Prototyping Brief Case Would Be Fun To Take Through Customs


[Baldor] prototypes electronic circuits all the time, but unfortunately he doesn’t really have a dedicated work space to do this! Annoyed at having to get all his tools ready and then put them away again after every project, he’s come up with his very own electronics prototyping briefcase.  [Edit: here’s the link in the Wayback Machine if you’re visiting from the future. Unfortunately, the images didn’t seem to make it.]

He started with a very old hand-made wooden tool briefcase and added some fun stuff. His case features four breadboards, all with individual positives, and each pair with common grounds. Banana clips allow for various setups with different wiring. He has 5 integrated volt meters, along with 5 buck-boost DC-DC voltage regulators, each set for 3V, 5V, 9V, 12V, and 18V. It’s an ingenuous setup and would make prototyping a breeze compared to most work benches!

In addition to the basic prototyping tools, he’s also got a development board and a place for his Pickit2. Underneath the main prototyping area he stores the power supply, and a veritable army of jumpers. We’re impressed.

Now all he needs is a portable electronics lab in a box once his prototypes are proven!

[Thanks Xavier!]

32 thoughts on “Prototyping Brief Case Would Be Fun To Take Through Customs

    1. The link is correct, judging by Google cache. Someone must have flagged it as phishing for some reason.

      I mean, thanks for blocking that, OpenDNS, but I’d really rather have a link to just go ahead to the site anyway. I’m not stupid enough to fall for phishing AFTER you warned me.

        1. I was going to mention opendns blocking the page as a phishing attempt. It really irritates me that they don’t provide a link to acknowledge that it’s suspected as a phishing attempt and proceed anyways. I’m about to try google’s dns and see if it works…

          1. OpenDNS cannot do what you say, they intercept your request to the page by sending back a wrong DNS reply with the IP of their server so they can show you the page. The PC caches this so a link to continue wouldn’t work, even if they would reply correctly to the next request (which would require db lookups per db query which they probably cannot do). The only way to make it work would be to set a cookie and make the warning server act as a proxy to the site in question, effectively MITM’ing it, which many people also would not like.

  1. You mean fun (by which you mean not fun at all) to take through *airport security*. Customs are the ones making sure you’re not bringing in fruit or too much tobacco; they don’t do security and might only care about that thing if the value exceeds the personal import allowance and you don’t have proof that you purchased it in your home country.

      1. Exactly, the TSA. TSA isn’t customs. TSA checks you on the way out (when you’re getting on a plane), customs checks you once you’ve landed from an international flight.

  2. TSA just loves the kit I travel with. Ziploc bags full of goodies shoved into my hiking boots and laces tied up tight. They don’t know how to re-do the laces. Does leave a nice comfy safe feeling though…

    1. Someone who had no idea what sort of (typically) amazing tools those happened to be. However, Brandon who is that in the photo?

      I had that problem in high school. One individual there knew considerably less then even the bare beginner, however he managed to make things messy and worse. What happened to me is that the staff refused to believe I had the talent to use tools like those properly and lumped me in with him….. Which is a story for a different point in time.

  3. There are similar voltage regulators that have a built in voltmeter, and I think ammeter too. I don’t know how the total price compares to the separate regulators & voltmeter.

    1. Those are generally noisy cheap ebay or amazon finds that fail high … meaning if it fails it would pump your input to the output blowing your stuff … linear regulators with cheap ebay $1 volt and $2 ammeters is the way to go

      1. Linear regulators are probably the way to go, but the regulators in the article look exactly like the switching regulators that I’ve been getting. I haven’t had one fail yet, so I can’t confirm their failure behavior.

        1. Those buck regulators design is identical to the schematic suggested by the chip manufacturer in the data sheet, so besides crappy surrounding parts quality, like in all cheap chinese modules, there should not be any problems.
          Those modules OTOH do radiate a lot of nasty crap along the supply lines and in the air. I would not be surprised at all if testing audio or radio circuits with this fixture would be next to impossible due to the amount of noise. Filtering is not always easy, especially regarding radiated noise, so I would stay linear in this context.
          A well thought chain of power LDO linear regulators (if supply isolation isn’t needed) can keep dissipation low while still offering really stable and quiet supply.

          1. I’m not having noise problems using these regulators with PICs and some simple circuits. But, if need arises, it’s very easy to forget the regulators and conect an external power supply directly to the breadboards.

            The upper row of binding posts are conected to the output of the regulators (The last one directly to the 20V input). The left one is connected to the breadboards, and the connection betwen both is via banana plug cables. Just connect the desired power supply to the left posts and you are done. Also, GND of the breadboards is not connected internaly to the GND of the regulators, it must be connected via banana cable.

      2. Depending on your end application, power supply noise may or may not be an issue.

        Not sure if anyone in the right mind (or experience) would do any noise sensitive prototyping with a breadboard anyways or without using the same power supply as the final design. DIP parts, long through hole leads, coupling between rows of contacts inside a bread board are bad combinations for high speed or low noise analog circuits.

  4. i made a cheepo radar jammer and homemade ni-cad battery pack and was bringing it to a con to show them off and TSA had me in handcuffs and i missed my flight … they payed for me to ship it to the hotel i was staying at and payed for the next days flight in coach but not the missed hotel day …in hindsight i was being stupid

    1. I can believe that. Some years ago I was bringing home a lot of items from a deceased family member. TSA insisted on screening me twice. I darn near got red in the face and told them I barely had time to make the flight let alone be treated like a blanketly-blank problem. As is they did give me barely enough time to complete the steps to get in to the flight itself. And they (the flight) got all huffy because space restrictions and all that. It wasn’t my fault that they chose to use an aircraft that was internally on the same scale as the blasted MD80 they chose to fly down with…. But that’s another story altogether.

  5. The purpose of the box is to let the prototipe mounted from one day to another, with all the pieces and cables in place. The rest of the tools are in another similar box.

    Also, I used the buck converters for two reasons: I had them at hand, and also, steping down from 20V to 3V or 5V with lirear regulators will need serious heat sinks when the apliccation draws a little power (Lets say, 1A, easy to get when playing with some leds or small DC motors). Another option could have been to use an ATX power suply, but then I will be limited to 12V, and the power supply would’t fit in the box.

  6. MIT’s Microcontroller Project Lab (6.115) uses wooden lab kits which looks quite a bit like this one! They come with a built in power supply (for +5V and 0-24V), and assorted peripherals like a digit display, a speaker, debounce switches, and a function generator.

    Do a search on YouTube for “6.115” to see the results :)

  7. especially if the agent that stops you knows nothing about electronics or kits and is following the book in a mechanical rainmanistic mode being told to assume that anyone with something with a bunch of wires are terrorists and especially if the unit contains lithium batteries or even batteries with their labels removed or bare cells intended to be put inside of battery packs or the bare aaaa sized cells pulled from 9 volt battery.

  8. I had a crummy boss one time at an electronics lab. He had to fly to another location of ours. I fixed up two very large capacitors, hooked up some “curly” wire to their terminals, and then affixed an old broken digital watch to the front. Looked VERY much like a bomb you might see in the movies. And told him that they needed this in that location, “would you mind taking it with you”.
    But I don’t guess he ever got flagged….. (this was before 9/11)

    I tried……

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