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Old 24th December 2009, 03:22 PM   #1
JMB is offline JMB  United States
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Default Starting a electronic hobby workshop

Hi all,
I would appreciate any feedback. I have built a hobby workbench as I am teaching myself electronic troubleshooting. I have built or bought a battery back up surge protector, a medical grade and a normal isolation transformer, and I have one voltage/amperage regulator and one voltage regulator. I also have an oscilliscope, a frequency counter, two signal generators with burst and ramp capabilities, a curve tracer, a signal tracer, a tube and a transistor checker and obviously a couple of decent multimeters. I've built several probes and I have a logic tester.

My question is: in what order would I hook up the power source from circuit to my measuring equipment? I.e., how would it go from wall through the surge protector, isolation transformer, and voltage regs?

Is there any other equipment that you can recommend? Much of what I have I got through ebay and frankly I am quite pleased that I was able to obtain good quality equipment for next to nothing in many cases. I have also learned alot just by building some of my own equipment.

Anyway, thanks for any guidance.

Jay
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Old 24th December 2009, 03:23 PM   #2
JMB is offline JMB  United States
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...Oh, and by the way, I wish everyone a Happy and a Healthy Holiday Season, whatever holidays you may celebrate.

Jay
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Old 24th December 2009, 04:29 PM   #3
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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I think you might need to do a bit more reading if you have to ask a question like this. Generally you just plug the psu into the wall to power your device/project, in the case of a hot chassis design (or one that operates directly at mains voltage without an internal transformer) you would use one of your isolation transformers to power it for safety reasons.

An indispensable tool is a ballast lamp which is basically nothing more than a standard incandescent lamp in series with the power supply in the device you are working on. Could be as simple as a lamp socket in wired in series on the hot side of an extension cord or as fancy as a box with a switch, lamp socket and outlets which is my approach. 25W - 250W bulbs are generally useful depending on the load to be powered - in the event of an internal short the bulb will limit the current to the value it requires for full brightness on 120V.

Also for safety reasons I recommend you install a GFCI (ground fault circuit interruptor) outlet to power your bench electronics. This could save your life in the event of a fault in a piece of test equipment or something you are working on that is not plugged into an isolation transformer.

You haven't mentioned what kind of work you want to do, tubes, solid state, audio/digital, generic electronics, etc... More help might be forthcoming with additional detail from you.
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Last edited by kevinkr; 24th December 2009 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 25th December 2009, 03:39 AM   #4
JMB is offline JMB  United States
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Thanks, Kevin, for your reply. I have come quite a long way in understanding much about troubleshooting, but not in understanding the set up. I agree that more reading is and regardless of level of expertise (admittedly, mine is currently limited in this area), more learning is always beneficial.

I appreciate your insights and will take advantage of them. I had a sense that things where as you described, but as a neophyte, reassurance is always helpful.

Thanks again and have a Happy Holiday. All other feedback is also welcomed.

Jay
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Old 4th January 2010, 09:27 AM   #5
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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For convenience and safety, it's useful to be able to turn everything off with one switch. I used a surface mount electrical box with a light switch and duplex receptacle in it, screwed to a front leg of the bench. It wouldn't be a bad idea to include a pilot light as well. This could be a good excuse to use up any funky industrial switches or lamps that have been gathering dust in your junkbox.
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Old 10th January 2010, 08:05 PM   #6
Ivey is offline Ivey  United States
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Jay:

I am glad to see that you are Sooo happy about your new hobby. Yet the three most important things in any hobby is safety, money, and more money.

If you are merely doing audio, you have about all the test equipment that you may need.

But if design and construction is your goal. You have a great deal to learn and a greater distance to travel. And you are going to need friends who have the knowledge, skills, and the skills to use their tools. As well, you must be able to think outside the box. You must start collecting any and everything that you may be able to use in your projects.

One of the issues that most people run into, in taking electronics as a hobby, is building a chassis. You will need metal working skills and tools. And do not just look at metal as the only element in making a chassis. Wood is a great tool as well.

