Hobbyist electronics lab
tag(s): electronics
created: 09 Feb 2020

My hobbyist electronics setup has grown significantly this year, thanks to my growing interest in the field (partially attributable to Ben Eater and other video makers). Here's a post detailing the specifics.

Organizing Components

You can find tons of plastic cabinet assortments filled with components on eBay, DigiKey, and Mouser. Alternatively, you can buy dirt cheap components and put them in a plastic cabinet yourself, sorting the resistors and other common components by their E-series values.

Soldering

For a soldering iron, I chose the TS80 (successor to the TS100) and loaded it with custom firmware.[1] The TS80/TS100 irons are fantastic and pack a punch for their portable form factor, although in hindsight a station (hakko or otherwise) would have been more comfortable.

Of course with soldering, you'll need the various smaller accessories. I've heard many swear by DeoxIT for contact cleaning, but I could only find a WD-40 branded alternative at the time. 99.9% IPA is very handy to have. Kester branded solder seems to be the highest quality solder option, which comes at a price premium.

Oscilloscopes

The first oscilloscope I received was a Hitachi V-252 (only 20 MHz) for $5. The seller (who inherited it) settled on $5 because it wouldn't turn on. It seems that the previous owner was troubleshooting because all of the connectors inside were unplugged. Sadly, after reconnecting all of the connectors, it still wouldn't sweep properly, and I couldn't find any manuals online for it.

I decided to cough up the cash to get a modern digital oscilloscope (Siglent SDS-1202X-E) after my previous purchase. The two sub-$400 scopes that stuck out to me was the Siglent SDS-1202X-E and the Rigol DS1054Z; I chose the Siglent for the higher bandwidth and because I prefer the UI and firmware (only drawback is that it has 2 channels instead of 4).

Power Supply

For my power supply, I decided on a cheap model that is resold under several brands. A higher quality source would be better, but I got this one for a good price and the seller included some smaller items for free.

Misc.

Label makers are great to have for organization, and they're cheap too. My Dymo LetraTag was only $20. The refills are a little pricey, but nothing outrageous. You'll need solid-core hook up wire (preferably in spools, not precut) and a quality pair of wire strippers for tidy breadboard prototyping.

Future Purchases

  • Various other useful types of components to have around (power diodes, varistors, the list goes on)
  • A cheap hot air rework station
  • A bench multimeter (old is fine, new models are expensive); Fluke 8840As go for relatively cheap
  • More handy ICs for toying around with digital circuits

Footnotes

  1. Custom firmware for TS80 and TS100 soldering irons.