I don't need you to get me into my workshop Adam.... Just need to get it sorted out so I have some space to do things. I strip a lot of old boards - its a good way to get a lot of high quality components very cheaply - but my workbench tends to get full of said components and other stuff I'm working on.
My first breadboard (now almost 40 years old) was in a metal case and only had a power supply inside - +/-5 and +/- 12. Since then I have made a couple of others which have simpler power supplies but also have LEDs and sometimes a couple of frequencies derived from the fullwave rectified mains (100Hz down to 1Hz) which can be useful. I also made up an R-C decade box which can be quicker than finding a certain R or C in a hurry. But having a big one with everything in one place will be great.
If I get it done I'll do a writeup on it so you can see, but don't hold your breath.... :-)
If this has gotten one person out to work in their shop, then I feel that it was a success. I hope to see what you might come up with. Also, I think that the shed might be safe from people putting other stuff in it that might crowd out actual working going on. I have found that somehow garages always get filled up and not with the stuff that you want.
You might look into the Red Pitaya. It looks like it is going to be a very nice tool. It is more expensive than some of the Analog tools that you mention, but it should be just as capable and then some.
David - I'd like one of the big magnifying lamps. Instead, I just have a pair of diopter 4 reading glasses. Those, a bright light and a pair of fine point tweezers have allowed me to hand solder down to 0402 passives.
@Adam, Duane - Speaking of desk lamps, one with a magnifier is great when age and decrepitude are taking their toll. I have one with a regular bulb on the side, but am thinking of modifying it (or getting another one) with LEDs round the lens for more even lighting. They're great when ou're working with SMD components and other small fiddly stuff.
I got a student version of LabView and with it NI's MyDAQ - similar thing to the Analog Discovery but with far less bandwidth - I think the scope is 200 KSPS so it only goes up to about 40 KHz max - pretty hopeless for anything serious. however it is fairly versatile - DMM and 2-channel audio sig gen on board, and the instruments it comes with are not bad. I've asked about the Analog Discovery in Aussie but no one seems to have it, especially at the student price.
@Adam...just writing about it has got me fired up a bit to do something. My workshop is in the last 5 feet of my garage and until recently I could hardly move there, however I just got a new shed, so can move some of my stuff out there and get a bit more space to actually DO something....
As you say, having stuff like switches, LED, pots etc on-board (I suppose that should really be just off-board?) saves a lot of time when you need them.
I don't think weight is an issue; a breadboard should be fairly solid so it does not move when you're trying to insert wires or connect scope probes, etc. And making one up yourself is very satisfying AND you can get it just how you want.
Lasty, I've been commenting on everyone else's comments but I gotta say this is a great column Adam, and judging by the number of comments I'm not the only one who thinks so - many thanks!
The Other Tesla David Blaza5 comments I find myself going to Kickstarter and Indiegogo on a regular basis these days because they have become real innovation marketplaces. As far as I'm concerned, this is where a lot of cool ...