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Where/when did you start in electronics?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Splodgeness, Oct 30, 2020.

  1. imwjl

    imwjl Poster Extraordinaire

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    It started like this. My dad was a poor child of immigrants but was really curious and smart. After WWII he did GI bill and got educated and had some success in business before he died young. He started getting a lot of things he could never afford earlier. He would get military surplus radio things because it related to his time in service. At home or in our business there were always work benches and shops with things to do build and repair.

    He would always get is stuff that satisfied curiosities or that he thought would be a foundation for success. It was also a tortured relationship but now I treasure the way he wanted his kids to have knowledge and never go through some of what he did growing up poor and different by nature of an immigrant family.

    My childhood pals and I always had tools, solder, drill presses, welding, materials to try and make something with his home shop or going to our family business. When he got more successful he'd buy kits and books. It was a crazy growing up that was equal parts abusive and being surrounded by cool stuff.

    In addition to the tools and stuff my dad accumulated a lot of reference books and it was always a thrill when he took us to big city book stores. He was very mindful of my pals who didn't have that stuff and shared it.

    I am very thankful for that stuff. It helped my job that's in essence a high level fixer and problem solver.
     
  2. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    I was soldering by about age 7 (1962) wiring up my model railroading layout, adding street lights and lights in miniature buildings with grain of wheat bulbs. By age 9 or so, I was developing "blocks" to control multiple locomotives along with powered railroad switches, which required building a central control panel. At age 15, my school offered "electronics" where I learned the basics of circuits using diodes and capacitors. At that point, I could build anything I wanted and then got into accessory wiring for motorcycles and cars during high school.
     
  3. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Very cool. A little off topic here, but I wanted to say I still have and periodically use my GK 250ML. I have a set of schematics they mailed me in the late 1990s after some of the power FETs went. Great little amp. I wished they had continued with guitar amps, but I guess there was more $$ in their bass amps and they wanted to focus on that.
     
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  4. soundchaser59

    soundchaser59 Tele-Afflicted

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    When I was 8 my Dad took an electronics correspondence course thru Heathkit for his employer. I got to help him build the kits, ultimately ending up with our first color tv and my first 100 watt guitar amp. Then I signed up for Basic Electronics in high school. Dabbled in it at above average but below pro levels for years, and finally went back to school after a car wreck and got my Associates in Electronics and Computers, with emphasis in programming. That was 20 years ago.
     
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  5. buster poser

    buster poser Tele-Afflicted Platinum Supporter

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    Where would you vets recommend someone (with no soldering experience) start if they were interested in putting pedals together and rewiring guitars, etc.?
     
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  6. tubegeek

    tubegeek Friend of Leo's

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    In 2020: probably youtube, for the soldering skills. It's nice to have some visual explanation.

    Smallbear electronics sells and supports some excellent beginner's pedal projects, take a look at their site.

    Diystompboxes forum is a great resource for pedals. This place is very good for amp projects.
     
  7. 440mhz

    440mhz Tele-Meister

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    Away back, when I was in my Biology lab class, I stuck my penknife into an electrical socket. It was an electricizing experience and gave me a great respect of electricity.
     
  8. MatchlessMan

    MatchlessMan Tele-Holic

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    In 1978 aged 17 I started getting a UK magazine called Hobby Electronics, aimed at beginners. I started learning guitar and sent off for a fuzz box kit. I built other pedals and small solid state amps. In recent years I started building valve amps - just completed my third (Trainwreck Rocket copy) and started on a 6G15 Reverb unit.
     
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  9. ghostchord

    ghostchord Tele-Meister

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    I tinkered a little bit with lights, batteries and wires as a kid, but I only really got into electronics when I started writing software for embedded systems. Then I wanted to learn *everything* about how things work and how to build the entire systems myself. So these days maybe something like a Raspberry Pi and trying to control stuff in the real world might be a cool way to get started for some.

    I would also highly highly recommend that anyone that wants to start diving a little deeper get "The Art of Electronics" by Horowitz and Hill.

