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Equipment for A Perfect General Lab?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the experiment-with-everything dept.

Slashdot.org 70

wdhowellsr asks: "I am currently setting up a lab that will need to provide me with the ability to test equipment for electronic systems from low voltage DC to super high voltage AC. I'm currently getting a Fluke 43b meter to be the primary testing equipment and will be wiring the entire lab to every possible variation of AC and DC voltage. I've tried to find resources on the web that would give me information regarding this but have been unable to find anything. What equipment would you consider for the 'perfect' lab, not just for electronics but for computers, chemistry, and biology?"

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70 comments

Safety (3, Insightful)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 7 years ago | (#17267734)

Protective eyeware. Believe me, from personal experience.

Re:Safety (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17267824)

Also from experience: read up on chemicals before you use them.

Re:Safety (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17274418)

I just want to know what is the poster testing?
I mean "the ability to test equipment for electronic systems from low voltage DC to super high voltage AC. " covers *everything*. What is the research and design target and maybe we can provide better equipment reccomendations.
Communications
Electrical transmission
logic
embeded
robotics
sharks with laser beams on their heads?
-nB

Re:Safety (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268760)

I work with lasers - and everyone that I've met in this field has had exactly one accident with the laser and partially blinded themselves temporarily or permanently in some way.

Myself, I shot myself in the eye with a 432nm (blue) pulse laser. After injections in the back of the eye, I was thank goodness okay a few days later.

Mod Parent... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269364)

Insightful!

Do you need henchmen? (4, Funny)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17267858)

I'm available if you're seeking men to help you taking over the world.

Re:Do you need henchmen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17268840)

Life of a henchman ain't all that. Didn't you stick around to watch the extended ending to the Austin Powers movie? The guy couldn't meet up with his mates at the Hooters.

Lab Equipment (1)

urubos (562290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17267894)

A Jacob's Ladder is required equipment for any mad scientist's lab.

Re:Lab Equipment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17272710)

How would a Jacob's Ladder [wikipedia.org] be useful? Picking up chicks to bring back to the lab?

Re:Lab Equipment (1)

ananamouse (943446) | more than 7 years ago | (#17276910)

For sure those big real to reel 9trac mag tape readers. They look sooo cool just bumping through a tape a few blocks at a time. Really looks best if you have several of them side by side.

Lab Measurement and Automation? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17268050)

Re:Lab Measurement and Automation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17306232)

I thought this link would be something funny related to Monty Python. Boy was I dissapointed.

Machines that goes ping (2, Funny)

rumplet (1034332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268068)

You will need the laboratory equivalent of the machine that goes 'ping'.

I suggest the machine that goes zap, or the machine that goes boom.
Get both if you budget runs to that.

Re:Machines that goes ping (2, Funny)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | more than 7 years ago | (#17272898)

I suggest the machine that goes zap, or the machine that goes boom.
You mean a laptop with a Sony battery?

Yes, a Jacobs ladder, but also a Marx generator... (4, Insightful)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268098)

Note: this is assuming that you want to have some fun in your lab also...
Jacobs ladders are fun (make sure you demonstrate the danger by putting something non-conductive in the path of the rising spark ... and have water standing by to put out the fire), but Marx generators are the better way to learn about high voltages. You can make a "small one" with parts from your local electronics hobbiest store
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx_generator [wikipedia.org] and http://www.electricstuff.co.uk/marxgen.htm [electricstuff.co.uk]
You can also learn about the problems with scaling... once you get the small one working with 100,000 volts, you WILL get the urge to scale up and try for half a million but you will also learn how off-the-shelf parts can fail when pushed to the limit.
Also, I echo the first poster's comment: get some good safety glasses
when fooling around with high voltages, things explode.

Does anyone know where to get good quality ANALOG meters anymore? Everyone seems to have gone digital and I don't like 'em.

Re:Yes, a Jacobs ladder, but also a Marx generator (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268468)

Simpson VOMs are available on ebay, and they are still being manufactured.

