Category:Electronics Lab

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Zone Information
Zone Name Electronics Lab
Status Active
Zone Slogan "Strong enough for a professional, pH-balanced for a noob."
Zone Coordinator(s) Nate Bezanson
Zone Slack #elab
Zone E-mail

Zone Color Yellow
Paypal Button Pay money to Electronics Lab



Please leave the zone cleaner than you found it. Being able to find things again is important! When in doubt, please ask. (Or email the ZoCo, above.) We're here to help each other make cool stuff.

Philosophy and guidelines

This is yours:This is what we make it, so please help make it the best it can be.

Keep it clean:Please wipe the workbench clean as you prepare to leave. If the floor needs vacuuming, pick up the snaggy bits and start the robot!

Plethora of parts:Please reimburse for any components that leave the lab. Exception: If you're using less than a dollar worth of stuff today, don't sweat it -- just build awesome things and share them!

Component cost:Some components have their reimbursement cost labeled on them -- this is roughly what it costs us to get more. If there's nothing labeled, look it up and assume we're buying at the first price-break, then tack on a bit for shipping. If you want to be generous beyond that, awesome! That's what helps us grow.

Not hyper-organized:In-between values could be in either place. So a 20k resistor could be in the 18k or the 22k drawer, either is OK. And a SATA-to-SD adapter could be in the SATA bin or the Flash Memory bin. It's a balance between being easy to put things away, and being able to find them with a reasonable search.

Donations of components and equipment: Please ask first! (Or email the ZoCo, above.) If you can't ask, at the very least, tag the donation as such -- otherwise we may run ourselves ragged trying to figure out who lost their treasured stuff.

Approximate cost of some common components

Rather than tagging each value individually...

Item Price
1/4-watt resistor: 2c
1/2-watt resistor: 5c
High-wattage resistors: Ask!
3 or 5mm LED, red/green/yellow 5c
3 or 5mm LED, white or blue 10c
High-power LEDs Ask!
Any ceramic cap 5c
Electrolytic caps Use Mouser, or ask
Zener diodes, up to 1W 10c
1n4xxx diodes 5c
Other diodes Use Mouser, or ask
0.100" Harwin housings, 1 position 2c
0.100" Harwin housings, 2 positions 15c
0.100" Harwin housings, 3+ positions 25c
0.100" Harwin crimp pins 7c

Anything else, check Octopart

Table of Equipment

Equipment Authorization Owner(s) Status
Re:load Pro No i3Detroit Running
Schott Binocular Microscope No Amelia Meyer Running
Soldering Station - Edsyn Loner No Nate Bezanson Running
Sparkfun 303D Hot Air Rework Station No Amelia Meyer Running
Waveform Generator 33622A No i3Detroit Running
Benchtop Multimeter 34461A No i3Detroit Running
Power Supply E3631A No i3Detroit Running
Oscilloscope Msox4154a No i3Detroit Running
LCR Meter U1733C No i3Detroit Running
Lightbulb load-box No i3Detroit Running
Antenna Analyzer No Brad Tarratt Running
CRTU No i3Detroit Running
TL866 Universal Programmer No i3Detroit Running
ZebraLink Stripe Label Printer No i3Detroit Running


Saleae Logic analyzer

TL866 Universal Programmer


The following list is an attempt to offer up suggestions of tasks that could be accomplished in the Electronics Room by people interested in helping out.

Feel free to take charge of one or more of these items as your time and expertise allow. If you have taken charge of a task, please put your name into the field next to the task.

Should you run out of time or ability to complete a task, make sure to post on the mailing list and "fail loudly". This ensures that task status is shared, and no task languishes in silent failure.

General TODOs

Task Name Description Priority Champion
Populate ToDo List Add a list of things that are needed/wanting to be done in the eRoom. 1 Nate B.
Benchview PC Set up a (small-form-factor?) PC with Windows (7 or 10?) to run the GPIB/LXI gear. Install Keysight Benchview on it and add the licenses we got for the Dream Bench instruments. 2 ?
PartsLaser mechanism Build X-Y gimbal, motor controller, laser enable, and camera mount ? ?
PartsLaser software Spreadsheet/database, label printing, find-a-part interface ? ?
Cabinet map Until Partslaser is operational, an easier way to update would be nice. 2 ?
wire spool rack Design a (laser-cuttable?) rack for small wire spools, that hangs on pegboard or under shelf ? ?
tenma meter repair Fix the sticky ammeter needle on the Tenma 72-630 PSU. Gently! ? ?
mount bigass HP PSU under shelf Nearest the door, so it's not in knee-space but the meters are accessible 3 ?
simpson microohmmeter refurb readings aren't consistent, maybe because the internal nicad pack is missing? 4 Evan?
cull crap on topmost shelves either side of the window, there's a bunch of stuff we never touch, that space could be better used. 3 Nate B.

Equipment TODOs

Lightbulb load-boxGrab a photo! Add a fan and intake/exhaust grilles?
Re:load ProFind out how this works (See PDF link in "Documentation")
Soldering Station - Edsyn Loner
  • Acquire some new tips to replace the ones that've been bent, oxidized to hell and gone, or just plain worn out.
  • New sponges, too. They are considered a consumable.
  • Better labeling / signage, to direct people to this page.


(Just a copy of a post on the mailing list, feel free to pretty this section up and remove this note.)


Referring to the numbered photo:

1: "Fish" scale, 50lb or thereabouts, hook style. Often the easiest way to measure a weight or force, this thing's built tough and has been with us since the Royal Oak days. Owner: Nate B.

