There are small digital cheapish hardware floating around the web that you can buy for peanuts compared to high end equipment. Granted they’re not a good but they work good enough for most projects. A lot of people including myself have limited space. My work area is pretty small and the bench power supply I built takes up a big chunk of the desktop area. So I got to thinking about a “all in one unit”. Since the ATMega series and PIC series micro controllers can do all kinds of stuff and as long as you pic a micro format you can build a small unit. For a example you want a unit that can do LCR, power, multimeter and a oscilloscope. There are Arduino projects you can modify to your needs. I’m not saying like use a single Arduino to do all of this but more like share. Have a ATMega for each device but you can make them share a single LCD and switches/buttons. You can make a very small unit that can handle that. Only issue with that is you can only use one or two devices at a time. For my needs I was going to have a unit that would have three or four displays and they’re corresponding controls. This way I can probe the current usage and tweak the power level or whatever.
In a nutshell my personal unit would have the following.
- Variable Power suuply
- DDS Function Generator
These devices have Arduino projects except the Oscilloscope that uses a ARM Cortex. The Variable power supply doesn’t use a Arduino but I have seen projects that let you control one with a Arduino it via software but I wouldn’t need that. The unit would also have two power supplies. One to power the unit and one for as the variable power supply since you don’t really want to share the same power source with the test gear and the device under test. Would be nice to also have some extra AC sockets to use for powering my soldering iron and stuff but this would make things bigger and more bulky.