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  • EEVblog #54 – Electronics – When I was a boy…

    Posted on January 16th, 2010 EEVblog 79 comments

    Dave goes Back to the Future and talks about how he got started in electronics.

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    • Curtisbeef

      Aww man, I remember my 200 in 1 Radio Shack Kit, my parents bought me one almost exactly like yours but it was a little newer because I grew up in the 90s. I started out taking apart VCR’s and stuff like that. Also my dad worked at a TV station and we would go dumpster diving and find all kind of cool expensive camera parts and beta tape decks they had thrown out and id take them home and play with all the parts.

      Keep the vBlogs coming I cant get enough of them.

    • mesoiam

      Haha, Spooky, I had a radioshack kit like that too, except mine was a more modern one with a breadboard in the centre. I’m older now and have taken out the breadboard and still use it on its own today. Great stuff, keep up the good work Dave!

    • Evan

      OMG Blimey, almost a mirror image to my childhood there although mine was the 60’s. I started off with a Philips electronics kit and later on there was an addon kit, it used an overlay circuit where the components were placed using push down spring clips. quickly progressed to using veroboard afterwards, still have my original Hameg scope and the Dual power supply I built from an article in ETI in the 70’s wehre I got into making DIY PCB’s, Ah the good ol days.

    • Robert

      Hi Dave! I’m today 20 years old and when I started out I also used a kit just like yours! Check it out! :P

      (link from Swedish store)

    • Tony P

      Like you I had the 100 in 1, 150 in 1, pretty much all of them.

      Started building the tool collection around the age of 11. But by 13 I got my first computer and it was a TRS-80 Model 1 Level II. I knew that thing so well that when a video RAM chip died I could identify the chip and more to the point replace it because R/S carried the parts back in the day.

      Now most of the electronics work I do is modularized using the Arduino platform.

    • Christian S

      Cool Dave! I have almost the same story.
      I am a Mykit system 7 kind of engineer.

    • Daniel / septer012

      From TonyP (aboves) website:

      I stumbled on this

      1979 CES video

    • JoeF


      My Story is nearly identical to yours. From the 100 in 1 Radio Shack kits, to the endless thirst for Forrest M.Mim III publications. I also remember the single kits from RS in the red perf board boxes. I also relied on HeathKit. I still have the DC and AC electronics “Individual Learning Program” courses. Then it was the Microprocessor course with the venerable 6809!. Each one had a breadboard based kit that had power supplies, function generators… I used to read the Heathkit catalog religiously. I remember also reading Popular Electronics here in California (yeah I grew up in SI Valley) I then became a fan of EDN Magazine. I was more of a professional publicaiton, but there were great circuits and coverage of new parts in there. I used to read a guy by the name of Jim Williams, who was an author from
      National Semi. (I even bought his “Innovative Linear Circuits” book) Parts were easier to get around here, but still required contacts to get new stuff. I still have the Fluke 8024A handheld DVM that my dad bought for around $300. It was a big deal for me and think back at what a sacrifice it was for him. I was only 12 or 13! I them got a job and bought a used HP 140A oscilloscope for $800 from a reburb supplier in mountain view, ca. My mom and dad were immigrants and my dad was a carpenter. He was baffled by my interests. I was always drawn to anything mechanical..machines, cars,…even wood working, but electronics were what really fueled me. Great job walking us down your childhood and your love of electronics. I have enjoyed this tremendously! (along with all your vbloggs..)


      • Andrew

        He, Jim Williams is still around!

        He is working for Linear Technologies. If you look through Linear’s application notes you find some fantastic stuff from him, like AN25 “Switching Regulators for Poets”, or the 130 pages AN47 “High Speed Amplifier Techniques”.

        And here is a recent video of him in his lab talking about dc/dc converters

        As for my first lab kit, this collector has an example (scroll to the end of the page)

        • JoeF

          Thanks Andrew…it’s good to know he is still around making good videos to boot! That kit looks along the same lines as the radio shack ones…Joe

    • Berni

      Oh yeah i remember they days before i had
      internet. Information was darn hard to get so i went on the stuff from these magazines too.

      Now that i have every datasheet or schematic at the tips of my fingers it would be hell to go back in to those days.

    • Ray Jones

      Wow, just like looking in the mirror!

