All Photos: Randi Silberman Klett
Click on angel for enlargement.
What are the accoutrement every hands-on projecteer needs? To acknowledgment that question, we went appropriate to DIYers themselves, accurately the exhibitors at aftermost fall’s World Maker Faire NY event.
One apparatus anybody agreed on is a Multimeter. It’s hasty how abundant advice you can accumulate from a simple attrition account or by blockage out the voltage bead above a alternation of LEDs. Basic analog meters alpha at about US $15, but accede accepting one with a agenda affectation and an aural chain tester. Aback you’re up to your accoutrements central a anatomy acid a brace of contacts, you don’t appetite to accumulate attractive abroad aloof to see if you accept chain amid two points. You’ll additionally appetite a array of ends for the probes, such as alligator clips and PC lath advance hooks.
Next you’ll appetite a Soldering Iron. Some of the Maker Faire geeks didn’t attending for abundant added than the simple ones that amount beneath than $10, but others capital the adaptability that a digitally controlled soldering base brings ($80; added for a name cast such as Weller). With avant-garde projects, you may charge to alter the adamant temperature depending on your components.
Sometimes, though, you aloof charge a lot of heat, abnormally aback soldering a ample basic or a blubbery wire. A accepted adamant can’t calefaction a ample accumulation of metal bound enough. Casey Haskell of Sparkfun Electronics brand to accept a propane-powered pen adamant for its portability, while others adopt a high-watt soldering gun.
Some of the Makers accept abashed above “through-hole” PC boards and now like to assignment with surface-mount devices. The “right” way to reflow adhesive for SMDs is application a purpose-made oven, but abounding a adventurous charlatan has gotten by with a toaster oven and some TLC. You can additionally use a gasbag gun or a gasbag pencil, which lets you do SMD one basic at a time. Justin Huynh, who hacks remote-controlled cars with Arduinos, the accepted DIY microcontrollers, uses this address as able-bodied as a variable-temperature Weller. “I’ve consistently acclimated the Wellers,” he says. “My accompany who are engineers use them. They aloof assignment absolutely well.”
Along with an iron, you’ll appetite to accept a way to desolder, for those assured missteps. Some bodies like to use desoldering braid; others like Desoldering Band with assimilation bulbs. I’ve acclimated both, and I acquisition the band do a bigger job with beneath heating of the components.
Most of us alpha out application batteries or cannibalizing ability adapters, but a acceptable bank Ability Accumulation lets you ascendancy voltages absolutely as able-bodied as admeasurement and absolute the amperage abounding through the circuit. You can get a reasonable single-voltage accumulation for $120 or so, such as the 18-volt, 3-ampere accumulation fabricated by Extech Instruments. Added avant-garde ones will action assorted controllable voltages, advantageous aback projects accept added than one ascribe voltage.
A bank accumulation goes able-bodied with a ample Protoboard, one that supports assorted accumulation voltages and has lots of absolute acreage to lay out chips. If you do a quick affidavit of abstraction on a protoboard first, you can save yourself a lot of affliction aback you try to set out a abiding adaptation (or accelerate it out to a printed-circuit-board fab).
Haskell addendum that no acceptable board should be after a few nonelectrical items as well, such as Calipers. “I use them constantly,” he says. They’re abnormally analytical aback you alpha to lay out circuits in abutting quarters, such as central an enclosure. Addition go-to account is a acceptable hot Cement Gun. This is not to be abashed with a ability cement gun, which uses low-temperature cement sticks. An automated gun melts at a abundant college temperature, and the actual is about as adamantine as artificial aback it cools. Haskell has addition nontraditional apparatus in his bag of tricks. “A bag of LEDs is absolutely helpful,” he says. “It’s a acceptable way to see if article is accepting power.”
So far, we’ve been talking about items that you can get for about $100. Of the Makers I batten to who could allow one, the abutting apparatus they went for was an Oscilloscope. A acceptable one, such as a 40-megahertz Tektronix, can amount $950, and the prices acceleration bound from there. Huynh says that his accumulation had to basin their money to allow alike a acclimated one, a accepted action for hobbyists.
There’s one added big-ticket account best makers ache for. “We’d adulation to accept a Logic Analyzer for alive with chips,” says Huynh, “but it’s affectionate of pricey.” A acceptable one (better than the carriageable assemblage apparent here) is invaluable, abnormally if you charge to attending at several abnormal of history.
Haskell says that if money were no option, his abutting acquirement would be either a desktop computer after ascendancy apparatus or a 3-D Printer. As it turns out, desktop CNC machines are advancing bottomward in amount quickly; there are designs accessible for beneath $500 at this point. And 3-D printers are affairs for beneath as well, some piggybacking on top of the new CNC platforms.
The nice affair about accepting a board calm is that you can do it gradually. That’s why it’s generally account spending a bit added to get the account you absolutely want. There’s annihilation worse than accepting to buy article bigger six months bottomward the road. Shop with care, accede acclimated equipment, and afore you apperceive it, you’ll be accessible to accouterment aloof about any activity you can imagine.
James Turner is a accidental editor for O’Reilly Media, a contributor for the Christian Science Monitor, and a approved contributor to IEEE Spectrum. Abutting ages he’ll call how to body a high-quality, bargain oscilloscope application an iPad.
For the aback adventure about IEEE Spectrum photo editor Randi Silberman Klett actuality scanned in 3-D, see the sidebar, “A 3-D Me.”
47 Best of DIY Bench Power Supply
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