    Someone was asking how to learn about soldering, IMO the best is to find someone who really knows this stuff and ask them to show you or give you some tips. It's not hard. Also get a good soldering iron, having a crappy iron that doesn't get to or hold a good temperature is kind of like trying to play a cheap acoustic guitar where the action is a mile high. I know because I now own a cheapo soldering iron ;)
     
  10. archetype

    archetype Fiend of Leo's

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    I probably started building little preamps, amps, and crystal AM radios when I was 14. It was the golden age of parts availability for the hobbiest and mil surplus was cheap and available. My shop teacher ran a summer camp and somehow qualified for buying mil surplus, cheap. I bought tons of useful and/or strange stuff from him.

    I still tinker with the stuff, occasionally. Going to build a 5E3.
     
  11. Rowdyman

    Rowdyman Tele-Meister

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    I remember taking apart a flashlight, and based on how I thought it worked,,,
    I could not understand why, if I took just the flashlight bulb and touched it to the top of a "D" cell, it would not light.
    I asked my Grade 2 teacher about this and she explained to me, and demonstrated using a bent paper clip, how to 'complete the circuit', and make the bulb light!
    This got me going and soon afterwards I inherited my older brother's, 'Electronic Experiment Kit" (with parts missing).
    I eventually obtained the missing parts and built all of the '101' projects and at around the same time my Dad taught me how to solder.
    I built lots of homebrew 'projects, some successful and some not so much. (lots of blown fuses and breakers both at home and at school.) lol

    Later got way deep into CB radio (1970s), and while wanting to become an Amateur Radio Operator, I was always scared off by the Morse requirement.

    In my early twenties I was offered a government sponsored Electronics Technician training course (1 year), which led to a good job as a field service tech servicing/installing Teletype
    equipment and later some of the first modems & data equipment in the country.
    (this was, of course, way before WWW and TCPIP)

    I'm still working in field service. Next January 3rd it will be 40 years!

    A few years ago I got my Ham ticket but almost never go on-air anymore because I am turned off at the few opportunities to 'ragchew' these days.
    I like 20 and 40 meters but the bands are just full of 'contesters' who really aren't interested in chatting.
    I still have my 'all tube station', set-up and working, and my tube guitar amps which of course I service and maintain myself.

    Sorry for the book,,,, but you asked! LOL

    Stay safe, RM
     
  12. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    about 8 months ago I got me one of these little puppies and I love it simplifies a ton of repairs , I got the extra sized nozzles and a spare heating element just incase , a great score for about 100.00

     
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  13. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    As a temporary, but somewhat related sideline story, as a mechanical engineer with lots of electrical/electronics experiences, working for a small consulting firm, I got to work on a machine to connect brand new concept of four sided silicon chips to a printed circuit board for high production. Imagine a CNC type sewing machine with a spool of gold thread. By the time we got it ready for manufacturing ... SMD technology came along and killed the entire project.:oops:
     
  14. SRHmusic

    SRHmusic Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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  15. tubelectron

    tubelectron Tele-Afflicted

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  16. alnicopu

    alnicopu Friend of Leo's

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    Got my degree in electronics in 84 and have been in the field ever since. Got my B.S., let Xerox pay for that while I was there and taught electronics for a while at a 2 year college about 20 years ago and again for a few years at HP. Verified troubleshooting documentation and proofed schematics as a level 3 support engineer for HP for which I still am. Did some work on their production 3D systems before and after it got released and now work on music gear on the side while supporting HP engineering printing systems. Im the guy who hops on a plane to fly out and fix the unfixable on occasion.
     
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  17. Average_Joe

    Average_Joe Tele-Holic

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    I can MacGyver with the best of them ;-)

    On the serious side, I was born with the need to know why. Took apart many perfectly good items to have a look inside.

    IIRC the first cut and solder job went like this :
    Siblings 8ohm free standing stereo cabinet speakers sounded great, wonder if they would fit in my boom box?
     
  18. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Doctor of Teleocity

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    I dismantled the things i did not set on fire when I was a kid. I used to like exploring the inside of old tv sets and dissecting VHS players and camcorders.

    i got given a 101 electronics experiments thing one Xmas - I must have been around 12. The kit had several radios transmitters that would broadcast on a wide range of frequencies. I would broadcast a range of stories with sound effects to my sister in her room.

    i learned how to boost it and eventually had yards of wires in the loft of my house to get a clearer stronger signal.

    it was all great until the police came knocking on every door on the street as half the town were hearing my pirate radio station!!! I was hooked! Got me into modern music production and pro theatre design and tech.

