My Workbench

5 min | Bryan Nehl | 2020-10-13T21:51

This page will be continually evolving. Primarily, I will be documenting the stuff that I use at my workbench. Although, I may share items that I’ve heard about from my fellow builders. I’ll also include some Next Level sections with gear that more advanced hobbyists or those with more resources may want to consider.


  • The DSO5102P has a good balance of features and price for starter scope. That’s why I picked up one for my use.
  • I chose the nooelec nanoVNA because Nooelec is listed as an official distributor on the nanoVNA project source code website. This specific package also includes an attenuator set and other extra accessories.
  • I use some SMA-BNC pigtail adapter cables with the nanoVNA The intent is to take some strain off of the nanoVNA. Also, since I focused on QRP operation, I use BNC connectors extensively.
  • The Fluke 8010A Digital Multimeter (DMM) is good entry level bench meter (I found one on eBay)
  • I have a pocket parts tester similar to the one above. I use this little tester all the time for checking resistors, capacitors, and inductors. It will also check diodes and transistors. You’ll still need a decent DMM for voltage. You may want to try a hand held DMM.
  • I have been tempted to pick up one of these pocket pen style DMM

Next Level Meters

Spectrum Analyzers

While the tinySA is an attractive option radio amateurs will quickly find that the RBW isn’t narrow enough for their applications.


With these scopes you’ll find higher frequency range, more channels and logic capture.

Digital Multi Meters

You’ll find more precision and a greater range of operation with these bench meters


  • I have been very impressed with the CO-Z 8586 rework station Besides SMD work, the hot air side does a great job with heat shrink tubing. The hot air can be mounted on either side of the main unit. This model also uses connectors for hot air and irons making replacement easier. The only thing I was disappointed by was the soldering iron stand. For me, it felt light, weak and exposed. I promptly replaced it with the Hakko 633 stand The Hakko stand is solid and feels much safer. I’d been using the wet sponge for years. The waterless cleaner is very nice. I feel like it does a better job of cleaning the tip.
  • I have found lots of application for this variable DC power supply from TackLife It is often on sale or has a coupon with it.
  • I used a headband magnifier similar to this one. There are many options available. Since I wear glasses, I find the band style more comfortable.
  • When it comes to SMD work, fine work, or board inspection, I bust out the digital microscope It has a high level of magnification and a narrow manually adjusted focal length.
  • I use an LED lamp similar to this one to direct the light right on my work
  • I have a FeelElec FY6900 function generator with counter. I plan to eventually replace the power supply in it with one that was developed on the web. I’ll also add a fan to it.

Next Level Equipment

Hand tools

  • Crimping kit with Dupont connectors
  • Stainless steel tweezers with ceramic tips
  • “third hand” These often come with a fairly useless magnifying glass that gets in the way. Take off the magnifying glass and use it by hand when needed.
  • PCB holder. Swivel function that lets you check the front of the board and work on the back is what you need.
  • mini plier set
  • This soldering tool kit includes a solder sucker, flush cutters, tweezers, solder removal tools, and solder wick similar to what I use
  • Numerous small screw drivers
  • Dental picks similar to these



  • Solder, Multicore 5 core, 63/37, Sn63Pb37, 0.022" (0.56mm) This is a fine solder that can be a little pricey. I picked up a 500G spool and have been using it for many years. Today, I’d probably pick up this Kester 44 Solder
  • Solder wick - If you get a wick and it doesn’t work well, try putting some solder on your iron tip to start things going. If that doesn’t help, you may need to try a better rated wick Watch the shipping charges on this page!.
  • If you do get into SMD work, you’ll want to pick up a flux pen or flux paste. You will likely want to wash your board if you use them.
  • Chip Quick for SMD work
  • BNTECHGO 22 AWG Magnet wire
  • DeoxIT for cleaning electrical connections/wipers

Battery Chargers and Power Supplies

There are a great variety of battery capacity checkers and chargers out there. I like the compact digital battery capacity checker and the HTRC LiPo 2S/3S charger for compact travel gear.

The battery charger I use is a version prior to the one listed above.

LiPO Batteries

Typically, I operate QRP portable. That is why I have opted for 3S1P batteries. They provide enough voltage and capacity for the miserly needs of many QRP radios.

NiMH Batteries

Besides using in an external case 8AA case with switch, I use the Ray-o-vac NiMH batteries in my Elecraft KX3.

LiFePO4 Batteries

I use a Bioenno 12V 12Ah when I want to operate portable with my Yaesu FT-891. The battery is in an enclosure from Portable Zero. Now they are making a nice enclosure that will hold 2 6Ah batteries and mates directly to the FT-891.

A friend recently picked up a nice compact 8Ah.