Space development subcommittee: Electronics facilities

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Dave Rowntree

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Jul 8, 2020, 12:53:42 PM7/8/20
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As part of getting the space back into a usable, safe state and making most of our grant, I want to put some serious effort into our electronics area.
I believe this is a core activity for us, with a lot of people coming in with these needs. 

I am asking for volunteers to join a subcommittee for developing this.

My 'dream' is for anyone so inclined to be able to turn up to the space and actually perform normal electronics tasks (e.g. board population, repair jobs, diagnostics etc) without needing to spend half an hour wandering around gathering a few broken tools, before giving up and going home in a sulk.

My initial ideas are as follows:
  • Budget of £1000 initially for equipment, tools and supplies
  • Rebuild the bench to 'take it around the corner' a bit and add some shelving at eye level for instruments.
  • Determine how to use the massive 'IBM' bench much more effectively
  • New tools in good condition, easily accessible.
  • Consumables adequate for modern tasks, and easily accessible (solder wire, pastes, fluxes, heat shrink kits, kapton, etc)
  • Bench computer (we can build something) for driving debuggers, programmers, CAD software, etc.

For PCB level work i'm thinking of:
  • Framed solder stencil jig
  • Hot air reflow station
  • PCB preheater
  • Reflow oven working and permanently available

For debug:
  • Modern desktop scope with protocol decode, etc.
  • Logic analyser
  • AWG / waveform gen
  • Bench multimeter
  • A modern PSU (and maybe ditch a few of the older junky ones)
Please reply to this thread with thoughts, comments, wish lists, offers of gear, and of course your offer to join this subcommittee :)

Dave.

Alistair Brugsch

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Jul 8, 2020, 1:35:10 PM7/8/20
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Volunteer here!

Everything you have proposed sounds great

The only specific thing I have to add right now is that the bench computer probably doesn't have to be a powerhouse (I'm unsure what specific tools need but can't imagine they'd be too intensive but small size is probably the biggest criteria. Something mini-itx at the biggest or maybe a nuc or similar like the laser cutter PC.
Linux compatibility is probably a factor for open source tool chains

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Ben Carrington

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Jul 8, 2020, 3:23:42 PM7/8/20
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We have a spare NUC that may be enough for Debug and programming, but not for cad work. I have an AMD FX-8350 on mobo with 16GB DDR3 ram that is nolonger in use if wanted, will need a gpu, case etc



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Bob Carter

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Jul 8, 2020, 4:05:22 PM7/8/20
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A few thoughts for you, as I have slowly been building up my own electronics workshop at home on a budget for a while now !


Your initial budget is tight !


At the moment both Rigol and Siglent have good deals going on their older DSO model scopes as they are refreshing their ranges.  But even then to get a half decent scope with serial protocol decode is around £370 - I know as I bought one last week. But even at that price the FFT is pretty poor. If you are going to use it for SPI work you probably want 4 channels.  If you want to make it an MSO with logic analyser built in then add another £150.


An 8 or 16 bit Chinese clone of the Saleae Logic Analyser is a cheap starter for less than £10 to £40 on eBay and runs OK with the latest Saleae demo code (or PulseView).


An AWG £100 plus,  Some cheap IsoTechs going on eBay for £160, but I make do with an arduino controlled fixed function 25Mhz board.  


You probably need at least 3 PSUs (or a triple output one) lot’s of multirail projects out there, especially any older Audio Amps,

Be wary of the cheaper hot air rework stations.  Some imports are just not safe, fused neutral rail, and poor safety interlocks causing melt downs. 


You are missing (from your note, but probably already have most of them):


a) Some kind of air extraction, which is a must when soldering/reflowing

b) A decent magnifying lamp or a display and usb microscope - I use mine all the time as boards and components are getting smaller and my eyesight worse!

c) Fixed board holders, you always need 3 hands and it helps to avoid burning your fingers when using the hot air.

d) Loads of tweezers!

e) Flux cleaner or iso-prop (if you have money to spare an ultrasonic board bath)

f) Some fluxes and solder pastes need to be stored cool, so you may need access to a fridge (I use the wine/beer cooler!).
g) A stack of jumpers and pin/protoype boards 
h) Dupont connectors, cable and crimping tools

Good luck and have fun.
Bob

Josh Harris

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Jul 8, 2020, 4:22:05 PM7/8/20
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WRT your PC needs, I have a pair of Dell Optiplex machines (tiny footprint) that I'm happy to donate. Not sure what their condition is, but I believe they work.

