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Equipping a Small Hackerspace?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the vent-hood dept.

Hardware Hacking 174

andy writes "After gentle prodding for about a year, my company actually agreed to include an electronics/robotics lab in the current build-out of our new office space. As I never really expected this to happen, I was at a bit of a loss when they asked me what sort of workbenches, equipment, etc. I wanted for the lab. The lab will only be approximately 9'x15' but there is a decent amount of vertical space to work with. I was thinking of having 2 workbenches side-by-side, one for 'hardware' and the other for 'software' with a floor-standing cabinet for storage. Semi-mobile workbenches might be a plus. Those of you that work in these sorts of environments, what do you recommend in the way of workbenches, storage, organization, and electronics?"

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Two questions (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506264)

Where do you work and are they hiring?

Re:Two questions (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506290)

Unfortunately, the robotics lab is only there so they can 'train/build' their replacements.

Re:Two questions (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506596)

excellent. I can make a fortune repairing 'mysterious bugs' on my replacement. Like when the 20 dollar and hour consultant put me out of my 90 and hour gig. Latter they asked me to go back and fix his mess...I charged 120 an hour.

Re:Two questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506820)

and hour?

Using terminology like this, I expect you are making it all up.

Re:Two questions (4, Funny)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507360)

Never attribute to bad grammar that which can be explained by Dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all.

Re:Two questions (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507698)

You'll make somebody a GREAT secretary!

Re:Two questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506904)

Repairing bugs on robots that are [spoiler]intended to replace you[/spoiler]? Hey, you can get some practice here! []

Re:Two questions (2)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507016)

"Like when the 20 dollar and hour consultant put me out of my 90 and hour gig.

There was probably a valid reason for that.

Re:Two questions (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507292)

"Like when the 20 dollar and hour consultant put me out of my 90 and hour gig.

There was probably a valid reason for that.

Consultants are usually shitheads?

Re:Two questions (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507710)

I used to have a T-shirt that said "I'm not unemployed, I'm a consultant".

Re:Two questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34507068)

If a manager told me he hired an employee like you at that price, I'd fire him immediately. Not just because they paid $30/hr extra for an idiot who can't spell, but also because they used to pay that idiot $90/hr in the first place.

Re:Two questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34507302)

I was shocked to find out that my company, which does HPC services, charges clients $400/hr per employee that works on the project (I'm a smart guy, but not $400/hr smart), and of course the clients pay for the hardware, licensing, etc as well. The only way I can make sense of it is that some companies are willing to pay huge $$$ an hour (way more than they pay almost anyone in the company) for a service which only needs to be purchased once every few years.

Re:Two questions (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506418)

They'll be hiring soon if he doesn't get any better answers than that...

One suggestion- make sure there are two exits, so that when the robots decide they are done having you tinker with them there's a higher chance of getting out. Also helpful if anything catches on fire.

Third Question (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506938)

Why do all the neat opportunities always go to the lads with the fewest clues?

Cabinet (1)

Metabolife (961249) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506348)

Don't forget to get a cabinet. It makes storing random hardware a lot neater.

flex the bubble from the inside out (4, Funny)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506350)

You will already have the core things you need 90% of the time. Go install your desks in an ergo way, then give your core tools a nice spot to live. Don't worry, they will get lost, borrowed, and misplaced quickly. Soon you'll have three of each, and you'll always know where one is.

The rest will evolve organically. Let it flow in as each project evolves. The most clever configuration will be the one that is flexed from the inside out, as your frustrations permanently solve yet another configuration issue. In a few years, people will wonder how your tech feng shui is so strong.

Eventually people who visit your hackerspace will coo at the random junk bottles of parts, odd CAD lamp lighting, and floor stains, completely oblivious to the purpose, but envious to their shallow cores at the shininess. You will be envied in your organic nerd pile.

Re:flex the bubble from the inside out (1)

drachenstern (160456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507014)

In addition to this, some of these will be a wonderous godsend []

Re:flex the bubble from the inside out (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507750)

In the 80's the space you are describing was referred to as a "hackers nest" as in the PC Hackers Nest BBS.

If the workspace in question is used for robotics an "all in one" machine shop tool like the Smithy would be handy.

get modular drawer cabinets (3, Insightful)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506358)

Like Vidmar, Bott, or Lista. Lots of storage, small space. Can also be used to hold up a benchtop. Pricey, but you won't regret them.

Re:get modular drawer cabinets (3, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506846)


I've run several aircraft maintenance and inspection section toolrooms in the Air Force, and good bench/storage solutions are a major "workspace effectiveness multiplier".

I have _severe_ love for Lista. We even got our Snap-on rep to work with the Lista rep to get our Lista box foam cut for our tools.
Snap-on boxes are very nice, but Lista IMO makes even better ones that survive G.I. abuse and often cost less.

Leadership like the professional appearance of modern workspaces, which helps sell what you do for them.

