Electronics Lab Proposal and Vote


First – all parts for Weller iron repair should arrive tomorrow.

I am proposing a vote for $1,459.32 to upgrade our electronics lab. Yes, there is a spreadsheet at the bottom, and yes, Greg will make fun of me for being “over-kill” and “compulsive” at the meeting. However, this is detailed work, so it is needed.

I realize this is a lot of money, especially if you’re used to spending $10 here and there on arduinos, and using a $40 soldering iron.I am estimating on the high-side and anticipate coming in under budget. Still, though, we need to commit to having a functioning electronics lab with comparable tooling to our other facilities. I am including a link and itemized estimate below.

As you may know, most of the equipment we have is donated equipment (mostly Dave, John, and myself, and Dave {lot’s of stuff from dave}). We are really behind in electronics area, and losing ground as things break (most breakage has just been simply due too the age of the equipment).

Proposal includes:

Bench upgrades:

Pro Soldering Iron
Fume extraction / venting
Needed bench equipment
Needed SAFETY equipment

PCB Production:

Photo etching setup (this is what I use)
Setting up shapeoko as a PCB mill (it can do it down to 0604, even 04)

SMD Reflow:

Reflow toaster needs an overhaul

Various stocked parts:

Asst wire 18-24ga
Common parts: buttons, micros, pots, trimmers, R, C, L
Replacement of some expendables
Storage solutions (parts drawers, etc)

More here in itemized spreadsheet:


The hive needs to own electronics tools. If Dave, John, and I reclaimed our stuff, we’d have almost no electronics tools!

We need pro-quality tools. That’s why we’re here, right?

We need to use & teach in this area.

Individually, all these things are cheap, but small stuff adds up. We need a lot. After this, we can keep ahead of expendables and breakage with warden budget for a while.


Good work and plan! It would be great for the pcb milling :slight_smile:

I would love to see the electronics area get upgraded! Thanks for working on the plan. “Asst” means assorted?


I vote yes.

I know I’m a bit new to the group, but I’ve built a similar setup for my home airbrush booth.

  1. You’re probably better off with the metal HVAC piping in a fixed layout because you’re going to get better airflow than through a flexible pipe like you’ve spec’ed. Flexible tubing is much better if the vent hood is going to move around.

  2. Do you know if that inline duct fan is rated to deal with the sorts of corrosive chemicals you’re going to be putting through the vent? Generally the inline duct fans are designed as “boosters” for areas of the house that are under performing, and thus aren’t designed to resist various solvents and other problems. You might need to get a more expensive fan, to get those sorts of resistant materials. If it’s not a big deal, there are cheaper inline duct fans.

I’ve been using this one at home because I frankly don’t care if it corrodes and dies, I’ll just get a new one.

Otherwise sounds like a great plan.

I think we should take an overall look at the laser cutting exhaust setup.
Pulling from both lasers may be too much for the existing fan. I don’t even know the capacity of that fan.
Would we ever run both lasers at the same time?
If not we could just pull from one and perhaps install some kind of switchover system. Maybe some interlock that would only power the laser cutter with the exhaust connected/switched.

Don’t skimp on exhaust systems. If someone accidentally cut some bad stuff, very bad things could happen.
Let’s talk it tonight in the meeting.

I can see if the one company I used to get inline fans from 4 hooking up flexible hose to tailpipes of cars in the winter time so we could keep the bay doors closed are still available. They were a damn good price , also some of the bilge blowers for boats are rated for corrosive and flammable elements however some of them run off of 12 volt DC so we would just have to use a power brick. Of course it all comes down to CFM , reliability and if it’s a ball bearing fan , and we are able to build a good filter box for it to where we can use readily available pleated filters to help keep the fans and system clear of debris as well as run a long time. Any work for help I can provide in possibly heading up or getting a team of people together to tackle some of these issues I would love to be a part of :slight_smile:

Also this is going to a vote tonight comma my vote is a huge yes .

There is one thing I think is blatantly missing, but it’s something that could also easily fit within the warden monthly budget.
You don’t need a metcal station for basic soldering work. It’s nice, but I think there is also a need for at least one if not two more “basic” but decent temp control irons for everyday use. Things like a Xytronic, Aouye, Weller, etc. Basic but usable. We don’t even have that kind of depth.

Also - I think components should come LAST for two reasons:

  1. Storage and organization should precede said components, which isn’t even close yet
  2. Components do not good unless they get used. I think there needs to be a method to the selection process.

More later.

And I vote yes!

Put me down for a yes.

  • Ian B.

A. Hoping I’d make the meeting, but last minute drama is keeping me away… I’ll be around this week and at next meeting.

On that budget, nothing’s final.

