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Design, build, hack....zap and repeat!

New Tech Toys Pt.2

New Tech Toys Pt.2

On to the workbench! The holidays brought an abundance of technology which I started to describe in Part 1: Overcome with technology.  Now I’m headed down to the workbench.

Since I work on mobile and desktop radios, transceivers and associated equipment, many of which use 12 – 15VDC, I got a power supply dedicated to that voltage and amperage range. And since much of that equipment just plugs into the vehicle’s cigarette lighter, I chose an MFJ-4245MV which just happens to have a cigarette lighter jack built right in!

While testing the transmit side of these radios, you somtimes need to measure the output power. So I got a dummy  load / wattmeter to measure the wattage while transmitting into a 50 ohm “antenna” without going out on the air. I chose the MFJ-267 since it could handle up to 1500 kilowatts only the way up to the UHF range of 650Mhz.

You would also like to see if the rig is at or near the frequency it says it is transmitting at….so along came a frequency counter, DVM13MFC2 by Velleman. While not the cheapest freq counter, I usually don’t need the great precision requiring counters costing thousands!

To round out my bout of new test equipment, I got a special combo price on an Owon digital oscilloscope and waveform generator. The model AG1022 Arbitrary Waveform Generator outputs includes sine, square, ramp, noise among others and can modulate AM, FM, PM, FSK and PWM. It’s a great little generator for injecting signals into a circuit and tracking them down at the outputs with an Owon SDS7102 100Mhz oscilloscope. It has a nice 8″ LCD screen, a 1Ghz sampling rate, and a USB port to connect to a PC. If I need, it has a battery option to take portable, but I don’t foresee needing that even though it came with a carrying case.

Now remember, before venturing into any of these, make sure you get at least one or two multimeters. I collect them from Harbor Freight every time they have a “buy anything, get a free multimeter” sale. There’s 2 on the bench, one in the shack, another in the truck, and yet another in each toolbox. I also have a bit higher end Mastech DMM that also checks temperature, capacitance and sound levels.

But for capacitancce I use an ESR meter from Atlas, the ESR70, which is great for testing caps in circuit (with the power off though!). Atlas also makes a great semiconductor analyzer, the Dca75, which can also be connected to a PC for low current curve-tracing functions.

So that covers all the new test equipment on the bench. I know I promised before, but I’m still working on a video tour of the “laboratory!” Stay tuned as they say. . . .

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