Tyler Ward

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Jul 8, 2020, 4:22:28 PM7/8/20
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Happy to join in and help out here. will be good to get the electronics area into a state which is more usable.

For the bench the Uni electronics desk layout (with kit in a central pillar) seems to work quite well and would allow two users to use the area with the shared kit in the middle accessible by both (see top photo here) https://www.ecs.soton.ac.uk/hardware-projects-laboratory.

Thanks
Tyler

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Alistair Brugsch

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Jul 8, 2020, 4:36:24 PM7/8/20
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I think CAD work is specifically not in the use case scenario here (unless I'm wrong but it sounds like scope creep to me...)

Mark

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Jul 8, 2020, 4:40:51 PM7/8/20
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Sounds good, your general proposal seems mostly there in my view (though if the space still has the decent scope that runs windows; I don't see the requirement for a modern scope, maybe some fresh new leads).

It's certainly important to reduce the friction of use; we need to be able to come in, turn on a power switch and instruments/devices are ready to use. No removal of instruments or power cables, all the leads hanging on a cable comb nearby.

Air extraction should be on the list. I've had good success with a kit from a hydroponics store that contains a quiet fan, ducting and large carbon filter.

Dave Rowntree

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Jul 8, 2020, 4:50:01 PM7/8/20
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Hi Mark,
Yes soldering fume extraction is a must.
The big scope is quite hard to use for most folk, and lacks a lot of modern features. We can discuss whether it is worth it or not. Right now, we're just gathering ideas.

Glyn Thomas

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Jul 8, 2020, 4:51:06 PM7/8/20
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Happy to volunteer and help out here - agree on the aim for a functional electronics area, test and measurement, fabrication, repair, etc.

Glyn

Dave Rowntree

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Jul 9, 2020, 5:32:03 PM7/9/20
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Ah you spotted that. That was a bit of a typo - I really only meant for viewing CAD stuff, like schematics and datasheets, not actual design. There is a spare all-in-one PC thingy that just needs a windows license, and it'll be fine for running programmers and stuff. Would need a few £££ so will hold off until financial allocations are settled out.

Dave.

On Wednesday, 8 July 2020 21:36:24 UTC+1, Alistair Brugsch wrote:
I think CAD work is specifically not in the use case scenario here (unless I'm wrong but it sounds like scope creep to me...)

On Wed, 8 Jul 2020, 20:23 'Ben Carrington' via Southampton Makerspace, <soma...@googlegroups.com> wrote:
We have a spare NUC that may be enough for Debug and programming, but not for cad work. I have an AMD FX-8350 on mobo with 16GB DDR3 ram that is nolonger in use if wanted, will need a gpu, case etc

On Wed, Jul 8, 2020 at 6:35 PM Alistair Brugsch <alistair...@gmail.com> wrote:
Volunteer here!

Everything you have proposed sounds great

The only specific thing I have to add right now is that the bench computer probably doesn't have to be a powerhouse (I'm unsure what specific tools need but can't imagine they'd be too intensive but small size is probably the biggest criteria. Something mini-itx at the biggest or maybe a nuc or similar like the laser cutter PC.
Linux compatibility is probably a factor for open source tool chains

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Dave Rowntree

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Jul 9, 2020, 5:49:23 PM7/9/20
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All,
Since I asked for volunteers and got a few, as I trustee I can nominate and approve in one go.

The members for this sub-committee shall be: myself, Alistair Brugsch, Tyler Ward, Glyn Thomas. I will take responsibility for reporting.

Current scope is as Glyn suggests, define project scope and draw up a wish list for items to acquire/fix and ideas for the physical area.
We shall wait for budget allocation before committing to any purchases.
We shall spend a little time researching and shopping around to find the best value, for items needing purchasing, so we have an idea how much money may be needed before seeking approval.

A slack channel has been created for chat relating to this activity
#electronics-workarea-sc (this link might work https://app.slack.com/client/T0K0ACWMB/C016N9MMUGN )

A trello board has been assigned for project tracking, and general notes (please leave chatter in the above slack or on a thread here)

The committee shall report progress back onto this thread on a regular basis, as well as asking here for any further approvals.

Dave.

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