Re:get modular drawer cabinets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34507686)

Taking modular to the next level. Not precisely "work space", but maybe inspiration. [] ?

Wow, that's small. (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506384)

9' by 15' ? Does this lab currently contain a mop bucket and cleaning supplies? Sounds like something out of Office Space.

Re:Wow, that's small. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506416)

9 x 15 isn't THAT small...

At a previous job, we had a 12x10 office, complete with desks and filing cabinets...for FOUR people.

9x15 for just a lab wouldn't be that bad.

Re:Wow, that's small. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506568)

9x15? that's actually 135m^2, almost the size of my flat.

Re:Wow, that's small. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506722)

it is probably 9ftx15ft or about 12.8m^2 or about twice the size of my office cubicle. It isn't tiny, but it would be a little tight for space with a good workbench and a sufficient storage space for supplies.

A 9mx15m flat is actually pretty big if you don't have a lot of kids.

Re:Wow, that's small. (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507106)

"about twice the size of my office cubicle" My cube is only 9 x 5.5 ft. What luxury you must live in.

Re:Wow, that's small. (2)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506564)

Michael Scott Paper Company FTW! Oh, wait, wrong Office... Sorry.

Vertical Space (4, Informative)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506394)

If you have a lot of vertical space, you could utilize some good pegboard and hangar brackets to store most of your tools. Also, I always find myself in want of a drill press and, to a lesser extent, a lathe and a mill. Welding equipment is also a plus. But all of those (minus a drill press, those can be pretty small) take up space. Fans and heaters are a nice convenience, if there isn't already some sort of environmental control. Finally, if other people than yourself are going to be working there regularly (I think that's kind of the definition of a hackerspace) then you might want to get a really nice label-maker/gun so that things stay relatively organized.

Re:Vertical Space (4, Funny)

Java Pimp (98454) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506532)

you might want to get a really nice label-maker/gun so that things stay relatively organized.

Is the gun for just in case the label-maker approach does not work?

Re:Vertical Space (4, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506842)

Actually guns are good for all around organizational features.

Just the other day, I opened my drawer to get my VB5 reference book, thought it'd be a great idea to whip up a form using Access 2000 for the database.

I had left my gun in my drawer on top of the book. So when I went to get the book, I had to pick up the gun. I then had a flash of bad memories, from the last time I used VB5, and was overcome with suicidal thoughts. I then realized that I was contemplating suicide, and I already had a gun in my hand, so I quickly put it back on top of the VB Book, closed the drawer, and have vowed never to touch that attrocity ever again.

This happens about twice a season.

Re:Vertical Space (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506558)

Honest question here. Heck, I would love to know the answer personally. Can you legitimately weld in a 9x15 foot room?

If the answer is actually yes, what equipment do you need to make it safe?

And the final question is, with that equipment, can you legitimately weld in a 9x15 foot room?

Re:Vertical Space (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506674)

And the final question is, with that equipment, can you legitimately weld in a 9x15 foot room?

That's what I'd like to know. While some types of welding require more space than others do, for safety reasons, I can't imagine any equipment allowing you to use a space that size. The issue of getting around the item in and of itself is formidable. It would likely be doable if you've got the room completely free of other stuff, but with a bench it's going to get tight real quick.

Re:Vertical Space (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506682)

I suppose the answer depends somewhat on your definition of legitimate...

If the room is lit properly, heavily ventilated, and you get some of the smaller equipment, you can certainly weld some things in such a space. When I crafted a sword for my high school senior project, I was welding in a poorly lit garage that was about the dimensions you listed (probably a bit longer than the 15' though). The weld job was pretty simple, very rudimentary, and didn't require a lot of skill. If you are going to be welding grandiose projects and such, you'll want a better space than that. If you are terribly concerned about safety and are not a fan of rednecking it up (as I happen to be) then you will want a bigger space than that. But for simple, small welds, it is definitely possible.

Of course, if one of your gas canisters explodes (highly unlikely) in such a small space, the damage will be much greater.

Re:Vertical Space (3, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507036)

"Can you legitimately weld in a 9x15 foot room?"

Sure, though I'd prefer a TIG machine since it's a very neat process.

Good welding forums ample info and reasonable participants: [] [] []

Re:Vertical Space (1)

plcurechax (247883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507548)

Certainly possible. Compact arc-welding units (available for 120Vac AC mains) are pretty small, and if the pieces of metal you are welding are as well, then with proper ventilation, and isolation from flammable materials, then sure it is possible in small degrees.

Inadvertently triggering a fire alarm and/or suppression system in an office environment could be an issue too.

Re:Vertical Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506654)

... you might want to get a really nice label-maker/gun so that things stay relatively organized.

It does not have to be necessarily nice, but a gun would be actually the most effective in keeping everyone well organized.

