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Old 21st February 2012, 10:35 PM   #1
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Warrnambool
Default Equipment for a first timer

Hello guys,

I guess this can also be an introduction of sorts to everyone on the forums here. I'm currently a 3rd yr graduate electrical/electronic engineer working in the industrial field of power engineering in Victoria, Australia.
So to scratch a desire to keep the learning acquired in the electronics side of things during uni I have been keeping an eye on these forums for around a year now.
I love building stuff and I have had ample access to cabinetmaking equipment and I have no trouble in getting my hands dirty in making furniture and fixing stuff. (my latest piece)

Now I want to try my hand with electronics!
The funny thing is that I have never really attempted any electronic circuit construction (even in my time at uni) so I consider my electronics DIY skill to be toward the beginner end of the spectrum.

That said, I have a theoretical knowledge and a willingness to learn from my own and other peoples mistakes in building my very own speaker and amplifier set.
I have my eyes on the B1 Buffer to start with followed by my own matched speaker kit (i have the drivers, just need to design the x-overs) and to finish it off I will attempt the Balanced F5 build.

My current equipment involves:
  • Weller Soldering Iron
  • Weller Tips of various sizes (6 off)
  • Standard Cat III 600V Multimeter
  • Dremel 4800 with associated bits and pieces

The questions I would like to raise in regards to other equipment needed:
  • What other equipment will I require to ensure the least amount of pain during the building process?
  • Can you guys point me to a relatively good value-for-money example of the devices required?
  • Any other tips when building - setting up my workstation?
  • Heatsinks, Enclosures and other related stuff (where do i get it?)

Any input and wisdom sent my way would be greatly appreciated and please let me know when I step out of line.

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Old 21st February 2012, 11:14 PM   #2
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Richard Ellis's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Mar del Plata, a BIG seasonal getaway city, can see the Ocean from our residence.
As a third year Grad, you should have had a lot of Lab time.........Duplicating what's in your school Lab will do.....
A dedicated room at your abode, YOUR Lab, DVOM, Analog VOM, Two-trace scope.. (at least two trace). AF Generator, RF generator...........& a whole bunch of accumulated descrete parts, well organized of course.
This and more I'm sure...

__________________________________________________ ____Rick..........
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Old 22nd February 2012, 12:08 AM   #3
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Warrnambool
A two trace scope would be a good idea, anyone know of a good value one and where i could purchase it?

I think i may rig up an AF gen using my PC, should not be too crude for the purposes in which i require it's use.

As for the RF generator I understand the problems associated with EMI but my wife isn't going to let me spend that kind of money on a hobby i'm just beginning - i may have to slate that purchase for the future.

What about a regulated power supply etc?
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Old 22nd February 2012, 03:36 AM   #4
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Richard Ellis's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Mar del Plata, a BIG seasonal getaway city, can see the Ocean from our residence.
Forgot about the Regulated supply..........a nice big white ( to reflect light) melamine/vinyl/??? type work-table....solid construction (One you can sit on easily & not 'wobble')
Myself I like tall lab style tables, not PC type low tables/Workstations.....of course with the tall tables one must have stools....not 'chairs'.
Lots & lots of lighting,you can never have enough ,check the angles of the light sources, there should be no shadows whatsoever......Flourescent or incandescent??????? Your choice, I like lots of incandescents, but multiple banks of flourescents is probably more practical.
Again, check a lab, count the fixtures per square meter floorspace.
In the States I could not stand to enter someones garage lit with a sole pair of six foot a dungeon.

__________________________________________________ _Rick..........
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Old 23rd February 2012, 12:37 AM   #5
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Lansing, Michigan
If you want to build an automobile, you don't build an auto plant first. I'd say, jump into the hobby and start doing things. Then add pieces of gear as you find the need for them. For example, you won;t need an RF generator unless you are working in RF. You can buy an audio generator, but you can also look up a variqable oscillator circuit and build a basic one for next to nothing. SOmeday later you may find you'd rather have a commercial piece of gear, and then buy it. Hopefully by then you will have a better idea of what features you need, and also what features you don't need and so don;t need to pay extra for.

I run a commercial pro audio repair facility. I have low distortion sine wave oscillators, and function generators and other signal sources, but for general testing? I use a line from my bench stereo receiver tuned to a music station. It is handy hanging there, it provides a reasonable level of full range audio, what's not to like? When I need to observe clipping or something, I can connect one of my "better" signal sources. But for hobby work, I could live a long time on just that FM radio.