      Etching PCB’s – now that was something that drove my parents nuts.

      And yeah, you’d hang out waiting for a new month to get the latest shiny magazine to fuel your interest.
      My fave’s were Everyday Electronics, ETI, EA, and a few others.

      Likewise I submitted something to ETI, and it got published, makes you feel like king dick.

      Great blog

    • Brian Hoskins

      Hi Dave,

      I’d agree that we’re better off since the communications revolution than we were before it (yes I’m old enough to remember a time before it too), but there is one negative aspect of the communications revolution that I can think of, which is that it’s been the death of our high-street electronics retailers.

      I don’t know what retailers you had over your end of the world, but here in the UK Maplins was the big thing. And back in the old days you could walk into a Maplins store, go to the components counter, and you could get anything you wanted (within the constraints of what was available at the time) straight off the shelf. Also, the guys behind the counter (or girls, but I never saw any of those) really knew their stuff!!! If you had a query about whether a particular component was right for your design, or whether your design method was likely to work, you could chat with the guys behind the counter about it and bounce ideas off them. It was great.

      Nowadays Maplins is still around, and perhaps doing better profit wise now than it was back then, but the components counter is practically dead. They still keep it going but they hardly stock anything, and the guys behind the counter know squat about Electronics. All they know is picking locations for your components – that’s it. These days Maplin have moved into in-car entertainment and disco lighting and stuff like that, which is where they really make their money. They still keep the Electronics hobby side of the business going, but it’s a shadow of its former self.

      And that’s the only regret I have about the communications revolution. In truth, the benefits undoubtedly far out way the sacrifices. But I still miss the Maplin stores of old!


      • Andrew

        In my neck of the wood high-street electronics part retailers were always a rare thing. Especially nationwide chains.

        Retailers were usually small independen shop owners, always charging an arm and a leg, even in the good old days. Today it is usually the case that an online order, including S&H, P&P ends up cheaper than visiting an electronics part shop. In particular if you take petrol and parking charge into account.

        If I should give an estimate, then I’d say here 1 out of three high-street retailers from the ’80 survived. I don’t miss them much and they can hardly compete with online shops.

        What I see more of a problem are the information bites delivered by google. Comprehensive texts explaining things in depth are rare, and it is even rarer that they are read. There is an “instant gratification” generation coming up. They want HOW-TOs, step-by-step guidance (but not more than 10 items), and have the attention span of an amoeba.

      • EEVblog

        @ Brian
        Yes, in Australia we have had the same decline in the electronic hobby retailers, the rot started in mid 80’s or so. Very few left now, and those that are (like Jaycar and Altronics) have to sell farting novelty toys or doof-doof car stereos to stay afloat. Very rare to encounter staff that have an interest in hobby electronics any more.

    • ken Jones

      Well said Dave

      One Letho boy to another.

    • DaleB

      A modern equivalent of the Tandy kit for younger children is Snap Circuits. They make a variety of sizes for their kits.

      if this gets too chopped up to use then try


    • Kathy Quinlan

      Dave, Sigh I remember the “Good Ole Days”….

      My Story :

      I started in Electronics in January ’82 at the age of 7. We had emigrated to Australia from the UK, Dad was a computer project leader (running IT for large Govt organisations) He had done some electronics in the UK, built some test equipment ;)

      I used to take everything in site apart lol. I started with the Tandy kits (50 in 1, 150 in 1, 200 in 1) then onto DSE Funway into electronics 1-3. Built various “grown up” Kits. When I reached high school I started reading EA and SC when it came out. I was lucky that in ’86 we had an “electronics club” and could use the science lab after school. So we had access to etchants etc. I used to run a service for a small fee I would assemble kits for other students.

      I left school at age 14 and went straight into an apprenticeship. I was taught nothing about electronics by my employer, so I went next door to another part of the company (actually our parent company) who did fire systems, and used to repair their equipment at home after hours for free for electronics experience. I even designed some small bits of equipment for them (monitored contacts, low pressure alarms for CO2 systems etc)

      When I finished my apprenticeship I left the company and worked for myself, in the early days I did Telephone and computer cabling, but soon started picking up work doing design for customers.