Re:Vertical Space (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506728)

Self-reply, but one more thing that came to mind. I don't know if the construction is done on the room yet, but make sure there are lots of power outlets at all heights around the room if at all possible. You will never have too many outlets, but you will always have too many tools to plug in safely.

Re:Vertical Space (2)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507166)

Welding (hot work) adds too many complications to what sounds like an office environment. Don't do it.

Re:Vertical Space (2)

gtwreck (74885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507392)

We have had good success with retail "slat-wall" mounted on the walls all the way to the ceiling above our workbenches. It can support a lot of weight and there are a lot of ways to attach shelving or mount equipment using widely available brackets. And it will not deteriorate over time like pegboard. Also, it's attractive, which will help make your space look clean to passers by.

Also, have them give you lots of network and power drops spread around the room, you will constantly run out. Attach a lot of power strips to your furniture, etc.

You may want your own physical network separate from the rest of the building as well.

broom closet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506460)

"Well give you your space, but it can be no larger than a broom closet."

Re:broom closet (1)

anyGould (1295481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506818)

"Well give you your space, but it can be no larger than a broom closet."

It's bigger than that. 9 feet x 15 feet is about the size of a non-master bedroom. If there's only one person working in there, and you're not working on anything too large (in physical volume), it'd probably be OK.

Lots of stuff (5, Informative)

larwe (858929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506466)

Make the most of the vertical space if it's against a wall. You will want to have several pieces of reasonably heavy equipment semipermanently present above the workbench - so build a couple of deep, sturdy shelves that can hold your benchtop PSUs, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, etc. The probes and wires dangle down from the front. The lowest shelf should be as low as possible while still clearing the top of the tallest PC monitor you intend to put on that bench. Support those shelves with at least 1.5x the manufacturer-recommended number of pegs. The back of the shelf should have enough room to the wall, or cutouts, to fit - comfortably - an AC plug so that you don't have to move heaven and earth in order to add or remove an AC-powered piece of equipment from amongst the stuff on either side of it. As well as outlets at floor level, you need an outlet strip running down the back of the bench, or on the wall behind the bench at chest level to a seated person, with a minimum of 8-10 outlets per workbench. The outlets should be spaced far enough apart that they can hold a plugpack. DO NOT think that 6-way adapters are "good enough". It is a royal pain in the ass to deal with them, and they add to cable clutter. You will probably want a local Ethernet network for testing net-booting appliances, as well as wiring into your regular Internet connection. So make room for a small Ethernet switch. Use some more of the wall space for component drawers of the type people use to store nails, screws, etc. You cannot have too many of these. Since you will probably be using many SMD components (I know I do!) make a rack for the reels. A regular piece of wooden dowel with a sturdy chain attached to each end, suspended from the center of the chain, works OK. Having loose reels around the place is another pain in the ass - if you have them on a dowel then you can put R/C/L values in neat order, separate diodes from transistors, etc. These are a few of my suggestions based on my own workspace (I do this sort of thing on a contract basis)... I personally have also ditched all my desktop PCs and use netbooks and notebooks exclusively - much of the hardware you'll be using has to be tethered to the dev system by a short USB cable, and having a desktop PC up close enough really wastes desktop real estate.

Re:Lots of stuff (3)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506802)

Some additional notes:

You will want to have several pieces of reasonably heavy equipment semipermanently present above the workbench - so build a couple of deep, sturdy shelves that can hold your benchtop PSUs, oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, etc.

Also consider that many pieces of automatic test equipment are rack-mountable. You may want to consider making a portable "cart" with all of your gadgets(including a power strip with retractable extension cord, and maybe even a small computer for GPIB control).

Others have suggested being used to losing tools. You can keep track of them easily if you have the discipline to keep a record of all your tools, returning them at the end of your shift(great way to kill time), neatly arranged in the box with foam cutouts, notating exceptions and requiring signatures for borrowing.

Good luck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506480)

I recommend They have some great pick rack cabinets and modular equipment workbenchs. Please note I am not affiliated with them.

Cheap work bench (1)

blackC0pter (1013737) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506488)

I used gorrilla racks as a cheap work bench. A single rack comes in two parts so i can put them side by side for a larger desk space. The surface is also treated to withstand chemicals and a pretty heavy load. I put the shelves on the floor and then the top so that I could pull up a chair to the rack. Since this is for a hackerspace I assume you don't care that it looks like you are using a shelf for a desk. Plus, for $90 you really can't beat it. Also, I have no affiliation with gorillarack. I just work for a small company and don't want to pay $500+ for workbenches. []

What kind of slashdotter (1)

grnrckt94 (932158) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506494)

are you that you don't have one of these already???

Re:What kind of slashdotter (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506608)

Some of us have trouble convincing our parents that a hacker space is a good idea.

