Books & other publications

This is the place for any magazine-related discussions that don't fit in any of the column discussion boards below.
carlgarcia
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Books & other publications

Post by carlgarcia » Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:21 pm

I've been searching for any pub that talks about regular electronics, not computer info. N & V is good but I'd l;ike more hard wired stuff. Any suggestions?

SETEC_Astronomy
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Post by SETEC_Astronomy » Sat Feb 02, 2008 8:56 pm

Unfortunately I think there are only one or two others and they are produced in foreign countries. They can be purchased in an English format but are very expensive, somewhere around $150+ per year. One such publication is Everyday practical electronics but I have to say I ordered it for myself and was very unimpressed. The magazine was 95% ads, 4% new product news and 1% projects. The projects were well planned and designed but you only get one or two an issue.

a few links:
http://www.epemag.wimborne.co.uk/ - Everyday practical electronics
http://www.siliconchip.com.au/ - Silicon chip magazine
http://www.elektor.com/magazine/subscri ... 9083.lynkx - elektor electronics

bodgy
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Post by bodgy » Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:47 pm

SETEC_Astronomy wrote:Unfortunately I think there are only one or two others and they are produced in foreign countries. They can be purchased in an English format but are very expensive, somewhere around $150+ per year. One such publication is Everyday practical electronics but I have to say I ordered it for myself and was very unimpressed. The magazine was 95% ads, 4% new product news and 1% projects. The projects were well planned and designed but you only get one or two an issue.

a few links:
http://www.epemag.wimborne.co.uk/ - Everyday practical electronics
http://www.siliconchip.com.au/ - Silicon chip magazine
http://www.elektor.com/magazine/subscri ... 9083.lynkx - elektor electronics
You missed Circuit Cellar www.circuitcellar.com

In the UK there is still Practical Wireless and Electronics International (Wireless World that was, and is only just hanging on) - their website is ordinary to say the least, haven't actually seen the mag for at least ten years, and it's not imported into Australia.

Depending on the country the Amateur Radio magazines tend to have radio/TV only circuits. EPE has sadly gone downhill since it's main contributor had health problems - they now have an agreement with Silicon Chip and most of their projects now come from there.

I recall in the mid 70's the UK had 8 monthly electronic magazines.

Colin
On a clear disk you can seek forever.

Bigglez
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Re: Books & other publications

Post by Bigglez » Sun Feb 03, 2008 1:51 am

Greetings Carl,
carlgarcia wrote:I've been searching for any pub that talks about regular electronics, not computer info. N & V is good but I'd l;ike more hard wired stuff. Any suggestions?
Can you give us an idea of the projects you'd like to see?

Another avenue is to sign up to one or more forum's that
address constructor's questions and follow the discussion.
Not only that you will you have access to the authors,
who will more than likely want to help you learn their tricks.

Comments Welcome!

Robert Reed
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Post by Robert Reed » Sun Feb 03, 2008 1:49 pm

It may be a little different than what you are looking for, but I regard "QST" as one of the finest electronic publications of today. Its geared toward amateur radio, but has enough 'core' electronics in it that everyone could benefit from it. Its authors are of a very high caliber and could put some professional engineers to shame.

Dean Huster
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Post by Dean Huster » Sun Feb 03, 2008 6:01 pm

Such is the demise of the hobbyist electronics magazines. It was such that when Poptronics and Gernsback suddenly bit the dust, I spent lots of time researching the practicality of publishing a hobbyist electronics magazine that was geared to projects and some circuit theory with zero advertizing. Even with authors contributing their articles and getting nothing more than comp subscriptions, the time, postage, paper and printing made it something that would never, ever provide any income -- and in fact, would financially destroy us, as if we could be destroyed much further.

But after writing the "Q & A" column for Poptronics, oh what fun that would be, sharing all sorts of fun and wonderful stuff with others having interests like me. There were several folks who were excited about the project and started sending me subscription money, but alas, I had to send it all back after my research. On the other hand, advertizing would support the magazine, but who would advertise in an unheard-of publication with super-low circulation even if the rates were dirt cheap? However annoying advertizing is, SETEC, it's necessary to keep the subscription costs reasonable. If you look at niche professional publications such as some medical publications, you'll see that the typical $130 annual subscription prices would never work for us mere mortals.

I also hate advertizing when it's to the point that it overwhelms the magazine (Byte magazine in the early 1980s was truly 95% ads after McGraw-Hill took over the publishing ... I analyzed an issue).

