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How Were You 'Bit by the Bug' of Engineering & Technology?
"My Love Affair" With ElectronicsBy Don Bishop
I have loved Electronics, since I was a kid. I learned how to fix my Transited Radio, that I got for my Birthday (back in the 60's). By heating up the Cracked or Loose Solder Joints on it's Board, with my Weller Soldering Gun - Iron (inherited form my Dad). When my Radio or Walki Talki or Train Set Controller... Stopped Working or only worked intermittently. I figured this out, just by inspecting the Board and by moving and shaking it around a bit. If it made any noise or if the speaker began working. Then I figured that there must be something loose inside. So, as I did with everything... I took it apart to see what was inside:) Re-Soldering the joints, would usually make them work again. If you held it and your tongue just right, that is;) It was quite exciting to be able to fix my Beloved AM Transistor Radio and other toys, all by my self!:) Growing up I had a Reel to Reel Tape Recorder and a Realistic Cassette Recorder. Which I figured out how to Wire a Big Speaker to. By connecting it to the Speaker wires inside. Or by wiring up my own 1/8 inch male plug to go into the Head Phone Jack (if equipped). Don't do this with a 1950's TV that has a big Transformer wired up to the Speaker. That thing runs on 110V AC! Not Low Voltage DC!:O It Blew my Speaker a Box that I made, trying that!:O I still have those two 1950's TV's in the Garage:) Our first TV and my MaMa and PaPa's too (Mamaw and Papaw, ok... Grandma and Grandpa;). And I had some, now Antique, Tube Radios. That I took apart and Discarded later. You, could often get those Tube Radios or HiFi Amps, working again. By wiggling or unplugging and plugging the Tubes Back in again. Sometimes they just weren't making a good connection, in the Socket. Too bad I thought those things were worthless, back then!:O I wanted to go to school for Electronics. But in Junior High, someone (a teacher if I remember right) told me that I had to be Good at Math to do that!:( I was not, good at math and still am not, good at math. In 1975, I saw a DOS PC, at our High School Job Fair. They guy showing it. Was trying to recruit, young people. To, go to School for Computers. He said, Computers were the coming thing. And they would soon be a Big Deal, in our Lives. I figured he was right. But, I didn't see my self remembering all of those DOS Commands. I did know how to type. I took a Typing Class, in Junior High. I almost bought a Radio Shack TRS80 Home Computer, in about 1983. But, decided, that $500, was a bit too much to spend on a toy. The myself or the kids, might only play with for a short time. In about 1992, I was introduced to Windows 3.1 and I liked it. I learned how to make Spread Sheets and Address Books, in MS Works. I did look around on the Internet, a bit, back then too. But, there was not allot to see. No Yahoo, Google and I didn't happen to even fine the Government Gopher Data Bases, at the time. So, I soon lost interest. And I didn't have a Computer or my own, at that time, either. But, since 1998. I have worked with Computers allot. Every day, in fact. I love to Install and Try out Linux Distros on Old and New PC's. My favorite Linux Distros are Fedora and Debian. Over the years, I've learned to trouble shoot hardware problems and build new Computers too. And I've really learned allot about Software. Both Windows and Linux. But, I'm not a Coder and Can't write Programs at all. I did take a free Python Programming Class, from Google, a few years ago. I learned a few basics. But, still not a programmer. So, I learn by installing and trying out, the Free and Open Source Code that others have Shared on the Internet. And maybe learn to do a few changes for my purposes too. I have also worked with allot of Audio Video Gear over the past 35+ years. Mostly in the Operation and Installation Areas. I mixed for Concerts for 13 years. I installed Telco Equipment for a year in 2000. That was a good Paid Learning Adventure:) I did AC Electrical Trouble Shooting as a Maintenance Mechanic for Buildings. And I'm pretty good with DC wiring in Cars too. So now, with the coming up of Open Source Software. Which I have been heavily into, since 2005. I've also discovered Open Source Hardware. And I am really wanting to learn about Micro Circuits and Prototype Boards. I read about these projects almost every day. I usually Post what I find on my Blog at, http://donsdeals.blogspot.com/, along with other things that I find interesting. I've seen many types of Prototyping Boards used in some very interesting Projects. From TI's MSP430 Launchpad, STMicroelectronic's Discovery, The BeagleBoard, to the ever popular Arduino and Raspberry Pi. I'm really still, in the research and discovery mode now. Figuring out What Development Board to would be best for me to learn with. And which Projects I would like to do and can do...
