Equipment for All Students


Each student will need a laptop computer, a microcontroller kit, and a set of hand tools. Please plan to have acquired all of the materials listed on this page by the end of the first week of class.

Students will need to purchase their own laptops. The Arduino Inventors Kit is available in the PSU Bookstore. Students will be responsible for assembling their own set of hand tools.

Laptop Computer

Each students will need their own laptop for work during class and for taking exams. Windows PC or Macintosh laptops will work. If you have a functioning laptop, there is no need to buy a new one.

Students will be expected to demonstrate proficiency with solid-modeling (Solid-works), analysis (MathCAD), basic office productivity (Microsoft Office or equivalent), and microcontroller programming (Arduino IDE). Students will need to use their laptops during exams because part of the exam grades involve demonstration of computer skills.

Laptops will also be necessary for the majority of class sessions. Students will be writing code to download to their Arduino microcontrollers. They will be performing analysis, e.g. curve fitting and other data reduction.

The Solidworks solid modeling software is provided in a computer lab in the Engineering Building. Students may also opt to purchase a campus-licensed version of MathCAD.

Microcontroller Platform

The PSU Bookstore has Arduino Inventor's Kits in stock. Go to the Textbook Information Desk near the front door of the store, and ask for the kit. It makes sense for students to buy the kits through the bookstore to realize the bulk discount and to avoid shipping fees.

The Arduino is open-source, so the software for writing programs and communicating with the board is free and can be downloaded from the Arduino web site.

Hand Tools

Each student will be required to assemble a set of hand tools that will be used for homework and for work in class. Details are provided in another section of this web page, below.

The following table includes rough estimates for the cost for tools, and in particular gives the lowest cost versions of tools that are suitable for the course. For comparison, higher cost estimates are also provided. We recommend that you do not buy the high cost versions of these tools. Start simple and upgrade later as you develop an appreciation for the utility of individual tools. A fine tool does not bestow magical powers on the wielder of the tool. It's better to know how to use a tool, no matter how humble, than to be an unskilled owner of fine (and expensive) tools.

Note that these tools will be used for EAS 199A, 199B, and 199C, and will be useful throughout your engineering career.

ItemLow costHigh cost

Canvas Tool bag$5$50
Small snap-lid plastic tubs (2)$0$5
Seven function multimeter$15$300
Mini test clip adapters$4$8
ANSI Approved Safety glasses$2$20
Philips and flat head screwdrivers$3$15
Needle nose pliers$5$15
Wire stripper$5$15
Alligator clip extension wires$2$10
Stainless steel ruler$3$12
Dial caliper$20$250
Fine point permanent marker$1$2
Black electrical tape$0.50$3
Teflon tape$0.60$3
Flux core, lead-free solder$2$3
Solder flux$7$10
Utility knife or pocket knife$3$15
9 Volt Battery$2$5



For your convenience, a list of local and on-line suppliers is provided at the bottom of this page.