If you guys are lamenting the lack of hobbyist magazines, just think what it's like for us guys who were hot and heavy into electronics when we were teens in the 1960s. We were ecstatic when there were as many as five or six U.S. mags being published at one time. The titles came and went:

Popular Electronics, Computers and Electronics
Radio-Electronics, Electronics Now,
(the new) Popular Electronics, Poptronics
Electronics World
(later merged with Popular Electronics
Radio-TV Experimenter
Elementary Electronics
Modern Electronics
Hands-On Electronics

Not to mention all of the various amateur radio magazines such as QST, 73, Ham Radio, CQ
Wayne Green's Kilobaud, even though a "computer magazine", centered on the construction of computer stuff that was common in the late 1970's

And there were older magazines and magzines being published outside of the U.S. So, just having Nuts & Volts, not to be condescending or unappreciative, is rather depressing. The old days were loaded with some of the greastest construction projects ever.

Dean
Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).

R.I.P.

Robert Reed
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Post by Robert Reed » Sun Feb 03, 2008 7:27 pm

Dean
After reading your post, I couldn't resist to add my thoughts on it. I was away from "Hobby electronics" for quite a few years. About 5 years ago, something rekindled my interest (I forgot what it was) and all of a sudden I was raring to go. I could not wait to hit the bookstores and load up on those wonderful magazines that you had just mentioned. To my shock and dismay, they had all dissapeared off the face of the earth. I could not believe what I found, as there was only one magazine 'out there' - Nuts and Volts - a magazine I had never heard of before. Although they occasionally have articles that might compare with some of the aformentioned magazines, I feel they are too top heavy with digital (althogh this months issue showed definate improvement. I was a big fan of Radio-Electronics Mag way back and had my first article published by them. As a matter of fact, I remember seeing some info that I believe you posted on the web a few years ago, and promptly applied to be one of your authors. I was very sorry it did not come about, but as you described - economics. God, I miss those old magazines.

bodgy
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Post by bodgy » Mon Feb 04, 2008 3:40 am

I suppose a downloadable pdf format e-zine would be relatively cheap to produce, the main expenditure would be contributors time - and the cost of the website.


Colin
On a clear disk you can seek forever.

Dean Huster
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Post by Dean Huster » Mon Feb 04, 2008 5:58 am

Trouble is, Colin, that I absolutely despise e-zines! I just can't handle the reading format (kills my 59-year-old neck) and the cost of printing out the pages, even using a laser printer, is not worth it. Larry Steckler took Poptronics to an e-zine format when Gernsback was going under. See how well that's worked? I absolutely LOVE the ability to store my magazines in chronological order on a bookshelf for quick access or if they're in a 3-hole-punched format, in 3-ring D-ring binders.

There is a woodworking magazine that has absolutely no advertizing. And I believe a model railroad magazine was that way. I have to check out the woodworking one, because it's still being published, to see how they manage. I may write to the publisher to check it out. I mean, I love this stuff (electronics) and would love to see something decent get off the ground and thrive.

Yeah, Robert, I'm sorry about your disappointment. I guess for all you others, you have to realize that "my" magazine wasn't going to have any PIC, computer or µP articles. I'm of the old generation where I liked the types of construction projects in the original magazines. There's just something about replacing hardware with software that I don't like when I'm wanting to work with applying basic electronic circuits to solve a problem. Yeah, makes for a lot of extra money, board space, time and power consumption, but I sure don't have to hassle with loop delays in a system where I need dead-on timing! You know me. Curmudgeon.

Dean
Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).

R.I.P.

Bigglez
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Post by Bigglez » Mon Feb 04, 2008 4:35 pm

Greetings Dean,
Dean Huster wrote:I guess for all you others, you have to realize that "my" magazine wasn't going to have any PIC, computer or µP articles. I'm of the old generation where I liked the types of construction projects in the original magazines.
I'm curious to know what topics you would cover in your
construction articles?

Why not step back further and only feature valves (tubes)?

Comments Welcome!

Dean Huster
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Post by Dean Huster » Tue Feb 05, 2008 5:05 am

Why not step back further and only feature valves (tubes)?
Well, Peter, I guess we have to draw the line somewhere, don't we? :)

I sense a bit of satire there, so I'll explain. I'm not into a federal mandate against PICs. But I do feel that electronics hobbyists were burned back in the days when magazines, most notably Popular Electronics, began to make more and more of their projects µP-oriented to the point that non-processor projects disappeared altogether. And to cover up their omission, they renamed the magazine Computers & Electronics, although why they left the "Electronics" in there, I don't know why. The magazine folded not long thereafter, which tells me that the subscribers weren't happy with the change or that Ziff-Davis had strayed into a highly competive market where they didn't belong.

