Archaeological Dig in the Garage Unearths Ancient Electronic Test Equipment

I started this blog entry way back in June 2019, but, I could not find the power supply, function generator, and soldering iron, so I gave up the dig.

At home during the COVID-19 pandemic, I went back to digging in the garage and surprise! I found the missing pieces of this blog. 🙂

Here is a full pic with Blaze my faithful companion….

If you are planning to further your education in STEM / STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) or at least Science, Technology, and Engineering….you will most probably find yourself working with one or more of these pieces of equipment, albeit newer versions. 🙂

Tektronix Scope

Tektronix 4 Channel Oscilloscope

Not even sure if Tektronix is still around (oh, look, Tektronix lives!) , but, what I had on my bench was this 4 channel beauty that helped me troubleshoot signals all the way through the circuit to find where the problem lies. Here is the Tektronix oscilloscope web page. It’s a new world. 🙂

Tektronix Logic Analyzer

Tektronix Logic Analyzer

I majored in Digital Design for my Bachelors Degree at the SUNY at Stony Brook.

Remote Access Panel

I worked at my first few jobs doing digital designs (Pseudo Synthetic Video for Grumman Aerospace, Remote Access Panel for Lawrence Livermore National Lab) and the logic analyzer was essential tracing digital signals to see how they are propagating thru the circuit and, most importantly, the timing of those signals. It looks like the new oscilloscopes, see link above, are also what I call logic analyzers…..cool. 🙂

Function Generator and Power Supply

Function Generator (top) , Power Supply (bottom)

When you are testing your design, the ability to inject a signal into the circuit is essential. You can then use the scope and / or logic analyzer to trace the resulting signals. Cool stuff. 🙂 Here is the Tektronix Function Generator web page.

The power supply is essential to power your design. Ideally, you want a nice clean power source. Here is the Tektronix Power Supply web page.

Multimeter

I forgot this for the group photo, because I still use it ALL the time to measure voltage, current, and resistance (is this battery still good?, why does the light not work anymore?). So, I suppose this is the single most valuable tool you can add to your design bench or tool belt. 🙂 Here is the Tektronix Multimeter web page for your work bench. Here is a web page for a portable multimeter (Fluke) like I have.

Breadboarding Your Designs

When you are ready to put your design to the test it would be best to breadboard it. With breadboarding you can find out all the problems you have with your design (and you will have problems!), make the design changes easily, then test again…..repeat until the design is solid.

In 2020, I suspect a program will provide a lot of information that, in the old days, required a physical test….but, eventually you will need to put your design in physical form. Here is my old way. 🙂

Heathkit

For my concept designs, I like using a breadboard that lets me to just plug-in the components and connect wires by also just plugging them in. My Dad bought me a Heathkit breadboard for my work bench a zillion years ago, I think Heathkit is now gone (Looks like Heathkit is baaacck. :-). But….this thing still works, and up until a few years ago, I still used it! I guess if I had an idea for a design, I could still use it. I may just give it a whirl…

Heathkit Breadboard with power

The nice thing is it has power….cool. 🙂

Wire-wrap breadboard and Spare Components

Top right is the wire wrap breadboard

To test the next phases of my design I wire wrap it to more closely start to approach a real-world implementation. Timing issues are important and the more step you can take testing it, the better.

The resistors, capacitors, chips, etc are my spare components used in the design. I have drawers to make the rest of these components orderly, but left them in the garage for this picture. I sure do miss Radio Shack. 😦

Conclusion

The world is changing and I suspect this information is old, but, hey, the basics of designing and testing your digital designs are still there and will never change. HOW they are tested may change as you embark on your STEM / STEAM career.

STEM / STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) ROCK!!!!

Geek On!


More cool technology….

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