My electronics equipment
I thought I'd write a little bit about all of the electronics equipment I have, since I have a reasonable selection.
I use an Aoyue 2930 soldering iron - its unusual feature is that the soldering tips have the heating element within them, which means that while they're more expensive, if the heater fails, I can switch to another tip.
I also bought the same soldering iron for work, and when I was made redundant, I was able to buy it off the company, so I've now got a spare.
Hot air soldering station
For this, I have an Aoyue 857++ SMD rework station, and like the soldering iron, I bought the old one off the company as a spare.
I use this for lifting ICs that I want to reuse, and have a number of different nozzles, such as QFP in different sizes to prevent heating up the IC too much.
An EA-PS 5040-20 A is on hand to provide power, and allow me to control the current. For example, if I'm just starting a board, then I may reduce the current to a low level to catch any potential shorts.
This isn't the sort of kit you'd expect many people to have - it's a TTi LD400 load generator that can be used to provide loads onto power supplies. This is very useful, and was vital at my previous job where I was making DC to DC power supplies. I have used this since to test a 1.0V and 1.8V power supply to ensure they kept a stable voltage at 1A, even with fluctuating loads.
I was able to buy a Eurocircuits reflow oven off my previous company as part of my reduncancy - I was probably about two years away from getting one for home when work wanted one, so it gave me experience.
Since being made redundant, I have used it a few times on various circuit boards, producing very professional boards.
Pick and place machine
This is an essential piece of equipment that goes along side the reflow oven. I have a manual pick and place machine, made by Eurocircuits, and it is very handy in putting down components to quite a high level of accurracy, and relatively high density.
During two house moves, it became a little loose, but when I disassembled it to find out how to improve its rigidity, I was really impressed with how they'd done it - which gives me ideas for 3D printed stuff in the future...
Solder heat plate
This isn't something I've really used much, but I ought to - it's a unit that is designed to heat up a board gently, which makes it easier to use the hot air soldering station. Again, it's made by Eurocircuits (we got a lot of stuff from them!)
Stencil paste laying machine
This is another Eurocircuits tool that builds upon their ecosystem, and allows the solder paste to be laid on a board with precision.
I hadn't expected to use it again, until I started work on a Mini-ITX size board...
Bubble etch tank
This has been documented in some of my other electronics work, but ought to have a mention.
If I need a board in a hurry, and it doesn't need to be true multi-layer, then I would tend to use this instead of getting boards made by Eurocircuits.
For making my own PCBs, this is used with photo-sensitive boards to provide the track patterns. Again, it has been covered before.
This was another purchase from my previous company, and it has been useful in identifying hot components that are drawing just a bit too much power.
Although it's main use has been for looking at my home's thermal output, and also any radiators that need bleeding!
I use a Tenma 72-7725 for most jobs, and I have a second one - courtesy of my previous company!
Another nice purchase from my previous employer is a Picotools PicoScope 3404DMSO, which has been very handy in looking at voltage transients in PWM signals. It's not super fast (70MHz), but does digital as well as analogue, with the ability to decode some digital protocols.
I have two Tenma logic probes - one a Tenma 72-190, the other a 72-500. The second one was purchased by my previous employer, but I prefer the first one as it seems to work better at 3.3V.