No, not vacuum tubes (valves). Tubes are too big, too hot, too power hungry, require huge power suppies, don't have any integration other than "dual" functions and parts are getting difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. Try finding a small, decent, 1940's style push-pull output transformer at a reasonable price! I'm still looking, for I need two or three of them.

I'm an experimenter who works on the premise, "I wonder if I can design and build a circuit that can do such-and-such. It's first a design problem -- a puzzle for me -- and then it becomes a breadboarding problem, working out all the errors and discovering that what's on paper doesn't happen in real life -- and it then becomes a construction problem. When I build things, I want the final project to look professional. I don't do Sharpie-on-plastic lettering, I don't lay boards and front panels out haphazardly, I build in safety and I end up with something that I could sell if I so desired.

I tend to work with TTL with a sprinkling of CMOS. LS TTL at that. It's not because I don't like more modern logic families. It's because I'm most familiar with it and because I have mountains and mountains of the stuff. If I had mountains and mountains of vaccum tubes and related parts, then I'd do more in that venue, but it wouldn't be as popular. I don't work with processors because I AM a curmudgeon and don't like having to learn a whole new language (it too me forever to move over from FORTRAN to BASIC and I was starting to pick up 8080 and 6800 microcode in the 1970s and '80s); I use PCBoards for board layout because I have no desire to learn a complex schematic capture program and deal with a 90% autorouter; I don't like the timing and propagation problems associated with processors since a lot of my circuits have depended upon micro and nanosecond reaction times and you don't get that with a "duh, something's tickling this input pin so I'd better start this loop and figger out whut to do" attitude of a program-slaved processor. For instance, you can't use a processor directly as a tine-interval counter in the nanosecond (or ever the microsecond) region without having built a lot of support electronics to do the fast work and present the result to the processor for playing around. If you have to do all that, you might as well do it all.

Granted, that is my opinion and it's there only because that's the way I work. I certainly don't expect others to have a similar opinion. In the curmudgeon aspect, that's also why I hate modern electronics: processors have made stuff so cheap (they've gotten rid of the expensive pots and switches and given us yet another remote to learn and lose) and added so many features that the stuff is difficult to use and even more difficult to learn. Bose can't even build a simple radio without having a remote just to be able to turn it on. Of course, the remote and all its features is marketed as something wonderful that you can't do without becasue of all you can do with it when in reality, it something you can't do without because they've eliminated all the front panel controls and you can't even do simple operations without it.

But here I am on some sort of Wayne Green tirade. Back on subject.

Magazine projects/topics? I had a huge "line" of digital breadboarding modules that replaced the little circuits you always had to build or had to rely upon to be on a trainer. They allowed you to have a complete trainer while only beginning with a large breadboard and gave you the ability to put the readout or pulser or clock where you needed it and not have to run 10-inch wires all over the place to grab signals from a trainer.

Although we have GPS and the ability to have cesium-quality time standards for $5000 in our homes, I had a project to build a quartz frequency standard and synchronous clock that could be set to WWV/WWVB. This was a BIG project involving several large blocks.

I had a "distance" measuring wheel that could accurately measure distances to the nearest 1/8-inch and displayed feet, inches and fractions of an inch (it was really cute!).

Several projects weren't necessarily complete systems, but system blocks that could be integrated into you own designs.

And I was going to really hammer on test equipment -- good stuff that you could build to get you some high-quality measurements using a DMM as the core instrument.

Dean
Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).

R.I.P.

Bigglez
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Post by Bigglez » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:21 am

Greetings Dean,
Dean Huster wrote:I'm not into a federal mandate against PICs. But I do feel that electronics hobbyists were burned back in the days when magazines, most notably Popular Electronics, began to make more and more of their projects µP-oriented to the point that non-processor projects disappeared altogether. And to cover up their omission, they renamed the magazine Computers & Electronics, although why they left the "Electronics" in there, I don't know why. The magazine folded not long thereafter, which tells me that the subscribers weren't happy with the change or that Ziff-Davis had strayed into a highly competive market where they didn't belong.
My take on this, without any direct knowledge of the
facts or the players, is that the interests of the readership
changed, causing a drop in new subscriptions, and a
need for the editorial staff to reset the magazine's
charter (to digital, uC based projects and articles).

It didn't work, and that may be for several reasons,
and possibly there just wasn't a market for either
"old-school" or uC hobby electronics.

Comments Welcome!

