tpobrienjr

Member Since: November 17, 2010

Country: United States

Profile

Bio

Engineer, Programmer, Systems Analyst, Consultant, Grandpa

Role

Retired

Spoken Languages

English

Programming Languages

Many (APL, Fortran, Cobol, 360 Assembler, PL/I, Pascal, C, C++, REXX, Perl, HAL/S, etc.)

Associations

IEEE, BEST Robotics, ARRL

Universities

Texas A&M, SMU

Expertise

Robotics, etc.

Interests

Amateur Radio, Robotics

Websites

roboticsforgrandparents.blogspot.com

  • I met Dr. Grace Hopper on a couple of occasions, when she was on speaking tours. She told a story about a project for the Navy, in which she had a Data General minicomputer with about 16K of memory. She told the Navy she could build the project using the DG machine, and they had doubts. She reminded them that she and a small team had built the first COBOL compiler on a smaller (4K, if I remember right), so not to worry. Later they named a warship after her!
    The moral of that story, if there is one, is that if you tell a smart woman she can’t do something, you’d better step out of the way!

  • I just finished building the Big Time Watch with my granddaughter and the Simon game with my grandson (11 and 9, respectively). My approach to the soldering part was to show them how by soldering one joint, then watching as they soldered all the rest. The girl is now proficient with soldering, and the boy is nearly as proficient. Both projects worked immediately on completion, and now two grandsons want the watch! Thank you for a couple of excellent through-hole soldering kits. We may soon try reprogramming the Simon. The boy has a fiendish idea for Simon reprogramming.

  • I was adjusting one of these last week and the knob came off, revealing a little slotted shaft. It goes back on easily, but revealed that this little trimpot can be used in close quarters, with a screwdriver, with or without the knob. The shaft can be set up to protrude through a hole, as well.

  • Don’t mind Jake. He’s just molting.

  • Thanks for the opportunity to help the affected families. I found it also easy to donate through the United Way link.

  • Without bad luck and dumb luck, he’d have no luck at all. It’s not easy being yellow (sorry Kermit).

  • I haven’t known about Sparkfun for its entire lifetime, but I wish I had. Whenever someone asks (or doesn’t), I recommend Sparkfun. Your company has a great blend of customer care, originality, honesty, and openness. Keep it up!

  • My favorite Heathkits were the DX-40 transmitter (AM and CW), and the VF-1 VFO. The DX-40 went together easily and worked the first time. It was my first AM transmitter. The VF-1 plugged right into the crystal socket, and also worked the first time. Before going on the air, I checked its calibration against a surplus BC-221 frequency meter, and it was dead-on accurate. Right out of the box. Amazing.

    A point about what was attractive about Heathkits was the economics: some of the gadgets couldn’t be had elsewhere at any price. Some were a bit less expensive than a manufactured equivalent. All of them provided educational value that was priceless.

    Another point - about encouraging kids to do things with electronics: When I was 14 or so, my father noticed my interest in electronics. The first Heathkit (a little mono amplifier) arrived at Christmas. Other devices followed. The most important thing Dad did (I didn’t realize its significance until years later - I thought all Dads did things like that) was to enroll himself in a night electronics class at the local junior college. He worked a deal with the instructor so that I could tag along, though I wasn’t eligible to enroll. We took two semesters of basic electricity and electronics, and had a ball. That led me to a satisfying career in electronics, computers, and software engineering, and a lifetime of fun with ham radio.

    Heathkits provided the fertile soil for those seeds.

    My grandson (7) and I built the Simon kit a few months ago, and I think he’s hooked.

  • Is there going to be a breakout board for this part?

  • Not sure exactly how to describe this. When I mount the joystick on the breakout board, then put some standoffs on the component side, the joystick’s skirt interferes with two of the standoffs. The standoffs are the small hexagonal threaded standoffs, 4-40 threaded, ½ inch long. It would help to move two of the mounting holes (the top two, looking at the photo) about 2mm “north”. Maybe I will nibble away some of the skirt to provide some clearance, geometry permitting.