When we all began working from home due to COVID, I found myself working on my own personal projects less and less. I decided to start a small electronics lab at home where I could work at my own pace and have everything available whenever I needed it.
The biggest thing I needed to consider was "How much money am I willing to invest into this?"
I had two choices:
1. Slowly acquire the professional equipment I am used to using (which can cost thousands of dollars) one by one over time.
2. Obtain budget friendly versions of all of the equipment needed for a basic lab and upgrade as needed over time.
My workbench is where I am able to destress and have fun. My professional work is not done here so I decided to go for the budget friendly option! Here are some budget friendly options for getting started with your own lab.
Keep in mind that it is extremely important to read all of the reviews carefully. Low price points sometimes also mean lower quality items so it's important to understand the potential problems which may arise and determine whether they are worth spending a bit more or not.
My goal was to obtain budget versions of equipment that can work as placeholders while I upgrade over time to more professional items. If your goal is to obtain items that you hope will last a very long time it is important to do extensive research and read/ watch reviews.
This is the same workbench I have at home! I absolutely love it and it's of great quality for the price. It is sturdy, and the light works great.
Note: It does not come with the hooks to hang tools on the peg board.
As someone used to using Tektronix scopes, the oscilloscope worried me the most. However, I've been pleasantly surprised by this one. It's pretty stable and calibration was simple. For the price, if you are okay with a 100 MHz bandwidth, it's more than decent!
The Siglent scope is the one I originally wanted. It offers a 150MHz bandwidth (despite advertising 100MhZ) and is of slightly higher quality. At the time, delivery was much quicker for the Hantek scope and I needed it delivered quickly for a project so I decided to bite the bullet. However, I'm very satisfied with the Hantek scope so if you are prioritizing your budget, you will not go wrong with either one of these affordable options.
I have not yet used these extensively enough to offer advice on which is best, but both had great reviews and a great price point. I have not encountered any issues so far.
The power supply is what I expected to be my first upgrade, for that reason I decided not to spend too much money for it. I primarily use this power supply for quick breadboard testing when specific voltages are required. This supply is actually relatively accurate although it is somewhat noisy.
Check out the following review:
I used the NI myDAQ during college when I didn't have access to any of the equipment I needed for electronics testing. It is used by several universities which makes finding cheaper (used) versions somewhat easy. During college I purchased mine for $175 from another student.
This heat gun is super affordable and so far I haven't had any problems. I'll continue to feel it out before I decide when or whether to upgrade.
I was unable to find the same model I own, but this model of helping hands is very similar. I don't solder without it and the illumination is very useful.
There exist so many irons for any price point. I've seen kits start at $16! I am currently in the process of upgrading my soldering iron unit so I will update this page with my new model as soon as I decide. In the meantime, take a look at the link above for some affordable options!
Check out my workbench tour to take a look at my set-up!
If you know of similar equipment not on this list (at a similar price point) that you enjoy using please let me know so I can add it for others to check out as well!