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theguru21 27th November 2012 04:53 AM

More tools? Suggestions please!
Hey all,

I all but got out of electronics for a while, and to be honest I was never fully into it. I have a desire to get back into it and keep at it this time, specifically focusing on audio equipment for now.

I have an above average understanding and working knowledge of electronics (probably not compared to most of you on here, but to most people I guess) I know the differences between transistors, resistors, capacitors etc... And I can understand and read schematics for the most part. I'm not your typical noob just beginning.

Anyway, Here's what I have so far for tooling. Any suggestions on more stuff I should have for amp repair/testing/troubleshooting would be great.

Scopes: Tektronix 2465 and BK Precision 1540 (Need some more probes though)

Power supply: Tripp Lite 15A 13.8V DC supply, and Xantrex XHR100-10 digital current limiting supply.

Meter: Amprobe 34XR-A True RMS

Soldering: Two Metcal SP-200 "Smart Heat" ESD safe stations with various tips (makes doing SMT resistors a breeze being able to heat both pads simultaneously)

Misc: Lots of various screwdrivers, torx, hex, etc. Various nippers, cutters, strippers, etc. (lots of hand tools basically, I'm also above average for general vehicle diagnostics and repairs, anything from electrical issues to major mechanical stuff)

I would love to own a signal generator, but don't know where to begin looking for a decent one on a budget.

My first real job was working for an electronics manufacturer locally, so I got trained how to solder and replace SMT and PTH components at a military grade level in ESD sensitive environments. I've also been building my own PC's and tinkering since I was about 9 years old.

My knowledge of electronics is not extremely vast, or specific, but I'm working on it.

Thanks in advance,


sofaspud 27th November 2012 07:19 AM

XR2206 is an old chip that's still around and makes a very easy DIY signal generator for bench work. The distortion specs are too rough for precision work, though. You could always use a PC for signal generation.
Check out this page for a DIY signal tracer/injector. You don't have to build this particular one; an audio tracer/injector is basically just a signal generator paired with an audio amplifier, so you're limited only by your imagination.
A forum search for the "light bulb limiter" thread will lead you to a very useful testing tool.
Alligator clip leads and "cheater cables" are handy to have around.
Transistor, capacitance, ESR, and inductance testers can be purchased or DIY'd and will prove useful.
Beyond this you are pretty much into application-specific and/or lab quality -type equipment.

Samuel Groner 27th November 2012 09:19 AM


I would love to own a signal generator, but don't know where to begin looking for a decent one on a budget.
HP 3310 is a decent choice. One of my first purchases, and still used a lot!


theguru21 27th November 2012 02:20 PM

Thanks for the replies!

I found a DIY kit online for the XR2206. about 25 bucks for a kit with board and all components to build a function gen out of one. is that a decent price?

also found some generators like this one

SG1005 Function Signal Generator Source Frequency Counter DDS Module Wave 5MHz | eBay

Is this actually useful? or are these typical crap from china?

On the subject of using a PC... I have a signal generator app on my iPhone that's actually pretty feature packed. not sure it's good enough to use for any testing purposes though...

I do need to get some new test leads for sure. Im going to invest in a good set of meter leads with various clip types... also some new scope probes.

by "cheater cables" I'm assuming you're talking about the little jumpers with alligator clips on both sides? or something entirely different.

I was actually just thinking to myself that I need transistor and capacitance testers the other day... Never crossed my mind about ESR or inductance, but those would be great too.

Thanks again for the info! I'm really glad I made a thread about this. I'm rather enjoying my "stay" here at the diyaudio forums. I've gotten more help in the last week than I could have ever expected.


jcx 27th November 2012 02:51 PM

audio DAC signal generators can be fine if you want audio frequency - for (single or a few) sine waves they will have lower distortion than any cheap bench sine/tri/sq box - I've used a iPod Nano

they don't do sharp corners well though, sq and tri will have "ringing" from Gibbs Gibbs phenomenon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

the cheap desktop sig gen can be useful for debugging gross frequency response, compensation/stability - which will be mostly eye balls on the scope waveform - % distortion doesn't matter there but you do need the fast, clean edges

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