What are the essentials for your electronics workbench?

Let’s be real, it can be pretty daunting to look at the vast amount of tools when you’re just starting out. We wouldn’t want to purchase too many tools that would just end up collecting dust either. Thus, this guide has compiled the essential tools you would need to construct a functional electronics workbench!

Ref: Reddit

Recap!

Before we get straight into the tools, lets us refresh our memory and recap on 3 basic electronics concepts: Electrical Current, Voltage and Resistance.

Voltage refers to the difference in charge between the two points.
Current refers to the flow of electrical charges.
Resistance refers to the measure of opposition to the flow of current.

At this point, if you have any doubts or would like to revisit these concepts, you can always find out more: Basic Electronics: Alternating Current(AC) vs Direct Current(DC)

With that being said, we can now move on to everything you will need:

  • Testing Tools
  • Basic Hand Tools
  • Analyzers
  • Power Supply Tools
  • Soldering Tools/Kits

Testing Tools

Multimeter

Multimeters are electronic measuring instruments that combine several measurement functions in one unit. It usually measures voltage, current, and resistance.

DT71 Mini Digital Smart Tweezers – LCR/ ESR Meter, Multimeter, SMD Tester with Built-in Micro Signal Generator

Our mini digital smart tweezer ($59.00) is optional for beginners, but if you want a multipurpose product that not only functions as an ordinary multimeter, then this is definitely a keeper!

What’s included:

  • DT71 Controller
  • Test Arms
  • 2 x Tweezer Tips
  • Data Cable
  • Carrying Case
  • Safety Instructions

What makes it special:

  • Unique trinary structure: Controller, Testing arms, and Tweezer tips all in one! They are separable, combinable and replaceable as well.
  • Portable and compact in size (comes in a carrier!)
  • Dual built-in rechargeable lithium batteries = lasts up to 10 hours. Yet it only takes 2 hours to charge to full!
  • Equipped with OLED screen on the 360° rotatable controller, provides visibility at all angles with smart left/right-hand operation.
  • Various measuring types: resistance, voltage, inductance, diode etc.
  • The testing arms utilize magnetic elasticity to provide an easy clipping, ergonomic, and long-lasting structure.
  • Automatically identify SMDs and distinguishes different components quickly.
  • Built-in miniature waveform signal generator: output waveform signals and helps to debug, provide maintenance for complex electronic systems as well.
  • Lightly touch the top of the controller to operate! Includes intelligent functions such as automatic identification and Automatic shutdown.

There is no reason not to recommend this tool for any minimalist who wants an all-in-one tool, this mini digital tweezer will definitely satisfy all your needs!

Digital Capacitance Meter

Our Digital Capacitance Meter ($34.90) has a high measurement accuracy and a wide measurement range, which makes it durable and highly reliable. The multimeter is compact, pocket-sized and light-weight as well! This would definitely satisfy any beginner who is looking for a basic multimeter.

What’s included:

  • Digital Multimeter
  • A pair of probe cables
  • Black Bag
  • Measuring connector

Reasons you should get this multimeter:

  • A basic standard multimeter for beginners
  • Portable and pocket-sized
  • LSI application: Low battery indication, fast sampling
  • Able to show clear reading even in bright places
  • High measurement accuracy, wide measurement range

We highly recommend this for anyone who wants a simple yet durable multimeter!

Oscilloscope

Oscilloscopes are electronic measuring instruments that enable waveforms to be seen, which makes it very much easier to see any problems occurring in an electronics circuit. Though it may not be necessary for a beginner, it is a good tool to have when you want to troubleshoot issues in your electronics circuit.

DSO Nano v3

The 32-bit pocket-sized digital oscilloscope ($89.00) is lightweight, easy to operate and is equipped with the basic functionalities, which makes it suitable for school lab and beginners.

What’s included:

  • DSO Nano
  • Metal Stand
  • Screw
  • Probe cable
  • Sack

Why you should get it:

  • Suitable for beginners, easy to operate
  • Portable and lightweight
  • An updated version of DSO Nano, this features a firmware and an embedded 2 MB storage chip.
  • Built-in Signal Generator
  • Though it mainly measures volts, it measures various signal forms such as DC/ AC Voltage, Current, Sound, Frequency etc.