      For EDA software I bought PCBreeze, then “acquired” a copy of EasyTrax and AutoTrax. In ’98 bought my first copy of Protel 98…

      Here I am now about to start Uni this year (have to do a prep course first as I did not do TEE /HSC, so to ease back into learning (no formal study since 1993) I am doing it) Then next year I start my EE degree and plan to do my Masters after that :)



      • EEVblog

        @ Kathy
        OMG, PCBreeze, by Kepic in South Australia I think? I used to use that pre-Autotrax!
        Good luck going back to Uni, that’s tough after all those years. I hope it doesn’t get too disheartening for you! (you do know they teach everything BUT electronics, right? ;->)

        • Kathy Quinlan

          Hi Dave,

          Yeah, it is sad, but I am finding it hard to get an EE job here in Au due to the fact I have no qualification :(

          I am having a hard time trying to find contracts for myself, so decided to go back to working for others. I am sure that I will enjoy it :)



          • EEVblog

            Yeah, it is sad, but I am finding it hard to get an EE job here in Au due to the fact I have no qualification :(

            I find that very strange.
            At every company I’ve ever worked for, qualifications rank right down on the requirements list. The few exceptions I know of are the rather anal medical companies, and other niche firms typically run by ivory tower “IEA fellows”. If you can’t decide between two candidates then the one with the best qulas might get the edge, but otherwise it’s experience and personality.

            Maybe try getting IEA membership? You can apply for full graduate or associate membership without any quals, it costs money and requires an application about an inch thick, but it’s possible.

            IEEE membership is open to anyone based on experience ;-) pay your money and you get a shiny card to put in your wallet, and a membership number for the resume.

            Starting a degree part way through your life is a big commitment. Are you going full or part time?, or by correspondence?

    • Alan Parekh

      Wow, does that sound familiar. I see that there are tons of other people who also had similar experiences.

      I have that same exact databook in my collection. I still remember day 1 of my college electronics class when we all marched down to the library to purchase them. :)

      I have that exact Radio Shack meter in the trunk of my car, my dad purchased it for me when I was around 10 and it still works to this day (we are around the same age). In fact it is in the trunk because I was using it to monitor the voltage of my inverter battery when we were on holidays in the summer.

      I got side tracked from electronics when the C64 came out though… But I know what you mean by isolation, I was the only person I knew with a computer and limited electronic knowledge. I envy kids growing up these days with so much information at their fingertips!

      Thanks for the trip down memory lane. :)

    • Chic

      All of this chimes so much with me. Another memory is salvaging parts from dead equipment to save buying things like resistors, capacitors, basic transistors and such. You ended up with all these gnarly bits to use, but they worked, you became s**t hot at identifying all the various components and you incidentally and accidentally acquired real skill in desoldering and rework that it turns out serves well later in your career. I also (mid 70s tinkered with amateur radio, when you could easily build and modify kit for SW, HF and VHF.

      Happy days, but like the rest of your respondents, I wouldn’t swap ‘em for now!

      • jeff-o

        You know, I always wondered where I acquired my soldering skills, and you hit the nail on the head: desoldering old electronics! Man, I remember doing that in high school. I even had friends over more than once and we’d desolder stuff together with a ten dollar hardware store soldering iron and a spring-loaded vacuum desoldering tool. I also remember proudly marching into a local electronics shop with a wad of birthday cash and buying a Fluke digital multimeter. Still using it today, of course. ;)

    • Stephen

      Hi Dave, I like your blog. This post bring back so much memory.

      I too bought my first oscilloscope from David Reid Electronics. What ever happened to them? I like that shop. I felt sad when they suddenly disappear. The staff there were knowledgeable and actually knew about what they were selling. This is in contrast with that electronics chain in australia, it took me 15 minutes to pay for a heatshrink tubing because the checkout person didn’t know what it was.

      I miss my analog multimeters :( I had two, I can’t remeber how my first one died because it was so long ago. The second one I had was a nice Sanwa Mutlti-tester. I looked after it well. I was so sad when I found the battery in it leaked and damaged the meter backing.

      Fluke meters are good, they are accurate, but it is just not the same. The response time is bad when compared to an analog one. The bargraph on it is just crude when compared to the needle.

      The good old days… but then… I do like this internet and this online shopping thing.

    • Chic
      • EEVblog

        I saw that one and sighed also!
        Although it is America, so that’s probably understandable, the government and media have a done a great job of keeping people perpetually scared. George Orwell’s 1984…

      • Macka

        That’s messed up, that is.