One of my Projects... Building a Bench Top Power Supply without altering the ATX PSU and Making a 24v Power Supply with 2 - 12v Power Supplies
I have 2 Computer Power Supplies (PSU's) that I hooked together in Series to make a variable Voltage Power Supply. Going from 3 volts to 24 Volts DC. In Positive and Negative Ground, either way. But, it just sits under my Desk. Without an Enclose. With wires going everywhere. And it would be difficult to even move it, without the connections falling apart. Since my Resistors and Wiring Connections are just Bare Wires jammed into the Connectors. It works, just fine. But, I would like to do something like what Chris Osborn has done in this Project. His, enclosure is made of Wood. And it was fast and easy to build. He had Dado's in his pieces to make it easy to slide in the Front Panel or even replace it later, when he makes changes. I'm not sure if he cut his own Dado's. But, looks to me like some Pre-Made Drawer Stock would make this job even easier. And he actually found the Connectors and Parts to make the Connections easier too!:) Check out, this Project and more info and links... http://donsdeals.blogspot.com/2012/06/building-bench-top-power-supply-without_26.html
Another of my Projects and Road Test Reviews for Element14.com - The XBMC Raspberry Pi Solution Bundle from Element14.com - Review and First Experience by Don Bishop
(Updated with a new Video and Pics, on 12-07-13)
This is a Review, which quickly turned into a larger than expected Project. The XBMC Raspberry Pi Solution Bundle from Element14.com Review and First Experience by me, Don Bishop. When I first saw the Road Test on Element14.com for the The XBMC Raspberry Pi Solution Bundle. I almost didn't apply. I didn't have a Raspberry Pi. Though, I have been wanting one, since before they came out. I had followed the Pi's Progress, since I first read about it. When it was still in the development phase. But, still didn't have one, at the time. I have been wanting to setup an XBMC Computer for my Mom to watch Web Shows on her TV, for a long time. I have a few older PC's that would work just fine for the task. But, they all need more memory, which cost more money. And one, doesn't even have a AGP Video connector. So, it would need a PCI Video Card, to be able to connect it to a TV. And that's the one that I really would like to use. Since, I am using the other one my self, as a backup computer. So, with the price of the Raspberry Pi being low. And the built in Composite and HDMI Video Outputs. As well as a Stereo Analog Audio output. Her TV is a Big, older Standard Analog TV. She does have one LDC TV. But it is a small 15 inch, which is in her Bedroom. And I have already bought an HDMI Cable to hook up her computer in her room to that TV. I Just need to find my Round Tuit and hook that thing up;) So, the purchase of the Raspberry Pi, seemed reasonable. Instead of buying memory for the older PC's. So, I signed up for the Road Test. Deciding, that, if I were chosen to do the Review. I would go ahead and buy the Pi. And low and behold... I was chosen!:) Thanks so much Element14!:) I have done a couple of other Road Tests. Here, Beginners View of the TI 430Boost-CC110L AIR Module BoosterPack Kit. And here, Beginners Guide to The TI MSP-EXP430FR5739 Experimenter Board. And I wanted to do especially well on this Road Test. I hadn't done any Videos, in the past. Because I didn't have a Video Camera. I only had two old Web Cams, with very low Resolution. I've used them to make videos, before. But, don't like the low resolution video quality. But, since my last Road Tests. I was given a Laptop, that was broken. I fixed it and it has a fairly decent, built in Web Cam. So, I set out to do Video as I went, during my Testing and Building or Reworking of an Enclosure for the Pi. I spent as much time as I could. Since I received the XBMC Raspberry Pi Solution Bundle from Element14, on doing this Project and making my video as I went. Well, of course making videos. Takes allot more time. And just as soon as you start a task, that has any kind of Deadline. Unusual things come up and get in the way. So, at the present time. I am about half finished with altering an old broken HDTV Tuner Box, to be my Raspberry Pi Enclosure. But, I have done ample Testing and Setup on the XBMC Raspberry Pi Solution Bundle. I have four Videos Edited and uploaded, as of 10-21-13. With several more to come. Long Video Warnings here. I did my best to Edit down the rough videos, to make them, watchable videos. I spent a week on Editing just the first three videos and I' still going. Not to mention the time it took to make them in the first place. But, I just couldn't bring my self to cut out all of the pertinent info, that I worked so hard to put in these videos. So, feel free to Skip Ahead, if you are in a hurry or just skim the Text and Pics in this Article...
So, that's jut a little bit, about "My Love Affair" With Electronics:)
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Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! I received a package, in the mail today, from Element14!:) I got an Arduino Uno - R3. And a Code Bug, that was gift wrapped. Also, a Wind-up Robot and some cool Element14 Stickers. It's Christmas in January!:) I'm reading up on the Uno, right now. And already thinking of the projects I could do with them both. I wonder, if I could make an Analog to Digital Audio Converter. To send a Mic Signal, from my Shure SM58. Into my Alcatel A845L Android Phones. The Mic input, on those things, is very weak and none of the Camera Software, I've found. Can adjust the Audio input volume levels. A Mic Input Board. Sure wold beat. Having to fix the Audio in Post Video Editing...