This oscilloscope is perfect if you’re just trying to learn the basics!

Interested to learn more? Click on the links to find out:

[Wiki] DSO Nano v3
[Blog] Introduction to the Oscilloscope – What is an Oscilloscope and How to use it?

MiniDSO DS213 Nano 4 Channel 100MSa/s

This mini oscilloscope ($179.00) is based on the 5-track 4-wire digital storage oscilloscope, DS213. It features a built-in 8 MB USB stick, which allows users to store waveforms and upgrade the system firmware.

What’s included:

  • SainSmart DSO213 Oscilloscope
  • X10 Probe Analyzer ×1
  • X1 Probe Analyzer ×1
  • Instructions x1
  • Hex Key ×1

Reasons to get this oscilloscope:

  • Tiny and portable
  • Built-in 8 MB USB
  • Colour display
  • Able to store waveforms and upgrade system firmware
  • 5-track-4-channel
  • four application partitions for loading and upgrading up to four different application firmware

This oscilloscope is for you if you need one that is able to provide you with more functions than our previous recommendation!

Once again, if you’re interested to learn more about oscilloscopes, click here.


Basic Hand Tools

What are hand tools? Hand tools are any type of tools that don’t require any motor or electrical power. Some categories include Pliers, screwdrivers, wire strippers etc.

It goes without saying that hand tools are absolute essentials in an electronics workspace since it comes in “handy” pretty often (unintentional pun). Thus, we will be looking at some essential hand tools for your electronic workbench!

Ref: Sealand

Diagonal Pliers

The purpose of a diagonal plier is to cut wires or small pins in areas that cannot be reached by larger cutting tools, its cutting edges are offset by 15 degrees. Thus the name of this tool.

The one recommended is a standard pair of pliers ($4.90) that would be sufficient for all your needs: wire cutting, headpins, eye pins, small chain, cords, beading etc. It features steel construction which makes it durable as well.

Ratcheting Crimper Pliers

A ratcheting crimper plier allows you to hold wire and make crimps. It also features a ratchet release in case you crimp the wrong wire.

This recommended pair of pliers ($16.90) would be of help when you’re making Grove connectors or female jumper wire. The ratcheting design also allows you to get work done with less strength.

Wire Strippers

As its name suggests, a wire stripper ($4.90) is used to strip and cut off wire insulation, a necessity for an electrician. But it is capable of stripping the ends of an electric wire and connect them to other wires or to terminals too.

Our wire stripper also features spring-loaded action for self-opening and its ability to strip 20-30 AWG solid/stranded wire.

Dual-Purpose Cross-Shaped Multi-Function Screwdriver

Screwdrivers are used for screwing and unscrewing screws.

The pole of our screwdriver ($1.00) is made out of chrome vanadium alloy steel, the head has undergone a hardening treatment which makes it sturdy and durable. Moreover, the handle is designed to be anti-slip and user-friendly.

In case you’re interested in a cordless power screwdriver, click here for more info.

Tweezers-straight (anti-magnetic)

Tweezers are small tools that allow you to pick up small objects, the one you used to pluck your brows will not be able to help you! Thus, it’s vital to get an ESD safe (Electro-Static Discharge) tweezer for electronic use, or it may cause static damage.

Our tweezer ($3.50) is made out of high-quality stainless steel, with a straight head. It is also anti-magnetic and anti-static, which makes it the perfect tweezer for soldering.

Another alternative is the Straight Tweezers – ESD Safe!


Analyzers

Analyzers are tools used to analyze data. In electronics, there are a few types of analyzers: Antenna Analyzer, Logic Analyzer and Spectrum Analyzer. Let’s look at some essential analyzers and each of their uses!

Antenna Analyzer

Antenna Analyzers are mainly used for measuring the input impedance/ Standing Wave Ratio (SWR) of antenna systems in radio electronics applications.

