Test Equipment and Other Equipment

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Test Equipment

Logic Analyzer

Open source logic analyzer

XYZs of Logic Analyzers from Tektronix

Multi Meter

if digital then a Digital Multi Meter or DMM

Oscilloscope

Semiconductor Analyzer and Curve tracers

Signal Generators

(related: Tools and Techniques#Signal Generator)

Traditionally, there have been 4 classes of signal generators:

  • very simple signal generators based on 555 timer chips, generating square waves or "rectangle waves" with adjustable frequency or duty cycle or both.
  • slightly more complex "analog" triangle, sine, square generators, often with an analog input that is used to modulate the output duty cycle (PWM), frequency (FM), amplitude (AM), or phase (PM). A special case is DTMF generators. Alas, many of the ICs used historically to build such "analog" signal generators and DTMF generators are no longer being manufactured. "Analog function generator ICs": XR2206, XR2209, ICL8038 are apparently now obsolete.
  • high-precision analog sinewave generators (OpAmp Links mentions a few)
  • direct digital synthesis (DDS) arbitrary waveform generators, typically using a crystal oscillator reference frequency, processor, Flash program memory, RAM waveform memory, DAC, etc. A few processors have an internal DAC that can directly output DTMF analog waveforms -- such as the Cypress PSoC CY8C27143 and CY8C29466, the Atmel AVR ATXMEGA32A4, the ST STM32F100 series, the Jennic JN5148, the NXP LPC2131, etc. Applications requiring more than 12 bit precision typically require an external DAC.

Stepper Motor Tester

Beginner's List

This is what you should get in approximate order. The type of electronics may vary this list a bit, here we are assuming you are starting with Microcontrollers.

  • Arduino, perhaps a beginners kit, if not components similiar to a beginners kit. LadyAda has one, as does Sparkfun.
  • Power Supply: you can start with a 9 v battery, when you need more current a wall transformer ( left over from some device you or a friend has thrown

out should be fine. For fancier regulated power you can just add some simple circuits using 3 terminal regulators ( or these may be built into your project.

  • Some resistors 100 ohm, 200 ohm ( for led's ) 1K and 10K (for pull up/down) is a good first start. Should be 5 cents a peice at most. 2 cents is not too hard to find, even for 1% resistors.
  • A cheap multimeter is not as good as an expensive one, but for 4 bucks ( harbor frieght ) you can be up and running.
  • Wire is nice, sometimes phone wir or network wire can be had for free and will supply a large amount of wire.
  • Some simple hand tools: needle nose pliers, wire strippers, and diagonal cutters. All for under 10 bucks at harbor freight ( and other places )
  • Soldering iron. This is one place where cheap does not do well, you really need thermostatic control, and plated replaceable tips. Rough guess is that $50 is about as low as you can go.
  • Signal generator ( sine square and triangle ) is nice, but a 555 timer square wave generator may be all you need and you can build it yourself.
  • Oscilloscope really really useful. Can be very expensive, but you may be able to find a used analog 50 mhz scope on ebay for around $50.

Once you have most of the above you will probably know enough to know what comes next.

See Also

  • The Open Bench project is developing a set of open source benchtop tools for the electronics workbench -- adjustable DC power supply; LCR meter; waveform generator; frequency counter; logic analyzer; oscilloscope.
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