A Hobbyist’s Guide To Electronics Tools used in Your Home Lab

Here is a list of tools hobbyists often use. Have you uses these?

Soldering Iron or Soldering Station

This is a hand-held tool used for applying solder to electric components. Usually these apply low heat with a power rating 35 watts and under through a metal tip. It’s used with a spool of solder, a light metal alloy with a low melting point. Apply the soldering iron and a bit of solder and melt it onto component leads. The point is to create a seal that is electrically conductive. Ok, this is the soldering station. Let us move onto the next tool.

Weller WESD51

 

Heat Gun / Freeze Spray

These are diagnostic aids, used to apply heat and cold, respectively, to electronic components. Simply apply the heat gun or freeze spray to the area with a suspected problem, then make note if the problem goes away or gets worse. The idea is to apply a temperature change to electric components, just enough to tease out a flaw.

heat gun

irwin-self-adjust-wire-stripperWire Strippers

This is a common hand tool used when working with any kind of wire. Wire strippers are a multi-tool, usually containing a wire cutter section, a pliers or clamp effect, and several gauges of wire insulation stripping nodes arranged by size. These have the function of removing insulation from the end of a wire while leaving the wire itself intact, before connecting it to wherever it was needed.

Breadboard

A Breadboard or Breakout Board is a plastic rectangular base with holes, used to quickly prototype various circuit designs. It is used by inserting various electronic components, such as capacitors, resistors, and inductors, to connect into devices without needing solder. This is not for final building, but just to easily prototype a design for testing purposes. these are popular with many electronics kits, such as the Arduino and Raspberry Pi, and used in robotics.

breadboard

Digital Multimeter

A Multimeter is used to measure voltage, current, and resistance in electrical components. Multimeters have been common tools for electricians and engineers for many decades, ranging from analog pocket meters to the digital models of today. Typically a user would apply the probe end to an electric circuit to test whether any current is getting through, or to discover the voltage or resistance of the circuit.

multimeter

Oscilloscope

An Oscilloscope is a diagnostic tool used to measure varying signal voltages. Typically the probe would be attached to the device being diagnosed, and the patterns of signal variance would show up on the screen for easy reading. Most models come with a set of adjustable controls to make the Oscilloscope display a longer time period on-screen, or ignore signals below or above a certain threshold.

scope

Function Generator

A Function Generator is an electronic device used to generate an electrical signal. It is used as a diagnostic tool to test the response of more complex electronic components, for instance, to trigger an interrupt event or an alarm. Function Generators have controls to generate a signal in the waveform of a sine, square, triangle, or sawtooth wave. They can also generate a range of frequencies from 0.1 Hz to 11.0 Hz, and most have many more features besides.

functiongenerator

 

LCRmeterLCR Meter

An LCR Meter is another diagnostic device for electronic components. It is used to measure inductance, capacitance, and resistance of a circuit. Typical use would be to apply the probe to the electric component to be tested, and reading the readout screen to determine its function. This would not be done on a live current; instead the meter is designed to test the material itself, such as determining if the circuit is sensitive to overheating or is not providing the proper resistance.

 

 

DC Power Supplydcpower

A DC Power Supply is used to supply electric current to a device requiring DC power. It typically has a power input, which plugs into the wall, and a power output, which attaches to the device requiring power. The point is to convert one kind of power into another. A very common example is the various adapters and cable chargers found on many consumer electronic devices such as phones, laptops, and tablets.

Thermocouple

A Thermocouple is a type of temperature sensor, used to measure temperature in larger machinery. It is a quicker and more accurate reading of temperature than a standard room thermometer, while also providing a much broader readings range. A typical thermocouple can measure temperatures in the range of -270 C to 3000 C. These are used in large-scale industrial and manufacturing environments.
K Type Temperature Sensor Thermocouple Probe