All Engineers, professional or hobbyist need the right equipment an tools to work. The Artful Engineer will explain the tools he uses professionally and recommend tools for hobbyists.
So, what do you need? – Read on!
- A workspace – This can be a whole workshop or a single bench. You should aim for somewhere well lit and well ventilated. You should be able to install an antistatic matt onto the bench.
- A PC – Like it or not, most engineering is conducted using computers. A high spec is generally not required for compiling and debugging software though you will benefit from a more powerful machine if you intend on using any kind of advanced CAD.
- Soldering Iron – A 60W soldering iron will suffice for most tasks. A cheap and cheerful device will often do, however buy the best you can afford, preferably with exchangeable tips and temperature adjustable.
- Bench tools – A good set of side cutters, wire strippers and precision screwdrivers.
- DMM – Digital multimeter for diagnosing your circuits. It should have Ohmmeter, Ammeter, Voltmeter and diode test functions at minimum.
- Oscilloscope – If you intend on anything more complex or advanced a scope will be helpful. Older benchtop devices can be picked up cheaply on ebay, or if the budget allows a good quality PC based device such as a Picoscope.
- Logic Analyser – Can be picked up cheaply and will help diagnose problems on comms busses.
Those are the basics. Now for software…
- IDE – A development environment for writing and compiling code, and the support files for your chosen microcontroller.
- CAD – A package for drawing schematics and PCBs.