        Surely any principal or deputy or campus head with even half a brain would have gone over and actually inspected the item.

    • jef

      To hear you telling all this is just amazing. While I was taking apart electronic toys and equipment, your were doing exactly the same on the other side of the globe. One of the first projects I remember was a conversion of an inherited vacuum tube radio to an amplifier for my portable record player. I also kept all the junk parts for exprimenting. Unfortunately, we didn’t have money for buying Radio Shack toys or pocket money for oscilloscopes. One of the projects I submitted to Elektor (a midi interface for a commodore) was rejected. Later I found a similar schematic in the journal anyway. I still have my databooks, but prefer internet for finding datasheets.

    • Neil

      I started in a similar way. My kit was a lot simpler that that though – no ICs, no speakers just an ear piece and only 2 LEDs. Mind you what really got me hooked was the experiment involving a small transformer, a couple of batteries and my annoying little brother. It was entitled “How to give yourself an electric shock”.
      There were no shops selling electronics components so I never had much practical experience. I did have a ZX80 so got quite a bit of programming experience.

    • Jim

      Dave, enjoyed your trip down memory lane. I started in a different way back in the 1950’s. I still remember the excitement the 1st time I heard music with headphones & a crystal set. I quickly went to tube radios & remember hammering nails into wood spacers to mount octal sockets. Anyone remember the 6SN7 dual triode? I got my ham license while in a vocational HS working with 807’s & 6L6’s; built my own 700V voltage doubler power supply & various radio eqpt from diagrams in the ARRL handbook; built several Heathkits; got my parts from local stores, from the city dump or mail order from Burstein-Applebee. Sure would have liked the abundance of sources & tools back then as we have now.

    • psylux

      I had that same kit, and it had the same effect on me. I had etched my first PCB by 13. I think may be close in age :)

    • psylux

      crap, I had the same Meter!

    • Mike

      Great blog Dave! I had many of the same experiences but 15 years earlier. My folks said I pulled some tubes from the back of the TV set when I was 3 and that was the start of my career! Built many Heathkits including the Ham Radio SB301/401 pair and got my novice license (did not have the 301/401 then) when I was 12. Also visited the junk yard to get parts from old tv’s and radios.

      I just sent a link to you blog to a friend who’s son is just now showing interest.


    • David_AVD

      I’m a little older than you Dave, so my first experimenters set was probably only a 5-in-1 kit! LOL You’re right about it being an excellent way to learn. Lots of trial and error and many hours of fun.

      I started electronics at about age 8 or so I think, with a crystal set made from mainly scrounged components. The local TV sales place used to let me take the chassis’ from traded in (dead) TVs as long as I brought my own tools and didn’t make a mess. People who knew of my hobby always gave me their old electrical stuff.

      I still have some of the Nat Semi, etc data books but they’re just collecting dust these days. Having pdf data available via the web and stored on a big arse HDD is so much better.

    • Phil Pemberton

      Wow… It’s like looking into a mirror! Or something like that anyway.

      I got my start ripping apart my dad’s Atari 2600jr.. to his utter disbelief and annoyance. Did the usual stuff as a ‘wee nipper’ — shoving LEDs into mains sockets, that sort of thing… :P

      Later, I saved up my pocket money and bought a copy of “Electronics for You” by McLoughlin. It’s a really basic GCSE electronics textbook which has a few working circuits in it, but bugger all theory (besides Ohm’s Law). Good to start with, though.

      Fast-forward to today, and I’m sitting next to an Altera/Terasic DE1 FPGA development board, a Microchip ICD2 (I’ll trade it in when they pull their thumb out and fix the ICD3!) and my latest creation…

      Don’t ask me how many kits I’ve built, I’ve lost count! My pride and joy is a homebrew COSMAC Elf — RCA CDP1802 processor, CDP1864 video chip, a whole 256 bytes of RAM, and toggle switches to enter the program code!

      And in response to your comment about “who has a personal library any more” — Me. From where I’m sitting I can see two shelves full of databooks, electronics textbooks, CD-Rs full of datasheets, lever-arch files, and so forth.

      I’ve got some real gems too — including an Inmos Transputer short-form catalogue and a copy of “Designing with Programmable Array Logic” by “The Technical Staff of Monolithic Memories, Inc.” The latter even includes programming algorithms and the source code for the PALASM compiler.