Re:Yes, a Jacobs ladder, but also a Marx generator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17268586)

> ... and have water standing by to put out the fire

High voltage + Water..... mmmm.... fried thomasdz

Re:Yes, a Jacobs ladder, but also a Marx generator (1)

edschurr (999028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271608)

Well if that were a real concern one could use distilled water which supposedly won't complete a circuit.

typical teaching lab (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17268100)

Basically imagine your school science lab (you did have a science lab at school right?)

I'd start with lots of electrical outlets, some at bench level, some at floor level - you don't want trailing cables everywhere.
Then some good benches, something solid without plastic or metal, like a good oak surface. It won't collect static electricity
and unless you're doing work with serious pathogens wood is actualy a good surface to stay safe from bacteria if you look after it.
A fume cupboard - essential for chemistry, but even for destructive electrical tests that may release toxic vapour. And since you
will want cooling water a couple of taps and sinks at each end of the benches is probably important.

HV Electrical

Power supplies. A high current variac transformer, and for high voltages a cockroft-walton tappable multiplier or tesla for very
high voltages. Some very high voltage capacitors or Leyden jars for storing to do discharge tests, and a foil electrometer - because
a normal meter cannot measure such very high voltages. Lots of cable - and you need many types including super flexible braided cores
and probably some high current cable too. A neon field indicator or audiable field warning device (always approach *anything* in the lab holding this out in front of you, rubber gloves etc.

LV Electrical
At least two good bench multimeters, the old red LED digital kind are good to see from a distance. Lots of clips and test probes. A decent breadboarding system. An oscilloscope, dual beam with freeze. Clock source/oscillator or signal gens to cover the ranges you need
0.001Hz - 1GHz probably. If you're doing digital then a logic analyser and PC set up entirely as a high speed bus analysis tool.
An audio amplifier and loudspeaker. Wheatstone bridge and very flexible small voltage preamplifier with high and low impedence.

chemistry
Lots of glassware if you are doing chemistry obviously, plenty of round and conical flasks, some condensers, plenty of
bungs and rubber tubing of various sizes, quick-fit adaptors, test tubes,a very good balance preferably in its own cupboard
for weighing out reagents, a vacuum pump. An optical wavelength spectrometer would be nice but I'm guessing you can't afford
anything fancy like a mass spectrometer. Thermometers and process control thermocouples, a good electrical heater rather than
the old bunsen burners, an agitator (magnetic types are best), a very good freezer for ice, a basic collection of gas cylinders
including hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and two inert ones, one heavy one light neon, helium. Retort stands, clamps, clips and
things to arrange and secure your test rigs.

biology
An autoclave and UV or microwave sterilisation unit, petri dishes, decent microscopes and a good collection of stains.
A chromatography tank, and perhaps a good disecting unit with pinboard, scalples, lancet etc.

safety
goggles, a decent lab coat, that means one flash tested to very high fireproof standards not a nylon fashion accesory, or
consider getting specialised protective clothing suitable for the hazards you face. A gas detector at floor level is a good idea
at least one to pick up alkanes, monoxide and common heavy gas hazards. Your electrical system should be multi fused with earth leakage
circuit breakers.

Im bored now .. we could go on all day. A real lab depends on the precise task at hand and unless you are teaching it's unlikely
you need such flexibility.

And if you're building this America? I hope you realise Science is now illegal.

Re:typical teaching lab (4, Insightful)

nightfire-unique (253895) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268738)

On a tangent.. it's funny how lawyers have become the new priests against progress.

Some of the things you could NEVER realistically build and test legally, as a home scientist, in the united states (and to be fair, many other places):

- The wright brothers' first plane
- A (small scale) fission reactor
- An experimental, home-built car
- A high powered rocket
- A radar
- A high powered laser
- A medical test lab

I'm not saying it's good or bad... I'm just saying. We used to fear studying science because the religious guys would come burn us, or throw us down a well. Now we risk getting shot, imprisoned, sued, etc., by the state (not just by individuals who were harmed in the process).

It sometimes saddens me to think how many Edisons, Einsteins, Teslas, or DiVincis have passed us by in the last 50 years, because, as you say, working on science is often illegal.

