Sunday, May 26, 2013

Retro Projects: Up to 1978

This post starts a short series of posts on projects past.  I cannot say when I actually started into electronics, sometime around 16 perhaps.  This era was dominated by Radio Shack.  They had nearly any part you could want.  And they has books and kits to help you get started.

Radio Shack Project Books by Forest M. Mims, III
Project Instructions
The kits generally had memorable plastic project boxes with a grid of holes to anchor parts.
A Field Strength Meter with a diode and transistor
You could buy boxes separately - they made good speaker boxes for a homemade intercom

With project books, it was a natural that experimenters would buy lots of parts.  And they did.  I'm not sure the company got rich doing so but they carried parts for years before discovering selling cell phones was more important.

Once one graduated from projects, one would start modifying electronics from other sources.
Power supply from a clock repurposed for projects

Repurposing an old radio as an amplifier case

Probing an old radio finds the output amplifier
Pretty soon I was making my own projects.  Again many from books or articles but possibly modified.
Decision maker with neon bulbs
I have a couple of LED projects in this genre not shown.

Finally I decide to make more polished project cases.  Here is a 555 function generator with changable frequency in a nice case.
The range changes the capacitor while the tuning used a potentiometer in the 555 circuit
With this group of projects under my belt, I start to graduate towards digital circuits, which will be the subject of the next post.