Category:Electronics Lab

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Zone Information
Zone Name Electronics Lab
Zone Slogan "I'm a lame zone with no slogan"
Zone Coordinator(s) Nate Bezanson
Zone E-mail
Map Area B
Zone Color Yellow


Welcome to the electronics lab! If you don't know what something does, please ask. The Zone Coordinator is Nate B. The zone warden sign is here:

Table of Equipment

Equipment Authorization Owner(s) Status
Schott Binocular Microscope No Andrew Meyer Running
Bluecam No i3Detroit Running
Soldering Station - Edsyn Loner No Nate Bezanson Running
X-Tronic 4000 Hot Air Rework Station No Unknown Running
Antenna Analyzer No Brad Tarratt Running


Saleae Logic analyzer

TL866 Universal Programmer


As with all of i3, leave nothing on the workbenches. Your project can be stored in a labeled box in the electronics room if you are actively working on it and it is small. Otherwise, take it home or use regular member storage.

If you were trimming or stripping wires, consider sweeping before you leave.


The gray and gray/yellow drawers on the back wall are the electronics "store". These components are for anyone who has a use for them. Place payment in the drawer labeled "Gives us the money Lebowski" near the middle. The image on the right is an approximate map to the component locations as of late August 2012. Ping Nate B for an update if one appears to be needed.

Some drawers are now labeled with prices, usually a cost "C" which is what it costs us to restock, and a second value for comparison, like "RS" for Radio Shack's price on an equivalent item. These are just FYI, and all we ask is that you cover the cost. Any markup beyond that is up to you, but you can be pretty generous and still save a bundle compared to retail. A buck here and there helps the selection continue to grow!

If there's no cost label and you don't know what a component goes for, find it on and add 10% to cover shipping. If you need change, break your bills with change from the cup in the fridge. However, these funds go to different places, so don't just drop money in the wrong cup.

If you wish to donate components to the store, feel free to do so. If it is clear where they belong, just drop them in, adding labels as necessary. Avoid leaving anything in an unlabeled drawer or bin. If you don't know where something belongs, ask Nate B, or leave a note indicating your intent and he will find or make a place so the parts can remain organized.

Reference prices for bulk items: Rather than tagging each value individually...

Item Price
1/4-watt resistor: 2c
1/2-watt resistor: 5c
High-wattage resistors: Ask!
3 or 5mm LED, red/green/yellow 5c
3 or 5mm LED, white or blue 10c
High-power LEDs Ask!
Any ceramic cap 5c
Electrolytic caps Use Mouser, or ask
Zener diodes, up to 1W 10c
1n4xxx diodes 5c
Other diodes Use Mouser, or ask
0.100" Harwin housings, 1 position 2c
0.100" Harwin housings, 2 positions 15c
0.100" Harwin housings, 3+ positions 25c
0.100" Harwin crimp pins 7c

more to come...


Parts on this list will be ordered ASAP.

Who wants it? What is it? Quantity desired Qty Ordered Mouser part # Digi-key part # notes
nate B 16MiB SPI flash 2 797-25FL127SABMFI001 DK's price sucks
Len/Nate B shift register 10+ 595-SN74HC595N 296-1600-5-ND
Matt H Atmel AT90USB1286-AU 1 556-AT90USB1286-AU AT90USB1286-AU-ND Newark 68T5080

Arduino Stash

If you need an Arduino on short notice at a decent price, please contact Roger S. Here's a listing of current inventory:

Item Price Qty Avail
Uno R1 $14 1
Uno R3 $16 6
Mega 2650 R1 $22 1
EthShield $19 2
Motor Control Shield $9 3
Yellow I2C LCD Module $13 2
Breadboard Power Supply $3 2
3-Axis Accelerometer $6 9
TinySine Pro Mini (adjustable voltage) $3 3

The motor control shield is this one: Tinysine Pro Mini product page:


The following list is an attempt to offer up suggestions of tasks that could be accomplished in the Electronics Room by people interested in helping out.