Re:typical teaching lab (1)

Deoxyribose (997674) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270898)

Uhm, people build and test their own cars all the time. Look up "kit cars", or even search around and find some homebuilt (unique, not from a kit) projects. Some even get them road registered. I don't understand what makes building your own car illegal or open to litigation (unless of course it careens out of control and knocks a house down, but that's your own fault). The Wright brothers replica seems to be the same thing, although you might have trouble getting it licensed (or whatever, don't know the exact term for it), I wouldn't think it would be a problem if you built and tested it on your own, somewhere away from other people or property. The other examples, I don't know enough about each.

Re:typical teaching lab (1)

kenb215 (984963) | more than 7 years ago | (#17275126)

- A (small scale) fission reactor
One of these was built last month (see the article [slashdot.org]), though with fusion instead of fission.

The really weird thing about that is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17307708)

... that the people decrying this "loss of freedom" are, politically, the ones who are most often taking it away.

Think about it; you always hear the right wing whining and puling (and repeating urban legends, mostly) about product safety laws and environmental regulations taking away the little guy's right to invent, but it's the right wing politicos who are actually doing it.

My wife's lab had been doing basic science for 20 years without a peep from the government, but now a day doesn't pass without some bullshit "war on terror" facism shutting down a project.

Try shipping 100 test tubes of water samples by air these days. GOOD LUCK.

Re:typical teaching lab (1)

Myself (57572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268860)

At least two good bench multimeters, the old red LED digital kind are good to see from a distance.
Clocks, too. A stable timebase with 1pps and 10MHz outputs is handy in a lot of situations. Get one that's GPS-disciplined if budget allows. It's a shame these weird ones [ebay.com] were a limited-quantity deal, because the IRIG-B output would let you drive your human-readable clocks from the same sync source. Other such units are available but not at such a nice price. Telecom-style clocks with redundant oscillators and failover are probably overkill, but if you find a surplus unit you might get lucky.

Re:typical teaching lab (1)

privatepepper (717860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270766)

Don't forget a gel electrophoresis apparatus/dyes/agar stuff and some UV lights/UV camera. It's essential, because there's no word more fun to say than "electrophoresis." Just say it. Electrophoresis. Electrophoresis. Electrophoresis.. (There's also no word that's more of a pain to type over and over again, I've discovered.)

Re:typical teaching lab (1)

Sam Nitzberg (242911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271724)

This might be kind of on the "obvious" side, but for the Computer-side of things, I'd recommend:

One or more computers for data acqusition...

Also, make sure you have a good quality backup, or a bootable spare hard drive.
Should the computer fail or something break, you've got a better chance of getting up-and-running quickly, without losing time on your projects.

If you've got any vital data acquisition or oscilliscope systems or cards, I'd make sure you did not rely on one of any item. Try to have at least two systems, or spare parts/cards on hand.

Re:typical teaching lab (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#17301120)

For low voltage one of the hardest things to do is to provide adequate shielding. The sensors in my lab go nuts from all the interference. We had to build a copper mesh Faraday cage to measure extremely low voltages.

Bench Power Supply (1)

sa1lnr (669048) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268116)

A good quality bench power supply is essential. For testing stuff "out of the box"

Lasers. (3, Funny)

benzzene (755902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268120)

  • Lasers are useful for chemistry and physics.
  • Some of the new diode lasers aren't too expensive.
  • Just saying "Quantum cascade laser" makes you sound cool.
  • With enough research you'll be able to build a doomsday laser.
  • ...
  • Chicks dig lasers.

Re:Lasers. (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268956)

Don't forget the the ill-tempered sea bass to go with those.... :)

Frickin' Sharks. Also Halted in Silicon Valley (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271166)

Ok, so frickin' sharks are extinct, and you can't get frickin' sharks with frickin' lasers. But now that we've done that, ...


Here in Silicon Valley, the place to go for lasers is HSC, Halted {Supply?Systems?} company in Sunnyvale. Their online catalog doesn't have much laser stuff, but the store generally has a lot of random high-powered laser parts as well as lots of other obsolete, surplus, and generally classic electronics and tools, and in general, if you're going to build a LaBoraTory for anything electrical or electronic, you've got to visit there.