      So far my highest achievement is getting a letter published in EPE, wherein I shared my secrets for making PCBs from EPE magazines. For that I won a very nice Peak Atlas LCR meter. What made it even better was the little note on the dispatch note: “Congratulations!”

      Testgear wise, my first oscilloscope was a Gould OS-1100A. 20MHz, dual-channel, single-timebase with delay sweep, and not even close to calibrated. But it was good enough. I picked up a Tek 466 (which WAS calibrated) at an auction later on, then saved my pennies and bought a Tek TDS2024B digital scope about two years ago. Both my bench PSUs were obtained from the Farnell trade counter as “broken”, and later fixed — one by badgering the local Instek rep for some new binding posts, and the other by resoldering the power regulator board. Paid

    • Buzz

      To Dave and your readers….

      If you suffer from a lack of community – ie have no like-minded friends into electronics/computers, or “hacking”… then you need to find your local Hackerspace:

      Yes, we even have a couple of them in Australia! ( Sydney, Brisbane and Perth )

      [end plug]

      Dave, you rock.

    • Lionel

      Dave, thanks for the trip down memory lane. My background is pretty similar to yours (except that I still have me data book collection!).
      You’ve inspired me to track down a 200 in 1 electronics kit for my 8 year old son. He’s looking forward to building electronic circuits, just like his dad. ;^)

      • http://norton donna

        Hi, Lionel, I have one, that is brand new still in the box, the exact same one that Dave has in his video, never used and still in original packaging.

    • Macka

      I also started off in a similar way; though, I was born in ’89.

      I was always pulling things apart (radios, back door lock, toys, other electronics, etc); in kindergarten (age 4) they even had a box of radios, telephones and other electronics and some screwdrivers so we could look in side.

      I had a 3rd hand 65-in-1 kit (my mother was given it second hand when she was young and she passed it on to me) Unfortunately, I think I only got about 50% of the projects working, I suspect there may have been 1 or 2 dead components, or a loose connection somewhere.

      I also had a crystal radio set that was built on a plastic taping screw breadboard, a few of the Funway kits from DSE (all of Funway 1 and bits and pieces of Funway 2) and 2 or 3 Silicone Chip kits.

      I never had the magazines, and I was soon distracted by computers, programming (I especially liked my mums C64) and chemistry. Dispite the distraction I have always loved building the kits, even if I understood very little of how they worked.

      I’m about to start my 3rd year of Electrical & Mechatronics Engineering and despite the fact that the math and linear electronics are very challenging I’m quite enjoying it.

    • Sean

      Started out in the ’70s young and poor on a small farm. We could afford old tube stuff, it was offcast from all the people upgrading to solid state.

      Most parents would be horrified to have a third grader poking around in equipment running 250v plate voltages, but I was given a few pointers by a family friend as in shutting things down and using an icepick with an alligator clip ground pigtail to discharge all the power supply caps before poking around any conductors and to avoid televisions unless he was there to supervise as the picture tube was a large charged capacitor that could kill in an instant.

      By fourth grade, I was pretty good at finding dead tubes, using the local drugstore tube tester, and started realizing how the various circuit blocks fit together. Thanks to a school principal who in amateur radio, I discovered the ARRL handbooks and all their publications and started to get pretty hard core in grades 5-6. Somewhere in there I got a tube SW receiver. At this point, it was mostly visual, looking for charred resistors, dead paper caps, replacing dead tubes and figuring out how to swap electyrolytic power supply caps for more modern stuff when they went bad.

      In grade 7 I home schooled for a year. My parents afforded me the, Heathkit Electronics courses (DC through Analog) with the neat blue experimenter box, manuals and all those packets of parts. This was paydirt of a mind blowing nature. My dad also had a guy give him a bunch of electronics components, some basic test equipment and a slew of NavShips electronics books in exchange for a hundred bucks. Troubleshooting, troubleshooting, troubleshooting.