    Eventually ended up R&D director of a half billion tech company, so it paid off.

    I still play with arduino and raspberryPi and microbits for fun today but I LOVE the idea of making fuzz circuits with a spring clip wire electronic kit. Must do it. I have a kit somewhere.
     
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  19. cometazzi

    cometazzi Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    Like many in this thread, I was the kid that took everything apart to see how it worked. I had played around with loads of motors, wire, batteries, light bulbs and switches that I had taken out of broken toys and appliances starting around age 5 or so. This played quite well into model trains later, as well as motorizing Lego Technic and Erector type toys.

    I had always been interested in electronics and electricity, but the nearest Radio Shack was about 45 minutes away by car, and I never had any money to buy anything from there. It seemed like such a magical place, though. I tried learning about electronics from the local school libraries but there wasn't much in there. I got the most mileage out of encyclopedias that somewhat described components, but only from an overview standpoint. Around age 14 (1988 or so) I started playing guitar and that only increased my interest in electronics, electric instruments and amplification. Also around this time, I had gotten an 'underground' booklet from a friend's older brother about phreaking and building electronic boxes to manipulate the phone system.

    There weren't any electronics courses in high school, and I didn't have the math grades to get into one if it existed. After high school I really wanted to go to college and study electronics. I wanted to build robots and guitar amps. Again, no money so I didn't get to go to college.

    Around the age of 17 I was working full-time, so I finally walked into a Radio Shack, bought Forrest Mimms' Getting Started In Electronics, a breadboard, and one or two each of every blister pack that was hanging on the pegboard or in a drawer. It was $82.70 in 1992 dollars. The guy behind the counter offered to sell me a Radio Shack catalogue for another $15, but I declined.

    I took it all home, and amidst the sneers of my roomate started to build little circuits to blink LEDs and make obnoxious buzzing sounds. I didn't have enough parts to build everything in the book, and while I learned quite a bit from the book (I consider it my jumpstart of knowledge) my understanding of the circuits was fairly minimal. This was before much of the Internet was accessible to mortals, and computers were still thousands of dollars.

    I later enrolled in a 2-year trade school to be an auto/diesel mechanic, still working full-time so I had no time for electronics. Afterwards, I worked two jobs to pay for the student loans, so again, not much time for electronics.

    In 1997 I got onto the Internet for the first time using a roommate's computer. One of the first things I went looking for was information about electronics. I found some sites and learned a little bit more. By time I had saved up enough money to build my own computer, I was very much interested in programming, and so that's mostly what I did instead. I dabbled in C, later perl, then burned out of computers for awhile.

    Somewhere around 2004 my interest in elecronics got piqued again. This time, the game was very different. Now I could buy any parts I wanted, en masse, for cheap. There was so much information out there it was overload. My old set of Radio Shack parts were long gone, but I ordered a bunch of parts from an online retailer. Started building stompbox circuits and modifying them. Built a couple of small guitar amps around various chipamps. Bought EPFM, and build a bunch of stuff out of there. Talked with Craig Anderton on Harmony Central about some of the circuits. Read a lot, experimented a lot, had a lot of fun. Met some girl and it all came to an end.

    Fast forward about 3-4 years ago. In the midst of a 2-year Networking Degree, I decided to drop trow and go for a 4-year EE degree. Crashed and burned immediately on the math. I guess it'll never be. Now I'm back on the 2-year degree. Working full-time, going to school part time. I buy parts and collect schematics of stuff I want to do, read lots, daydream a bunch. I've built an impressive workbench area, but I never have any time for it.

    Maybe someday.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  20. kingofdogs1950

    kingofdogs1950 Tele-Afflicted

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    ku6kks56rdvf5wboasbu.jpg I built a crystal radio in the late '50s.
    1968, I built a Heathkit Vox Jaguar combo organ. It was $300 ($900 for one that wasn't a kit). Real money in 1968 when minimum wage was ~1.75/hr.
    As far a difficulty, I had nothing to compare with until
    2001 when I built an Allen Accomplice/w vertical chassis. I later built a few other tube amps.
    The Vox was a LOT harder than any of the amps I've built and it is amazing that as a 17 year old I built it without issue and used it a LOT.



    M
     
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2020
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