Whether your focus is drones, audio, or RF communications,
the workbench is where electronics
happen. It’s where the soldering iron
meets the circuit board, and where
your diagnostic skills come into play.
Assuming you’re lucky enough to
have a dedicated workbench, then
the project you currently have on it
says a lot about your commitment to
electronics. My workbench has
evolved over the years, reflecting my
focus in electronics.
Early on, my workbench was
focused on ham radio. Next to my
Heathkit DMM, I had an analog
oscilloscope, a high voltage power
supply for tube projects, and a variac
transformer. A 40W Weller soldering
iron was sufficient for most of my
soldering needs. I also had a Q-meter
for testing antenna resonance and
other resonant circuits.
My most prized possession was
a digital frequency counter, also from
Heathkit. The most expensive piece
of equipment on my workbench was
a Bird Thruline RF wattmeter, with a
collection of HF and VHF wattmeter
As I became interested in HiFi
audio, the oscilloscope took center
stage. I added an audio/RF signal
generator to test the bandwidth and
fidelity of the circuits. I also set the
Heathkit DMM aside in favor of a
Simpson 260 analog multimeter,
which made it much easier to read
dynamic audio signals.
A set of old bookshelf speakers
proved to be the best way to test
audio amplifier output. I put the high
voltage power supply on a shelf and
replaced it with a high-current 12
When I took a deep dive into
microcontrollers, I put my old analog
scope to rest and replaced it with a
two-channel digital model from
Tektronix. A Fluke tabletop DMM
replaced the Simpson 260. I added a
variable current/voltage power
supply with separate readouts for
current and voltage. I also replaced
the soldering iron with a variable
temperature Weller soldering iron
station and a Weller hot air station to
work with SMD components.
During my current robotics
phase, I installed a 6” vise for
bending aluminum and for holding
robot frames in place. I also
purchased a Proxxon milling
machine, which proved useful but
I eventually replaced the milling
machine with a 3D printer from
MakerBot, which saved me from
constantly vacuuming aluminum and
plastic from my shop floor. I also
added an ESC (electronic speed
control) tester, a motor tester, and a
lithium-ion battery charging station.
What’s your current workbench
setup? What’s on your ideal
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by Bryan Bergeron, Editor DEVELOPING PERSPECTIVES
What’s on Your Workbench?
November 2017 5
A couple things came to our
attention from the October issue.
First, on page 52 in the Open
Communication column, the
website for NightFire Electronics
was listed incorrectly in the caption
for Figure 3. As listed in the text, the
correct URL is www.vakits.com.
Secondly, two schematics got a
bit cut off: on page 7 in the Q&A,
in Figure 2; and then on page 53
(again in Open Communication),
the schematic in Figure 4.
Replacement graphics are now
available at the respective article
links. Our apologies for any