A good Digital scope will allow you to "see" digital streams, A/D steps and resolution. Also there is really no differentiation between digital and anlog signals since ALL digital signals have finite rise and fall times, ringing, etc. so when you get down to it all signals are analog.
Now there are special multi channel logic analyzers with built in I2C, SPI, CAN, and other serial protocol analyzers, but these come at a high cost if you REALLY want to see the analog component of the signals.
I have to admit that I frequently have gotten away with crimping with a standard pair of needle nose pliers and a small chisel and hammer. Because I am mostly building personal stuff this has not been an issue. I would love to hear about a good set of crimpers that covered a wide range of devices for under say $65. I realize that is asking a lot as many specialized crimpers are in the $200+ range.
The problem with crimpers is that you can't get away with one, but need a whole selection...
I make sure I do a fair amount of crimping at work, because when I'm choosing connectors I want to know what I'm inflicting on our techs. And, I've made sure to get decent crimpers for the connectors we use all the time.
Of course, if anyone has suggestions for THE ONE crimper to get, I'm interested -- can anything crimp ferrules, RJ jacks, DB & HD pins, Mini-Fit Jrs, Micro-Fit Jrs (ugh!), CPC pins, etc with ease?
One tool that I forgot (and hope that most already have) is a digital multi-meter. The usual suspects of a nice working wire stripper, needle nose pliers, wire cutters, etc.. for all those hand tools that we take for granted. If you are doing any crimp connectors a quality hand crimpper is essential.
Those are all good suggestions. I am thinking about writing up a follow up article on the other small things that I have around. One of these days I may need to get a lighted magnifying glass. In fact, I have one from the 50's on my desk at work right now. They are useful, though somewhat cumbersome. Thanks again for the suggestions!
I would have suggested a lighted magnifying glass most useful for the small parts and for inspection of the PC board for shorts etc. The other addition I would suggest is a low cost signal generator: sine waves and digital would be fine. I am sure there are low cost used options on the market but it does not have to be super fancy just working..
I was not familiar with that brand. I just went to their website to check them out. It looks like they have some nice products. I am glad to see that I am not the only one with expensive tastes in my writing devices.
Pen with heft? My trusty Rotring rolling ball pen. Anodized aluminum body, spring base for the ink cartridge. Weighs as much as my Galaxy Nexxus S.
After 18 years, the anodizing is wearing from the corners and the cap does not snap on as crisply as when new, but the way in which it warms to the temperature of my hand and dampens the pressure I may apply keep me buying better quality refills for it.
Side note - distinctive pens are not likely to walk in a small company. Nor are you as likely to leave it laying about. Quality is inexpensive.
Yeah, I have found that this is something that seems to be personal preference. I have not yet had any major issues dealing with ringing in my signal traces. This may be, though, because most of my boards are under 2" square, and usually are not sending serial coms over long wires.
As for debugging the signals, in the first boards I always include a via that I can solder wires into for each of the serial coms and hence have nice test points. Another things is that if the logic analyzer is not registering the signal well, then you can know that you need to get your scope out to debug it.
I have yet to need a stereo scope, but I might have to put that on my watch list for ebay and see if I can get a good one cheap.