ECE workbench

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Electronics Work Area Electronics Workbench Electronics Programming Center Communal Parts & Tools Velleman Electronics Kits


Current Supplies

Pun intended.


An OKI soldering iron with multiple tips and a RadioShack iron with sharp conical tip are dedicated to the ECE bench. The RS iron has digital temperature control with presets.

OKI soldering iron
Temp controlled soldering iron

Removed: surface mount solder station.


A RSR MY64 Multimeter was donated by User:Cov to be used at Splat Space.

Programmer and Debugger

The Bus Pirate can serve as a versatile programming and debugging tool. User:Cov donated this item. For a demo on using the Bus Pirate v4, see How to Use the Bus Pirate Onboard 24AA I2C EEPROM.

TI Launchpad MSP430 eval board

This is the USB-based eval board that comes with a couple CPU chips and that works well with the TI Code Studio (Windows) software on the laptop. User:Pete plans to provide a quick start guide for this.

Benchtop Power Supplies

We currently have a 13.8V 10A regulated power supply with a "cigarette lighter socket" and a regulated 0-30V, 0-5A bench supply. Additional regulated supplies for +/-12V, +5 and +3.3 volts are planned.

13.8V 10A benchtop power supply
Adjustable DC benchtop power supply

Computing Station

A computer with with support for all the tools pre-installed and pre-configured (to the extent possible) is on the ECE workbench. The computer was donated by User:Cov and has the following specifications:

NEW: Computer workstation in the Electronics Workzone getting loaded with OS & apps:

  • Arduino IDE
  • Raspberry Pi distros
  • Embedded Linux Learning Kit app
  • Atmel Studio IDE
  • Kicad app
  • RFFlow diagramming app
  • Various calculators for resistors, capacitors, and more loaded
  • more to follow
Component Value
Make Toshiba
Model Satellite A105
CPU Intel T2400 @ 1.83GHz
Storage 80gb SATA drive (2gb swap, 30+gb for Windows, 30+gb for Linux)
Video Mobile 945GM Express Integrated Graphics Controller driving separate LCD monitor
Audio ICH 7 Family High Definition Audio Controller
Connectors VGA, USB, SD, SMC, xD, Firewire, S-Video, RJ45 (softmodem), Ethernet, PC Card
OS Software Dual boot XUBuntu 12.04 Linux (default) and Windows XP (user/password "trihack" for both operating systems, but additional user accounts can be created)
Application Software Atmel/AVR toolchains including Arduino IDE, MSP430 toolchains including TI Code Composer Studio, Java, OLS and Sump logic analyzer software, etc.

Potential Additions


Basic wiring tools need to be dedicated to the ECE bench. Here's a quick list: Hand tools. The bench (and the rest of the 'Space, as far as I can tell) has some decent diagonal cutters and that's about it. Here's my proposed list to get things started: Solder paste, desoldering braid, cheap desoldering iron, solder sucker, spare iron tips, no-clean liquid flux pen, solder assist tools, decent needle nose pliers, Panavise Jr, wire strippers.


A standard PC power supply in combination with a ATX Breakout Board (abt $14 + tax/shipping from Seeed) could provide additional regulated supply voltages and it could be the starting point for an alternative implementation (more ripple filtering, higher current limits, exposing the -5V source, adding a 9V source, etc). Unfortunately, Seeed is out of stock. An alternative is to get a right-angle ATX connector and bare breakout board from Sparkfun (abt $7 + taxes/shipping) and mount it in an aluminum box with binding posts that User:Petesoper can donate. The Seed unit should be gotten eventually as it has current limiting fuses needed for safety. (Although shorting an ATX power supply will ordinarily cause it to fold back harmlessly, under the right circumstances enough current is available to cause a severe burn hazard)

An assortment of dongles and adapters will be needed.

Logic Analyzer

The Open Workbench Logic Sniffer may be the perfect intersection of price point and utility for this function. One has been ordered along with probe sets for 16 channels.


While a PC oscilloscope may be able to reproduce analog signals for a desirable purchase price, finding one with decent Linux compatibility may be a challenge. Splat Space supporter Forest is investigating a possible donation by Duke University.

A JYETech kit might be a good starting point for developing our own cost-effective, Linux-supported PC oscilloscope. It has an analog bandwidth of 1MHz and costs $49.

The Velleman PCSGU250 combines 2-ch 12MHz oscilloscope, baseband spectrum analyser, transient recorder, function generator and bode plotter, and would cost our club $179.00 and would sell to the public for $350.00. Not bad, but not as good a value as we could get, and its proprietary software won't run on Linux or OS X.

Potentially the best value is the BitScope Pocket Analyzer, which combines 100MHz oscilloscope, 40 MSps 8-ch logic analyzer, serial logic and protocol analyzer (SPI, CAN, I2C, UART, and analog), RF and baseband spectrum analyser, arbitary waveform and protocol patterns function generator, and multichannel chart recorder. Its (proprietary?) software works on Windows, desktop Linux distributions, OS X and Android. The device costs $295.

The Digalent Analog Discovery kit combines dual 5 MHz, 50 MSPS, analog inputs, dual 5 MHz, 125 MSPS analog outputs, 2 fixed +/- 4.5 V power supplies and 16 signal 100 MSPS digital I/O. The (proprietary?) software is currently available for Windows with Linux and OS X support "soon" as of 2012-03-24. The price is $149 with academic pricing or $249 otherwise (and only $99 if we can buy one used from a student who qualified for their lowest pricing tier).

Function Generator

Some PC oscilloscopes also have function generation capabilities, but again, Linux support may be difficult.

Frequency Counter

A frequency counter is especially useful when rebuilding old radios (ie. 1950's or earlier), old military equipment, microwave and radar communication devices, broadcast TV and Radio "Marty" equipment, ham radio equipment, and so on. For example, even a digital storage oscilloscope cannot give you the frequency of a signal as accurate as a frequency counter through several stages of pentodes and triodes in an old TV. Some military gear, if not tuned to 1% or better accuracy (an O-scope is good for about a 5% accuracy), you will not get a SSB signal and thus, not get the signal of interest--such as the older marine positioning system.

See Also