Feel free to take charge of one or more of these items as your time and expertise allow. If you have taken charge of a task, please put your name into the field next to the task.

Should you run out of time or ability to complete a task, make sure to post on the mailing list and "fail loudly". This ensures that task status is shared, and no task languishes in silent failure.

Task Name Description Priority Champion
Populate ToDo List Add a list of things that are needed/wanting to be done in the eRoom. 1 Nate B.
Move fire extinguisher Move it below the light switch. The spot behind the door was fine when there was no door, but now that there's a door, it's awful. 1 ?
New power for archway lights Replace the brick above the ceiling with something rated for that use and not connected by a flexible cord. 2 Nate B.
Fix the Roombas At least one of the Roomba vacuums has a charging problem that we can fix. New FETs are in the "SMT Crap" bin. 1  ?
Partslaser mechanism Build X-Y gimbal, motor controller, laser enable, and camera mount  ?  ?
Partslaser software Spreadsheet/database, label printing, find-a-part interface  ?  ?
Cabinet map Until Partslaser is operational, an easier way to update would be nice. 2  ?
Improve lightbulb load-box Add a temperature-controlled exhaust fan, and corresponding intake grille, to the load-bank box. 3  ?
20A plug on CZ strip Replace the temporary 15A plug on the compute zone power strip  ? Lego
wire spool rack Design a (laser-cuttable?) rack for small wire spools, that hangs on pegboard or under shelf  ?  ?
equipment pages for the keysight gear wiki zone task? find the right template and make stub pages for the MSOX4154A, the E3631A, the 33600A, and 34461A.  ?  ?
tenma meter repair Fix the sticky ammeter needle on the Tenma 72-630 PSU. Gently!  ?  ?
mount bigass HP PSU under shelf Nearest the door, so it's not in knee-space but the meters are accessible 3 ?
surplus equipment ownership determine ownership of LeCroy scope, old HP logic analyzer, magnifying rolling lamp 1 Nate B.
simpson microohmmeter refurb readings aren't consistent, maybe because the internal nicad pack is missing? 4 Evan?
NTSC vectorscope repair PSU problem? 4 ?
mount tek rack stuff on e-cart the new tm506 and sorensen PSU could use better mounting on the rolling cart 2 ?
cull crap on topmost shelves either side of the window, there's a bunch of stuff we never touch, that space could be better used. 3 Nate B.
New test-lead rack for scope probes the existing one was adequate but is a bit rough on probes, a "real" pomona rack would be nice, possibly 1 ?
Clean/repair switch on Ted's PSU Ted brought in this adorable little HP power supply but the gauge is flaky and I think it's just a bad or dirty range selection switch. Needs a good check-out, though. Spikes bad. 2 ?
Clean other HP HV PSU Scored a nice HP PSU at auction that seems to work but the pots and switches are flaky. It's in overflow with a tag on it. Have at! 2 ?
Floor decluttering Cull the storage under the benches. Everything left should be in a proper tote with proper label. 2 Thank you Brandon!


(Just a copy of a post on the mailing list, feel free to pretty this section up and remove this note.)


Referring to the numbered photo:

1: "Fish" scale, 50lb or thereabouts, hook style. Often the easiest way to measure a weight or force, this thing's built tough and has been with us since the Royal Oak days. Owner: Nate B.

2: Kill-a-watt or similar plug-in AC wattmeter. We have several of these. Useful not just for load measurement ("Can this run from that extension cord?"), but also power factor, voltage sag under load, etc. Owner: Various.

3: Logic Dart. This is like a pocket oscilloscope except it doesn't do analog -- it's a multichannel logic analyzer and even disassembles a few protocols. Incredibly useful for things like async serial troubleshooting, but the probes and wires are delicate. Owner: Ted Hansen.

