Using Benchtop Equipment in ELab?

Hi, I’m new to the space and was curious about the policies surrounding benchtop equipment in the Elab.

I’ve been messing around with generating some PWM signals with my MCU to drive some servos and could use an O-scope to look at some of the timing. I also have in interest in EE projects in general, so I’d love to be able to use the stuff in the lab from time to time.

I snooped around the wiki a bit, but couldn’t figure out the requirements on using the power supplies, signal generators, and oscilloscopes in the lab. Do I need to take a class or anything before I’m allowed into the lab to use that stuff or can I come into the Elab and use it anytime (as long as someone isn’t using them already)?

Thanks!

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As long as you are fooling with uComps and USB powered electronics, you’re pretty safe if you don’t have any training in Electronics. Youtube videos will probably be enough to guide you.

If you start plugging things into the wall power, or dealing with higher current circuits, you had best have some experience or formal training. I don’t know how many times I have walked in to see someone has left a large battery charging on the bench, with no current limiting resistor or fuse; this is a fire hazard.

Maybe we should schedule an O-scope and Measurements Class…If you can get at least 3 students, I will be happy to teach it.

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Youtube videos are okay. But, I would stay away from using the Spectrum Analyzer until you get some one-on-one training. This piece of equipment looks similar to an O-Scope but operates in a different manner. Also, it has a very sensitive input that that easily be destroyed if not used properly. The input cannot be used with DC voltages, just trying to measure a standard 9 volt battery will destroy the input. The Spectrum Analyzer is one of the most expensive instrument in the E-Lab, please use with caution. Otherwise, enjoy using the vast assortment of test equipment in the E-Lab.

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No plans for higher power stuff or charging big batteries. :slight_smile:

I’ll keep my ear to the ground to see if I can find a couple of people would be interested in a measurements class. I appreciate the offer.

Thanks, @Russell_Crow

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Thanks for the response @richmeyer :smiley:

I’ll stay away from the spectrum analyzer until I get a 1-on-1 with someone.

There’s no “certifications” needed for the gear out on the benches. Power supplies have current limiting and do a good job of protecting themselves. If your projects don’t have voltages over 24 vdc you should be ok with Rigol bench scopes.When using signal/function generators, you need to make sure you’re not feeding voltage/signal back into the generator. There are handheld Fluke meters in the black toolbox - they’re simpler/easier to use than the bench meters.

A list of bench gear with links to manuals can be found here -

https://dallasmakerspace.org/wiki/Tools#Electronics

When in doubt or have questions - just ask!

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I’ve offered to teach an Instrumentation and Measurements class in the past, and I believe Ben had taught a couple at one point. I think it’s something we should be doing, but the volunteering hasn’t been there as much.

@checker18 We tend to run e-lab on the honor system. If you know what you’re doing feel free to use the stuff, if you don’t know what you’re doing google the price tag of what you’re about to try to use and use that to estimate how big of a deal it would be to screw up :wink: If you’re new, stay away from the Spectrum Analyzer, the higher speed o-scopes (100MHz and 200MHz scopes should be plenty for you), but feel free to play with most everything else under $2k. We’re all about learning. If you make a mistake large enough to damage something then you have to notify everyone with a debrief on talk though so we don’t make the same mistake twice!

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It’s been a few years but I enjoyed Walter’s Oscilloscope class/simple project class. An instrumentation and measurements related class would be of interest.

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There’s a slide deck in the Committee folder on using the USB logic analyzers. You’ll want to review that before trying to use them.

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