Member #134773

Member Since: May 19, 2010

Country: United States


I started playing with electronics in the mid-1960s, and with computers shortly after Neil Armstrong took “one small step”. I got a degree in CS in 1980, and started working then as an engineer.

  • Back in the 60s, when I was a kid, I had to make my meager allowance stretch as far as possible. Often, the box specified for the project I wanted to build would cost more than the stuff that went inside. I built many projects in old “tin” cans – nut cans, at the time were nice as they had tight fitting lids, but they were hard to find and needed to be washed out thoroughly. (Sometimes I’d scrape the paint off them, other times I’d leave it on.) In the 70s I built a UV EPROM eraser in an old coffee can (still have it, in fact).

    I recently (as in within about the past week) got a 3-D printer, and I expect to use it to make a few enclosures (though being a Printrbot “Maker”, is limited to about 4" on a side). Some rather “unconventional” things can be 3-D printed…

  • The website you used for the box sounds interesting. How about a link to it?

  • I had, what thankfully was a rather rare path, in that I grew up as a crippled child in the 60s. I have osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), and about a third of the time I had a cast on one leg or the other (or both). I didn’t have a lot of things to take apart, though I had a few things. Watching the space race on TV was an inspiration. (Knock on wood, I haven’t had a broken leg since ‘68, though I have broken a few other bones.)

  • Great video and explanation, Pete! However, I was hoping for something about what was done to improve the acoustics for the “New Product Friday” videos. ;-) Maybe sometime in the future on that?

    I’d also like a brief explanation of the “boost/buck” regulators that can operate in both modes to control a much wider input variation. And you might say a word or two more about the “poor man’s RF loop”, for those who aren’t aware of how to set it up.

    And one final thing: has LOTS of inductors (their product selector is claiming well over 100,000, though that often includes both ones that are not “in stock” but are still in production as well as separate listings for different packaging for the same part, e.g., in a bag versus on a reel). I’m sure that has a huge number as well, and probably Jameco, though I haven’t checked the last two sources. So, even if we can no longer get them at SparkFun, we can still get them.

  • CaseyD-SFE replied to goldcoasttech’s comment, and addressed mine, while I was typing mine. Sorry for the redundancy.

  • It seems to me that keeping such a decision tree straight is something far better done by a computer than by a human. I’ll grant that it’s a non-trivial bit of programming (said by someone with 30+ years programming professionally), but the computer is much less likely to miss having 10x Edison blocks (with built in 400mAh battery) in an order with 5 coin cells and 20 AA cells or whatever, as well as knowing the difference between shipping to Paris, TX and Paris, France. And once the program is “up and running” AND has been thoroughly checked out, it can get the delay down to seconds (or milliseconds). (And yes, it’s going to take a LOT of maintenance to keep up with the moving targets of regulations.)

  • I’m looking forward to your having the new Raspberry Pi 2.

    BTW, I’ve noticed that the acoustics have gotten MUCH better. Are we going to see an “According to Pete” on how it was accomplished? ;-)

  • The “traditional” way (dating back to the days of vacuum tubes) of turning a sine wave into a square wave is to amplify it to the point where the amplifier is “clipping”. A small op-amp can easily handle it.

    On a different tangent, my understanding (I’ve never directly worked with these engines, just “conceptually”) is that the igniter is, in essence, a spark plug, and does essentially the same job as the spark plug onn say, a lawn mower engine, except that “timing” isn’t referenced to the crankshaft position.

  • You reminded me of when I moved out to the Silicon Gulch area for a couple of years. The dump of an apartment that I was able to get (the “for rent” listings in the San Jose Mercury covered about as much area as a business card) had the one “advantage” of being right across the street from a Radio Shack store. But being in Silicon Gulch, I could jump in the car and run over to the (original) Fry’s Electronics, or Weird Stuff, or Jameco, or some other shops.

    Yeah, it’s nice to reminisce about the “good old days”, but frankly, I like the Internet and being able to shop SparkFun (and others) and see, before I click on the “buy” button, whether they have what I want in stock. (There have been times when I’ve “done the rounds” and rather than “Letting my fingers to the walking” through the phone book letting them dance on the keyboard.) And, to boot, it’s very easy today to get datasheets – something that wasn’t true until we had the Internet and Google.

  • I remember the “Battery Club” cards back in the 60s. The free battery once a month powered a lot of my experimentation. My mother accused me of “throwing my money at them” – she had no understanding of my techie needs. I heard the last of that, though, when I got promoted at my job in an electronics factory that was paying more than the job my father had at the time.

    I have mixed feelings about RS passing. I recall the frustration with trying to solder a “barrel connector” back in the 60s because the melting point of the insulating plastic was less than the melting point of solder. A couple of years ago, I couldn’t wait to get a good one from DigiKey or some other supplier (and couldn’t even afford the time to drive to Fry’s Electronics) so had to use one from the neighborhood RS store – and they hadn’t improved the situation in more than 40 years! Argh! (At least I could make a comment on their website – and was surprised that they didn’t kill it, as it was negative.)

    On the subject of Ham Radio, the HT-202 and HT-404, while kind of “clunky”, would work in a lot of situations where a “fancier” (pronounced “any other”) hand held radio would be unusable because of interference. Those were very good radios, and the prices were fairly good, too.

    The one big thing about RS that I am really sad about is that a lot of kids get the idea that they CAN do it themselves by seeing those parts hanging on the walls or, more recently, being in the drawers.

    At least we still have SparkFun, Adafruit, DigiKey, Mouser, et al. (One I’m glad has gone is PolyPaks.)

No public wish lists :(