My purpose for this section is to offer some guidance, advice, and opinions, on how to set up your shop or lab, what equipment you may need, and when to scrounge, and when it 'pays to pay'. I will also touch on some basic shop techniques such as soldering and materials, as well as offer information on organizing your stuff. Finally, I plan to eventually explore the world of Vintage test equipment, including repair and restoration.
These are my opinions and experiences. I do not intend to show you how to use all of the equipment, that is what the hobby is for! I have created three complete shops of my own in over 40 years of experimenting and constructing. Each time I learn a little bit more. My collection of equipment spans those same years. I have also worked professionally in many shops and labs, and helped set up more than a couple of them.
My interests lie in General electronics and science/physics experimenting, finding out how things work, and exploring surplus (I love surplus stuff!). In that time I have also done a lot of repair work, and some, such as car audio, extensively. In my professional career I have been involved in telecommunications, computers, data, and newspaper technology, both maintaining, and creating it. I also build a lot of stuff - Electronic, Electromechanical, robots, etc. Very often the finished product has dubious value, but it is fun just to create, and learn! But, I have also designed and built electronics professionally (for real applications).Although I am "mechanically inclined", I am not a very experienced machinist, and I tend to make simpler mechanical things with simple hand and portable power tools. If your primary interest is, say, in mechanical robotics, you may need a bit more mechanical equipment than I address here, although, as you will learn, much can be accomplished with simple hand tools, and proper design.
Likewise, I do not do much SMT, nor do I do much DSP, CPLD, or other state of the art, because, quite simply, I don't enjoy it as much as the more accessible older stuff. I know how it works, and I do some of it professionally, but, I simply do not enjoy it as much. A personal choice. We will be using PICs, EPROMS, and other microcontrollers, but we may "roll our own" controllers as well.
I do enjoy general science and physics, so I have a lot of 'esoteric' equipment for that. I like to know that I have equipment to measure and observe anything - Temperature, pressure, light, sound, force, size and speed, and lots more.
This section is also oriented to older, vintage, and surplus equipment. Most of what you can find works far better than any of the newer stuff you can afford. It still works just as well, and the tradeoffs are frequently just size, weight, and a little TLC. In that vein, Hamfest, military and aircraft surplus, and even garage sales, are very viable sources. Remember to be informed, and that normally, what you see is what you get - AS-IS! Ebay is a wonderful resource for test equipment, but be VEDDY careful! You can get burned. Check feedbacks, reputations, what and how much they are selling, and make sure to check ALL specifications and claims independently. Look up model numbers on the internet. If you can't find it, leave it. While I am on the subject, Ebay also has a lot of specialized, and esoteric equipment for sale dirt cheap. These can be great sources of general, as well as special, and otherwise expensive parts, transducers, etc. PLUS you get to learn how it works! I hope to cover this subject more thoroughly when I have time. And don't forget, you may be able to get two for the price of one, and combine the parts into one serviceable great deal!
You certainly may have other needs, and you may decide to go not as far, or farther, than I do. Remember, these are only my opinions, based on my interests and experience. I hope it can help you make your own design and procurement decisions.Thanks for reading, and I hope I have helped.