The Most Useful Testing Equipment For DIY Projects

In my work I rely on many pieces of test and measurement equipment just as much as my hand tools. Although I can accomplish a surprising amount with just a hammer, I can't complete any of my mechanical or electronics projects without being able to reliably quantify things like length and voltage. Here are the gadgets I use in my shop the most.

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Power Supply
I have several supplying the voltages I typically need—3.3, 5, 12 and 24VDC are common, and a dual +/- variable supply is handy for Op-Amp circuits. I use plug-in breadboard power supply modules on projects that will end up on a shelf for a long time between uses; it's quicker than reconnecting a power supply each time.Kathryn Taylor
Digital Multimeter
An essential tool that measures voltage and current for AC and DC, resistance and more. I have an HP for work on the bench.Kathryn Taylor
Handheld Digital Multimeter
I also have a handheld Fluke for troubleshooting things like the wiring in my antique vehicles or an uncooperative solenoid on my air cannons.Kathryn Taylor
Oscilloscope
This plots voltage as a function of time, displaying an electrical signal on the screen. I use mine to do things like verify Op-Amp gain and visualize oscil­lator waveforms when designing analog circuits. I have a slightly aged Tektronix, but I'd also recommend the USB-based Picoscope MSO, which is an oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer and logic analyzer in one.Kathryn Taylor
Calipers
Calipers are essential when I want to measure something with greater accuracy than a tape measure and squinting will provide. Both my Starrett vernier calipers and my Mitutoyo dial calipers are accurate to one thousandth of an inch.Kathryn Taylor