Re:What kind of slashdotter (3, Informative)

Billy the Mountain (225541) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507280)

Yeah, plus there is a really good chance there's one near you so you no longer have any excuses (they are currently popping up like mushrooms):

Hacker Space Finder []

Stuff (4, Insightful)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506496)

Monitor arms and wireless keyboards/mice, or a keyboard drawer. This frees up valuable desk space for working on stuff.

Also useful:

USB port replicator - used for laptops, gets legacy and USB ports up on the desk from the tower, so you can get at them.
Variable power supply - get good ones with a couple of voltage options. +/- 5V, +/- 12V rails along with a variable output is very handy
Plenty of outlets on the desks or, better yet, built into the desks
Grounding - if you can't get grounded desks, get antistatic pads or, at least, antistatic wrist straps, and ground everything you can

The three things you shouldn't scrimp on - power supply, soldering station with adjustable temperature, multimeter

Get a cheap desktop for the hardware station - interfacing with hardware doesn't take much horsepower.

Buy a monster for the software station so you can run multiple OSes in virtual machines - get the free VMWare player that lets you create virtual machines and you can run Solaris, Linux, FreeBSD, etc...

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506516)

I think it's ridiculous to create such a lab for people who have no idea what do they need it for.
In other case you would have been known, what you need, definitely.

Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506518)

There's one thing you can never have enough of: space. Put as little in there as possible. The rest depends on what you're going to build there. Maybe you want a CNC router, most definately a proper soldering station, oscilloscope and a whole shitload of storage full of parts. But most of all: lots of space. That bad motherfucking robotarm you will inevitably build there needs a lot of it:P

Re:Space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34507114)

"definately"? Is that even a word? Sorry, I'm not a native English speaker.

power points, shelves and lighting (4, Informative)

Richard_J_N (631241) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506528)

- Cover the wall in network and power-points - you might well make use of 12 ethernet ports and 50 mains sockets.
- Have deep, load-bearing shelves above the workbench, (again, with power), and under-shelf lighting.
- Consider the ergonomics: workbench height for standing (and some tall stools), a/c, bright light, silent computers. LCD monitor on a swing-arm?
- If money is limited, you're probably better off with a larger variety of stock and tools than with fewer expensive ones.
- Do you need the ability to make it dark? Plumbing? Dust/Fume extraction?
- Ensure the floor is easy to clean, not static-prone, and easy to see where you dropped things.

Re:power points, shelves and lighting (3, Interesting)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507042)

One thing worth looking into are the desks sold by AnthroCart [] . They can address some of the points you mentioned (power availability, ergonomics, ...).

AnthroCarts are not cheap, but they are solid, can carry substantial weight, and will last a long time. They are also modular: you can buy more pieces to extend them (adding shelves, etc.), or alter the height of shelves if necessary. Most of the pieces are on wheels (with locks) which is perfect for a workspace with constantly changing projects (need the wiring station in another room? Just roll it there.). You can also buy power bars that integrate directly to the Anthro desks/tables, so that all your equipment stays plugged in but is easy to move around. Many of the models also have adjustable-height work surfaces, which is great for adjusting keyboard height or moving the work surface as needed...

No, I don't work for them. Just a happy customer. The downsides are the cost and that assembly takes longer than other furniture (because they use things like actual screws instead of crappy quick-connect pieces).

Re:power points, shelves and lighting (2)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507462)

AnthroCart / AnthroBench are certainly the cadillacs of that kind of thing.

Don't bother with the integrated power bars (though the other accessories are quite nice). Just ziptie a cheap TrippLite 12 or 20-port power strip to the back of the thing.

If you want something (much) cheaper, I'd also recommend the "Mayline eLAN" IT workbenches, which don't give you quite as much flexibility, but stack high and are very solid. []

Whatever you do, put them on casters so it's easy to reposition / clean . Oh, and that they actually fit through your doors / elevators :-P

Re:power points, shelves and lighting (1)

eeble (1664699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507156)

Fume extraction has been nagging at the back of my mind for a while. I know we'll need it, I just don't know the best way to do it on a small budget for a small space. Thanks for the suggestion about power, I know that's one thing that's often overlooked. As is an anti-static floor, all great suggestions! Thanks

Make the walls and ceiling markerboard (1)

digiplant (581943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506540)

You should cover all the walls and ceiling with markerboard. The shop in my parent's house is this way and makes for a great work space. Every (non-furniture) surface is a place to sketch out ideas and make little notes. If you put a thin metallic sheet behind the markerboard sheet, you'll also be able to use magnets to hold things up.

Why are they making this? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506552)

If you're the person who requisitioned the lab and you don't know what to put in it, why is your company even building such an area?

If your company has staff who would use this space, then poll them for the equipment they need. Otherwise, retract your request for a lab. Asking Slashdot will just get you a random assortment of hardware which will most likely sit unused.

Believe me, if you really needed this stuff, you'd know exactly what to buy.

Person with a Ph.D. in EE who has worked with hardware development for 15 years.

