The actual workbench frame is made from an old computer desktop I found in the trash.
Just before submitting this entry, I bought some 2nd-hand lab equipment (#’s 01 and 02):
– (01) oscilloscope (on a shelf made of an old stand for a tractor feed printer). Great for tracing electronic signals. The tool par excellence for electronics. One suggestion for getting an oscilloscope or other equipment – check to see if there is a Freecycle site in your city (I got the impression that there is one in every major city in North America – at any rate there is one in Montreal). Freecycle is a sort of club (the Montreal one was on Yahoo) where everything is given or offered for free. . And ASK for one. It worked for me. I never thought anyone would give away one but a really nice lady gave me a single trace oscilloscope (not the one you see in the photo). After using it for a while and realising it is a top class tool for electronics, I looked around for a slightly more modern dual trace one. My conscience would not allow me to sell the first one (I got it for free), so I gave it to one of my friends.
– (02) Function Generator (good for injecting test signals).
– (03) Stereo amp (on shelf up near the ceiling) & headphones (for music while you work)
– (04) experimenter’s board
– (05) various multimeters. A multimeter does not have to be expensive – I bought one at Canadian Tire for $29.99 and it included (besides the normal AC and DC voltage, resistance and amperage measurements) a frequency counter, a square wave test signal output and a capacitance measuring function.
– (06) an old Black & Decker cordless screwdriver with a cord to replace the non-functioning batteries – no batteries to recharge or wear out and lots of torque (powered @ 5v from the PC power supply – see #19, below). I don’t need batteries – I’m using it at my workbench after all!
– (07) Flood light (I prefer incandescent lighting instead of fluorescent).
– (08) Safety Glasses (I tell my students : ‘Just because you have two eyes, it doesn’t mean you have one to spare!’)
– (09) I recycled my old Panasonic laptop for use on my workbench
– (10) – separate electrical box with a separate switch for the soldering iron
– (11) – soldering iron station (I need to get one that has a variable temperature controller)
– (12) – "spare hand"
– (13) – output sockets for 5V and 12v from converted PC power supply (see #19, below)
– (14) – power bar (you never have enough power bars!)
– (15) – PCB holder made from an old printer tractor feed mechanism – recognise the parts ? (can open to about 8 inches and can flip over PCB and lock in any position – see separate photo)
– (17) – Dremel tool.
– (18) – shelf slides made from old plastic suspended ceiling angle and 1/4 in. hardboard
– (19) – a power supply made from a PC power supply – I literally hacked the case down in size to the minimum possible – just enough to hold the electronics (look for how to use a PC power supply on the Internet – see references at the end).
– (20) – the workbench is mounted on castors from an old office chair (so I can move the workbench around)
– (21) – Magnifiers : (1) head mounted loupe (not shown), (2) hand rectangular magnifier, (3) #3 eyeglasses (not shown). See also photo of stereo microscope.
– (22) – wiring for projects
– (23) – Main switch, so you can turn everything off in one shot (don’t want to leave that soldering iron on , do you?)
Tools for Electronics Workbench:
– It isn’t worth scrimping here – you’re better to buy a good quality tool than have to re-buy a new one after it breaks in your hand. Pliers, screwdrivers, misc. hand tools, tools for de-soldering, mats and bracelets for eliminating static charge when working on electronics parts that are sensitive to static. etc
Also great to have around :
– a digital camera – great for taking pictures of what it looked like BEFORE you took it apart! I also use it when working on my car. Also great for taking a photo of something you need and then going to the store and you then show the salesperson a photo of what you need instead of trying to describe it.
– old office chair with castors so you can be comfortable while you work
– resistor chart
– better laptop : with access to internet for searching for info
Photo of shelves:
Other parts of my Workshop:
– Emco F1. This is a miniature CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine (X travel 8 in, Y travel 4 in., Z travel 8in.). I eventually want to machine PCB’s with it [see separate photo: ]
Annexe -A- (Internet resources)
Free or shareware CAD (great for drawing sketches or even doing life-size printouts for transferring lettering to fronts of projects)
Picaxe microprocessors: Great microprocessors for both the beginner and even the more advanced. Free programming interface (in BASIC), about $10 for the 28X, $20 for the board (no programmer to buy), great support and excellent users forum.
