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Old 15th August 2013, 05:28 PM   #1
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Default Repair Shop Setup

I want to setup a repair/DIY shop at home, and do not want to spend big bucks on tools, any recommendation. I already have soldering tools and set of assorted hand tools since I used to work in an audio repair shop during college.

Now I am thinking to rebuild my hoby. To start, I am thinkg about variable transformer, oscily scope, and a signal generator. Any recommendation on brands, additional equitments and where to buy. Thanks in advance for your hlep.
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Old 15th August 2013, 11:48 PM   #2
burbeck is offline burbeck  United Kingdom
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a nice rubber mat for the bench
Mains isolating transformer
Earth leakage main switch for bench power
if you are buying used equipment get it safety tested
talking about used equipment i like tek and hitachi and ebay
some nice function generators on ebay new and used, some kits too
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Old 16th August 2013, 05:30 PM   #3
DF96 is offline DF96  England
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Lamp limiter. DMM (better, two DMM).
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Old 22nd August 2013, 08:07 AM   #4
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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Look for a ham (amateur) radio swap meet, and newsletters or websites of nearby ham clubs that have ads.

Government and university surplus outlets, and auctions are possibilities. There's no guarantee that stuff is in working order.

Consider setting up a laptop with a USB sound interface, and build input and output buffer amplifiers. It'll work as an audio signal generator, and can do various measurements including impedance measurements of components.

Some kind of DIY LC meter will come in handy. I once wasted a bunch of time troubleshooting a circuit before I realized I'd misread the capacitor markings. About $20 will get you a ready-to-use board on eBay. It's probably based on the popular design from AADE.

An AC power meter like a "Kill-A-Watt" isn't a bad idea. It'll show line voltage, frequency, current, and power factor.

Last edited by dangus; 22nd August 2013 at 08:16 AM.
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Old 22nd August 2013, 11:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burbeck View Post
a nice rubber mat for the bench
As a professional service engineer for many years, I've never used one - nor known hardly any who have.

Just moved workshops (to a much smaller one), and threw the old rubber mats out (they had just sat on the floor under the benches anyway).

Quote:

Mains isolating transformer
Use them at work (and just fitted three 1K ones in the new workshop), but it's more a work H&S issue than anything else, don't have one at home, and wouldn't want one.

Quote:

Earth leakage main switch for bench power
Definitely not - and certainly not if you use isolation transformers.

I specifically made sure the new workshop isn't fed from any leakage trip.

But it is wired to my specification, with switched power (via a master switch as you come in), and permanently live power (with fuse, NOT MCB) for computers, routers, other infrastructure and set-top box soak testing.

Safe working practices is what keeps you save, not isolation transformers or leakage trips.

Quote:

if you are buying used equipment get it safety tested
Fairly controversial - no legal requirement for PAT testing.

Quote:

talking about used equipment i like tek and hitachi and ebay
some nice function generators on ebay new and used, some kits too
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Old 22nd August 2013, 04:38 PM   #6
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A repair shop and a DIY work area are very different and use different tools.
For the repair shop i like a carpeted work bench because it protects the customer equipment from scratches.
I use a variable transformer with voltage and current meters (analog).
As a signal source I use a receiver with a CD player.
I prefer to use music for the source.
After a while you will get to know what things should sound like and it is easier to identify problems than with fancy test instruments.
Speakers are needed with the receiver of course.
Then i use a ' scope about 10% of the time.
Then of course there is the instruments to verify performance.

On the other hand, for a DIY lab i would want a regulated dc power supply.

Of course, for both i would want a good soldering station.
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Old 22nd August 2013, 11:35 PM   #7
Enzo is offline Enzo  United States
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I too use music rather than a signal generator for most work. I have a collection of good generators, and a nice sine wave is handy for certain things, but mostly the amps I service are for audio, and audio test signals tell me what I need to know. A listen tells me if there is distortion, if the tonal balance is wrong, etc.

I too have a carpeted bench surface to prevent scratching up customer amp cabinets.

Isolation transformers are useful when servicing things like SMPS. It isn;t about protecting ME, it is about protecting my test equipment and the UUT when they are connected to one another. MY test gear stays earthed. But for everything else, anything with a power transformer is already isolated by that transformer.

A GOOD quality hand meter is the go-to tool for the vast majority of work, so don't settle for junk.

A variac is a strong addition to the bench. Moreso for solid state work than tube, in my opinion. But to be complete it needs a current meter, either as part of it or as a separate item.


I find a low voltage DC supply handy on the repair bench too. I can use it to check out fans or lights or relays, put power to preamp circuits without putting main power to power amp stages. And a quick touch to the terminals of little motors on CD and tape transports spins the motor. Gets a latched CD tray started for example.
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Old 23rd August 2013, 04:34 PM   #8
burbeck is offline burbeck  United Kingdom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nigel Goodwin View Post
As a professional service engineer for many years, I've never used one - nor known hardly any who have.

Just moved workshops (to a much smaller one), and threw the old rubber mats out (they had just sat on the floor under the benches anyway).

Thats the idea, floor and bench to isolate you from earth see ref


Use them at work (and just fitted three 1K ones in the new workshop), but it's more a work H&S issue than anything else, don't have one at home, and wouldn't want one.

Well the H & S get it correct, creat an earth free zone. see ref

Definitely not - and certainly not if you use isolation transformers. not correct see ref

I specifically made sure the new workshop isn't fed from any leakage trip.

But it is wired to my specification, with switched power (via a master switch as you come in), and permanently live power (with fuse, NOT MCB) for computers, routers, other infrastructure and set-top box soak testing.

Safe working practices is what keeps you save, not isolation transformers or leakage trips.
Yes agreed, but the above helps



Fairly controversial - no legal requirement for PAT testing.
It is always a good idea to PAT test used equipment


It is my opinion that you should not dismiss the advice that i gave regarding safety, yes you may have been a 'professional service engineer' for many years. but that means experience with live working etc, maby others reading may not have your experience and knowledege.

even with such 'experience' there is a need for isolation, earth free working and best practice in a workshop envrioment and to follow the correct guidlines from the relevent body.

cant argue with that or Ref http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg354.pdf

there is lots more to this but this guidence note will suffice as a good read for most people interested
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Last edited by burbeck; 23rd August 2013 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 23rd August 2013, 04:43 PM   #9
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All bench tools should be earthed and run from a "Live" supply. All items on test should be on an isolated supply with NO reference to earth.
Your work bench will be easier to work on with a rubber mat, it inhibits the scratching of the equipment being repaired and if you use the Philips type mat, with deep pockets, great for keeping the screws and small components in.
You can buy the best tools in the world but you cannot buy experience!
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Old 23rd August 2013, 09:45 PM   #10
RNMarsh is offline RNMarsh  United States
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You can find all sorts of T&M (Test & Measurement) equipment... new and used on EBAY... under test equipment.

besides what has been suggested --- a variable freq audio osc and a ac volt meter to measure bandwidth and filter responses with.

-Richard Marsh
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