2: Kill-a-watt or similar plug-in AC wattmeter. We have several of these. Useful not just for load measurement ("Can this run from that extension cord?"), but also power factor, voltage sag under load, etc. Owner: Various.

3: Logic Dart. This is like a pocket oscilloscope except it doesn't do analog -- it's a multichannel logic analyzer and even disassembles a few protocols. Incredibly useful for things like async serial troubleshooting, but the probes and wires are delicate. Owner: Ted Hansen.

4 and 5: Noncontact AC "volt-sniffers". Beeps in presence of AC field, use as a first quick-check to find live wires. Never trust your life to this; always verify with an actual meter before beginning work! Owner: Various/unknown.

6: Noncontact AC volt-sniffer built into flashlight. Push button to turn on white LED, and blue/red LEDs indicate presence and relative intensity of field. Usage same as above. Owner: Nate B.

7: Three-light AC outlet tester. You know this one. Trivia: Solid-state relays (and triac-based dimmers) in their "off" state can allow enough leakage to light the neon lamps in this tester. Confusion ensues! Owner: Nate B, perhaps others, I think there are a few of these around.

8: LCR meter. That's L for inductance, C for capacitance, R for resistance. This is the cheapest of the cheap, and doesn't work on very high or very low values. Also operation if you select the wrong component type is unpredictable. Also sometimes it's just plain unstable. But it works, mostly. (A better LCR meter is also around.) Use for sorting or checking capacitors prior to use. Owner: i3.

9: Laser distance meter. Seriously consider reading the manual, this has way too many features. By default it seems to figure its own body into the length measurement, but I'm sure that's configurable if you don't want that. Surprisingly accurate. Owner: Nate B took this home.

10: Ultrasonic distance meter. Purchased before, and obsoleted by, the superior instrument above. Still somewhat useful for assessing the ultrasonic reflectivity of materials, also perhaps annoying dogs or bats. Owner: Nate B.

11: Sound pressure level meter. Uncalibrated but still useful for relative measurements, has A- and C-weighted filters. Owner: Nate B.

12: Light intensity meter. Measures in lux, can manually convert to footcandles or whatever. Supposedly weighted to human sensitivity curve but I find this claim dubious given its price. Uncalibrated, obviously. Too sensitive to measure direct sunlight; use neutral-density filters to stop it down and then adjust your math later by comparing to a known light source. Owner: Nate B.

13: Inline DC wattmeter/ammeter/hourmeter: Replacement for the similar-but-larger Watts-Up meter (which met an untimely end when its max-voltage spec was exceeded), this one has more features but seems less accurate. Anyone with ideas for calibration, have at and let me know what you find! Super handy for measuring battery charge and capacity, device load, etc. Sadly only measures in one direction so not useful as a battery coulomb-counter. Owner: Nate B.


Second photo: Three-mode tachometer. With the nose detatched, this is a photo-tach that measures reflective dots on a belt or rotating object. Snap on the nose, and it measures RPM as the spinny bit is pressed against a shaft end, with 3 different conical attachments for contact. Swap out the cone for the wheel, and it measures surface speed of a belt or whatever. Please keep all the accessories with it in the box! Oh, and RTFM before using the wheel, there's a scale factor... Owner: Nate B.

Not pictured but lives behind the other-meters bin: West Mountain Computerized Battery Analyzer III (CBA3). A computer-controlled resistive load with a calibrated ammeter, you charge the battery with your usual charger, then use this to discharge it and see how much power you got out. Software is on the CD in the box. Owner: Nate B.

Also recently joined: Simpson micro-ohmmeter, not yet set up and working; we need to make some BNC-to-Kelvin clip leads for it. And then sanity-check it with a few known low resistances. But then it's an amazing tool for measuring wires and other resistances below the range of typical multimeters. Owner: Evan?


Please feel free to edit this section and add more links!

General Design/Howto

Intermediate-to-advanced design: High speed signals and termination, BGA design, PCB antenna design, also deep dives into basics like decoupling capacitors and RC filters.


All of W2AEW's videos are great, but especially the ones about oscilloscopes, start here:

Keysight Labs is surprisingly good for a corporate channel:

Mr Carlson's Lab especially for vacuum-tube-era repair:

Soldering and workmanship

Some resources I've found useful for learning soldering, for those like me that prefer a good video over reading a website:

Pace Basic Soldering Lessons:

Pace Rework & Repair Lessons:

Tangent Tutorials:

Crimping, good photos of open-barrel terminals including Metri-Pack seals:

Components and package types

TopLine component package types:

What's that? A collaboratively-edited collection of parts that hobbyists actually find useful? Yes! Behold, the Partfinder!

See also Dangerous Prototypes' collection:

There's a trove of 7400-series datasheets here:

And a good list of the whole series:

Gorgeous printable reference sheets:

Nate B's oooold bookmarks on the subject are here:

Connectors and hardware

Nate B's user-pages on this wiki contain a table of what thread is on that connector or fastener?.

AC plugs: StayOnline's charts for NEMA straight-blade, NEMA twistlock, IEC plugs, etc:

Wire-to-board connector and crimper info:

1Davide is a moderator of and got sick of answering the same connector-identification questions, so he's making a book of it:

Connector Manufacturers



JST: check the "product selection guide" pdf and the "search by application" tree.





Zone-stuff info

SD card adapter schematic, we stock these in the store.
TL866 bin contents