Chemistry (3, Informative)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268132)

A fume hood. Trust me.

If you're paranoid, you might also want a small closable metal closet to keep chemicals in, maybe fireproof.

Of course, in these days of rampant terrorism, any interest in chemistry will get you flagged on a watchlist, so you might just do without

Re:Chemistry, Pre-9/11 (1)

antispam_ben (591349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17281936)

Of course, in these days of rampant terrorism, any interest in chemistry will get you flagged on a watchlist, so you might just do without

That has been going on for MANY years due to the War On Drugs. Just ordering chemical glassware can get you on a drug-making suspect list.

OTOH, the book "Building Scientific Apparatus" has a chapter on blowing your own glass, as well as much other useful info.

You'll shoot your eye out! (1, Insightful)

Temkin (112574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268332)



I'm currently getting a Fluke 43b meter to be the primary testing equipment and will be wiring the entire lab to every possible variation of AC and DC voltage.



A knowlegeable person in the field would likely not have said this. This sentance implies to me that you're not old enough and mature enough to work with dangerous voltage & currents. Knowlege in electronics is a noble persuit. Be aware that it can be lethal.

Re:You'll shoot your eye out! (1)

Loco Moped (996883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268678)

This sentance implies to me that you're not old enough and mature enough to work with dangerous voltage & currents.

It implies nothing of the kind. Perhaps your own need to be a nanny it what's at work here.

Re:You'll shoot your eye out! (1)

Temkin (112574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270192)



If you say so... The OP said "will be wiring the entire lab to every possible variation of AC and DC voltage". I'm pretty sure as tough as a Fluke 43b is, it will not handle common 250Kv 60hz A/C. That part of the sentance made it look like it was written by a kid that needs a nanny, or at least a ham "elmer".

Re:You'll shoot your eye out! (1)

Swimport (1034164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17271436)

I'm currently getting a Fluke 43b meter to be the primary testing equipment and will be wiring the entire lab to every possible variation of AC and DC voltage.

A knowlegeable person in the field would likely not have said this. This sentance implies to me that you're not old enough and mature enough to work with dangerous voltage & currents. Knowlege in electronics is a noble persuit. Be aware that it can be lethal.


Yes everyone knows the pros use the Fluke 211g. Makes the 43b look like a toaster.

Not flamebait, mod back up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17274156)

"Every possible variation of AC and DC voltage" isn't even close to a competent statement of requirements. Hint: start with books, rather than specific items of test equipment.

The usual axiom is that an hour in the library is worth a day in the lab. That's a debatable tradeoff, because the lab is usually much more fun. However, if your knowledge and experience base is such that an hour in the library is worth a month in the lab and a week in the hospital... you'd probably better go the library route.

Various things.... (1)

drakyri (727902) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268342)

A few things:

-if you're working with microelectonics, definitely a static strap of some sort - you can get a wrist strap that'll hook to your bench, or a heel strap that wraps around your foot.

-at least two multimeters, you're gonna need more than one.

-an oscilloscope

-a water-tight cabinet with some sort of dehumidifier - good for sensitive electronics, water-sensitive chemicals, and some biological material.

-a refrigerator. Good for lunch and bacterial cultures.

-possibly a centrifuge?

Re:Various things.... (2, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268992)

a refrigerator. Good for lunch and bacterial cultures.

Ummmm, no. Get 2 fridges, one with a lock for the lab for chemicals and/or cultures.

Keep the fridge for the food in a seperate area. Don't mix them up. You don't want to poison yourself, do you?

Re:Various things.... (1)

Country_hacker (639557) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269872)

:-) Remember that Far Side comic? "What the?.. This is lemonade! Where's my culture of amoebic dysentery?"

I still maintain that Gary Larson was the best comic strip author ever.

The lab wish list... (4, Interesting)

Myself (57572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268402)

You can't go wrong with a Bitscope [bitscope.com], USBee [usbee.com], or DigiView [tech-tools.com], three computer-based logic analyzers with various extra features.