Re:Why are they making this? (5, Funny)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506588)

Person with a Ph.D. in EE who has worked with hardware development for 15 years.

Aw, that's rough buddy! Hit me up and I'll teach you how to create a login. It's not that bad!

Re:Why are they making this? (2)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506676)

Person with a Ph.D. in EE who has worked with hardware development for 15 years.

All those years working with hardware has cut down on your reading comprehension. It's clear the questioner is asking about makes and models of desks/benches/shelves, not what work to do in his new lab.

Re:Why are they making this? (1, Troll)

digitalnoise615 (1145903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506748)

Sincerely, Person with a Ph.D. in EE who has worked with hardware development for 15 years who hates the fact that untrained monkey's working in their garages have come up with more cool stuff than he ever will.

Fixed that for you.

Re:Why are they making this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506872)

"that untrained monkey's working in their garages "

So... If you're going to write monkey's, why not also garage's? I'm just trying to understand the inner workings (working's?) of a superior mind.

best idea? (2)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506554)

I would advise against having hardware and software sharing the same space.

do people really want to code between a bandsaw and stick welder?

what kind of work are you thinking about doing in this hackerspace? its hard to say what you will need when we don't know what you will build.

this is what i find helpful for my purposes:

numerous soldering stations
those grippy tables with 2 arms and a magnifying glass.
lots of reverse tweezers. (most useful tool ever.)
proper wire cutters. the huge ones that hammer down and pull apart. save tons of time.
fish tank for holding etching acid
heat press for iron on transfers
rotary tools
small metal lathe
hand drill
drill press
band saw
a good vice
various clamps

optional: safety goggles

oh, and try to get a plasma cutter! I've never actually used one for anything useful, but it's fun as hell to play with.

Re:best idea? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506934)

"optional: safety goggles"

Not optional if you value your vision. Face shields such as those made by Jackson for weldors are IMO more comfortable and much less likely to fog up. Face shield (some are tinted, spec what you need) and headgear are sold separately. Your local welding supplier will have them.

Re:best idea? (2)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507038)

Adding to this since it is the best suggestion so far....I'm not sure I'd use etching stuff rather than a standard pegboard piece if I'm just hacking... if I'm finished then order one to be printed. Not sure about a couple of the bigger tools but it all depends on the project (could also go to manual tools if they wont be used much).

wall of drawers with millions of little compartments for components.
wire stripper
proper multimeter, capacitance meter
lots of wire!
Variable power supply
Scope/logic tester
solder station: Copper braid,solder,solder pumps, variable temp solder iron, brass sponge, flux pen, stand
May need a fan depending on ventilation or you'll all get sick and die.
heat shrink tubing
heat gun (for soldering surface mount chips or other annoying stuff)
Lots of handy outlets.

That said i'm thinking of a small robotics/electronics lab. Nothing heavy mechanical.

Re:best idea? (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507226)

I doubt you'll get permission to have a welder or plasma cutter in a building that (based on the limited description) is office space. Hot work carries a lot of baggage, safety wise; and, the welder or plasma cutter may trip any IR sensors in the fire alarm system.

Re:best idea? (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507330)

I'd like to second the suggestion to do software elsewhere.

Of course, keep some network drops in the room. They'll be handy when you bring in your laptop to make a minor change. Nobody wants to write code in a room that smells like burned plastic and solder flux.

You're in a cramped space, don't waste it on a desk and computer that will never be used in the way they were intended.

Use one workbench for fabrication/assembly and the other for electronics.

Re:best idea? (1)

eeble (1664699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507754)

This will most likely be for prototyping embeded electronics/robotics work.

Benches, stools and power (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506566)

Supply a piice of decent electronic equip(a nice scope), and be sure all the tools are the cheapest you can find. There going to go missing anyways, so longevity isn't a major concern here.

Let the enthusiastic bring stuff in if they want more.

Oh, and a library of basic electronic books.

The most important things is a welcoming attitude. Even the most bone headed nooob should be comfortable coming in and participating..a 'don't say no' attitude towards people wanting to participate.

Classic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506638)

"I need (insert dogmatic instance of need here)! It will make us more (insert dogmatic insistence of improvement here) and we're falling behind our competition because you're not taking my awesome advice". Then when they say okay, you have no plan, no execution strategy...hell, you don't even know how to get start so you go ask someone else how to do it. Idiot. They should fire your dumb ass.

what's the budget? (3, Funny)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506670)

Surely the budget is relevant. Otherwise, I'd go 9x15xvertical worth of gold ingots and a lousy security system you know how to beat.

Re:what's the budget? (3, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507168)

Surely the budget is relevant. Otherwise, I'd go 9x15xvertical worth of gold ingots and a lousy security system you know how to beat.

... and a truck with good suspension.

Re:what's the budget? (2)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507308)

No no no that's all wrong, you need a small fleet of modified Mini Coopers!

