Monthly Archives: March 2013

Playing with Electronics – The Beginning

Around 1985 or 86 I got one of these for Christmas.

Around 1987, give or take a year, I got a similar one for Christmas. I’m not sure if I had a Gakken, Skilcraft or a Tron Link. I also don’t recall the version. I’m pretty sure it had to be either the EX-100 or below. (image found here)

What I can I say, being around the Apple ][ plus and wondering what those circuit boards captured my interest. It also helped that during this time I was watching shows that incorporated modern to futuristic technology: Superman III, The Wiz Kids and my all time favorite, WarGames, used computers, Small Wonder used an android, Knight Rider had KITT. I can’t forget Star Wars and its robots. All of these and more influenced me.

I have no idea how I articulated this want on my Christmas list that year. I’m pretty sure it was 1987 because that Christmas my sister got an interactive talking Juile doll (to this day that doll is creepy cool). I do remember opening up the present and immediately wanting to play with it. I remember my Aunt Sandy and Uncle Ed helping me with it; none of us really understood what we were doing. I remember trying out the lie detector tester and it being such a disappointment. We could tell it truths all day long and it’d flag it as a potential lie.

Overall, it was a neat kit. I was definitely interested and wanted to learn but I think my interests fell into the crack. I wasn’t old enough to demand my parent to help me find someone that could help explain the experiments nor was I old enough to be able to figure it out on my own. Today when I read about Steve Wozniak and other early Silicon Valley kids I read in envy. Why? Because they access to people all over their neighborhoods who knew a thing or two about electronics. I hit my maximum level of frustration with electronics with this kit and moved on. I am thankful that my parents did what they could and at least gave me a shot at learning electronics with this kit.

Interests Rekindled

Training kit with a fully working Allen Bradley Micrologix 1100 PLC

Training kit with a fully working Allen Bradley Micrologix 1100 PLC

My interests in electronics was rekindled in 2010 while I was working on a software project for a waste water company out of Charleston, South Carolina. That project required me to quickly learn about Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs). In fact I purchased an excellent complete Allen Bradley MicroLogix training kit off of ebay from plc_trainer aka Ind-Concepts. Additionally I purchased a used Allen Bradley analog module off of ebay for the PLC.

Parallax_Basic_Stamp

While I was working on the waste water project I also purchased a Parallax BASIC Stamp Kit. More recently I’ve purchased a RaspberryPi Model B and an Arduino Uno.