There’s been a few posts recently about the workbenches and labs people have the privilege to build and/or use and I myself have been suffering from bench envy these last months because I don’t have a bench of my own. Some good examples include Chris Gammell’s new bench, Miss Outlier’s Place to Tinker, and even one of my old tweets about a home lab I found on the internet.
While working on my thesis I’m always running between four different labs depending on if I’m soldering my PCB or testing it and also on what specifically I’m soldering or testing. Due to expansions and add-ons at my school these labs are actually spaced somewhat far apart. While I’m not hiking for days, it does lead to frustration and a decrease in productivity when even a simple rework, like changing a blown IC can take upwards of twenty minutes with most of that being travel time. (I’m not yet smart enough to design my circuits un-blowup-able on the first try, and yes, un-blowup-able is an industry term, probably.)
At any given time I may need some combination of a network analyzer (filter testing), RF signal generators (mixer testing), a function generator (ADC testing), oscilloscopes, soldering irons, etc., and sadly there isn’t just one lab which contains everything I need. Since I’m always walking between labs for long periods of time I can’t leave my test setups in place for when I return. Other projects going on may need to jump on the equipment and hogging space in multiple labs while I’m not there isn’t exactly proper lab etiquette.
So because of all these hijinks, one of the biggest things I’m looking forward to once I leave school and go off into the real world is having my own bench to work at, or at least having a single lab with most of the equipment I’ll need in it. I’ve been spoiled by some pretty well equipped labs while out doing co-ops over the years and now that I don’t have my own bench I really miss it. One summer I even had a whole lab to myself; that was fantastic. I had more cables, scopes, and power supplies than I knew what to do with.
Does anyone else jump from lab to lab like I do, or am I unique in this aspect?