Good Workbench, plenty of outlets (1)

swg101 (571879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506710)

You don't say what your budget is, but good, sturdy workbenches (like these [] ) with plenty of outlets for power supplies, scopes, meters, etc. as well as built in drawers and cabinet space.

If you are looking for suggestions on equipment, power supplies like the Topward 6000D [] series or similar (multiple output, adjustable, current limiting supplies) are invaluable. Good o-scope, handheld multimeter, etc. if you don't already have that stuff.

Make it like like one of those cool hacker rooms (1)

Ismellpoop (1949100) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506830)

in the movies with the 20 plus monitors, cool lights and all that jazz. Then when your boss pops his head in he thinks "wow these guys are working hard and super cool" just like those movie nerds not sucky like regular nerds.

Re:Make it like like one of those cool hacker room (1)

Tynin (634655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507550)

Few things look more badass then dozens of monitors tailing log files. And it must be displayed as green text on a black background, otherwise you lose *major* cool points.

Power (1)

theunixman (538211) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506920)

Lots of high-current outlets, preferably on several circuits. Some non-fluorescent, repositionable work lights to help kill the flicker and see the work. Locking wheels for everything. Pegboard and hangers. Fans, ventilation, etc.

Extra hands (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34506962)

Lots of "extra hands" ("third hand"), clamps /stands that can be moved quickly and easily but stay in place when needed to hold things when Bob is not handy to hold something for you. []*vhM9FU/14Solderingsetup.jpg?width=721 [] []

If you don't have the wherewithal to buy tables... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34506970)

without hand-holding, then why have you been entrusted with this task? Surely you've worked in an electronics lab before, and you know how to use

list (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507018)

Not sure what you're really doing but...
signal generator
discrete power supply
General toolbox (seriously you'll need a hammer at some point)
Multiple workstations with serial ports obviously
parts bins
Lable Maker (for the parts bins)

If it's a tall room... tall shelfs and one of those ladders on wheels.

An assistant.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34507088)

.. from Abyss Creations :)

Suggestions for electronics (1)

kyle5t (1479639) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507108)

Get a Weller soldering iron, some of those Jameco parts kits for all your common components, an oscilloscope, a couple decent multimeters, maybe a logic analyzer. Solderless breadboards and lots of those plug-in wire jumpers are useful. You want to have all the usual hand tools, plus a third-hand tool or two, a heat gun and heat shrink supplies, maybe a molex pin crimper. Try to leave some of your budget left over for when you find new things that you really want to get.

Obligatory Slashdot-type comment (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507240)

Also ask for Arduinos. Lots and lots of Arduinos.

Re:Suggestions for electronics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34507300)

Weller? Pfft. Real men use Metcal.

Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34507136)

If you are going for serious hardware electronics work, you need a hot-air soldering station, not just a soldering iron. Hot-air soldering stations will allow you to do all the modern SMT components that you can't do with just an iron. If you are doing electronics, you need a DC power supply; Oscilloscope; Multimeter, Signal generator. If you are doing power electronics you will need a Variac (autotransformer) and some heavy duty switches. Aligator clips are always handy. Non-contact temperature sensors are also handy. Caliper for measuring.. This all in addition to the work benches, power and lighting other people have mentioned.

If you need a robot (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507148)

Order it from the Japanese, if you need it to play guitar or make a car,
or from that company that makes the disturbing headless-horse military robot.
They know what they're doing.

I mean seriously. What do you want a robot for?

Sounds like its to satisfy a tinkering itch.

My advice is don't build any hardware til you have the entire thing
functioning perfectly in a software sim. And even then, don't build
any hardware. The silly mechanical problems and non-linear force
issues will defeat you and eat all your time. For what? For what?

Equipment (1)

elewton (1743958) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507158)

I'm in a hackerspace.

I find the oscilloscopes, and multimeters useful. Include a solder iron, some prototyping board, hot glue gun, various screwdrivers, wrenches, bubble level, measuring tape, battery charger and some electricians pliers and you'll have a very useful space.

Also a bench with a vice and some helping hands.

Two thoughts... (3, Interesting)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507208)

1) Wheels on stuff is cool. Make sure at least 2 of 4 wheels lock, and get the biggest diameter wheels you can stand. Rolling a workbench with 600+lbs on it will shred those plastic casters.

2) If you're going vertical, get a Little Giant-like ladder that splits into two a-frames, other brands work very well. Handy to be able to a-frame it, stretch it out and store vertically in a corner, use with planks as a third workbench, and of course lend out under constant supervision when someone else needs one.

There is little else as much fun as establishing a new shopspace. I've done three big ones, and it's a riot. Just be glad you're not working on portable tape recorders, and have to explain the $400 P.O. for screws. Having a 1x1.2mm screw when you need one; priceless. Sony made great stuff back then, man.

Hardcore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34507230)

Ask for a 3D printer and/or a 3D desktop mill such as the Roland MDX-40.

List. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34507264)

Label maker. Different colored cables where possible. Makes finding cables in a nest easier.
Multiple racks of parts bins, labelled.
Shallow organizers can be put on hinges if wall area is scarce.
Plywood or mdf or purpose-built sheets can also be used to hang tools. Put those on wall hinges to get tool hanging surface area.
Get a standing table and a sitting table. Build out of wood with the necessary crossbracing and 3/4" or 1" urethaned tabletop.
Can never have too much table space. Use all-round strapping or bolt holes to attach power bars. Get IP-addressable power bars if you want some automation.
Get as much light as you can in that room, and keep flashlights and an LED headlamp handy (energizer has some good bright toughcase headlamps).
Plumb in a urinal and a sink. (Half joking about the urinal...) Plumb for compressed air. Install outlet for central vac. Install a fume ventilator. Install conduit (2 inch perhaps) with generous bend radii and leave some strong line in for pulling cables. Check building codes for when necessary.
Install vinyl skirts on any cabinets or shelf units so parts dropped on the floor won't sneak their way to some unreachable position.
Get a big trash bin, or use a large diameter vacuum for dry trash disposal.
And put an equipment rack in the corner.

Okay, it sounds more like a garage than a hacker's room, but I hope you can take away some of these ideas.

The eternal question (2)

plcurechax (247883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507470)

Many amateurs or hobbyists have faced this dilemma in their own personal (and professional) work spaces for centuries nows. Two groups I know a little about are wood [] workers [] and machinists, who have written dozens of books and articles about this subject, in both the general and specific case.

0. Safety equipment: dust masks, goggles, safety glasses [] (with side protection), gloves (nitrile, latax, neoprene), hearing protection (ear muffs, ear plugs), and as needed!
1. Tools
2. Storage / management of those tools
3. Hard copy (dead-tree) documentation, it is being rapidly moved online thanks to cheap and compact computers and laptops, but much older reference material is still in old-school paper form (which can be handy) (example references to collect: ARRL Handbook [] , Art of Electronics [] , Machinery's Handbook [] , Woodworking Basics [] , Understanding Wood [] , Wiring Simplified [] )
4. Commonly used materials (lumber, hoses, holes clamps, fabric, sheet metal, dowels, nuts & bolts, wood and metal screws, etc.)
5. Parts (in anti-static containers for any static sensitive parts like CMOS ICs)
6. Labelling tools
7. Log [] / Lab notebooks [] . These should be paper-based, though can be complimented with online documents, a honest to goodness hard copy lab book is essential.
8. Chemicals []
9. Large, easy to read clock
10. Test equipment: rulers, tape measures, calipers [] , digital multi-meter []
11. Plenty of AC mains circuits and outlets. Preferably with a separate circuit for lighting versus wall outlets. - Avoid extended use of extension cables, and excessive use of power bars.

And time.

Lasers (1)

_GNU_ (81313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507480)

You could never go wrong with lasers.

Mount mirrors and lenses on a small, sturdy table and have a few beams of 1mW laser bounce around in smoke from a small smoke machine and you'll impress the boss enough to keep your lair. (and job) ;)

What are you building or fixing? (2)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507494)

It depends greatly what you are building or fixing.

For basic electronics stuff, soldering irons, those boxes of little drawers (filled with components), good chairs, a magnifying lamp, lots and lots of storage for this-and-that, heat gun, lots of shrink tube, wire in a handful of gauges and insulation colors (all teflon, if your budget allows) in solid and stranded. A variac. An oscilloscope (I have found that there are exactly two good places for a 'scope: on a cart, or in a 19-inch rack). Hand tools, and save some budget for extra hand tools as they have a high vapor pressure. Good hand tools, at that. Basic metal / wood working tools (files, hand saws, drills). Drill bits: buy good ones and you'll thank me later, buy cheap ones and you'll end up buying good ones anyway. A small drill press (one of THE most valuable bits of kit around). One of those massively heavy vises that gets bolted to the work surface (and do, indeed, bolt it in place). I've found an end-sander is really useful too. Epoxy, lots of epoxy. A set of precision screwdrivers (keep them under lock and key). A cordless drill (minimum a DeWalt). Fluke hand-held meters. A very high quality 6 or 8-inch L-square, and a decent quality 12-24 inch one. Good lighting. Lots of electrical outlets. A handful of ethernet drops.

This is what I have in my lab (4, Interesting)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507552)

Which is sadly under utilized these days (too much real work unfortunately)

Several voltmeters - I like the old Fluke bench units... LED displays you can see across the room, and the batteries are never dead because there are none.
Several scopes - tek is king here.
Drill press - bloody essential for anything mechanical at all.
Logic analyzer, i'm partial to the HP ones
Spectrum analyzer - pricy, but a godsend for RF work (if you'll be doing any) - HP, again.
Power supply - hp made good ones again. you can never have too many it seems. I have some homebrew ones too - ATX supplies and random ebay SMPS units can be handy and dirt cheap, but not adjustable (you can add an external reg easily though..)
Freq counter - hp, but fluke made decent ones. more for RF, but can be handy for digital, clocking and stuff...
Freq gen, whether you need a lower freq audio one or one that does RF depends on what you're planning on.

