General Lab Equipment Obstacle Course

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A general primer in important equipment in a scientific laboratory.


Multimeters

  • Measuring voltage
  • Measuring current (check that fuse isn't blown!)
  • Measuring resistance and testing for continuity
  • AC signals
  • Clamp meter

Power Supplies

  • Digital and Analog
  • Floating and grounding
  • Current/voltage limiting

Function Generators

(Should look at this in tandem with the following oscilloscope discussion)

  • Frequency, amplitude, offset, phase
  • Frequency sweep/ramp
  • Sine, square (incl. TTL), triangle, sawtooth, arbitrary waveforms (possibly a demonstration of Fourier components)

Oscilloscopes

  • Voltage/time scale
  • Coupling
  • Triggering
  • Scope probes
  • Termination
  • Bandwidth, sampling
  • Aliasing
  • Analyzing data: cursors, averaging, math menu
  • Exporting data
  • Analog and digital scopes

RF Signals

  • Measuring RF power
  • Termination and impedance matching
  • Attenuation and filtering
  • Splitters, mixers, and switches

Lock-in Amplifier

  • Basic idea of operation; reason for using
  • Use switch to turn on and off a highly attenuated signal and detect it with the lock-in

Frequency Counters

Measure the frequency of an RF source; map frequency vs. voltage curve of a voltage controlled oscillator (VCO)

RF Spectrum Analyzer

Always be careful to ensure signal input to spectrum analyzer is not too large

  • What does a spectrum analyzer do?
  • Attach wire-loop antenna and find radio stations
  • Mix two RF signals and observe the expected spectrum
  • Measuring amplitude of signal above background
  • Save and export data

Soldering

  • Soldering technique
    • Cleaning iron tip
    • Heat pieces to be soldered (hot iron, short time)
    • Avoid cold solder joints
    • Look for shiny and smooth result
  • Tools of the trade: heatshrink tubing, desoldering pump, solder wick, wire strippers, soldering gun, heat gun, rosin flux
  • Solder end of DB9 cable (using only 4 or 5 conductors) to practice stripping wire, using heatshrink tubing, and creating usable product
  • Construct voltage divider on perfboard with BNC input/output connectors