My first electronics project

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Dave Dixon
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My first electronics project

Post by Dave Dixon » Thu Sep 11, 2008 4:55 am

I hope we get some good ones here!
One of my first dabblings in electronics was real simple, but fun for a 7 (or so) year old. I think I saw it in a book. I took a clothespin, wrapped aluminum foil around both sides and put a piece of cardboard with a length of string on it between them. Took apart an old noisy battery operated toy, crudely spliced my "switch" in and tied the string to my bedroom door. Cool free burglar alarm!!!
I also recall hooking an external microphone from my cassette recorder in series with my model train transformer and a speaker. Go figure, all it did was buzz no matter how loud I yelled into the microphone!. I learned about audio amps much later in life!!!
Can't wait to hear from some of the old-timers such as myself.
Dave

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philba
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Post by philba » Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:14 am

my first project as at about 5 years old. I wanted to turn an old toy boat into a radio so I got some wire (string) and a pair of tweezers for the plug. I decided that the tweezers needed to look more like a plug so I wrapped them with the string and tied the other end to the inside of the boat. When I plugged it in, the lights went off. I thought that was pretty cool. My mom didn't. Especially when she saw the "plug". I've been taking stuff apart ever since.

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CeaSaR
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Post by CeaSaR » Thu Sep 11, 2008 12:36 pm

I actually still have my first project, and even brought it out to show my
kids. It was a mechanical buzzer built with enameled wire wound around a
nail, a hacksaw blade, a screw (just touching the top of the blade) wire
and a homebrewed switch (more hacksaw blade and a tack), all powered
by a 6V lantern battery. I was so proud that it actually worked. It could
use a bit of renovation as all the contact areas are rather rusty. The boys
said they want to see it in action, so maybe after ~35 years it will buzz
again.

CeaSaR
Hey, what do I know?

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Dave Dixon
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Post by Dave Dixon » Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:08 pm

Very cool! It looks like we are off to a great start. The good old days rock(ed). Thanks.

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Re: My first electronics project

Post by k7elp60 » Thu Sep 11, 2008 1:51 pm

Dave Dixon wrote: Can't wait to hear from some of the old-timers such as myself.
Dave
I'm not sure what my very first project was but I recall one of my first ones. It was a two tube kit that was built breadboard style that used the 1.5V filament tubes. I got it working and then rebuilt it in a plastic cigar box that was about 6"L by 3"W and about an inch thick. Had the batteries in the box also. One 1.5V battery for filaments, and a 22 1/2V battery for plates. It was my first pocket radio. Year was about 1951, or there about, I was in the 7th grade.
Ned

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MrAl
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Post by MrAl » Thu Sep 11, 2008 2:28 pm

Hello,


We could probably subdivide the project categories too and hear
what others have done in the past for both their personal,
scholastic, and professional lives.

For example, other than the tree blinker i talked about in the
other thread probably my very first project was to light up
several model buildings using long wires for remote control,
and i moved on to a blinking multivibrator using only neon lamps.

My first school project was in grammer school, where i designed
and built an automobile rear blinker system to mimic the action
of the (if i rem right) T-Bird, where the three back lights
(per side of vehicle) would turn on in succession, one after the
other, as if to point in the direction of the turn.
Sometime after that i remember riding my bicycle to Lafayette
Electronics, which was something like 4 miles away, and i bought
my first meter and remember wanting to buy everything in the
whole store! All the parts that is. The only meter i could
afford was a 2x2 inch face panel meter and i intended to use
resistors to measure both current and voltage of different
values.

My first professional project (where i had 100 percent control
over all aspects of the design, that is) was a 100 amp AC static
switch, that was to be used with medium to high power power
converters to be used as an uninterruptible AC power supply.
The switch would provide a smooth transition from line power to
converter power in the event of a brown out or other power failure.
Instead of a bunch of logic gates i used a PROM to make all
the logic decisions, and that simplified the design quite a bit.

Strange thing is, i cant remember a time in my life when i wasnt
doing something or another with something electronic. Seems i
loved electrons from the very first shock (he he).
LEDs vs Bulbs, LEDs are winning.

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jwax
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Post by jwax » Thu Sep 11, 2008 6:35 pm

First after batteries and light bulbs was a crystal radio kit. Hand-wound inductor, mounted on a wood base, and I had to supply the 100 feet of antenna wire. Can't tell you where that came from.
Spent many hours tweaking that galena trying to hear the farthest away station! Had to be early 1950's.
Then came ham radio.
Then came microelectronics.
Then came photovoltaics.
Thank you Mr. Tesla!

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Lenp
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Post by Lenp » Thu Sep 11, 2008 7:17 pm

Greetings...
Aside from oatmeal box radios, I remember building an 'adding machine' using a ton of salvaged telephone company stepper switches and a half ton of NE-2's . I body filled the original unneeded holes on a used commercial slope top cabinet and repainted it. A rotary dial was the input device and the lights dimmed when it carried all the registers!, It could total to a million!.

(I recently aquired some used steppers and may someday build a nixie display stepper switch clock just for grins!)

Logic gates were really not available then, but, there was a thing called the 'ripple counter' that I soon afterward learned about, and later learned to despise!

BTW: Over the years I have accumulated a long list of 'rememberances' related to the 'craft'. I'll post it if there is interest, and perhaps we can build on it.
Is there a limit to the size of a post on this forum?

