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Setting Up an Electronics Lab (jeff.glass)
35 points by void_nill 74 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments

Author here - I'll fully admit to not being totally up to date with best-practices for leaded/lead-free/rosin-free solders in a hobbyist environment. But a fume-extractor (and one with a decent fan) is a must, I feel, and they're so cheap these days they're worth the investment.

In the Hackaday comments, the other main thing I missed listing was magnification, either desk-mounted or head-worn. I've put my visor-magnifier in a place of prominence on my workbench now, shaming me with its glassy gaze for leaving it out.

Nice article! Glad to see you recommending much of the equipment I have in my own lab. Something I'd highly recommend is the T-962A reflow oven with the modifications from here:


(especially removing the packing tape and replacing it with Kapton tape to avoid fumes!)

This oven has worked really well for me (as long as you don't overload it and leave plenty of space for airflow).

Also, the Sparkfun 303D hot air rework station is pretty damn good:


On the 3D printer, have you actually used the Original Prusa MINI? I'm in the market for a starter 3D printer and I'm looking for a recommendation from someone who's used one in anger.

> I'm in the market for a starter 3D printer and I'm looking for a recommendation from someone who's used one in anger.

I built the Creality Ender 3 Pro. With a few mods it runs very well, and is super cheap (Under £200). Had it for 6+ months. I'm into model steam engines and use it (and a small chinese lathe) for making small parts. Accurate and works well with OctoPrint.

Literally 5 minutes ago I finished my build of an Elenco XP-720K power supply kit. It has both DC +1.25 to 15V and DC -1.25 to 15V (1A), along with a DC +5V 3A output. And 12.6 VAC, for tubes I guess :-)

$65 and 6 hours of work. No meters, nor current limiting, but hey, it's accurate and cheap. Manual is https://www.elenco.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/XP-720K_RE...

Elenco also makes a pre-assembled version, but what's the fun in that?

If anyone is interested in a nice long video talking about what you can use/need for setting up an electronics lab, take a look at the EEVblog video for doing this. Dave keeps everything under a certain dollar limit and explains his choices well.

Not saying this link is bad for some reason, but more information is better.

Some of this sounds useful, but the author recommends leaded solder instead of lead free.

Hasn't lead free has been the standard for years, due to safety?

Lead in solder is not a safety hazard unless you eat it, it isn't vaporized in normal soldering.

Lead free solder is used for environmental reasons because electronic devices will eventually be disposed of. Since the amount of lead used in one person's projects is minimal, it only matters in mass production or when RoHS is required by customers, regulatory agencies etc.

Leaded solder is so much easier to work with I wouldn't use lead-free it unless I was required to.

I exclusively use lead-free solder and solder paste and have no problems with it; sure leaded is easier to work with, but not by much. "Lead" by example, "it's only 1 straw said 1 billion people". Gotta start somewhere.

This stuff is pretty nice, I use it all the time:


>Lead in solder is not a safety hazard unless you eat it

mm. most of the leaded solder I've used has a bunch of warnings on it about washing your hands after using it before eating or smoking (most of my leaded solder usage was during a time when smoking was more common in the US)

Lead is a pretty soft metal; there are ways it can get into your system besides vaporization. And it's toxic in an extremely scary way; neurological damage is scarier than lung cancer, if you ask me.

Personally, if there were kids in the house I absolutely wouldn't ever use leaded solder. I mean, sure, if it's only you and you are careful and your stuff is in a case or otherwise not handled, maybe it's fine, but it's a very soft, reactive, toxic metal that can cause neurological damage, especially to children. There are a lot of reasons to avoid it.

> Lead in solder is not a safety hazard unless you eat it

I'm not sure this is true. I'm entirely certain that some of the lead manages to get away from the place you're soldering. There's no guarantee that it won't end up on your hands or clothes and eventually in your food.

Granted the risk is probably infinitesimal, but modern lead-free solder is barely any harder to work with than classic leaded solders. If you set your soldering iron a smidge hotter you'll barely notice.

That said I use lead-free solder and still make a point of washing my hands after soldering. Solder has a distinct smell when used so something is getting in the air, let alone on my hands.

> Solder has a distinct smell when used so something is getting in the air, let alone on my hands.

Guessing the smell is from the rosin core burning off?

Maybe. Could be anything. I'd rather not be eating rosin either though, so I'll keep washing my hands ;-)

I'll offer a counterpoint: while leaded solder is easier to work with, lead-free isn't too bad if you're willing to work a little harder and deal with a lower yield (at least up front while you get the hang of it).

That said from an exposure hazard standpoint I'm far more cautious about flux than lead. Just using lead-free solder doesn't mean your whole process is safe.

Ts-80/100 for solder, bk-858 for hot air rework, and a mini frying pan on the oven for ‘reflow soldering’

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