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Ingrid Gregor | DESY | Germany

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Tools of Trade III

Now I want to add a few items the Tools of Trade list started by Nicole and Zoe.

As I am more on the hardware side, the tools I use are in some cases different. Of course I also use most of the mentioned computer tools; hardware is nowadays most of the time a lot of computer work (for example a lot of programming is involved to get the hardware doing what it should do).

The main tools used when working on hardware are

  • Oscilloscope – modern oscilloscopes are rather small and handy and easy to carry around. You can quickly look at the signals and figure out what is wrong or what is missing. That does not mean that your problem is easily fixed, but without this tool we would not have a chance.
  • Digital Voltmeter – a rather simple tool but very important. With its different functions you can measure voltage, current, resistance and capacitances. But also check if you have somewhere a short or a ground connection you don’t want ….

And last, but not least, the Universal Physical Adapter (UPA), a very important tool. It comes in two different kinds:

  1. Tape – this kind of UPA is used widely and can be found in almost every test setup, from the desk-top setup in the laboratory to the test beam experiment. In final experiments they are usually avoided, but sometimes appear at the strangest places.  Tape comes in a number of flavors from sturdy duct tape to highly advanced kapton tape (very expensive, supervisors tend to get nervous breakdowns if students use it like Scotch tape). I never go to a test beam campaign without packing at least two different flavors of tape.
  2. Cable binders – also a very handy UPA. It helps to get a grip on big clutters of cables – as you know from home, cables have the tendency to build knots as soon there is more than one cable. In particle physics experiments were one can find thousands of cables, this tendency can have a big impact on the outcome of the experiment. But cable binders are also helpful to fix thinks temporarily if the mechanical interface is not what you thought it should be. So the cable binders actually found their way into my household. I used them to attach the curtains. The more classical approach involving sewing was too complicated for me.
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