How it works:

  • Checking and tuning antennas
  • Impedance matching
  • Components test
  • Cable fault location
  • Measuring coaxial cable parameters
  • Cutting coaxial cables to precise electrical lengths

SARK-110-ULM Antenna Analyzer

The SARK-110-ULM Antenna Analyzer ($220.00) is a multi-purpose instrument that not only does everything an Antenna Analyzer could do, it also features a Time Domain Reflectometer (TDR) mode which is intended for fault location and length determination in coaxial cables. Thus, making it the perfect entry-level Antenna Analyzer.

What’s special about SARK-110-ULM Antenna Analyzer:

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Built-in battery able to lasts up to 8 hours on one use.
  • Frequency range up to 700 MHz
  • Easy to operate: a graphical display and an intuitive user interface
  • Designed for standalone operation, but if you use the software SARK Plots for Windows or Android, you’ll be able to control it through Bluetooth or USB.
  • Ideal for receiver calibration, sensitivity tests, and signal tracing as a signal generator.

For SARK-110 antenna analyzer, click here.
[Doc] SARK-110 Antenna Analyzer Manual

Logic Analyzer

Logic Analyzers are electronic instruments that capture and display multiple signals from a digital system or digital circuit. They are often used to develop and debug electronic logic circuits as well. Thus, they play a very important part to test complex digital and logic circuits to ensure the system is working smoothly.

MiniDSO LA104 Logic Analyzer

LA104 ($89.00) is often used in automotive electronics, communication, power supply and computer, due to its ability to store and collect multichannel digital signals. Furthermore, it is equipped with the function of protocol analysis and can parse the logic signal of the protocol’s physical layer into data of the high layer protocol and display them on the screen.

What’s included:

  • Logic Analyzer
  • 5 x Hooks
  • 20 x Dupont Cables
  • Safety Instructions

What’s special about the LA104:

  • Portable and compact
  • Built-in 8 MB Flash Storage
  • Equipped with protocol analysis, which can parse logic signal of the protocol’s physical layer into the higher layer protocol and display them on the screen.

Spectrum Analyzer

Spectrum Analyzers are test instruments used to look at signals in the frequency domain, it measures the power of the spectrum of known and unknown signals. They look pretty similar to an oscilloscope and its usually used in electronics manufacturing, base service and repair etc.

RF Explorer 6G Combo PLUS – Slim

The RF Explorer 6G COMBO+ is the most powerful Spectrum Analyzer model in its series. The RF Explorer comes in combos such as ISM Combo, 3G Combo, 6G Combo etc. This model covers the full 6GHz range starting at 50KHz up to 6.1GHz with no gaps or limitations.

What’s included:

  • Spectrum Analyzer
  • Mini USB cable
  • Dual band 144/430MHz Telescopic antenna
  • UHF 400-900Mhz antenna
  • Dual band 5/2.4GHz antenna
  • EVA case

Why we recommend RF Explorer 6G COMBO+:

  • The most powerful Spectrum Analyzer model
  • The slim design gives it a sleek outlook, featuring a solid metal case with high-quality varnished paint
  • Lightweight and portable
  • High capacity internal Lithium battery = lasts 10 hours or more
  • New HELP and SET buttons to improve user interface and PRESET configuration selection with 2-clicks.
  • Multi-platform Windows/Linux/MacOS Open Source software and API libraries.

To learn more about RF Explorer, click here.

[Blog] Introducing RF Explorer Spectrum Analyzer Product Family


Power Supply Tools

Although it may not be super necessary for beginners, however, it’s always nice to have for power circuits in future!

ZKETECH EBC-A10H AC Electronic Load/Battery Capacity Tester/Power Supply Tester 30V 10A 150W

This electronic load ($89.00) is able to perform battery capacity, charging/ discharging and power performance tests, with a built-in 24 V power module. Additionally, it supports up to 30V/10A/150W as well.

What’s included:

  • 1X ZKETECH EBC-A10H AC Electronic Load/Battery Capacity Tester/Power Supply Tester 30V 10A 150W
  • Power Cable
  • 4X Crocodile Test clips
  • USB Interconnection Cable

Why you should get it:

  • An electronic load suitable various battery charge, discharge testing and power performance testing.
  • Supports up to 30V/10A/150W
  • Digital display of test data such as voltage, current, capacity etc.
  • EB software is used to display relevant test information precisely
  • Supports curve drawing, computer control and firmware upgrades etc.