Bigglez
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Post by Bigglez » Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:41 am

Greetings Dean,
Dean Huster wrote:I'm an experimenter who works on the premise, "I wonder if I can design and build a circuit that can do such-and-such. It's first a design problem -- a puzzle for me -- and then it becomes a breadboarding problem, working out all the errors and discovering that what's on paper doesn't happen in real life -- and it then becomes a construction problem. When I build things, I want the final project to look professional. I don't do Sharpie-on-plastic lettering, I don't lay boards and front panels out haphazardly, I build in safety and I end up with something that I could sell if I so desired.
You have defined "an engineer". The process and dicipline
required to suceed in your world are not very different to
the digital folks, or those building robots, modding games
and computers, and hacking commercial consumer electronics.

The disconnect is that building widgets and test equipment
doesn't mesh with contemporary hobbies as noted above.
Dean Huster wrote:I tend to work with TTL with a sprinkling of CMOS. LS TTL at that. It's not because I don't like more modern logic families. It's because I'm most familiar with it and because I have mountains and mountains of the stuff.
Nothing wrong with your activities and goals, but they are
not popular. Good luck finding enough like-minded souls
to form a commercial club or magazine.

There's an old adage in business " It is better to make
what you can sell, than to sell what you can make".
Dean Huster wrote:Magazine projects/topics? I had a huge "line" of digital breadboarding modules that replaced the little circuits you always had to build or had to rely upon to be on a trainer.
Isn't the modern day trainer based on a uC chip? Seems that
adverts in NandV offer multiple flavours of these. There must
be a need, and some would think also a commercial market.
Hobbyists are using these to learn the uC technology, and
many it would seem are dreaming of building a robot.
Dean Huster wrote:And I was going to really hammer on test equipment -- good stuff that you could build to get you some high-quality measurements using a DMM as the core instrument.
Is test equipment popular? A DMM and a digital scope
(or computer scope accessory) seem to be the coverted
'tools' for bench experiments.

I'm playing the devil's advocate here to draw out the topic.
I've also returned to hobby electronics after a break, and
found the playing field to have changed quite a bit. I don't
miss the "old school" magazines and projects, because the
new technology has replaced it and brought with it new
challenges (technical and commerce) that continue to make
the hobby rewarding to me.

Comments Welcome!

Robert Reed
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Post by Robert Reed » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:49 pm

And just what is the new technology? Six pages of software to make an LED blink on and off? Converting audio and video from one format to another and back a dozen times? So many needs can be satisfied by simple transistor circuits or better yet those wonderful specialized ICs from the 70s and 80s. As a matter of fact, some of those obsolete chips in a way are still new technology, as semi manufacturers have shifted there production to almost all computer and media oriented devices because thats where the big money is nowadays, leaving a lot of former technology at a standstill in certain areas. But they are still great chips - obsolete or not. Also from a pure hobby stand point, when thru hole components completely dry up in a few years and only microminature devices are available that will be near impossible to solder, much less make a decent printed circuit board for them, I think it will take much of the joy out of the hobby.
I know we all have different views on the subject, but thats my take and I have to agree with Deans postings here.

Bigglez
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Post by Bigglez » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:19 pm

Greetings Robert,
Robert Reed wrote: Six pages of software to make an LED blink on and off?
Wow! Can you publish your source code or
cite a link for this? I can probably optimize it for you.
Robert Reed wrote:Converting audio and video from one format to another and back a dozen times? So many needs can be satisfied by simple transistor circuits or better yet those wonderful specialized ICs from the 70s and 80s.
Digital formats are in their infancy, but advancing rapidly.
I don't recall any descrete circuits or ASSP or ASIC chips
that can do the same work. Care to share a few part numbers?
Robert Reed wrote:Also from a pure hobby stand point, when thru hole components completely dry up in a few years and only microminature devices are available that will be near impossible to solder, much less make a decent printed circuit board for them, I think it will take much of the joy out of the hobby.
Really? I've been designing hobby PCBs for SMT
parts for several years without any pain. To experience
newer devices the only packaging option is SMT.

The technology is readily available for hobbyists to
experiment and enjoy contemporary chips and other
components.

I for one find the hobby equally thrilling as it was
decades ago, and just as much joy from powering up
a PCB as powering up a tagstrip or veroboard design.

I really don't miss the chassis-bashing! There are CNC
machine shops that turn out much prettier front
panels from my CAD files, than I could do on the
kitchen table.
Robert Reed wrote: I know we all have different views on the subject, but thats my take and I have to agree with Deans postings here.
Great! Meanwhile the majority of participants are
enjoying their involvement in contemporary circuits
and techniques, and probably won't miss you.

When I graduated from engineering school there
were valve (tube) jockeys complaining about emerging
solid-state devices. The fact that a mono-tube audio
amplifier needed five or more transistors to be replaced.
Where are they now?

Comments Welcome!

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