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Old 12th January 2004, 02:06 PM   #1
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Post DIY Equipment - What do you use ?

Hi,

I'm rather new to the DIY scene and I wonder what equipment you guys use for building your own cases, pcbs, etc. I want the results to be as good as possible...in my very limited budget range

So here we go:

What do you use to design your schematics and PCBs ?
-I started using Protel DXP. Now this is some decent software. You can get a free trial at their website. I use it for both: schematics and pcb design.

For experimenting I use this:
Click the image to open in full size.

What do you use to produce the PCBs ?
-I'm probably gonna print the design on some Inkjet Foil using my good ol' EPSON Stylus Color 640 printer.

To get the design on the raw material I wanna build my own UV exposure box. I might use the old scanner case I have here and put in some cheap uv tubes. Here's an example of a diy project (not mine): http://www.egmonts.de/pcb/pcb.html
Click the image to open in full size.

I'm going to build my own etch tank which is WAY cheaper than buying one. There are alot of diy projects: http://www.thelastinstance.de/elek/project06.phtml (this is a german one)

Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.

How do you finalize the PCBs ?
Well, looks like I need some drills.
But a bigger problem is how to CUT the pcbs ? Does anyone know a cheap good way to cut pcb boards to the correct size ?
I also wonder how to get the "part description" print on top of the board. I read something about using tattoo foil

What measurement devices do you have ?
I only have a very cheap mulitimeter. I'm planning on building a soundcard oscilloscope as my soundcard has rather good specs, so it might be worth a try.

What do you use to design your cases ?
I have no clue yet. Does anyone know a cheap way to get some graphics and text on a case ? You could use some transfer foil, but this way it's not possible to print white text. And most cases are black, or dark at least...

Any other interesting things you use ?
Then post please Feel free to add something.

Thanks !
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Old 12th January 2004, 02:17 PM   #2
SY is offline SY  United States
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Default Measurement devices

There is no substitute for a real oscilloscope; PC-based ones generally do not have sufficient bandwidth and can show interesting artifacts from the sampling process. They're fine for audio-band signals, but there's nothing like an analog scope (I'd recommend 100MHz or higher) to show oscillatory fuzziness riding on waveforms or how sharp the edge of that square wave really is or the jitteryness when you've got some power supply noise upsetting an amplifier stage.

Your soundcard can do an adequate job of producing sine waves and tone bursts, but the square wave behavior may be a bit funky because of sampling rates and anti-imaging filtration.

As for getting lettering on cases and panels, you seem to be pretty capable of putting together a simple silk-screen setup. You can even use your PC exposure system to expose the photo emulsions. There's nothing like epoxy ink to make something look good and not rub off.
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Old 12th January 2004, 02:24 PM   #3
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I know that a soundcard oscilloscope can't substitue a real one. But while I can build a soundcard osc. for free (almost) I'd have to pay several bucks for a real one. And I can also use the PC as signal generator and measurement (THD, IMD, etc) device. Within my limited DIY range of course
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Old 12th January 2004, 02:32 PM   #4
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Default Re: DIY Equipment - What do you use ?

Konnichiwa,

Quote:
Originally posted by iCebReakEr409
What do you use to design your schematics and PCBs ?
Pen & Paper at first, then Ideas are P-Spiced and breadboarded until I like the results.

Quote:
Originally posted by iCebReakEr409
What do you use to produce the PCBs ?
What is a PCB? I try to studiously avoid using them. I see the need in ertain commercial applictaions but for DIY virtually anything can (and should) be hardwired, especially IC or Valve based circuits where it is as easy as pie. If not Matrix Board is fine and still allows a 3D construction to minimise current loop length not possible with DIY PCB's.

Quote:
Originally posted by iCebReakEr409
What measurement devices do you have ?
Multimeter, RLC meter, PC Based System with 20/48 Soundcard and Sig-Gen & 20MHz dual trace 'scope.

Quote:
Originally posted by iCebReakEr409
What do you use to design your cases ?
My friends wood-workshop, #8 pencil and paper, usually.

Quote:
Originally posted by iCebReakEr409
Any other interesting things you use ?
Regular breaks including occasional walks down to the local pub to lubricate the thoughts by the application of pure, draft genius.

Sayonara
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Old 12th January 2004, 10:40 PM   #5
SY is offline SY  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by iCebReakEr409
I know that a soundcard oscilloscope can't substitue a real one. But while I can build a soundcard osc. for free (almost) I'd have to pay several bucks for a real one. And I can also use the PC as signal generator and measurement (THD, IMD, etc) device. Within my limited DIY range of course
They're not that expensive. I bought a 5 channel 100MHz, fully calibrated for about the price of a moderate pair of interconnects. It will pay for itself the first time you have to troubleshoot a layout. I'm with you 100% on using the soundcard approach for THD, IM, SPL, complex impedance, and the like. If you're going to build amps, it's foolish economy, IMO, to go without an old-fashioned analog scope.

