Next steps for electronics lab

Hi, wondering what the next steps for the electronics area should be. At what point do we order new scope(s) and other equipment?

Some substitutions have been suggested (by @dannym, perhaps others) - are we going with them or with the items in @cjp’s original proposal?

Thoughts on the items I’ve suggested we retain and continue using? Off the top of my head, that’s workbenches, power supplies, and bench meters.


I stacked a number of pieces of test equipment in the corner. I don’t see us using them, due to being outdated and/or nonfunctional. One of them, an RF signal generator, has a hosted sticker but has two tubes (!!!) missing. What would we want to do about that? The sticker url is but that page doesn’t exist.

My recommendation would be disposition these items, unless we want some as decor.

The next steps should probably be tossing out yet more garbage and breaking down the last of those shelving units.

That will allow the last of the carpeting to be ripped up from the floor, flooring put down, outlets installed, ceiling fixed and the walls painted.

After that, we should get the 3 new benches ordered so that we have 4 full blown benches. At that point, we should probably take stock and take a look at ordering the equipment for on top of those benches.

Thank you @mark999 and @buzmeg for taking charge and working together on this. Was good checking in with y’all in person last night.

I haven’t heard back from digi-key, som imma gonna have to call em. Keep in mind get get a discount with mouser so anything we want to pick up please make me a list if they have it and I can submit it for a PO with discounts.

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The two items I had input on were alternatives on the soldering irons and logic analyzer.

Thermaltronics makes a really excellent Metcal clone:

Wellers and their tip style are very dated tech, behind Hakko. They’re not the tool for the job anymore.

The other would be to skip the scope that has a built-in logic analyzer. They’re harder to configure and use than a dedicated LA, and physically placing the bulky scope in the middle of the project (because it has many short leads) is just a hot mess. We paid a big premium for the logic analyzer functionality on the oscilloscopes at work and TBH no one ever used the LA functionality. We use Saleaes. The most common scenario for using an LA is working in an IDE (Arduino, Keil, etc) and seeing the output on the LA. The PC is already on the bench so it’s natural to use it.

Instead, PC-based logic analyzer pods work great. Saleae logic analyzers were the gold standard, but expensive. There are a lot of cheap Chinese Saleae knockoffs that use the Saleae software, but they are notably lower spec of course.

The latest thing, though, is the DreamSource Lab DSLogic 16, which actually beats Saleae all the way around, runs open-source software, and only $120. 400MSamp/sec, shielded coaxial test leads.

There’s also a DSLogic 32 with far better specs too, but $675. That’s probably overkill.

Hi if you are looking at getting rid of the older analog oscilloscopes I am getting into oscilloscope art with sound I was playing with one yesterday and I would love to learn more I would be happy to take them off your hands. Also let me know what I can do to help out with the space my Im at Asmbly most Sundays and would love to help out.

Any thoughts on whether it’d be worth getting a jtagulator, glasgow interface explorer, or similar?

I’d also be interested in something like a chip whisperer, but that’s probably too specialized to get much use.

(Edit: Glasgow can be found here, that page also has a table comparing various products.)

What combination of stuff do you recommend, @dannym ? This is a non-trivial purchase for the e-lab, but I don’t mind pushing this past the board.

I’ve never used the Thermatronics so I’m not well versed with what all we need. Could you itemize it for me and tell us where to go buy them? The TMT-9000S only seems to come with one handpiece while a useful station for SMT should always have two.

However, I’m about to build a set of boards, so if we could get a system purchased before I do that, I could wring it out to compare it to my big Metcal and see how it does.

Metcal/Thermaltronics is much better in performance all around. It becomes especially necessary for tiny stuff, but since it excels in removal, heat transfer, instant auto-heat, yeah it’s the only thing to be using. It makes everything easy and does stuff you probably couldn’t do with a Weller/Hakko etc. Plus just quality, reliable stuff.

You won’t need a second handpiece. The tips hot-swap. Comes with a 0.7mm chisel tip.

If you need to two-iron an SMD component instead of hot air, you use the tweezer system (which it has a second port for). HIGHLY recommended.
And a tweezer cartridge pair (yellow band is “normal” temp range for most leadfree). I started with the microfine but they weren’t nearly as useful as the standard chisels.
Secondary, nice-to-have micro-fine tweezers:

Good starter set of tips (2-3 each if we have budget). Make sure it is TMT-9000 (not “TMT-2000”) when shopping, also I think anything mentioning “STTC” is compatible but check. Amazon likes putting incompatible similar-looking ones up from the search.

0.4mm 30 deg bent long
0.4mm 30 deg bent short

micro fine 0.25mm straight

1mm chisel

bent 30 deg 0.5mm

If you’ve got money to burn, a desoldering gun tip is worth it:

That also needs nozzle cartridges, sold separately.
I’m not 100% certain but I think these need a vacuum source, often a footpedal that needs compressed air to run through a venturi to make the vacuum.

Pretty much ALL the tips have good uses if you keep looking.

The other item is what to do with the floor. Generally needs to come first.
The options I see are:

  1. do a strip and seal on the bare concrete- not a grind and fine polish, that’s an involved process with a lot of equipment. The lounge floor is just cleaned and waxed, which lasts for several years (the lounge is old and needs to be redone). Was fairly cheap, hired a contractor that does these.
    “Waxed”=water-based acrylic sealer. This is a small room and bringing in a contractor for multiple coats that require different trips over 2 days (and another couple days before foot traffic or moving stuff in is allowed) is a fixed cost that is expensive per-sq-ft.
    I don’t expect the paint on the floor to be a significant prob with this option, I think MEK gel will remove it. We can do that, but it’s another step to it.
  2. Antistatic VCT
  3. Some sort of larger locking antistatic flooring was mentioned. I don’t have experience with something like that but it seems interesting.