Electronics Bench - 2020 Vision

So as some of you may know I’ve been working on ways to make it easier to manage and use the electronics bench, and we’ve got two soldering bays currently.

I’d like to step this up a notch, and propose we have several dedicated bays, some for basic use and some with more specialist equipment all grouped together. What this would mean is that each bay would have a specific purpose, specific equipment set you’d expect to find there as well as tools and consumables.

I’ve measured out the available area as well as considered several layouts, so I’d like to get some feedback on this before putting it fully together.

Here’s a map of what I’d propose, 8 distinct bays along the wall, removing the existing bench and existing corner to favour more open access to the tools.

Design and implementation wise, this is what I would suggest:

  • All bays would be at max 600mm deep, using 1530 tall racking to allow for a raised shelf for tools.
  • All bays have an interlock, so we can track usage of the bays and if we need to reconsider their existence.
  • Bays 1,2, 7 and 8 are 1200mm wide, and are dedicated to general use bays.
  • Bays 3, 4, 5, 6 are specialist bays.

For the general use bays, I’d suggest we equip them as follows, which is based on our existing bays:

  • TMT-2000 Soldering Iron with K-type handpiece.
  • Hot air reflow station (Yihua/etc clone)
  • Desoldering Gun Station
  • Lower end, general use power supply.
  • Benchtop multimeter
  • Usb power supply with meter
  • Mid to low range digital microscope for all those fiddly bits.
  • Fume extraction
  • All standard soldering consumables
  • If demand requires it, a lower end 1/2 channel oscilloscope and function generator.

Bay 3 and/or 4 would be for SMD Rework and Reflow, containing the hotplate, reflow oven and specific tools for working with small run SMD jobs.

Bay 5 would be dedicated to the more powerful power supplies we already have, as well as battery charging/discharging equipment ala 18650 recycling.

Bay 6 would be dedicated to signals and debug, containing such things as our higher end oscilloscope(s), function generators, logic probes and the like and likely will have a dedicated computer.

Obviously there’s ways we can improve on supporting specific things like microsoldering by turning one of the basic use bays into a microsoldering bay with finer tips, finer solder and the mantis scope we’ve been donated, but I’d be keen to see feedback on this base idea and if it’s viable and what we can do to improve upon it after we get the base bays in.

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Bumping for more feedback, I’ve spoken to a couple of people in person who said this seemed like a good idea so I just want to validate it.

Base Structure
Pricing out replacing the existing bench, at just the cost of the racking parts required would come to $383AUD, with my parts tally below.

Then on top of this we will need the benchtops, which will be 600mm deep and consist of a baseboard, front flange (plywood or angle iron) and a melamine sheet on top which can be swapped out if required. Assembly would look roughly like the tables I suggested below:
image with the bottom layer bolted down to the stabilizing struts of the racking to stop it going for a walk when someone inevitably tries to dance on it. I don’t have a great handle on the pricing for this, and I’m sure there’s some efficiencies that can be driven here to lower price but it’s been suggested that instead of using the cheap white melamine we use whitecote.

In order to secure the tops to the base we firstly need the Shelf Support Braces for the tabletop, (https://www.bunnings.com.au/rack-it-400kg-400mm-black-shelf-support-brace_p2760547) which are $2.30 each and each bay needs 2 per, so 16x2.3 = $36.8AUD

A 915x510x3.2mm whitecote sheet is $13, so $13x4 = $52 for the 900mm spans tops.
A 1220x915x3.2mm whitecote sheet is $22 so $22x4 = $88 for the 1200mm span tops.

A single sheet of this would cover the 900mm spans - https://www.bunnings.com.au/trade-essentials-3600-x-900-x-19mm-green-tongue-particle-board-flooring_p0460014 at $52
Two sheets of this would cover the 1200mm spans with a bit left over for making shelves out of.at $40 ea so $80 total.

Edge/Top Retainer
The following aluminium angle would work for our purposes, since it’s 3mm thick it should fairly evenly line up with the whitecote with minimal shimming. https://www.bunnings.com.au/metal-mate-20-x-20-x-3mm-3m-aluminium-equal-angle_p1079543 32

We would need 2x lengths of this to cover the 1200mm wide bays ($32.7x2) plus 1-2 to cover the 900mm wide bays depending on how we cut it. Assuming 4x lengths at $32.7 puts it at $130.8 for the entire legnth.

Tool/Equipment Shelves
Finally the last part of this plan involves making use of the Rack-it ‘Hook Plates’ to hang the shelves for the 1200mm wide bays. We’d need 8 of those, so $60.8

So final tally all up, building this new bench setup would cost $882.6 I’d suggest rounding the budget up to $1000 to make sure it covers any fixings or incidentals we’d need to finish it off.

Any thoughts on the above, or is this a bit of a wall of text? If there’s better solutions for this I am all ears.

just to clarify, the yellow/greentongue sits over the beam is screwed in, the melamine is screwed to the y/gtongue?
My the standard shelves have 100mm gap for the leg which is a PITD (unless you’re covering the whole length with benchtop. But that means you’ve got a lot of legs, usually in the way.
Unfortunately the 2400 beams are only in the 1000K variant, but you could do 1&2 as one section and 3&4 as the next and just separate them with tools or paint or masking tape or lazorz.
The cost of the 400k legs and beams is ~$380, the cost of the 1000K equivalent is ~$500

Yep, the yellowtongue is the base, bolted to the braces that go from horizontal to horizontal. The angle goes on the front to stop the whitecote sliding forward and wood tacking nails are used at the back to stop it sliding backwards. The idea here being that if the benchtop gets destroyed we can just throw a new sheet on.

In the past we’ve tried taping off benchtops to try and delineate specific areas and it just leads to things crossing those boundaries. I had hoped that with the clear borders of the bays we could avoid that. From my own measurements though the 400kg stuff had approx 45mm wide legs though? I might have to doublecheck my measurements in that case.

just checked, you’re right, the legs are 45mm wide

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