Not knowing how much space you have available to you. One workbench, will lead to two, and two will lead to three. I have four and I am building the fifth. I have one that is used just for making pcb boards, another for assembly and construction. One for woodwork and metalwork, and one for general purpose home and car repairs. My fifth will be use for component storage and cataloging.

You will need space to store and id all of your parts and components. It will save you money in the future. So that you will not be buying items that you already have, but have no idea as to where they are.

When you buy parts, buy them for future use. In other words, if a 1N4004 is required, buy a 1N4007. Or you will end up with parts that you may never use again.

In buying tubes, buy 12AX7's, 12AT7's, and 12AU7's. Avoid such tubes that will tie up your funds, and just sit on the shelf.

In transistors, purchase transistors like SS9014, SS9015, PN100A, PN200A, KSP06, KSP56, 2N5551, 2N5401, KSP42, and KSP92.

By using a thin piece of aluminum, about 3/4" sq and bending it into a U shape. You can super glue it to the back of a 2N5551 or 2N5401; to create your own driver transistors and save 25 cent per unit. Leaving you funds to spend on highly needed components.

There is so much that you can do. And I will be happy to share my 58 yrs of electronic know how with you.

Take Care

Ivey

Last edited by Ivey; 10th January 2010 at 08:12 PM. Reason: grammar
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Old 10th January 2010, 08:13 PM   #7
Ivey is offline Ivey  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivey View Post
Jay:

I am glad to see that you are Sooo happy about your new hobby. Yet the three most important things in any hobby is safety, money, and more money.

If you are merely doing audio, you have about all the test equipment that you may need.

But if design and construction is your goal. You have a great deal to learn and a greater distance to travel. And you are going to need friends who have the knowledge, skills, and the skills to use their tools. As well, you must be able to think outside the box. You must start collecting any and everything that you may be able to use in your projects.

One of the issues that most people run into, in taking electronics as a hobby, is building a chassis. You will need metal working skills and tools. And do not just look at metal as the only element in making a chassis. Wood is a great tool as well.

Not knowing how much space you have available to you. One workbench, will lead to two, and two will lead to three. I have four and I am building the fifth. I have one that is used just for making pcb boards, another for assembly and construction. One for woodwork and metalwork, and one for general purpose home and car repairs. My fifth will be use for component storage and cataloging.

You will need space to store and id all of your parts and components. It will save you money in the future. So that you will not be buying items that you already have, but have no idea as to where they are.

When you buy parts, buy them for future use. In other words, if a 1N4004 is required, buy a 1N4007. Or you will end up with parts that you may never use again.

In buying tubes, buy 12AX7's, 12AT7's, and 12AU7's. Avoid such tubes that will tie up your funds, and just sit on the shelf.

In transistors, purchase transistors like SS9014, SS9015, PN100A, PN200A, KSP06, KSP56, 2N5551, 2N5401, KSP42, and KSP92.

By using a thin piece of aluminum, about 3/4" sq and bending it into a U shape. You can super glue it to the back of a 2N5551 or 2N5401; to create your own driver transistors and save 25 cent per unit. Leaving you funds to spend on highly needed components.

There is so much that you can do. And I will be happy to share my 58 yrs of electronic know how with you.

Take Care

Ivey
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Old 20th January 2010, 07:57 AM   #8
EC8010 is offline EC8010  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivey View Post
Yet the three most important things in any hobby is safety, money, and more money... ...One workbench, will lead to two, and two will lead to three.
That's so true. We ended up buying a house chosen largely for my "special needs". I have sequestered the double garage (machine shop), double bedroom (electronics lab). Obviously, the specially chosen (large) living room, is home to the fruits of my labours.

One thing Ivey didn't mention is that you will become unable to walk past a skip/dumpster without checking to see if there's anything useful inside. You will also take a keen interest in cooking utensils (can often be perverted into chassis). A butcher's table is ideal for a small lathe.