Len

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Post by SETEC_Astronomy » Thu Sep 11, 2008 9:23 pm

I'll post my project(s) later but for now I'd like to say that I'm for hearing any memorable electronics related experience. I think I want to hear any story for the simple fact that as I was thinking of my first circuit I couldn’t help but thinking of all my other electronics firsts.

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MicroRem
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Post by MicroRem » Fri Sep 12, 2008 6:50 am

First project was a burglar alarm, similar to the clothespin switch above, but was a rectangular piece of a tin can that made the switch. Drove a couple nails into a piece of wood for contacts, and the metal was held up by a nail in an oversized hole with a trip wire attached, open the door, pull out the nail and the metal would flop down to another cotact (nail) completing the switch. Must've been 3rd or 4th grade i guess. 6 volt lantern battery and a buzzzer and a piece of a tin can...now that was high tech!

Tom

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Post by gerty » Fri Sep 12, 2008 7:53 am

First thing that comes to mind for me was a 'early warning system' .
It was a homemade pressure switch (2 pieces of steel banding) inserted under the hallway carpet to a buzzer, to alert me of an intruder lurking outside of my bedroom door. What I used for wiring was the only thing I could get my hands on and was uninsulated.
What I found out later was the fact that it was nichrome wire and I could have burned the house down...

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Post by haklesup » Fri Sep 12, 2008 10:06 am

My very first projects involved mainly switches and lamps etc but my first active project involved modifying a late 70s vintage transistor radio. I tapped into the final amplifier and connected it to the phone line to make a sort of half speaker phone. I kinda got in trouble later because I left it connected and broadcast my Moms conversation all over the house. "I think I hear an echo"

Later my high school senior project was a 4 digit LED counter based on the Intersil ICM7217 up down counter with display driver with hand made PCB and hand wired from spare tape recorder parts and an aluminum case cut with a dremel tool. I also squeezed in a radio shack clock/divider project I also had as the time base.

Not bad, even though it didn't work all the way, I still got an A+ because I was able to pinpoint the failure and explain exactly why it was broken. I later became a semiconductor failure analyst for a number of years after college and had the chance to decapsulate the device and photograph the burned out input pin on the counter chip, exactly what I predicted; Electrical Overstress due to careless application of signal on the input pin without proper protection. At the time of the original failure, I could not afford a replacement.

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MrAl
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Post by MrAl » Fri Sep 12, 2008 1:09 pm

Lenp wrote:Greetings...


(I recently aquired some used steppers and may someday build a nixie display stepper switch clock just for grins!)

Logic gates were really not available then, but, there was a thing called the 'ripple counter' that I soon afterward learned about, and later learned to despise!

BTW: Over the years I have accumulated a long list of 'rememberances' related to the 'craft'. I'll post it if there is interest, and perhaps we can build on it.
Is there a limit to the size of a post on this forum?

Len
Hi Len,

What kind of steppers? Motors?

Perhaps you can tell us about some of those remembrances?

hak:
Interesting stuff. I would almost be interested in a chip like that
today except i think i would prefer to have an SPI interface rather
than a count up/down input.
LEDs vs Bulbs, LEDs are winning.

Dean Huster
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Post by Dean Huster » Fri Sep 12, 2008 3:36 pm

MrAl, that was both the T-Bird and the Mercury Cougar that had the sequential turn signals. After Ford came out with those, Popular Electronics had a construction article for making a set of those that you placed on the rear deck of your car. Seemed a bit on the cheezy side to me. Today, you see a lot of ambulances sporting LED sequential turn signals.

I built a lot of little projects. One was an amplifier using a hot chassis circuit with a 50L6 output amp and I don't remember what preamp. It didn't work well because the speaker I used from my Heathkit electronics project "trainer" had a 100 ohm impedance vs. the 3.2 ohms required. I didn't know much about impedances back then. About that same time, I build Popular Electronic's "Wireless Rebroadcaster", an AM transmitter using a 12AT7. It was one of the best low power AM transmitters ever with resounding bass response. It's still a great project today for those interesting in restoring antique radios.

It was the old electronics hobbyist magazines that provided all the project and educational input for me during my Wonder Bread Years. Those old projects are still worth building today. Some can be updated, converting from RTL or DTL logic to TTL or CMOS. If you have a stock of vacuum tubes, there're a lot of older projects that can be built. The stumbling blocks are usually finding things like output transformers, power transformers and HV caps. There're out there, but pricey.

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.

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Lenp
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Post by Lenp » Fri Sep 12, 2008 3:52 pm

Al,

These were rotary stepper switches. which were solenoid driven switches.
Think of a 10 to maybe 40 position 2 to 10 pole rotary switch that moved to the next step with a pulse to a solenoid. 6 pulses, 6 steps. They could be arranged to self step by using interrupter contacts on the solenoid armature and stop when a voltage or ground was found at one of the steps. Most of the steppers are continous switches, that just went to step one after the last step.

The steppers I used years ago were called 'minor' switches in telco lingo. They stepped to the 10th step and stoped until they were reset reset by a pulse to another coil.

Eons ago they found applications in 'programming' sequences for the 'automation' of equipment. I have a vintage Automatic Electric stepper handbook with numerous circuits if anyone has the interest!

Len

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