For soldering irons im partial to the hakko ones, '936' is the model, and there are plenty of knockoffs available on ebay. The genuine model isn't crazy expensive though.

Then a PC, a few programmers, depending on what you want. I'm partial to Atmel's AVR, but PIC is big, some folks are still stuck with moto 6800 derivatives for some unknown reason, likewise with 8051's... For the money ARM is really the way to go, but I havent played with them much yet. Some sort of JTAG unit will be handy for random programming also. I usually use a linux box with avr-gcc, but some tools are win32 only, so might want to have a windows box or virtualbox around - not to mention some schematic / board layout stuff is win only too.

For dev boards, I have a few from atmel, but some of them are pretty pricy. these guys [] make some nice dev boards, but I'm not crazy about their compiler. The IDE looks nice enough, but I'm used to gcc and my own editor. I have one of their AVR boards, and I use a GPL'd AVR based AVR programmer (chicken and egg if you dont already have one ;) ) with it, because their built in programmers (which work well, mind you) are windows only.

One thing you did not mention (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34507558)

What do you plan on actually building in this new lab? If it's to be for robotics projects, what sort of robotics? You get your big industrial robots in various shapes and sizes, but surely that's not what you want to do in there (also those are not really that cheap). Then you've got nanorobotics, but you'd probably need a REM or AFM or CT or similar devices to set up experiments with those. But that's surely out of the question, too, again for space and probably budgetary reasons.

Anyway, for general electronics stuff you'll want a good multi-channel oscilloscope (or more), frequency generators and counters, logic analyzers could be of great use, and how about spectrum analyzers? BTW, what is frequency range of the circuits you're going to work with? The higher up the more you'll have to invest in proper tools that can handle high frequencies. Decent soldering station, desoldering station (be sure to buy something that handles SMT well). To be on the safe side with health and regulations look into exhausts for all the fumes that are generated by soldering and similar activities. For general prototyping you could do worse than to buy a CNC mill for making front panels/enclosures and prototyping PCBs. A good drill press with various bits for all kinds of materials is mandatory. And so on and so forth. I guess in your situation you'll have to decide on what you really need to do there in order to make a reasonable shopping list. Good luck.

How to av (2)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507562)

It's a sad fact that most people who will want to borrow tools from your lab will not have any concept of returning them, much less of signing them out. I managed a robotics research lab for 12 years, so I know something about how this works.

It's extremely frustrating to someone in the middle of an elaborate assembly or repair project to reach for an essential tool and discover that it has walked away with some unknown person.

Therefore you pretty much have to keep tool cabinets locked, particularly the ones where the more popular hand tools are stored. Invest in cabinets with lots of separately-keyed doors and drawers. Always buy essential hand tools in pairs, and keep the backup set somewhere else.

It also doesn't hurt to keep an open bin in the lab for storing cheap multibit drivers and the like. Buy lots of these, and restock as necessary. That way, people who drop by the lab to borrow something and never return it will go away happy, without causing frustration for your legitimate lab users. It's good politics, as well as allowing you to run an effective lab for the people who really need it.

Your tools vs. their tools (1)

Paracelcus (151056) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507594)

1. Have your own tools, lock them up, lend them to no one, ever, period.
2. Good technicians have their own tools.
3. Good technicians keep their workplaces neat & well stocked
4. Idiots "borrow" tools, because idiots have no respect for nor do they own any tools, they will leave them scattered everywhere and lose all of them within days of seeing them for the first time! If the company buys tools, let'em, you can't control what you don't pay for, make it clear to your manager that you think all tools should be on a sign-out basis only, and shop time also should be on a reservation schedule (especially important in very small shops). Have a written policy regarding shop safety, tidiness and security.
5. Keep it locked at all times.
6. Project tracking, (cross project parts pilferage) keep your projects and the parts purchased therefore segregated from others.
7. Cost accounting, keep track of, parts, time, etc.
8. It's easy to get sloppy, keep a checklist and keep to it!

Keep it from becoming a closet. (1)

Reeses (5069) | more than 3 years ago | (#34507634)

The most important thing you need is every copy of the keys to that space. Don't even let the janitor have one.

If people have keys to it, eventually someone will open the door when they're doing a building inspection, and think, "Man, this is a great place for a closet. Clear all this random junk (read: your in progress project) out of here, and we'll be able to claim X amount of square feet back on the management floor, where it clearly goes to better use."

Seriously. Keys. Everything else is nice, but you need to control the space that was built reluctantly.

Hot glue gun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34507666)

and lots of glue for it, no kidding they are as useful as can be.

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