You Can’t Make What You Can’t Measure

What’s the most-used tool on your bench? For me, it’s probably a multimeter, although that’s maybe a tie with my oscilloscope. Maybe after that, the soldering iron and wire strippers, or my favorite forceps. Calipers must rate in there somewhere too, but maybe a little further down. Still, the top place, and half of my desert-island top-10, go to measuring gear.

That’s because any debugging, investigation, or experimentation always starts with getting some visibility on the problem. And the less visible the physical quantity, the more necessary to tool. For circuits, that means figuring out where all the voltages lie, and you obviously can’t just guess there. A couple months ago, I was doing some epoxy and fiberglass work, and needed to draw a 1/2 atmosphere vacuum. That’s not the kind of quantity you can just eyeball. You need the right measurement tool.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my disappointment in receiving a fan that wouldn’t push my coffee beans around in the homemade roaster. How could I have avoided this debacle? By figuring out the pressure differential needed and buying a fan that’s appropriately rated. But I lacked pressure and flow meters.

Now that I think about it, I could have scavenged the pressure meter from the fiberglassing rig, and given that a go, but with the cheap cost of sensors and amplifiers, I’ll probably just purpose-build something. I’m still not sure how I’ll measure the flow; maybe I’ll just cheese out and buy a cheap wind-speed meter.

When people think of tools, they mostly think of the “doers”: the wrenches and the hammers of this world. But today, let’s all raise a calibrated 350 ml glass to the “measurers”. Without you, we’d be wandering around in the dark.

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via Blog – Hackaday

December 16, 2023 at 08:11AM