It's probably best to introduce your other half to these facts gently if you want to avoid a domestic Krakatoa.
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Old 20th January 2010, 12:31 PM   #9
JMB is offline JMB  United States
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Again, I am appreciative of the feedback. I have already started with organized bins for electronic parts; a residual from when I entered the carpentry hobby a little over a decade ago. I have an upright shelving unit on wheels with much of my testing equipment on it in my office, some smaller pieces in my study at home, and half of my garage is dedicated to construction equipment (benchtop tools, hardware, etc.). My wife is fine with this as the majority of the time it is being used to build things for either her or for the kids. At this point, troubleshooting is my interest. I backed into this after entering the loudspeaker building hobby. While doing some testing, I blew an old Lafayette amp and figured that it was a good excuse to learn. I have since picked up a few old non functional amps to learn on.

Thanks for input. I am always ready to learn.

Friendly well informed guidance is always one of the most important tools in any trade.

Jay
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Old 20th January 2010, 05:55 PM   #10
Ivey is offline Ivey  United States
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Default Hello Jay:

Right now, I am sitting in a big huge mess of papers, in my office/man room. I am looking through mounds of circuits trying to put together a design using a little of everything.

Yes, I do my best to keep my wife out. No luck.

EC8010 and I have traveled the road that you are entering. And savor my words. It is indeed a " a long and winding road" full of joy and disappointment.

When I was young, I knew NOTHING, and I thought completely native; as the social order wanted me too.

My main goal and love in life was "electronic engineering", nothing came first, second, or last. I thought all new products, were all new designs. Completely new creations from mans own wonderful brain.

Little did I know that engineering was 20% new creation, and 80% copy the other guys stuff. Just put it in a different package. Works for me!

Do you knew a little bit about aircraft? The F8 and the A7 was designed by the same guys. Instead of chocolate, they just add vanilla. A7 light attack plane was born, from old engineering designs..

Remember the movie "A Few Good Men"? "You can't Handle the Truth".

Well..., "You don't have enough parts". Hell, "You don't have enough tools"!

"Got Beer"? You are going to need it. Relax, enjoy the smell of solder.

"Space the final frontier".

When you are working on a project, and a new idea comes into your head. You will need space to lay it out. Space will become important. So will storage-space. You may not be able to clean off you workbench every time a new job comes along. Because you might not have finished the one before.

Space, Storage space, will be your fate.

Like EC8010 stated, dumpster diving will become a habit of yours. Great finds can be had from dumpsters and city dumps. Or just trash thrown along side the highways and streets. It will save funds.

And Solid State. You will love "Vacuum Tubes", but you will not love their high cost. Which includes the high cost of transformers and electric bills. Go solid state or hybrid to reduce your overall cost.

12AX7WA $9.95 each or more. PN2222A 6 cents. JAN2N2222A 72 cents. Gooooo Soolid State.

Storage space will become a prize item for you. Because just like the rest of us. You will become a "Class A pack Rat". Parts, parts, and more parts. Tools, tools, and more tools. No decent tech will be caught without his or her tools.

Part collecting; let take capacitors. First there will be Evoxs, Wimas, and Epcos. Followed by True Caps, Multi-Caps, and Red Ryders. You will have so many caps you will not know what to do or where to store them.

But you will not want to sell them. Trade!! Is more like it.

I have 2,350+ Wima MKP10 250, 400, and 630 volts capacitors. They were sent to me as samples over the years of working on aircraft and submarine electronics. My bosses made me take all of my samples electronics parts (two pickup truck loads) home when I retired. Transistors, diodes, resistors, capacitors, tubes, ic's, transformers, construction tools and equipment, everything. Believe or not. I even threw stuff away. Which I wish I had not,

I only built two projects using the Wimas.

I really like Illinois MKS and MKP Capacitors. Got any, we can trade.

Take Care


Ivey

Last edited by Ivey; 20th January 2010 at 06:20 PM. Reason: grammar
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