      Finally, I could start mucking with solid state stuff, and this was the golden age of Tandy Corp. Forest Mims III was a name that meant neat books that explored all sorts of ideas. Walls of parts with all sorts of potential to make all sorts of circuits. The beginning of the computer revolution. Vector board with wire wrap sockets (I actually fished the tool out of my box a week ago to greenwire a board). And our local library’s stash of geek porn, I don’t know if you ever encountered Mark’s Electronics Circuit Encyclopedias, but they had schematics and snippets of schematics for everything from a diode detector to ultrasonic transducer drivers. I could spend whole evenings figuring out how the circuits worked on equipment I’d never be able to put my hands on.

      I’ve been troubleshooting and repairing electronics ever since. I’m still a hobbyist when it comes to the engineering side, but the possibilities! On demand spec sheets, just about every component available at a click.

      And as you were discussing hot plating surface mount components, I just ordered a PID and thermocouple to see if I can’t do the temperature control a little more accurately when I start hotplate soldering. I’m tired of drilling holes.

    • Dave Byrne

      My name is Dave. I started with a Radio Shack kit My first CRO was a Kikusui. I subscribed to EA and ETI magazines. I had a large collection of data books.

      But I am another Dave. What a coincidence! I am about 14 years older than the blogging Dave, but the parallels are uncanny. I too am an electronics engineer and a hobbyist, but also a ham radio operator.

      One difference though was I did not throw all my data books out in 1999. There were still chips in use that were listed in databooks, but were not on the internet in 1999. It wasn’t until about 2004 could I be assured to get rid of my massive collection of databooks. I still keep some valve info and the GE Thyristor and SCR Bible, the Japanese transistor equivalents book and the wonderful Towers Transistor Reference.

      Actually my real start was when my dad who was a carpenter made a morse code key with a copper switch, a light globe and a battery, back in about 1967 when I was 9. The Radio Shack 50-in-1 kit was around 1970. In 1974, I bought a “world band radio” receiver and modified it to work off an Arlec battery eliminator…. my first soldering job with a K-Tel soldering iron. That set me going. Wow to buy something cheap and get it to work better.

      Ever since then I have been a hacker – software, hardware, firmware, you name it. It is good Dave pointed out the original use of the term. It was the stupid media and public who distorted the term after a b-grade American movie called Hackers was released.

      A worthy mention would be the electronics stores in the 70’s and 80’s. The salespeople generally knew what they were selling. Heaps of components were available from selected stores. Never would a woman be seen in one, and most of the male client

    • Bill Kearson

      Wow, my e kit was in a nice wood box from the shack. I too gave up on all my chip books….just took up too much room (physical space). I remember going to the local college libary to read these, they were increadable.
      I now have them in pdf format as well as the electronic mags I used to read. Still read Electronics Now, Circuit Cellar, Servo,…
      Watching this and reading the comments makes me feel more normal, what ever that is.
      I am so glad I started down this road before studying EE in collage, it made everything click.
      Keep up the vblogs.

    • Michael Brandt

      Hi Dave,

      just stumbled across your website, great videos, great work! I’m trying to get an re-entry into my electronics hobby after several years (I’m a trained electronic technician, but changed to IT administrations in 1996) and your blog is an interesting, helpful and inspiring resource.

      This video here just so reminds me of my own childhood: Being at about the same age than you, I’ve started with a “Philips EE 2041: Elektronik Zweitkontakt” which translates “Electronics Second Contact” and was pretty much the same technology than your radioshack kit. Did it even had that old 4,5 volt batteries? ;-)

      I agree with you, the distractions (not only for young people) today keep us away from investigating and assembling things by our own: How much more satisfying is a working device that I have planned and assembled, compared to any virtual awards in any virtual worlds? And how much more have I learnt from that process!

      Keep up your good work,

    • Tom

      Hi Dave,
      Yesterday i was going through somje old magazines and what do I see – “A Hardware Screen Saver” by David Jones. Thats Electronics Australia, June 1994. Was it your first published project?

      Like your blogs and watch all of them even though I have to download them at work or home first as my wireless “broadband” is not fast enough. Very interesting but I think getting it more to the point and keeping within 7 – 15 minutes long would make them more more fun to watch.

      Don’t stop!


    • Jerry Smith

      Wow. Thanks, Dave. A total blast from the past! I took everything in the house apart and got the 200-in-1 kit, too. I ended up in computers, but I’m now getting back into electronics. I just bought a Fluke!

    • a5jdmtn


    • Jonathan

      Hey, im new to this site too!