Consider using genderless Anderson PowerPole [powerwerx.com] connectors in lieu of, or in addition to, banana plugs on your test leads. It's nice to be able to just mix and match 'gator clips, micrograbbers, screw terminals, and what-have-you into custom test leads. You can do this with stacking banana plugs too, but they leave the male plug exposed when you're done. You could cover it with a plastic "screw protector" cover, but PowerPoles are cooler. Powerwerx also sells the "floppy noodle" rubber-insulated test lead wire, if you're like me and prefer to just build your own.

Run a big tinned-copper-braid ground strap across the back of the bench. Get the kind with grommets in it so you have easy attachment points for anything, plus the fine braid means it performs better than a busbar at high frequencies.

I've collected a pile of fun links in http://del.icio.us/myself248/electronics [del.icio.us], which might also give you some project ideas. Read the Toolmonger [toolmonger.com] archives if you're bored, and post some of your favorite finds using the "submit a tool" form.

As for test gear, you'll always find a reason to have a PC on the bench, and not just so you can run your bitscope. Hell, you'll probably want to play some tunes in the lab, so include some speakers in the plan. Anyway, look at swing-arm monitor mounts, most of which are modifiable to hold a whole laptop. Getting it up off the bench will save a lot of space and discourage clutter. Get an older machine, or a Toughbook, since you'll want a real hardware parallel port for some projects.

If you do RF work, get a Unidapt [rfparts.com] kit. Mix and match connectors between BNC, N, SMA, TNC, UHF, and so on. They now offer "wifi" connectors like RP-TNC, MMCX, RP-SMA, etc. Thus proving that the FCC's "nonstandard connector" mandate doesn't really stop anyone, it just forces a proliferation of unnecessary "standards". Bastards.

Whatever you're doing, you'll find a use for a Panavise [panavise.com]. You'll want several heads, I'd suggest starting with the standard 303 head and the extra-wide 376. Get two bases instead of swapping heads into one base, it'll give you more versatility.

I can't believe I survived so long on five-dollar pencil soldering irons. I recently picked up a refurbished Edsyn soldering station from EAE Sales [eaesales.com] and the difference just blew me away. Not only does it work more easily, which I expected, but it warms up in no time flat, since it has a big honkin' heating element that it normally runs at a very low duty cycle. If I'm heating something large, it simply runs more, which means this little featherweight iron is actually capable of much bigger jobs than the clunky Radio Shack unit it replaced. I've relegated the cheapies to toolbox duty, and the Edsyn perches proudly in the center of my workspace.

Speaking of soldering, consider ventilation. Another poster mentioned a fume hood, and that's a fine idea. Look into a flexible-arm fume extractor [labsafety.com] too. Actually, just get the whole catalog from Lab Safety Supply and order one of everything. :)

Ergonomics are important if you're spending a lot of time in the lab. Look at rubber floor mats, with whatever level of chemical resistance you feel is appropriate. Jigsaw-style interlockable sections make it easy to replace worn or damaged pieces, though they can allow spills to reach the base layer. Consider sound absorbing walls too, if you'll have blowers or other noise-generating equipment running a lot of the time. Your bench-backer pegboard will probably be supported on two-inch batting strips anyway, so glue some acoustic foam to the wall between them. You can get a surprising amount of sound attenuation with no visual impact that way. Consider having your favorite posters woven into tapestries, for acoustically useful wall-hangings. (And who wouldn't want a giant fuzzy periodic table, anyway?)

Eating and drinking in the lab might be a bad idea depending on what kind of work you're doing, so make sure there's a lounge conveniently located so it's not a burden to walk back and forth. If going to the lounge is a hassle, it'll encourage people to bring snacks into the lab. Consider an intercom or video link between the two rooms. Put the lab-side camera on a swing arm so you can point it at whatever needs remote monitoring.

Well I never! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17268406)

I can only guess that you left out physics by accident. Well, I'll cover the bases for you there - if you want to have a great physics lab you can get yourself a particle accelerator and maybe a tokamak reactor.

The Basics (1)

swamp boy (151038) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268408)

A monacle, white lab coat, and a faux German accent.

