Setting up a little electronics workbench

Since I graduated from college with CS degree with a minor in EE, I haven’t done much in the way of using that EE minor. It’s been all software, albeit software fairly close to the hardware, but still software.

I was thinking back to some of the lab courses I took, and I got it into my head that maybe I should put together a little electronics work bench and mess around making some stuff.

I ended up picking up a working Tektronix 465b oscilloscope off ebay for 80 bucks.


Then I followed some advice I googled up here from somebody called mpayson who recommended buying a bunch of stuff from futurlec. So I bought a bunch of stuff from them:

If you google up futurlec on the internet, you’ll see they are in Thailand, and they’re really inexpensive, but they also have a deserved reputation for slow shipping. My order took almost a month to get here, so don’t order from them if you need it tomorrow. If you don’t need it tomorrow, I had no trouble with them at all, and everything went smoothly. It just takes awhile, expect that going in, and you probably won’t be disappointed.


I bought a bunch of variety packs of resistors, capacitors, diodes, LEDs, linear ICs, IC sockets, and transistors. I also got some solder, some proto boards, and a couple of breadboards, some 100k, 10k, 5k and 1k pots, some knobs, some toggle switches, and some battery holders.

Here are some pics of the variety packs:


Transistor pack


Resistor pack (not shown, there’s another one like it, but 1/2 watt vs. 1/4 watt.)





Various capacitor packs


LED pack


IC socket pack (they are jammed into pieces of foam, some have sockets on both sides of the foam so there are actually more there than it looks like.)


Linear IC pack. This one is probably the most interesting of the variety packs. I haven’t really looked to see what they gave me, though I did see at least one 555 timer chip, and I think a 556 dual timer chip, and what look to be some pretty hefty transistors. Edit: On googling a bit, and looking at some data sheets, the “hefty transistors” were actually negative voltage regulators — they gave me lots of 5, 12, and 15 volt voltage regulators, and a few positive v. regulators. Also, some timers, as noted before, and some voltage comparators, and a bunch of op-amps.

One think Futurlec doesn’t seem to have is a variety pack of TTL gates. That’s ok though because a) I still have a bunch left over from college, and b) they typically require a 5V power supply which is hard to get from batteries (though there may be some CMOS versions of TTL stuff that can work at different voltages, I don’t know, but then it’s probably not really “TTL”.)


TTL ICs from my college days.

Also, I got a digital multimeter:


And a soldering iron. So, I’m all set to build, umm, blinky light thingies, or maybe a weird sound generator..

Since some one asked, here are the order details:

Qty    ItemNumber  Unit Price  Total Price
1         RES14WPACK    1/4W Resistor Value Pack                2.45          2.45
1         RES12WPACK    1/2W Resistor Value Pack                4.95          4.95
1         CERPACK       Ceramic Capacitor Pack                  2.95          2.95
1         ELEPACK       Electrolytic Capacitor Value Pack       3.95          3.95
1         MYLARPACK     Mylar Capacitor Pack                    3.95          3.95
1         MULTIPACK     Multilayer Ceramic Capacitor Pack       3.95          3.95
1         LEDPACK       Led Value Pack                          4.95          4.95
1         TRAPACK       Transistor Value Pack                   4.95          4.95
1         LINEARPACK    Linear IC Value Pack                    5.95          5.95
1         DIOPACK       Diode Value Pack                        2.95          2.95
1         ICSPACK       IC Socket Value Pack                    5.95          5.95
5         PROTO777      Prototyping Board - 777                 1.50          7.5
3         PRBRDLG       Prototyping Board - Large               2.95          8.85
4         POT1K         1K Linear Taper Pot                     0.55          2.2
4         POT5K         5K Linear Taper Pot                     0.55          2.2
4         POT10K        10K Linear Taper Pot                    0.55          2.2
4         POT100K       100K Linear Taper Pot                   0.55          2.2
16        KNOB4         Black Aluminium with Pointer - Small    0.90          14.4
10        SPST10ST      SPST on-off Standard Toggle Switch      1.15          11.5
4         CD4017        CD4017 - Decade Counter/Divider         0.30          1.2
3         CD40106       CD40106 - Hex Inverter Schmitt Trigger  0.35          1.05
30        LED5W         White 5mm Round LED                     0.68          20.4
1         JUMPERKIT     Breadboard Jumper Kit                   4.90          4.9
2         BREADBRD      Breadboard                              5.90          11.8
3         2XAAHOLDERB   2 x AA Battery Holder                   0.30          0.9
2         4XAAHOLDERB   4 x AA Battery Holder                   0.50          1
2         6XAAHOLDER    6 x AA Battery Holder                   0.55          1.1
1         4XDHOLDER     4 x D Battery Holder                    1.10          1.1
10        9VBATTCLIP    9V Battery Clip                         0.10          1
1         SOLDERPEN     Solder Pen                              0.95          0.95
Sub-Total                             143.40
Postage                               14.00
Total                                 157.40

(Actually there was an additional $31.00 to ship via FedEX, 
so the total came to 188.40.)

~ by scaryreasoner on July 9, 2009.

4 Responses to “Setting up a little electronics workbench”

  1. Sweet. I also majored in CS, and while I didn’t minor in EE, I wanted to. đŸ™‚ If you don’t mind my asking, how much did all those misc. parts run you?

  2. iirc, I think it came to around $200 including shipping, so not exactly cheap (though cheaper than from digikey or jameco, I’m pretty sure.) I think the most expensive things were the bread boards and proto-boards, and I got like I don’t recall how many protoboards, 3 of the small ones and 5 of the big ones, or something. It’s been awhile since I placed the order, so I don’t remember the specifics, though I have it written down somewhere. (Oh, wait, it’s in my email… I’ll update the post.)

    Oh yeah, they contacted me just before shipping my order and said it was ‘too heavy” to ship by regular post, so wanted an extra $30 or so to ship FedEx (that’s included in the $200). I suppose some people might say that was not “no trouble at all” from futurlec. But, based on what I’d seen on the internet about them, this wasn’t really a surprise to me, so it didn’t bother me.

  3. Great post… I’m another EE who went into software and many years later have money and time to do some circuit hacking for fun. I ended up getting a resistor value pack from tube depot which has all the sizes in nice printed-labelled ziploc bags, which just seems easier to store and access. As I get deeper into hardware hacking I realize that the downside is sorting and finding parts… you’ve gotta have some kind of storage system otherwise you end up rifling through everything for each part on each project, no fun.

  4. great thanx 4 sharin’

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