    • Jon

      You guys and me too! haha ;)

    • John Stewart

      Your video blog and the subsequent comments have done my heart good.
      As a boy growing up in Ft Worth, TX I was fascinated by all the stuff at Radio Shack and finally managed to get a job in a local store while in college. That led to becoming the Director of Research and Development of the Science Fair Division of Radio Shack. The 100 & 1 kits were build in Japan and so my responsibility was the design and documentation of the red plastic perf-board Science Fair Kits.
      It was a great job and I had a lot of fun. Since this was in the mid ’60s we did not have leds and ICs to play with but there were a lot of cheap transistors available from Texas Instruments and we bought tens of thousands of passive parts from Japan.
      During that time I also wrote Radio Shack’s first Transistor Substitution Handbook and a book that provided an additional 50 projects for the 100 & 1 Kit.
      I am so pleased to know that there were young people who were helped in developing a love of electronics because of my small contribution.
      P.S. I am still having fun building electronic projects.

      • EEVblog

        Hey John, thanks for sharing your story. Must have been great to work on a project that got countless people into electronics!

    • http://norton donna

      Hi, I have a great interest in at least learning the basics of eletronics, so I bought a Tandy 200 in One Electronic Project Lab just like the one that Dave shows in his video, but this one being from 1981 is brand new and is still in its original box and bubble wrap, never used and still has that ccool big red book that give the detailed instrutions of the 200 projects. Unfortunately I do not have the time and I am wondering if someone would like to take it over.

    • Julie

      Sounds like growing up in Alaska was a lot like growing up in Australia back in the day. Sure brought back the memories..

    •,, Rosina Channer

      I think that autocad has been able to open microstation files for a few years now. Give that a try.

    • Jorge Bermejo
    • James

      Love your video and the comments! Great to see electronics coming back in a big way!

    • GS test demo

      EEVblog #54 – Electronics – When I was a boy… | EEVblog – The Electronics Engineering Video Blog

    • Rick

      GREAT nostalgia. I’m a few years older than you and live in the US but so many of the things you mentioned brought up my own memories. I still have my blue Forrest M.Mim III Engineer’s Notebook and a Popular Electronics magazine collection from the 70s-80s.

      Maybe I’m getting old, but when I see a 12 year old kid build a decent solid state storage oscilliscope from a design on the Internet, and wi-fi it’s data to his cell phone, a part of me misses the old days where you walked to Radio Shack and couldn’t wait to get home with some parts to build an AM radio transmitter.

      Thanks for the memories…

    • Fred Lotte

      Surprised that there is no mention of Heathkit of Benton Harbor Michigan.

      I have a number of pieces of test gear starting with the EK-1, a simple VOM designed to teach a little circuit theory. I have an IM-13 (VTVM) still in nearly daily use that I built in the early ’60s.

      In the early ’70s I designed and built a digital computer using RTL parts from Olsen Electronics. It was very limted (64 bytes of memory in 4 16 byte pages). I/O was thru LEDs and a bank of switches. I still have it tho firing it up may take on a literal meaning.

      The last Heathkit I built was the IO-4235 dual trace 35MHz analog scope which I built in 1981. It’s also still in nearly daily use.

      The day job was designing power systems for generating stations and my education was aimed primarily at electric power. Kind of hard to play around with 100MW+ 13.8KV steam turbine generators (one of the smaller units I worked on) in the spare bedroom workshop.

      BTW, my start was in learning to wire model trains, plain vanilla electricity. Model RR still figures heavily in my electronics hobby. (sensing, control, digital logic, automation, etc.)

    • Goggles Ninetynine

      The manual for the Elenco version of the “200 in one” is here. It looks nearly identical.

    • Cecilio
    • Ross Kelly

      Hi from Ireland! :D I have to say Dave I am definitely of a similar sort of background to you in the electronics sense. I had a similar sort of project board and was forever taking things apart in my room, connecting things together in showers of sparks and figuring it all out. I had an interest for the mechanical end of things too and I ended up pursuing that in the end and am now an aircraft mechanic, which I do love. Now though, at 32 years of age I’m revisiting my electronics interest that I had as a childhood, and it’s because of you and your videos! I’ve ordered a heap of components, ICs, breadboards, an arduino and a few other bits and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into it all again and learning the stuff I could never get my head around as a child.