Making a power supply from a PC power supply (there are lots of references on the Internet – here’s one from Instructables:
http://led.linear1.org/led.wiz (online calculator for resistors for LED’s)
(favourite internet sites)
(Magazines on Robotics)
(Taking things apart)
Annexe -B- (Suggestions sent to Nuts and Volts magazine regarding tapping (threading) holes in metal that they published in their letter’s from readers)
Great magazine guys. I am going to get into robotics and your magazine is fantastic!
I have some suggestions regarding the reader (Mike Montgomery) who wondered how he could remove a broken tap.
All of the 10 suggestions you gave were very good. Maybe I could add some more. I teach adults in a trade school in Anjou, Quebec (in Montreal) sometimes in the machinist course but mostly the CNC course.
Additional suggestions (to continue your list):
11) Buy and use only machine taps (not hand taps). These are sometimes named gun taps or spiral point taps. The advantage of these is that you do not have to keep backing out the tap – just keep on going (just be careful when you get to the bottom of the hole). They don’t cost much more than the hand taps and are much easier to use (for example, at KBC Tools a 3/8-16 manual tap sells for $3.60 CAN and a spiral point tap sells for $4.88 CAN).
12) Make yourself an alignment block. This can be any small piece of scrap steel (say, 3/4 in. by 1 in. by 1/2 in thick) in which you drill a series of holes that are simply slide-fit holes for all the taps you will be using (say #4 up to 3/8 in.). As an example, you could drill a 1/4 in. hole for a 1/4 in. tap, etc. Ideally, you should drill these holes on a drill press (verify that the head of the drill press is reasonably square with the table). Then, when you wish to tap a hole in a part (after you have drilled the proper sized hole – example a #7 drill for a 1/4-20 tap), just position your new alignment block over the hole to be tapped, hold it down with one hand, insert the tap in the appropriate hole and tap away. The alignment block will keep the tap at right angles to the surface being tapped (so it starts square). This works even when tapping in awkward positions like vertical or overhead. Of course, the tap-drill has to be drilled square to the surface for this to work. I made one of these alignment blocks about 20 years ago and I still have it and use it in my basement workshop.
13) Buy yourself a ratchet-action T-handle. I bought 2 sizes, a small and a big one for about $20 each. After you have used one of these, you won’t want to go back to thee old T-handle!
14) To know the right size of drill for each tap, get a Tap-drill chart (usually free). I even typed the info that is contained on a tap-drill chart into my Zire Palm, I always have the info at hand. I also compiled and entered into my Zire Palm charts for the sizes of various hardware (such as Socket-head cap screws, etc) and various handy formulas for calculating threads (if someone wants the tables for their Zire, I can send them).
15) There was an article in the Oct/Nov ,2002 issue of Machinist’s Workshop on how to make your own simple home-made EDM machine of the plunging type. When asking for a reprint
16) For lubricant, try and buy some tapping oil, sometimes you can get some for free at machine-tool shows and the like. Sometimes the places that sell tools will give you a small free sample bottle. A small bottle can last a long time, especially if you only tap once and a while. For aluminum, I usually dilute the tapping oil with Varsol. In reality, any lubricant would be better than tapping completely dry – if you have to and you’re desperate, use old motor oil.
17) Recycle! The next time you throw out a toothbrush, keep it to clean the threads of the tap.
(18) Use small transparent cases for each tap size containing the tap drill, the clearance drill and the tap so you don’t have to look around each time you want to tap something.
Your readers may find some of the following formulas useful: In these formulas the following terms will be used:
Nominal Diameter (ND): this is the outside diameter of an external thread (also known as the Major Diameter),
Thread Pitch: (P) the distance between the crests of two consecutive threads (the distance from the crest
Minor Diameter (MD): the diameter that is at the root (bottom) of the threads.
Thread Depth (TD): the distance from the outside of a thread to the bottom of a thread (a radius
Pitch Diameter (PD): the diameter that lies equidistant between the Nominal Diameter and the Minor
Note: all the following examples will use the threads of 5/16-18, for which ND = .3125 in. and the Pitch (P)
Formula: Thread Depth (TD): TD = .6495 * P
Formula: Pitch Diameter (PD): PD = ND – (.6495 * P)
Formula for calculating the diameter of the tap drill (if you don’t have a tap drill chart):
Minor Diameter (MD): MD = ND – (1.0825 * P)
Nominal Diameter (outside diameter) of numbered screws :
I hope this information is of use to somebody.
If you find this information useful and you want the same information on metric threads, just ask. Some of
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