As of Summer 2019, the FacLab is instoring a new workspace centered on electronics, located in lieu of the boxed area on the schematic below.
The main reasons for the creation of such a space is to enable the differentiation from different "making" activities, and to dedicate a space to a "making" function. For example, this would liberate the 3D printing area from people working on soldering or testing PCB's and Arduino boards.
Our current Electronics-centered tools and available components are noticeably lacking, as even a cursory glance at the following list would attest to.
For basic tasks we are equipped with :
- Two soldering irons, which have the main disadvantage of being freestanding (burn danger) and "loose" on their functionality (sometimes heating up very fast to very high temperatures, other times taking 10 minutes to attain 100°C).
- One standard issue multi-meter with voltage, amperage and resistance testing.
- Ten crocodile clips for hands-free testing.
- 7 Arduino MKR-IoT board kits.
- A small pack of standard issue LED's and Resistors.
The workspace is already equipped with two tables, which we would like to protect using a sheet of MDF or reconstituted wood of dimensions 200 x 75 x 2 (cm^3) and 170 x 75 x 2 (cm^3) respectively, to reduce the impact of soldering iron or molten tin burns.
We would also like to setup a shelf that would overlook the workbench and store our more frequently used equipment and components, maybe doing it ourselves using boxes cut out of MDF to store the smaller components (see concept image).
In the long term we would also enjoy a change in seating arrangements to a more workspace effective loadout (stools, for example).
Equipping the lab
For this project to come to fruition and to hit the ground running, we would need a few additional resources.
In terms of components, we could bulk order resistor sets, LED packs, transistors, capacitors, switches and similar components on Amazon or Aliexpress (Swiss sites such as conrad.ch effect a very steep markup for what is in essence a rebranded component, and we can provide as example that a 1280 pcs set of resistors costs 10€ on amazon.de).
Additional materials such as single core copper wiring, bread boards and soldering tin would also need to be acquired.
In terms of equipment, we would like to start with at least two upgraded soldering irons (around the 30-40€ for Quality/Price competitiveness) and a set of analysis and generation tools, such as an oscilloscope, a function generator and a power supply.
A market analysis and the input from adjacent labs highlit products from the brand GW-INSTEK, which are mid-market products (with relative pricing btw. 300 and 500€ per element) but would facilitate mobility between labs. Additional motivators to this purchase would be the extensibility of their functions through an app system and the overall good reviews and forum postings related to these products.
Another brand that caught our eye is Tektronik.
To summarize, we wish to furnish the workspace with :
- Soldering iron (~50.-) x2 - as our current soldering irons (without stands) are unreliable and potentially dangerous ;
- Oscilloscope (~404.-) - for reliable measurements ;
- Function Generator (~365.-) - to stress test circuits ;
- Bench Top Power Supply (~490.-) - to provide ideal and modular testing conditions ;
- Arduino Starter Kit (89.-) x5 - for Arduino centric work ;
As an academic lab, we could furthermore benefit from partnerships with RaspberryPi, Arduino and ST Microelectronics for machines and device controllers.