And you already have a Dremel, so in my view, you are well equipped.

I don;t know what the scene is like down under, but here in the USA, there is still a lot of amateur radio activity - ham radio - and they have "ham fests" all the time. These gatherings of amateur radio enthusiasts are often good places to find old test gear for cheap.

And I live near a large university - and I mean large, 45,000 students - and it has a salvage/surplus facility. I don;t know your uni, but I'd wager they have some facility whose job is to get rid of surplus good the school no longer needs. Various departments get new gear, leaving perfectly good older gear unneeded. SOme researcher has a collection of gear in his lab, and his grant runs out or he graqduates, and his lab is liquidated. Or one of many other stories. I often find nice test equipment there for next to nothing. I picked up an old HP 200 oscillator, not working. A straightened the bent plate on the tuning capacitor, and voila, working oscillator. My cost? $5.
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Old 23rd February 2012, 01:33 AM   #6
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Richard Ellis's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Mar del Plata, a BIG seasonal getaway city, can see the Ocean from our residence.
Yes, by all means make that jump!!! Your cabinet making skills are a talent most Loudspeaker builders pine for.. and perhaps an RF generator is a bit far to one side....nice to have though...

"..want to build an automobile, you don't build an auto plant first..."
What the **** is this? Pray tell ...are you going to build a car from scratch using a pair of pliers & a screwdriver???
I've seen so very much of butchered work down here in Argentina....A lifetime much being held together by fence wire, not even mechanics wire! Electrical connections wrapped up with cellophane tape, like it was done by a three-year-old.....buildings constructed with rusty bits of "Rebar", cement using salt contaminated "sea-sand" Auto-shops with 75 year old phillips screwdrivers worn to a nub......chewing up screw-heads.etc, etc.
Get the right tool for the job! There is nothing more amateur than not using the exact tool for the job.
Your a professional now, your hobby should reflect that dedication.

__________________________________________________ ___Rick.........
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Old 23rd February 2012, 03:40 AM   #7
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Dona paula, Goa
You also need a mains socket with a series lamp(40-100Watts) to test your amp.

Gajanan Phadte
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Old 23rd February 2012, 09:17 AM   #8
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Lansing, Michigan
Richard, relax. My auto plant comment was born of the list of people I've met over the years who are thinking of getting into electronics, and before doing anything plan on setting up a lab like an engineering department.

To defend my analogy, I think most people who build go-karts or dune buggies successfully do so without a plant full of 20 ton presses, tool and die equipment, CNC milling machines, vacuum forming equipment, dynamometers, fork lifts and an employee break room. SO perhaps a basic tools set is a good start, rather than ordering the entire catalog from Snap-On. Not suggesting NO tools. And in his shop, not suggesting NO equipment.

I was merely suggesting the OP, who admits to being a novice despite considerable theoretical background, might not need to buy everything HP/Agilent makes before learning how a transistor turns on an LED.

The guy wants to build an amplifier. Does he really need a LeCroy scope, a spectrum analyzer, a distortion analyzer, arbitrary waveform generators, and on and on before he starts to solder anything? CAn he order parts he needs rather than establish a parts department that lacks nothing ahead of time? Perhaps so, but I doubt many of us here started that way, and yet we managed to turn out OK.
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Old 28th February 2012, 10:58 PM   #9
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Warrnambool
Thanks very much for the interesting solutions that you guys proposed and whilst you had conflicting views, you have helped me make decisions with a great deal.

The university leftover stock is a fantastic idea (Australia has around 15 main universities with 25,000 plus students) however my access to them is limited as I now live 300km from a university. But i will keep a lookout for signal generators and old cro's and even a good power supply i can play with.

As for enzo's comment about the car stuff, I understand where you are coming from so thanks for the support for me to just get in there and start building.

richard, I really like your idea about building a standing bench to work at, I think this would be a great idea and the lighting options are definitely worth a thought.

And yes i have used the series lamp rig during some panel commissioning I did last year at the request of our scientific friends. Definitely no harm in setting that up for initial testing purposes.

So, I think I will just get in and start ordering some parts straight away, I can test the circuits built as soon as I procure a regulated p/s!

My first circuit will be the B1 preamp - (i don't want to build the speakers until I have it down pat mainly because I went out and spent almost $1000 on drivers alone...)

Thanks for the tips and support!
Let me know if you guys have any other really good practical knowledge you would like to share when testing, wiring or building circuits. (any simple knowledge is acceptable.)
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