Detailed description of Hand Tools

Canvas Tool bag
Picture of tool bag Picture of tool bag
Description: A small (14 or 16 inch) canvas tool bag with handles and a zipper closure.
Purpose: The toolbag will protect your tools and microcontroller board as you transport them to and from the lab.
Source: Various sources, including local hardware stores and chains such as Home Depot.
Approximate Cost: $5 - $35
Small snap-lid plastic tubs
Food storage tub
Description: Small tubs for holding leftovers. It is OK to reuse an existing tub, but once you have used it to hold electronic parts, solder and flux, you should not use it again to store food.
Purpose: The tub will provide secure storage for your microcontroller and a breadboard project. The Sparkfun Inventor's Kit comes in a nice, reusable cardboard box. Depending on the size of your canvas tool bag, the Sparkfun cardboard box may be too large to fit inside the canvas bag along with the hand tools. In that case, the plastic tub (or tubs) will provide additional flexibility in storing and protecting the contents of the kit without needing to also fit the cardboard box inside the tool bag.
Source: Various sources, including local hardware stores and chains such as Home Depot.
Approximate Cost: $1 - $5
Digital multimeter
Low cost multimeter
Description: A multimeter is an instrument used to measure electrical resistance, voltage, and current. Each students is required to have a digital multimeter for this class. We recommend purchasing a modestly low-cost meter in the range $15 to $35 for this class. A $15 multimeter is perfectly adequate. A $5 multimeter may work, but we have had difficulty with such inexpensive meters in the past. Lab technicians, electricians and engineers often use multimeters costing $200 or more, but that level of multimeter is not necessary for this class.
Students purchasing multimeters on-line should consider pooling their orders to get volume discounts (for 10 or more) and to reduce shipping costs.
Purpose: Students will be taught how to use a multimeter to troubleshoot electrical circuits, and to verify important fundamental principles of DC circuits.
Sources: As of early September 2011, a few digital multimeters are available for $15 from the following sources.
Sparkfun sells a decent, low cost digital multimeter for $15 plus shipping. The multimeter has all the functions necessary for class, but it is not auto-ranging.
Amazon sells an low-cost, autoranging multimeter for $15 plus shipping. This multimeter will work for the class.
The local Fry's store has a low-cost, digital multimeter for $19.
Better multimeters are autoranging, which makes measurement easier. But, the multimeter shown will work well for this course.
Approximate Cost: $15.
Alternatives: For $55 plus shipping, Adafruit sells very versatile and quite capable digital multimeter from Exetech.
There are less expensive meters in the same family available from other vendors, including a model for $19 from Amazon.
Miniature test clip adapters
Clip adapters for multimeter probes
Purpose: Adding these clips to the probles on the multimeter leads makes troubleshooting your circuits much easier.
Source: or at a local Radio Shack store.
CAUTION: Radio Shack's mini hook clips look almost identical to the mini test clip adapters - you DO NOT need the mini hook clips. Be sure to get part number 270-334.
Approximate Cost: $3.50 per pair
ANSI Approved Safety Glasses
Safety glasses
Purpose: To protect your eyes during project work.
Source: Local hardware or general supply stores, as well as on-line
Approximate Cost: $2 to $20 per pair. There is no need to buy expensive glasses just to look cool.
Phillips and flat head screwdriver, or a combination screwdriver
Combination screw driver
Description: A Phillips and flat head screwdriver are generally handy. You can purchase a 6-in-1 as shown, or separate screwdrivers.
Purpose: Assembling the mobile robotics platform, attaching small components, assembling the pump body.
Source: Local hardware or general supply stores, as well as on-line
Approximate Cost: $3 to $15.
Needle Nose Pliers
Needle nose pliers
Purpose: Essential component for working with electrical wiring.
Source: Local hardware or general supply stores, as well as on-line
Approximate Cost: $2 to $15.
Wire Stripper
Wire Stripper
Purpose: Essential tool for removing insulation from electrical wiring.
Source: Local hardware or general supply stores, as well as on-line. At, the part number is ST-30. Be sure the stripper can handle 20 to 24 gage wire.
Approximate Cost: $5 to $15.
Alligator clip extension wires
Combination screw driver
Description: A small bundle of insulated wires with insulated alligator clips on each end. Usually sold in assorted colors.
Purpose: Alligator clips allow you to quickly connect electrical circuits for testing and debugging
Source: Varous sources, online or local (Radio Shack). At, the part number is TL-6BW.
Approximate Cost: $2 to $6.
Stainless steel ruler
Small machinist ruler
Description: A small ruler (usually 6 inches long) with very fine gradations suitable for marking parts to be machined. There are many different types that will work well.
Purpose: To measure parts for cutting and machining.
Source: Varous sources, online or local, including a good hardware store.
Approximate Cost: $3 to $12.
Dial caliper
Dial caliper
Description: A low cost version of a precision tool. A six inch model with a thumb wheel is recommended. Battery-powered digital read outs are not required or recommended.
Purpose: To measure parts to within 0.001 inch, usually to inspect or verify dimensions.
Source: Various sources, online or local. At, see item number 66541.
Approximate Cost: $20 and up.
Fine point permanent marker
Sharpie marker
Description: A fine point Sharpie brand, permanent marker, or equivalent.
Purpose: To mark parts during fabrication.
Source: Varous sources including the campus bookstore.
Approximate Cost: $1 to $2.
Black electrical tape
Roll of electrical tape
Purpose: Multiple uses including temporary insulation of electrical junctions, joining of wires, etc.
Source: Hardware stores and general merchandise stores
Approximate Cost: $0.50 to $2.
Teflon tape
Roll of electrical tape
Description: Thin, flexible (usually white) tape made from teflon and sold on plastic spools.
Purpose: Sealing pipe threads.
Source: Hardware stores and general merchandise stores
Approximate Cost: $0.60 to $3.
Flux core, lead-free solder
Small coil of solder
Description: 0.032" flux core solder is used to form semi-permanent electrical connections. Common solder contains lead, and hence can be hazardous if the fumes are inhaled or the material is handled a lot. Non-toxic lead-free solder is recommended, but is harder to work with. Read and adhere to all safety precautions on the packaging.
Purpose: Soldering sensors to extension wires.
Source: Hardware stores, electronic stores (e.g. Radio Shack) and on-line.
Approximate Cost: $2 to $3.
Solder flux
Small tin of solder flux
Description: A small tin or plastic tub of solder flux. Read and adhere to all safety precautions on the packaging.
Purpose: Prevents oxidation of metals being joined by soldering at elevated temperatures, and helps solder flow over heated parts by improving the wettabitlity of the solder.
Source: Hardware stores, electronic stores (e.g. Radio Shack) and on-line.
Approximate Cost: $2 to $3.
Utility knife
pocket knife pocket knife
Description: A pocket knife or a carpenters utility knife. The blade must retract or fold so that the cutting edge is not exposed when the knife is not in use.
Purpose: Cutting and scoring light materials, heat shrink tubing, and de-burring plastic parts.
Source: Hardware stores, general supply stores.
Approximate Cost: $3 to $10.
9 Volt Battery
9 Volt battery
Purpose: Supplying power to the Arduino when not connected to the computer via USB.
Source: Hardware stores, general supply stores.
Approximate Cost: $5 in packs of two.

Local Sources of Electronics and Electronic Equipment

Used Electronics/Surplus Electronics


Mail order and On-line

Local Hardware Stores

Local Hobby Stores

There are other hobby stores in Portland. Those on the following list are more likely to have electronics, servos, and other gadgets that you might need in this class.

Some online suppliers