfortunately I don't yet know how to use a scope. As far as I know I have an old Eico sitting around here. It's a reasonable size. OTOH, I have no less than three 545 Tektronix scopes, one even has a cart. But they're real estate hogs, and I'm not sure if they're a good choice in this day and age.

2pist / Nanook. Not to worry, my aim is to get organized, and stay out of the kitchen. Lucky for me I've got the space (finally) to set up an area.

Pilli, that's a good point about a dirty area. Saw, grinder, vise, drill press, etc. Keep all the mess contained. I'll try very hard to see if I can carve out that little area. And for the clean/assembly area, I'm already working on a soldering iron holder/shielded muffin fan to remove those toxic soldering fumes. If I want to get real elaborate I can even vent the stuff to the outside. We'll see.

Having EXCELLENT lighting is a given. I even managed to scrounge up a light/magnifier unit.... a nice one. For those of you not familiar with them, Optovisors are awesome too.
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Old 11th September 2008, 10:39 PM   #8
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Ohighway

Decide how many power sockets you need, and then double it and add a few more. Better too many than too few.

John
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Old 13th September 2008, 03:30 AM   #9
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John, Good advice, and that doesn't just apply to a workbench. We're in the middle of a large home addition project, and I've tried to take that approach everywhere. Switches too.... can't have too many.

My work area will be close to the power panel, and that's good because it will be an easy matter to run however many circuits I want over to the bench. They added -another- 200 amp panel and I have lots of spare slots for breakers.
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Old 13th September 2008, 05:26 PM   #10
Pano is offline Pano  United States
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It no so much the amount of power needed as it is just lots and lots and lots of places to plug stuff in.

I use big, heavy power strips. And they have a nice heavy lighted switch that makes me feel good that everthing is off when I leave.

Ditto the high work table. I like to stand to work, but sometimes the the tall chair is need.

And yes - plenty of light!
Coffee should be near by. =)

Lots of good ideas in this thread.

2pist - love that o'scope.
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