Meter and Soldering Station Suggestions

My son is a junior BSEE student and is looking to get a multimeter and soldering station.

What suggestions do you all have?

Thanks, Dan

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Fluke 87 and Weller WSP80.

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Some of the new Fluke meters have really poor user interfaces and cost $$$$. Pick a meter that is simple to understand, like one with a rotary selector instead of little buttons. You want one with a "beeper" that sounds when you touch the leads together.

The soldering iron should be about 25W. Pick one with a short, narrow tip and a good handle. Most of the Radio Shack irons have excessively long, fat tips and are harder to control. Modern electronics have _very_ small pins, so the soldering iron needs to have a fairly narrow tip.

Some irons have temperature controls, and cost $$$$, but sometimes you can get them second-hand.


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Kevin Kilzer

On 29 Aug 2005 18:10:06 -0700, Gave us:

Get on ebay and find a good 6.5 digit HP bench meter. They go for about $150 and they are really $1500 meters. Of course, they are used, but you can't go wrong with military surplus sales as they pick the best.

The Edsyn soldering iron is good because it allows one to dial the temperature one wants.

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On Tue, 30 Aug 2005 07:42:57 GMT, TokaMundo Gave us:

Ebay item number:


Choose advanced search, then enter this number.

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Some are suggesting good, top of the line, solutions. His first meter is how he learns what is and is not good and what to be very careful about. It could be a $20 Radio Shack cheapy that eventually becomes the spare meter stored with all other tools; or something in the $100 range. For a real EE, I would look at a multimeter, about $100, that has DC volts and amps, AC volts and amps, Ohms measurement, Capacitor (farad) measurement, continuity (beeper), and diode voltage measurement. Optional functions include a PNP and NPN gain checker, Hi-Lo voltage measurements, and 'automatic shutoff' to save battery when meter is left on by accident.

Later he may want a better meter with RMS measurements, a low frequency oscillosc> My son is a junior BSEE student and is looking to get a multimeter and

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I must admit to being impressed by the list above (and previous posts on the subject) but felt unable to comment as a) wrong country and b) I haven't much of a clue what is in a BSEE degree, "over there".

Certainly, as a BSc student in the UK, all the instrumentation needed for the course was/is provided by the uni. What (s)he needed to own was mostly what (s)he wanted to do for "fun".

For trying out a few things out of class, quantity always seemed to be a good idea - as for uni practicals, having a handfull of meters was/is much better than one. Three or four cheap digital multimeters, an analogue one and an ac/dc clamp ammeter, perhaps? Never mind $20 dollar ones - the ones I paid 4.50GBP, for a pair, seem to do the necessary.. Most experiments seem to need to measure both the input and the output, plus, maybe, some other points in between and a single meter would be a pita. Having several means that at least one of them has a working battery - unlike the ones that have been left on by mistkae..

But then, I haven't a clue what he would need your list of goodies /for/. Do most *qualified* EEs have that lot?

As to a soldering station, quantity again helps, IMHO. A really BIG one for those busbar terminals. A really SMALL one for the twiddly bits. A solder-sucking one for the c*ck-ups (OK, a stand-alone sucker will do if you are tri-ambidextrous), a gas-powered one for working up a ladder, etc. A variable temperature one is for the real experts, methinks - although fixed-temperature controlled is worth its weight in rice crispies... My favourite has to be a 250W monster that glows red hot if you leave it on too long.. Colleagues used to say that a girl engineer was scary enough, but a girl engineer with one of those was quite terrifying. It did put curls in my hair, I must admit..

Only my 2pence worth. Please feel free to educate me..

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I tell people to buy the cheapest meter that will do the job to start with so if you damage it or lose it its no big deal. Here in the US you can buy a useable DMM for less than $5 US when its on sale at Harbor Freight.

is one of their cheaper meters.

I still have my trusty old Weller 175 watt iron, along with a half dozen others in the 20 to 45 watt range, and a couple old Weller 8200

100/140 watt soldering guns for some jobs. I don't use the guns very much these days, but once in a while they come in handy
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Michael A. Terrell

Dan; Be sure he has _both_ an analog multimeter (VOM) and a digital one (DMM). A VOM with a mechanical (D'Arsonval) movement is ideal for visualizing changes in state. For instance, when adjusting the bias on a circuit or tuning an RF circuit in a radio (dips and peaks). A DMM is ideal for precise repeatable measurements. I have found that troubleshooting with a DMM, I sometimes failed to realize a circuit was leaky because the DMM would produce a jumble of numbers. When using a VOM, it would clearly show a voltage change over time. My VOM has a large scale which is helpful to read at a distance.

My two VOM and DMM meters are both from Radio Shack (VOM 22-214A and DMM

22-163) and were inexpensive. I have used them for years without trouble but will probably buy a better Fluke DMM to replace the Radio Shack DMM which is now starting to concern me with respect to accuracy..

The RS VOM I have is pretty rugged, which is important as these get bumped around a lot.

With both types of meter you must be careful _not_ to measure voltage when the meter is in a current or resistance mode. Usually a very small value fuse will blow, but with voltage high enough, damage could occur. If measuring anything above 12 volts, or with high current (like a car battery) one needs to think very carefully before attaching the meter probes. Voltage measurements should be made by first attaching the black lead to chassis ground with a suitable clip, then probing the circuit with one hand kept behind the back. In this way if the voltage is unexpectedly high you won't get a jolt accross the chest.

Joe wrote:

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