The Workshop At AA8V

Greg In His Shop

While between projects I had a chance to photograph my workshop and put together this web page which is a tour of the shop. The workshop is small but very dense. Every available space is utilized. The machines in the shop are on their own electrical branch line, as is the air compressor. Fluorescent lights cover every area of the shop. Raw materials are stored in the rafters above the shop and in every nook and cranny around the shop.

A central desk and workbench occupies the center of the shop, where I do design work, air brushing/finishing, and wood sanding. I also use this area for photography. Other work areas are around the outside edges of the shop, encircling the central desk.

You can select any of the links below, or just work your way down through the list, which will take you, in order, to each area of the shop.

Select A Link Below:
 Central Desk
 Grinding and Sanding Area
 Disk/Belt Sander, Lathe, and Tooling
 Metal Cutting Bandsaw/Milling Machine/Detail and Woodcutting Bandsaw/Air Compressor
 Parts Storage, Library, and Tooling
 Scroll Saw and Drill Press
 Electronics Workbench
 Electronics Workbench - Straight On View

The Workshop At AA8V

Central Desk:
The central desk in my shop serves as my design center and as a place to put blueprints and drawings. It is also used for airbrushing and wood sanding. It can be completely surrounded with a barrier and a negative vacuum system (upper right) that keeps paint overspray and sanding dust from migrating elsewhere in the shop. Regulated dried air for the airbrush is available from the port underneath the air pressure gage. An arbor press (covered) can barely be seen on the right.

The central desk is evenly lighted through diffuse panels which provide excellent lighting for photography. A gray neutral background can easily be hung on the back of the central desk with magnets, turning the area into a photography booth/light box.

Central Desk
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Grinding and Sanding Area:
If you make a hard left from the central desk you find the grinding and sanding area. This is as isolated as possible from the rest of the shop. The cabinets in the back contain electronic parts such as transistors and other semiconductors, and also a full selection of #4 and #6 screws, nuts, and other hardware. The shelves contain tooling for the machines and strings for my musical instruments. Lathe tooling can be seen at far right.

It is important to keep sanding/grinding dust from getting anywhere else in the shop, so the pedestal grinder is surrounded by a cardboard shield and a dust collection system is used with the belt/disk sander.

Grinding and Sanding Area
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Disk/Belt Sander, Lathe, and Tooling:
Turning slightly to the right takes you to the lathe area of the shop. The belt/disc sander can now be seen at left, and the lathe at right. Tooling for the lathe is either on the table near the center of the table or on the pegboard in the back. Other tools and measuring instruments are also mounted on the pegboard. Below the lathe is a drawer and a shelf containing raw materials. Raw materials are also stored throughout the shop, in every nook and cranny, and throughout the basement rafters. I keep aluminum, brass, steel, wood, and plastic in stock.

The lathe is mounted directly to a sturdy, metal covered wooden table. The metal keeps lubricant and cooling fluid from contaminating and damaging the wooden tabletop.

Lathe and Tooling
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Metal Cutting Bandsaw/Milling Machine/Detail and Woodcutting Bandsaw/Air Compressor:
Turning the corner takes you to a metal cutting bandsaw (lower left), milling machine (on wooden pyramid), detail and wood cutting bandsaw, and air compressor.

Tooling for the milling machine is on a pegboard right behind the machine and on shelves right below the machine. Tooling includes a complete layout and step block set for the milling machine, two rotary tables, a variety of precision vices, sine bars, v-blocks, a complete set of R8 collets, and a complete set of mill holders. Measuring tools include a fine set of Fowler squares, an Interapid dial indicator, Starrett micrometers, and a type N standard square, accurate to 0.0003" at 5".

The wooden pyramid places the working area of the milling machine at chest level, so it isn't necessary to bend over when using the milling machine. This saves a lot of strain on the operator's back!

The bandsaw at lower left can cut steel and other metals up to about 4" x 6". The detail and wood cutting bandsaw to the right of the milling machine can cut wood and non-ferrous metals up to about 1/4" thick. It is primarily used for cutting aluminum sheet.

An air compressor is indispensable in any shop. You might think its primary use is powering air tools, but that is not the case. It is used primarily for blowing chaff, cuttings, and oil off of newly machined parts, drill bits, and milling cutters. It also provides air for the airbrush (through a drier/filter/regulator) and is used to dry parts.

Miscellaneous Machines
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Parts Storage, Library, and Tooling:
Going down to the end of the line, between the detail and wood cutting bandsaw and the air compressor, are cabinets containing electronic parts such as resistors, capacitors, and semiconductors. The library is also here. Velveeta boxes (very handy in the shop) below the books contain taps, dies, rotary cutters, and other miscellaneous tooling. Miscellaneous electronic cables and the all important radio can be seen at right.

A complete set of resistors in all standard values is kept in stock. Power ratings kept in stock are 1/4 or 1/2 watt, 1 watt, and 2 watt. A large selection of high powered 10 watt, 20 watt, and 25 watt resistors is also kept on hand. You never knows what kind of resistor you will need.

The electrical alligator clip leads that are hung up on the right are indispensable. I have them in a variety of wire sizes and lengths. I also have special scope probes, RF probes, and high voltage probes for reading voltages up to 30kV.

The library here only contains books and references for metal working. My electronics books are kept with my ham shack.

Parts Storage and Library
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Scroll Saw and Drill Press:
Turning the corner from the previous photo brings you to the radio, scroll saw, and drill press. More electronic parts are stored in cabinets in front of the window and on shelves to the right of the window. Chemicals are kept on the shelves and on the table to the right of the drill press, behind the vintage grinder, which is not now used. Shelves under the table (not visible) store more electronic parts and raw materials.

The scroll saw is used primarily for cutting internal holes (meter cut-outs etc.) in sheet aluminum. It is also used for scroll woodworking and other specialized work.

The drill press is, of course, indispensable. It is used for just about everything.

Scroll Saw and Drill Press
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Electronics Workbench:
Continuing on down from the drill press you come to the electronics workbench. Test equipment resides everywhere, and more electronic parts (many in velveeta boxes) are stored on the lower shelf. Household work tools are also stored on the lower shelf.

I wear an apron every time I am in the shop, along with OSHA approved prescription glasses or approved safety glasses. It took me years to realize that I could have avoided burning holes in my clothing, staining them with chemicals, and ruining them with stuck on solder if I had simply worn an apron!

Greg and Electronics Workbench
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Electronics Workbench - Straight On View:
This is a straight on view of the electronics area. A 100MHz oscilloscope is at right, and a professional Weller soldering station (blue) can be seen at left. I routinely do surface mount soldering. The round tool holder is something I have had since I was a child. It was a Christmas gift one year. I also still use the same Wen soldering gun that I got for Christmas when I was a paper boy in grade school.

Other test equipment includes a grid dip meter, RF signal generator, audio signal generator, precision RF signal source, precision attenuators, AC millivolt/microvolt meters, clamp on AC ammeter, frequency counter, and a frequency standard accurate to 0.5 PPM. (If I need even higher accuracy I have access to an atomic clock at the university.)

I also have a standard voltage cell that produces a potential of 1.0193V accurate to within 0.1%, so I can make very accurate voltage measurements if necessary.

Electronics Workbench Straight On View
Click on the image for a larger view.

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