Green Digit Technologies

Tools

Intro

Each EE lab has a few base needs, including some standard components of course. The needed components depend on the projects you want to build. The tools however are a basic need and should be the same in each lab. Not everybody needs the same quality, brand, frequency range and go on.
I made a list based on my opinion what you really need to have, what could be nice to have and the more pricey advanced equipment.

For components go to the components Tab.

Do you think something is missing in this list? Let me know. Contact info on the About page.



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Need to Have

Breadboard

A breadboard is one if the tools that can't be missed in a lab. If you often work on these breadboards, you will soon see that as your projects grow larger, you will have to work with several Breadboards linked together.

However, if you design your own prints, you will probably soon make the transition to SMD components. Since making PCBs this time is so cheap (just think about a few Chinese companies that will make your boards for like 5$), it's often no longer worth trying to etch PCBs themselves.

Jumper Wires

If you are using breadboards, you will need some kind of wiring to jump from one pin to the other.
These jumper wires can be purchased in different shapes. The easiest way is via Ebay/Ali-express, where there are 3 different types available.
Another possibility is to buy a coil of solid-core wire which you can cut to length.

Multimeter

A good multimeter will cost you 300-500 € (fluke 179 - fluke 87V).
But as a starting electronics / hobbyist you probably do not want to give that much for a multimeter, nor is it required! Then you have the option to buy these 2nd hands and hope that they are in good condition. Another option is to take a cheaper brand.

Uni-Trend is a company that produces multimeter's at lower prices and with good quality. The UT-136B is rated CAT II and purchases via ebay for 15-20 €.
This multimeter is of good quality and perfect to start with for electronics purposes. This meter can also measure the capacitance in a certain range, which can be helpful. Note that you have to pick the right version, there are 4 versions of the UT-136 with each some minor different functions.

Soldering Iron

Without a soldering iron you are limited to a breadboard. Even if that is enough to start, soon you will notice that you can not do without a Soldering iron or station. At the start, a cheap soldering iron is enough, but you will soon notice that these often do not last long. Thought that does depend on how well you clean it, and how much you use it. Therefore, I recommend buying a brand like Weller. These are more expensive but last longer. Considered, these Wellers are more expensive than the soldering station mentioned below, and not adjustable from temperature.

Solder wire

Without some solder you can't use your soldering iron.
There are many kinds of solder available and you'll have to find what works best for you.
There are 2 mayor types of solder:
  • Leaded solder
  • Un-leaded solder
Do note that i do recommend to use unleaded solder as it's healthier than the leaded one. But you do need a tip for the solder iron that is suited for unleaded solder, else it'll just damage your tip in the long run (thought it will work just fine with any tip).

For leaded solder i recommend using the so called 60/40 with multi-core flux. Flux is a substance that makes your solder melt more smoothly, and it'll get rid of many imperfections of the copper.
For unleaded i recommend you try to get 'Balver Zinn Solder Wire LF2220NC' as it feels like you are using actual leaded solder.

There are also many different sizes available, you'll just have to find out what you like best. I myself like the smaller sizes like the 0.8mm and 0.5mm, but I'm glad if I can use 1mm.

Solder Vacuum Pomp

In addition to a desolder wick (see below) you can also use a desolder pump. These are especially useful when removing large amounts of solder as on large capacitors.

Desolder wick

Solder wicks are available in many sizes, you just have the get the right one for your usage. Thought i do not recommend the very small ones.
Pro Tip: Do not get these cheap in china, they lack the flux (rosin) to make them work properly.

Experiment print/Veroboard

A piece of Vero board may never be missing in an EE lab.
Even in a professional lab, it is hardly possible to think it missing.
You can use it to build your circuits, or to experiment before actually designing a PCB.

side cutters

Don't hassle and get yourself some descent side cutters, you'll be glad you spend the extra money on it later on ;).

Wire stripper

Do not buy a stripper if it is not necessary. A proper knife does wonders and is often more convenient if you do not have to strip many wires. However, a wire stripper is a must if you have to strip a bunch of threads or if you have to strip cables.

Tweezer set

Some tweezers can come in handy, even when you go with THT components.
When using SMD components its just a MUST HAVE.

Screw Drivers

It's kind of obvious that when you are repairing stuff, or just designing stuff, hat some screwdrivers are a minimum requirement.
they don't need to be the expensive branded kind, but keep your safety in mind when using it on live circuits!

Test Leads

How else are you going to connect you power supply, multimeter or other gear to your PCB's? You guessed it, some test-leads come in handy here, thought any wire will do the job in most cases.

Lab Power Supply

A lab Supply does not have to be much. Certainly not for a hobbyist.
With a 12V power adapter of an old hard drive a few LDOs and a few fuses are already doing miracles.
Creating your own power supply get you a cheap supply with your required specs, ain't that great? Attention, do not use ATX (pc) power supplies, they are not suitable for electronics design for various reasons. A few of these are no power limitation and have much noise on the power lines. When you do want to use a ATX supply , make sure you and your equipment is well protected from the high currents!

Nice to Have

Oscilloscope

Choosing a new oscilloscope can be daunting—there are hundreds of different models to choose from with widely varying costs and specifications. The first step in choosing an oscilloscope is not to look at adverts or scope specifications, rather it is to invest some time thinking about what you will use it for and where.
  • Where will you use the scope (on the bench, at a customer’s site, under the hood of a car)?
  • How many signals do you need to measure at once?
  • What are the maximum and minimum amplitudes of signals that you need to measure?
  • What is the highest frequency of signal you need to measure?
  • Are your signals repetitive or single shot?
  • Do you need to view signals in the frequency domain (spectrum analysis) as well as the time domain?
Armed with the above knowledge, you can begin to consider what oscilloscope will be best for your applications.

Note that you might be able to pick up an old (analog) scope in your neighborhood for 50€/$. these scopes are well worth your money.


Solderingstation

A soldering station actually doesn't have to cost much.
I bought mine (the Aoyue936) for 40€, and can use it for SMD.

If you look a while online you'll find the one that suits you at an acceptable price.

ESD Brush

Thought a simple toothbrush does the job, in some cases an ESD save brush is required.

IPA Cleaner

When soldering, you leave traces of flux. Ipa cleaner is one of the cleaners that can remove this nasty leftover and leave you with a clean PCB.

Heatshrink gun

Shrinking heatshrink can be done in many ways, i even used halogen lamps. You could use a lighter, or you could use a heat-gun.
nowadays i prefer a heat-gun as it distributes the heat more evenly and gives us a nicer finish.

Heatshrink tube


Lap Power supply

Thought you could make your own power supply with just a few components.
A real lab power supply doesn't have to cost much. There are decent power supplies from around 50€/$ already available.
But of course, DIYing is much more fun than buying one.

Uitbreiding

Frequentie Analizer

Its Nice to have but a very expensive and therefore i do not recommend you get one if you don't need to use it like every day.

Hot air rework station


GCurrent / Ucurrent


Solder reel holder