4 and 5: Noncontact AC "volt-sniffers". Beeps in presence of AC field, use as a first quick-check to find live wires. Never trust your life to this; always verify with an actual meter before beginning work! Owner: Various/unknown.

6: Noncontact AC volt-sniffer built into flashlight. Push button to turn on white LED, and blue/red LEDs indicate presence and relative intensity of field. Usage same as above. Owner: Nate B.

7: Three-light AC outlet tester. You know this one. Trivia: Solid-state relays (and triac-based dimmers) in their "off" state can allow enough leakage to light the neon lamps in this tester. Confusion ensues! Owner: Nate B, perhaps others, I think there are a few of these around.

8: LCR meter. That's L for inductance, C for capacitance, R for resistance. This is the cheapest of the cheap, and doesn't work on very high or very low values. Also operation if you select the wrong component type is unpredictable. Also sometimes it's just plain unstable. But it works, mostly. (A better LCR meter is on the wishlist.) Use for sorting or checking capacitors prior to use. Owner: i3.

9: Laser distance meter. Seriously consider reading the manual, this has way too many features. By default it seems to figure its own body into the length measurement, but I'm sure that's configurable if you don't want that. Surprisingly accurate. Owner: Nate B.

10: Ultrasonic distance meter. Purchased before, and obsoleted by, the superior instrument above. Still somewhat useful for assessing the ultrasonic reflectivity of materials, also perhaps annoying dogs or bats. Owner: Nate B.

11: Sound pressure level meter. Uncalibrated but still useful for relative measurements, has A- and C-weighted filters. Owner: Nate B.

12: Light intensity meter. Measures in lux, can manually convert to footcandles or whatever. Supposedly weighted to human sensitivity curve but I find this claim dubious given its price. Uncalibrated, obviously. Too sensitive to measure direct sunlight; use neutral-density filters to stop it down and then adjust your math later by comparing to a known light source. Owner: Nate B.

13: Inline DC wattmeter/ammeter/hourmeter: Replacement for the similar-but-larger Watts-Up meter (which met an untimely end when its max-voltage spec was exceeded), this one has more features but seems less accurate. Anyone with ideas for calibration, have at and let me know what you find! Super handy for measuring battery charge and capacity, device load, etc. Sadly only measures in one direction so not useful as a battery coulomb-counter. Owner: Nate B.

Second photo: Three-mode tachometer. With the nose detatched, this is a photo-tach that measures reflective dots on a belt or rotating object. Snap on the nose, and it measures RPM as the spinny bit is pressed against a shaft end, with 3 different conical attachments for contact. Swap out the cone for the wheel, and it measures surface speed of a belt or whatever. Please keep all the accessories with it in the box! Oh, and RTFM before using the wheel, there's a scale factor... Owner: Nate B.

Not pictured but lives behind the other-meters bin: West Mountain Computerized Battery Analyzer III (CBA3). A computer-controlled resistive load with a calibrated ammeter, you charge the battery with your usual charger, then use this to discharge it and see how much power you got out. Software is on the CD in the box. Owner: Nate B.

Also recently joined: Simpson micro-ohmmeter, not yet set up and working; we need to make some BNC-to-Kelvin clip leads for it. And then sanity-check it with a few known low resistances. But then it's an amazing tool for measuring wires and other resistances below the range of typical multimeters. Owner: Evan?


Some resources I've found useful for learning soldering, for those like me that prefer a good video over reading a website:

Pace Basic Soldering Lessons:

Pace Rework & Repair Lessons:

TopLine component package types:

Tangent Tutorials:

What's that? A collaboratively-edited collection of parts that hobbyists actually find useful? Yes! Behold, the Partfinder! See also Dangerous Prototypes' collection:

There's a trove of 7400-series datasheets here:

Gorgeous printable reference sheets:

Nate B's personal bookmarks on the subject are here:

Please feel free to edit this section and add more links!

SD card adapter schematic, we stock these in the store.
TL866 bin contents