Tag Archives: Electronics

Surplus Summit 2012 Part One: Los Angeles

Testing 47GHz radios

(Photo: Tony KC6QHP testing out his 47GHz amateur radio. Remember this post? All that work paid off, the radio works!)

Last month I cashed in some airline miles and finally got to visit some old friends and spend some time in beautiful Southern California. Some long-time readers of the blog may remember the last time I did something like this in 2009.

While I was there I visited my good friend Tony in Los Angeles, and we went on a tour of surplus electronics and swap meets that we called Surplus Summit 2012.

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A glimpse at Electronics Workbenches around the world…

Since creating the Electronics Workbench Flickr group last November, I have received lots and lots of really amazing submissions from electronics hobbyists and professionals around the world.

My two biggest takeaways so far? I do not own nearly enough test equipment, and my shop is not nearly as well-organized or space-efficient as it could be (I need to use all available wall space and build up).

Here are a few of my favorite images from the group:

Click any of these images for a larger version!

Joe Grand (of Prototype This! and Grand Idea Studio) and his awesome electronics workshop:

Joe Grand Interview, 2012-01-17

Joe Grand Interview, 2012-01-17

(Nice scope, Joe!)

blalor turned his BMW into a temporary workshop, and his passenger seat is the electronics workbench (note the laptop perched on the dash):

My current “workbench”

eschlaep (Eric Schlaepfer of tubetime.us) submitted this moody shot of a CRT project in progress:

5" Cathode Ray Tube - Lissajous Figure

Senke2 has a nice home lab with a lofty feel:


Looks like *someone* has a Tektronix fetish. Beautiful setup by Alan (W2AEW):

W2AEW Workbench

More scope envy, of both the oscillo- and micro- kinds (Thanks Mgburr!):


embeddederic sent in this picture of his workbench. Note the Tek 491 spectrum analyzer up top, 10MHz – 12GHz with 1950s(?) technology:


And lastly, check out this awesome workbench panorama by anachrocomputer (best viewed large):

Lab Panorama

See if you can spot the Tektronix 575 curve tracer!

There are lots more great photos in the group photo pool.

Do you have an electronics workbench that you’re proud of? Snap a photo and share it with the group!

New Flickr Group for your Electronics Workbench


Ahh, the electronics workbench – shrine to the electron, the diode, the transistor, the soldering pencil and flux pen.

You can learn a lot about someone by looking at their workspace. Note the way that they store components (in pullout drawers or plastic organizers?), hang test leads (on hooks or wire racks, or on a nail?), and keep spools of wire at the ready for repairs and new projects.

A look at someone’s electronics workbench gives you a small glimpse into what is usually a fairly personal space – a space where visions become reality and electronics projects are brought to life.

While there are quite a few electronics workbenches on flickr, I determined after a quick search that there had been no attempt to bring all of these glimpses into a hobbyist or engineer’s soul together into one place.

And thus was born the Electronics Workbench flickr group:

Electronics Workbench

Getting organized in the lab.

Me in my electronics room.  I'm holding the beginnings of a cryogenic receiver project.

Have a photo of your bench? Add it to the group!

No? Then go downstairs into your basement, out into your garage, or up into the attic and take one!

And don’t spend too much time cleaning it up first – noone will believe you that your workbench is that clean when we’re not looking.

Also, a shoutout: This group was inspired in part by the Workbench of the Week (WOTW) page over at The Amp Hour. I don’t think WOTW has been a feature on the show for several months. Maybe we can get Chris and Dave to bring it back??

Happy soldering!

– Jeff


items in Electronics Workbench More in Electronics Workbench pool



While I was visiting Portland last month, I made a quick stop at SurplusGizmos in Hillsboro.

SurplusGizmos is what an electronics store should be, and it’s the kind of place that I love to visit.  It’s also the kind of electronics store that is completely nonexistant in Austin (oh, my beloved HSC, how I miss you), but I digress…

You can usually tell a good surplus electronics store by the pile of junk outside the door (usually with a sign on it that says “Make Offer.”   I’m not kidding:

What is this stuff?

Inside SurplusGizmos, you’ll find aisles full of electronic components like resistors, capacitors, connectors, random semiconductors, fans, motors, and miscellaneous surplus stuff.  Paradise!


AVR microcontrollers! Forrest Mims books!


They have cabinets with drawers full of electrolytic capacitors!  Yes!  This is what a real electronics store is like!


This way, resistors by the foot!!  This ain’t no Radio Shack!


Aluminum by the pound!


Interesting pieces of surplus equipment sold for pennies on the dollar!


They have a huge selection of “solder samples”, printed circuit boards that are used to…

Actually, I’m sure what they are for.  I think they are used by the PCB manufacturer to test their process, but can someone comment about what solder samples are for, and why you always get one or two when you order a full panel of PCBs?

Anyway, there were LOTS of them.  Hundreds.  Looking at these panels reminded me of Dave Jones’ PCB Design for Manufacture video.  Lots of examples of v-scoring, tab-routing, fiducials, etc.

I picked up a few to use as coasters/wall art/whatever.


Apparently SurplusGizmos has some deal with Oregon Scientific and gets customer returns of their weather monitoring equipment.   It seemed like if you spent the time to collect all the right parts, you could build a complete indoor/outdoor wireless weather station for a fraction of the new cost.


I wish I could have spent more time there, but my time was limited and my luggage space was small.  Next time!

If you’re ever in the Portland area and want to see what a “real” electronics store is like – check this place out.

I took lots more photos, many of which are available on Flickr.

Oh, and SurplusGizmos is listed on the surplus electronics wiki.  If there’s a good electronics store in your area and it’s not on the wiki, add it!  Help keep these small, independently-owned electronics shops alive!