Re:The Basics (1)

Loco Moped (996883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268692)

A monacle, white lab coat, and a faux German accent.
Don't forget the faithful assistant named Igor.
Although personally, I'd prefer one named Inga (with the lumps on the front, thank you)

Re:The Basics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17269326)

A monacle, white lab coat, and a faux German accent.

White? [teachersource.com]

Surplus (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17268446)

I have had good luck with the local university. They auction off the old equipment. I didn't get the electron microscope, but I did get a hood, laser, and even the cabinets and glassware. Most the stuff goes fairly cheap, I've never bid over $100. It's not just chemistry and biology. They have lots of computers and electronics by the pallet, but you'll need a large basement:) Good luck.

Equipment (1)

sporkme (983186) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268502)

A Cadex C7000 battery analyzer [cadex.com]
An SB-5 Carbon Pile load tester [ebay.com]
An infrared thermometer [sears.com]
A spot welder
UV and infrared lighting equipment, maybe a couple of booths and a couple of handhelds

Re:Equipment (1)

Myself (57572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17272136)

Ooh, good call on the Cadex! I'm cheap, so I'm settling for the LaCrosse BC-900 [thomas-distributing.com] battery analyzer, which has completely changed the way I think about my batteries. Using rechargeables without one of these is like driving without a gas gauge or speedometer.

I dropped my dad's Raytek IR thermometer a year back, and replaced it with a Tempgun PE-2 [tempgun.com] for half the price. I picked up a PE-1 for myself at the same time, and it's addictive. Being non-contact, I use it in the kitchen all the time, but the more important aspect is that it reads instantly. Hard drive warm? Point and know. CPU heatsink temperature difference between center and edge? Point, point, and know. I'm much too impatient for contact-based thermometers, and the IR thing is a boon.

You can build an adjustable DC load testing bank [kbt-dc-supplies.com] with any random set of giant transistors. Sometimes you'll find driver boards in surplus outfits that're just begging to be modded thusly.

One more thing no lab should be without is a good camera, or two or three. I carry a 5MP Canon for everyday shooting, but there's an old USB Vicam (aka 3Com HomeConnect Camera, aka Digi IONetworks Watchport/V) on the bench that comes in surprisingly handy. It was five bucks at a fleamarket so I don't hesitate to do things like record arcs and sparks with it, and it'll focus right down to its nose if you spin the lens really far out. Comes in handy for silly electronics closeups [flickr.com] that're sort of difficult to see with the unaided eye. I should have a microscope for these things, but the camera's small and versatile.

too wide a scope, buy what you need now only (1)

nietsch (112711) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268644)

You cannot have a basic lab equipped for everything that you can imagine. You would not have the room for that, and even if money is no problem, it would be the most stupid investment you ever made if you have no plans to use it now. It would be much more enlighting if you told us who and why.
Just buy the stuff you need for now, and buy the other stuff when you actually have a need for it. what they all share is things like a good bench, high stools to sit on, lots of shelves to store your chemicals and gear on, and some good fluorescent lights.
For a biology lab: a bunsen-bruner, a fridge, a broodstove, an autoclave, a microwave, a variable powersupply, a centrifuge suitable for your size of testtubes, lots of glassware, beakers erlenmeyers, IVbottles and a lifetime supply of plastic petridishes and testtubes (epp or similar).

And if you want to do fusion for the physics part: have look at fusor.net (HV supply, vacuum pump, neutron counter, metal workshop)

Gels! (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17268806)

The biology part of the lab definitely needs equipment to run gel electrophoresis. Um...ok, so I can't think of anything witty to say, but everybody loves running gels! Besides, how else are you going to be able to do cheap and easy DNA analysis?

Do not forget... (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269578)

  • a fire extinguisher (a model approved for use over mains-connected equipments)
  • a first-aid kit
  • a big wall-mounted red button for turning mains voltage off
Other suggestions can be found here [repairfaq.org].

Test for what? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17269940)

"test equipment for electronic systems from low voltage DC to super high voltage AC."

Test for what? Normal operation? Electric shock hazards? RF emission? Noise sensitivity? The requirements for each are totally different.