Andrew - Fan. Yes, I am aware. I’m not likely to go for that exact stuff – just looking for a representative ballpark. I agree on all points. However, I also put that down as the “easy way”, because, sometimes it comes down to just getting it done, and I’m not a one man army. If I had help, the sky’s the limit. (and yes, I try to avoid flexible ducting. Amazing how inefficient it is).

Answer to corrosion question is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TNAxJXMzU8 – Ferric Chloride and Cupric / Cuprous Chloride etchant is exactly this, dilute acid + an oxidizer. The fan gets fumes away from people, but eats metal fan blades & duct. I use a media filter at intake to hood, so that does 90%. Also a lot of grease will protect. Plastics will last longer. Etching DIY stencils is done with stuff that hates aluminum. The acids are rather dilute, much more dilute than used in that video, it’s the oxidation…


I anticipate adding at least one more Xytronic (and am already working on it in warden $). Also, the Weller is good as new with the parts arriving tomorrow. My goal is to teach newbs, and support basic every day solder slingers too!

I’m standing firm on the Metcal. For the kinds of stuff I’m anticipating in the near future, I don’t want to bring a spoon to a knife fight. There are justifications, and I’m nothing if not pragmatic.

I am already putting together curriculum for an electronics series. Parts will support that. Indeed, the biggest issue is organizational storage, and it’ll take precedent. The parts are mainly so we can have a few breadboards like this:


Cost is insignificant, and if all the switches and buttons are already there, teaching pi, arduino, etc is more possible. I am completely uninterested in running a general store. I just don’t want to teach PIC and Atmel, and not have buttons or trimmers to make it go… Sorta pointless.


Lorin: totally with you on the metcal. I just think we need more than the creme de la creme.
Thanks again for running with this!
p.s. I still have FETs for ultimaker board. I’m unlikely to make it near the hive before next week but if you want them sooner, call me.


Andrew - Fan. Yes, I am aware. I’m not likely to go for that exact stuff – just looking for a representative ballpark. I agree on all points.

Cool, just making sure.

However, I also put that down as the “easy way”, because, sometimes it comes down to just getting it done, and I’m not a one man army. If I had help, the sky’s the limit. (and yes, I try to avoid flexible ducting. Amazing how inefficient it is).

I might be able to help, depending on the time, weekends are better.

BTW, I noticed there’s already a large hole in the side of the building above purgatory which is a huge help, but connecting up to it might take some work since it’s rather large, and once you get outside of ~6" the prices start jumping up. Guessing it’s ~10-12".

I would think that will a little sweet talking we could get someone like Adafruit or Sparkfun to donate a lot of this stuff.


Good call. I’ve had good luck with Jameco in the past. Haven’t hit up adafruit or sparkfun…

I would also wonder if Tektronix, Fluke or NI might be open to help us out.

The Virtualbench from NI looks cool (but expensive)


I want to say that either SparkFun or AdaFruit did promise us a discount on products that were intended for the hive. I’ll have to go back to my email to figure this one out, but, it might be worth pursuing.


They both have programs which offer a discount to hack spaces and similar resellers. There were certain minimum yearly commitments. I think programs which offer a discount to hack spaces and similar resellers. There were certain minimum yearly commitments. I think Adafruit wanted $1,000 in spend per year.

  • Ry

Going over my email:

Sparkfun is 20% off of orders over $50. They will need an updated tax exemption certificate in order for us to be exempt on sales tax.

I can refer whomever is ordering to the person who offered that discount to us originally.


I found myself in a bind lately, namely my soldering iron died and I had a deadline to meet. I had to come down and use the hive’s gear, which luckily was in working condition.

To remedy this situation, I bought another soldering iron handpiece (210ESD Xytronic Soldering Iron) for my LF-853 Solder/Desolder/Hot Air combo station.

i also decided to buy a second unit so I wouldn’t (hopefully) find myself in the position of not having a decent soldering iron working in the future. Keeping in mind Lorin’s ideas, I did a little reading around. These two threads were particularly useful:


After reading those two, I decided to buy a Pace ST-50 with the TD-100 iron. A little searching revealed that I could get this combo for about $260 used / open box on ebay. I found a new station without tips from Tequipment (who I bought both the Rigol scope at the hive and the Rigol DS1074Z that is my current main scope) for $280. Done.

I also ordered 4 different size/shape/temp rated tips from various sellers on ebay for a total cost of about $65 with shipping.

I’ll be more than happy to bring the new Pace unit in when I receive it to evaluate. I’m just sharing this information in the hope that it might prove useful in deciding what to actually purchase for the hive. The two factors leading me to NOT buy a Metcal were the relatively high cost of replacement tips and the lack of temperature control (with the temp control being built into the tip itself) with the majority of the Metcal stations I looked at.

Hope my research helps someone,