For a small electronics lab you need some equipment, but in the years I found out that you do not need extraordinary stuff to get some good things to work. Also, some things that may not seem important at first may be inexpensible.
What do you need (in my opinion)
- Good lighting is probably the most important. I use a fluorescent tube for flood lighting with some halogen spots for contrast. Only fluorescent lighting will be very tiring because of the lack of contrast and only halogen is uncomfortable because of too much shadows.
- Obviously a desk and chair to sit on.
- You do not need a lot of tools, but try to invest in some good tools (screwdrivers, tweezers and cutting tools).
- A good power supply.
- A good multimeter; current, voltage and resistance measurements. Optionally something to measure capacitors / inductors. This is very nice when you are working with SMD parts (the value is mostly not printed on the parts).
- A good soldering iron. Temperature is between 300 to 350 degrees for tin with lead. There is not a real need for a variable temperature but sometimes this is handy when soldering difficult matter (such as metal screens). I would reccommend a simple model from a good brand. I own a weller WS80 station, which to my opinion is a very luxuary unit, but I am extremely satisfied with it.
- A function generator and oscilloscope. For some measurements this comes in very handy, although you can generally do without. A good alternative is a soundcard with software. There is a lot of (free) oscilloscope software on the net. In some cases a soundcard is even preferable above an oscilloscope (at least in the audio range) because you can do transfer function alalysis, which you in general cannot do with oscilloscopes. After a long time working with analog oscilloscopes, I got digital one (to be connected with a computer) and I will not go back to analog. Not only these digital units are very small, they offer much more flexibility and functions.
- When working with SMD or other small units, a stereo microscope is very useful. This is one of the things I never expected to use so much. I own a microscope of the brand 'Sunny' with magnification of 10* and 20*. Of course it is not a Leica or Bausch & Lomb but nevertheless I am amazed by the optical quality for the relatively low price (below 200 $).
- Computer, to search for datasheets, design PCB's simulate designs, program controllers, etcetera.
For developing PCB's you do need a small chemical setup, in another page this is explained ( pcb-process )
Below some pictures of how my lab was organized. This lab is not anymore because me and my wife and child moved. I found it a really perfect place to work, with lots of desk space and nice big windows.