Writing, Iguanas, and Electronics

December 2019

Lab Setup - December 2019

I still have a long way to go, as far as organizing all of the loose wires and components I have, but the actual work space is perfect for my needs. The "electronics lab" is basically just a folding table in a spare bedroom, but with a bench power supply and the Siglent 1104X-E oscilloscope, working on my project has really become a pleasure. The only thing I still need is a replacement for my dead laptop.

Most of my components are stored in boxes on shelves, but I pull whatever I need out and stage it to the left of where I sit. Directly in front of me is the oscilloscope, and whatever I am working on. When I am soldering, the TS-100 and solder are there as well. Beside the oscilloscope is a bench power supply. The wall behind the oscilloscope has helpful reference printouts, including pinouts of ICs I use frequently (see below). To the right of where I sit, I have an IKEA table that serves as storage for tools, prototype boards, extra wires... anything that I commonly need. I plan on replacing this with another shelving unit.

If you are interested in getting into electronics, you really only need a small work space, breadboards, and components. I only setup a permanent space in the last month, for the first five years I was working on my dining room table, out of boxes... packing everything up when I was done and pulling it back out again six months later when I had a day for it.

Sample Pinout Cheat-Sheet

I really find these helpful, even when I am working with components I have memorized.

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WANPTEK 305D Bench Power Supply

Strictly speaking, I do not need a bench power supply as I have been powering the prototypes via RaspberryPi and Arduino power... but  a 0-30 volt, 5amp power supply is pretty handy and should make future development smoother and faster. This version is a switching power supply, so I will need to consider noise on the power rails, but otherwise this should be perfect for me.

The middle connector is marked "Ground", but it is earths ground. The two end connectors are (black) negative, and (red) positive. It will take some getting used to, as I have only really used +5V, +3.3V, and ground in my breadboard circuits. Overall, I am very happy with this power supply, 30 volts and 5 amps is more than I will ever need, it is virtually silent, and the output power is pretty clean.

The cables that came with the power supply work well, but I am going to buy cables with banana connectors as well.

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Siglent 1104X-E Oscilloscope

I honestly never planned to buy something like this. When I started working on an 8-bit breadboard computer, the idea that I would spend over $600 on an oscilloscope was laughable. I was only willing to spend $100 per year on components, and the only tool I had was a cheap multi-meter. In the autumn of 2019 I discovered inexpensive PCB manufacturers, such as JLCPCB and PCBWAY, and suddenly I was looking at possible MHz speeds instead of kHz. I was also starting to think about potential peripherals, including sound and possibly video systems. I had always wanted an Oscilloscope, but now it appeared I might actually have a real use for one.

I started looking for inexpensive vintage oscilloscopes, on Ebay and Kijiji, but I had very little luck in the price range I was willing to invest. At the same time, I began investigating options to buy new, and quickly identified the Hantek DSO5102p as a possibility. At the time, they were selling for under $300, and all of the reviews made it seem like a great option. My own needs could be met with a 20MHz analog oscilloscope, so a 100MHz digital one seemed like overkill... but at that price it was only 30% more expensive than thirty-year old used hardware from auction sites. I attempted to purchase vintage scopes several times, but the deals fell through in the end. Finally, I decided to buy new and started to heavily research the Hantek and a few closely priced alternatives.

While the Hantek rated really well, a four-channel version was not readily available (at least, not in Canada). A friend of mine, that is also working on a TTL-based computer, just purchased a two-channel analog oscilloscope, and I wanted whatever scope I bought to be a good compliment to his. My options for "inexpensive" quickly ballooned to $500-650, with Rigol and Siglent oscilloscopes. While $100 more expensive, the Siglent was also much newer and had several improved features, so I eventually settled on it.

I ordered it from, and received it several days later in good condition. I may do a review at some point, but that is not really the purpose of my website.

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