"Super High Voltage" in the power transmission industry means upwards of 300,000 volts. That's for long-haul power lines. Three Gorges Dam power is going out at 750,000 volts. Do you really need those voltage levels? You don't work with voltages like that on a lab bench.

Simple (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17270630)

42" flat screen HDTV, your console(s) of choice, and a subscription to the spice channel....for all those long nights in the lab :P

scope, analyzer, synthesizer (1)

dr_leviathan (653441) | more than 7 years ago | (#17272516)

For a good instrumentation electronics lab you need: an oscilloscope, a spectrum analyzer, and a wave generator. Fortunately, these can be found for really cheap via www.govliquidation.com. You'll probably pay more for pickup and shipping than the equipment itself, unless you are close enough to pick them up yourself.

Useful and Compact Reference Book (1)

ChrisLynx (102341) | more than 7 years ago | (#17276128)

May I suggest 'Pocket Ref' by Thomas J Glover. It's one of the most compact and useful reference books out there. It will fit on any shelf, bench, in a drawer, or literally in your pocket. But it contains useful charts, conversions, and other general information about more topics than I can list here.

http://www.amazon.com/Pocket-Ref-Thomas-J-Glover/d p/1885071337/ [amazon.com]
Or go down to your local hardware store, most of them stock it too.

Some advice from a physicist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17278118)

For electronics, you can't beat the NI Elvis system. It's basically a breadboard with built-in power supplies, scope inputs, function generators, etc. It interfaces with your computer to give you a scope, multimeter, and a ton of other tools.

One experiment you might like to try (it's pretty easy) is determining Boltzmann's constant. You can do it with an extremely simple circuit and a light bulb.

Start off simple though. From your question, it doesn't look like you have that much experience. You will kill yourself if you try hooking up stuff like 10kV power supplies. For any serious work, you'll end up needing equipment that requires 3-phase plugs. You'll most likely have to attach the plugs to the cables yourself. I would get an electrician to do the wiring for you, otherwise you'll burn down your house, destroy your equipment, and kill yourself when you hook something up wrong and send 70 amps through your equipment and through yourself.

Someone forgot to mention ramen noodles.. (1)

Halvy (748070) | more than 7 years ago | (#17292006)

And good insurance.


Oh yea.. and good advice.. not like the clods who keep reminding us that we better 'listen' to our government and be afraid to work.

The 'lone wolf' mentality goes a long way in this world.. especially with mad scientists =:]

-- Firmley entrenched at the very bottom of 'Terrible Karma'.. now I can finally speak my mind..

Electronics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17320402)

I don't know too much about chemistry or biology, electronics is where I live. For that I woould suggest the following:

Fluke 187 or 189 multimeter - they are the best - don't settle for less, you'll regret it later

Oscilloscope - preferably digital, 4 channel color screen is best (like a Tektronix 2014), although 2 channels B&W is better than nothing. Do yourself a favour and get one with the highest bandwidth you can afford, it always pays off. 100MHz is a reasonable compromise though.

Signal Generator - Analog ones are OK, digitals are more versatile but more expensive. At minimum it should be albe to do sine and square waves, from 10Hz to 1MHz

Isolating Transformer - Can't stress enough how much this will save your ass. Sized appropriately for what you're working on, but 2kVA is a good size for general use.

Variac - sized appropriately as for the Iso TX. 1kVA is usually enough. USed for soft-starting things when you're not sure, and for general power supply at moderate voltages.

Bench supply - 0-30V, 3A, 2 channels. Shoudl cover most SELV stuff.

Soldering iron - base-station type with a non-magnetic tip. Hakko make some nice ones at the moment, so do Pace and Metcal. Also, several thicknesses of solder (really thin for SMT, thicker for through-hole) and a selection of tips for the iron.

Heat-Gun - for heat shrink, and drying things, and doing solder paste the crude way.

Hand Tools - Screw drivers, nut drivers, hacksaw, drills, that sort of thing. You'll need them.

Paper with squares on it and pencils - schematics are drawn on graph paper, end of story.

I'm sure there's more but that should at least kick you off.
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