And I'll plug analog meters, too, for similar reasons. I've got a Fluke DVM, but every once in a while, the Simpson 260 I've had for 30 years solves something the DVM can't.
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Old 12th January 2004, 10:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by SY
And I'll plug analog meters, too, for similar reasons. I've got a Fluke DVM, but every once in a while, the Simpson 260 I've had for 30 years solves something the DVM can't.
Hey, you mean I should put a fresh battery into my mid 70's
russian Mashpriborintorg analog meter and start using it
again? It's built like a tank BTW, or at least the metal box it
comes in is, and it can even measure hfe.
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Old 13th January 2004, 01:02 AM   #7
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Default Analog rules!

Sometimes, it's helpful to know how fast the needle is rising or falling, or whether it's quivering.

The Simpson 260 isn't exactly a tank, but it's at least a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Mine has survived 10 years of ham radio, 38 years of DIY audio, 15 address changes, two wives, and a dozen jobs.
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Old 13th January 2004, 01:09 AM   #8
sam9 is offline sam9  United States
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I usually start out with an idea that I try on LT-Spice. If I think it might work and behave like i want, I re-enter the schematic into Vutrax then use that to do the board layout,

Next I make masks for the PCB with transparencies and a laser printer and expose a Datak Posative process board. I use ones that work with an ordinary 100W bulb. Etching is done with ferrous chloride. (Ugly stuff but it is also plant food and my tropical plants love it!)

I get used carbide drill cheap from a local surplus shop and use a small cheap press. Handheld drilling with carbide will drive you nuts.

MOST IMORTANT EQUIPMENT: Eye protection at all times!!! Ear protection too when drilling or using dremel tool.

Test equipment:
Ordinary DMM
Fancy DMM with temp probe, freq counter
Cheap analog 'scope from ebay
Dick Smith ESR meter (a kit) very cool.
Old, old Kiethly bench meter but it's been calibrated and is
accurate to a few u-Volts (ebay again)
Krohn-hite distortion analyzer from ebay good down to .002%
Handheld sine & square wave generator.
Handmade dummy load, can be set to 1-10 ohms 225W
Handmade variable DC power supply.
Surplus Variac
Suplus isolation X-former (ebay again!)
Dremel tool (with one of these, a swiss army knife you can do
anything from brain surgey to bomb disposal)

I use the demel tool to cut PCBs, but you need a steady hand and wear a dust mask - those things are fibre glass!

I don't bother trying to print a component layout on thr PCB. By the time I get to putting in components, I'm familar enough with it that a print out from the layout software is all I need to get things in the right place.

For cases or enclosure, I try to find old dead equipment (audio, Comm, computer) rip out the insides and hand make a nice new front plate. See www.onlinemetals.com for aluminum plate cut to size. I've got some more elegant ideas comming up where I will check out www.par-metal.com, www.frontpannelexpress.com (they have a .de website too) and www.emachineshop.com.
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Old 13th January 2004, 01:10 AM   #9
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Default Re: Analog rules!

Quote:
Originally posted by SY
Sometimes, it's helpful to know how fast the needle is rising or falling, or whether it's quivering.

The Simpson 260 isn't exactly a tank, but it's at least a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Mine has survived 10 years of ham radio, 38 years of DIY audio, 15 address changes, two wives, and a dozen jobs.
SY -- I still have my Eico VTVM from over 30 years ago -- I worked at McDonalds to make enough money to pay for it!

if you are really into DIYing, I don't know how you can live without a scope, and at least two DVM's, a decent signal generator, ...

no reason not to own a Heath scope in decent shape.

DIY'rs should keep their eyes out for the following equipment: Fluke, Keithley, Krohn-Hite, LeCroy, Wavetek, B&K, Ballantine --
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Old 13th January 2004, 01:10 AM   #10
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Default Re: Measurement devices

Quote:
Originally posted by SY
As for getting lettering on cases and panels, you seem to be pretty capable of putting together a simple silk-screen setup. You can even use your PC exposure system to expose the photo emulsions. There's nothing like epoxy ink to make something look good and not rub off.
I know this isn't quite my thread, but you don't think you could point me in the direction of a good place to learn how to do this for myself do you? As I have thought about this as a method for marking up my pannel surfaces for a while, but never realised that you could do it youself.
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