We recommend this to anyone who wants an electronic load that can perform highly accurate testings and software that supports all your needs.

Alternative option: ZKETECH EBD-A20H DC Electronic Load/Battery Capacity & Discharge Tester/Power Supply Tester 30V 20A 200W

MDP-XP Smart Digital Power Supply Kit

MDP refers to Mini Digital Power System ($199.90), a system of programmable linear DC power supply that is able to connect different modules for use. It consists of a display control module and a digital power module, thus it has a wide range of uses: tests and experiments in R&D laboratory, maintenance of digital products, power supply testing etc.

What’s included:

  • 1 x MDP-M01
  • 1 x MDP-P905
  • 2 x 4mm Banana Plug to Alligator Clip
  • 1 x 2.5mm Audio to Micro USB Cable
  • 1 x User Manual

Reasons to get it:

  • Highly cost-effective! Capable of fulfilling all your testing needs
  • Consists of a display control module and a digital power module
  • With its 2.4G wireless connection, it is able to achieve multichannel free combination at the power of 90W per channel.
  • A few functions of the MDP-M01 Display Control Module: displays voltage-current waveform in real-time, automatically pair with and control six sub-modules (digital power modules) etc.
  • A few functions of MDP-P905 Digital Power Module: support precise fine-tuning, high-speed transient response and high-efficiency linear output.

This power supply kit is perfect if you’re constantly experimenting with circuits or systems!


Soldering Tools/Kits

Soldering allows you to join different types of metals together by melting solder. This also allows you to form a strong electrical bond between your target electronic components.

This is one of the fundamental skill to learn in electrical engineering. Thus having the right soldering tools is absolutely essential as well. Let’s look at some of the tools and kits we offer here at Seeed!

Mini Soldering Iron Deluxe Kit (Europe Standard)

This kit ($99.00) provides you with the basic tools you need to start your soldering journey! We understand that you may feel lost, not knowing what basic soldering tools you should get. Therefore, we made an All-in-one kit that is made to suit beginners, veterans can also get this to build up their soldering kit as well!

What this kit contains:

  • Mini Soldering Iron Operating Part x 1
  • PCB soldering kit Soldering Iron Tip Type-BC2 x 1
  • Earth Clamps x 1
  • Soldering Tron Tip Type-B2 x 1
  • User Manual x1
  • Soldering Iron Stand x 1
  • Small Carrying Bag x1
  • DC5525 Power Adapter x 1

Reasons why you should get this kit:

  • The kit is more cost-effective as compared to individual components! Eg. The mini soldering iron is lightweight, small and heats up rapidly (cold to 300℃ in 10 seconds), costs $74.90 separately.
  • It comes with a leaf-like PCB board to guide beginners through and provide extra practice for veterans.
  • Equipped with dual temperature and accelerator sensors (ensures your safety with Sleep mode and Alert mode)
  • This package includes all the add-ons required for you to fully utilize the mini soldering iron!

We offer the same kit in US Standard as well! Click here if it interests you!

Should you require any additional information about this kit, visit our wiki here!

Mini Soldering Iron – Europe Standard (Shape-BC2)

Our mini soldering iron ($74.90) is lightweight, portable and heats up quickly. It features accurate temperature controls, ranging from 100 to 400 Celsius. Sleep and Alert mode is installed to ensure your safety at all times as well.

What’s included:

  • Mini Soldering Iron Operating Part x 1
  • Solder iron tip type-BC2 x 1
  • DC5525 power adaptor (Europe Standard) x 1
  • Earth clamps x 1

Apart from the Europe Standard, we do offer the US Standard as well.

If you need more soldering accessories such as solder tips and solder stand for your mini soldering iron:


Summary

And that’s it! These are the essential tools you should get to build your very own electronics workbench. Many of these tools may not seem necessary when you’re just starting out, but it will definitely serve you well in the long run!

Let us know what are the essentials you would include in your electronics workspace! Feel free to check out more relevant contents like this if you’ve enjoyed it:

Building your own Engineer Work Bench: Must have tools for every engineer!

Work from Home: What Do You Need for An Electrical Engineer’s Home Lab

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