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Ultimate portable Lab and SMT workstation - Part One: Intro

For the last eight months I’ve been working from multiple locations. I prefer to travel light, but that’s not easy when hardware development is involved. If I take minimal tools, it’s inevitable that an SMT rework will come up and leave me without the right tools. My first thought was to have everything in a couple of equipment cases, but this weekend I took things to another level and fully integrated a full SMT lab, including stereo microscope and an oscilloscope into a couple of cases. Set-up takes let than 1 minute. Apart from the equipment, total parts budget is under $50.



The whole project is pretty straightforward. No major wood or metal working. Some superfluous parts are removed from the LED lamp and microscope, but even those mods are reversible if needed.

This build packs a lot of really cool equipment into a portable format (each case is about 18”x13”x6”). Apart from the obvious, a couple of things I’m very happy with are the instant work-surfaces, and a +12V central rail that powers various items inside the cases.

The Harbor Freight cases started out pretty flimsy, but the mods help indirectly to improve rigidity. Probably wouldn’t send them as checked baggage though!
In the following posts, I’ll describe the features and build in a more detail.
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