Lab Tour

I know I like to tour other people’s labs, so I guess it’s only fair I presented mine. It’s nothing fancy and far less well equipped than some of the wonderful man caves people show on Dave Jones’ EEVBlog, but it gets the job done and I’m pretty happy with the setup as it is right now.

Here it is in all of its glory:

Lab overview

Let’s start with the workbench: it is a repurposed IKEA kitchen table which we wanted to throw away when we moved into our new house. Good thing we didn’t, because it makes for an excellent EE workbench. It is sturdy, about 2.5 metres long and deep enough so that “stuff” doesn’t have to be moved around when working on a bigger project.

I use a heat resistant antistatic mat as primary EE workspace. I chose the biggest one I could find at the time because I wanted it to cover a reasonably large area. I recently saw that you can buy these things in bulk, and if I had to do it again, I would probably have covered the entire table with it. Anyhow, this is how it is now. The mat, and a matching wrist strap band, are connected via a sort of hub with an integrated 10M Ω resistor that goes to the building’s ground line.

The rack is nothing fancy: it consists of a few wooden planks that are attached to rails which are bolted to the wall. Since my last lab had a chronic lack of 230V outlets I put extension cords and power strips on each panel. This helps to keep the wiring chaos to a minimum.

All the electrical straps and sockets, and all the test gear, are connected to the mains via a personal protective device with a fault current rated at 30 mA.

T&M gear

Onto the test and measurement gear then:

For power, I use a Korad KA3305P. This is a linear supply with two adjustable 30V / 5A channels and a fixed 5V channel. I’ve had it for about 3 years now and, albeit not being super fancy, it gets the job done.

My oscilloscope is a Hameg (now: Rohde & Schwarz) HMO2024 mixed signal DSO. I love this thing to death. With it’s four analog and 8 digital channels it has enough inputs for everything I tinker with, and the 200 MHz bandwith is more than enough for my needs.

Between the PSU and the scope sits a Siglent SDG 2024X 40 MHz arbitrary waveform generator. It is a good instrument (especially because it is easily “tunable” – wink, wink – to 120 MHz), but sometimes I’d like it to have isolated outputs. I guess you can’t have everything for 600 bucks.

As for multimeters I use a Rohde & Schwarz HMC8012 bench DMM and a Fluke 85V. Both are exceptional instruments – the HMC is a treat to work with and the Fluke is an industrial workhorse. I’m loving them both.

The soldering in my lab is done with a Weller WD81. I also have a WTHA 1 hot air station for SMD work, you can read my review of this station here.

Since I plan on doing a lot more SMD work in the future I have a toaster oven on order which I will convert into a reflow oven using Whizoo’s Controleo3 module. I’m pretty excited about this little project, stay tuned!

A project being tested

On the other side of the bench is a computer with a 30″ screen. It gets used for access to datasheets, general documentation etc. As you can see on the photo, I use KiCAD as EDA package, together with Linear’s LTspice for circuit design and simulation. I also use Atmel Studio for microcontroller programming.

The comp

That’s about it. The rest is just storage and miscellaneous odds and ends, breadboards, part bins, tools, etc.

The very next addition to my lab will be the aforementioned reflow oven, together with an ultrasonic cleaner for my PCBs. After that I’ll probably go for a microscope; we’ll see how that goes.