School, hobby electronics

(Forgive the "retro" style? This is one of my oldest pages, 1/1999 or even earlier, and I keep it in this terrible color scheme for old time's sake!)

Modern electronics has much to recommend it as an activity for children (aside from being fun) (or older hobbyists):

+---- It is a creative pursuit.
+---- A lot can be done for not very much money.
+---- The limited dangers are manageable.

Some Basics... Introduction to volts, ohms, amps / Introduction to digital electronics / Making PCBs... etc!

Your entry point to pages about specific projects, mostly computer related, among them.....
    Parallel port reference page
    Serial port reference page

Some PCBs I've designed, bare boards available from hobbyist-friendly commerical fab service OSH Park.

Reference: Links to lists of pin-outs, mfgs URLs, etc

And here are some small pages for you with "bite sized" introductions to various useful, fun components or issues....

The Voltage Divider: An important element of many designs
Opto-isolator, or optocoupler: Simple use with microprocessors, other digital circuits. Protection/ level shifting
Level shifting: Using a transistor as a switch, to "connect" 12v devices... input and output... to microprocessors and other digital circuits not working at 12v.
Relays- YOU NEED A DIODE: Use relays with microprocessors.. and important "detail".
LEDs: Pretty! But be sure to use current limiting resistors
Digital temperature sensor: Dallas DS18B20. Using it with little code, little effort
Sensor for IR signals from remote controls: Use the TVs remote control as a keyboard for your microprocessor project
Windspeed and wind direction sensors: Inexpensive. Good for connecting to Arduino or Pi
Humidity and temperature sensors:DHT11 or DHT22 or AM2303. Inexpensive, and digital
Electromagnetic Strikeplates: The heart of an access control system
Dangerous electricity: Household AC... 110v, 230v
Plugs: How to connect to dangerous electricity
Have a magnetic personality? Or at least a magnet? Sensing with reed switches and Hall effect sensors
Sensing light: various options. LDR, phototransistor, AmbiLight Sensor
RS-232 and "serial" are not the same: What you need to know
Speech synthesis / Voice synthesis: Tremendous fun! Easy. Inexpensive ($25 @8/10, + p&p)... and controlled over a simple serial link. You only use a single I/O bit on the device controlling the display, to "say" what you want to...over a speaker.. or down a phone line? Lots of fun possibilities. It can either be a "printer" (outputting speech) connected to your PC or microcontroller, or filled with phrases and operated independently.
Seven segment LED display: Four characters. Inexpensive ($13 @8/10, + p&p)... and controlled over a simple serial link. You only use a single I/O bit on the device controlling the display, to "say" what you want shown on the display.
Control VGA display with single serial line: Inexpensive (£25 @11/14, incl p&p in UK) small board which can generate an image on a VGA display. Character based, 50 lines of 100 characters. You only use a single I/O bit of the device controlling the display, to "say" what you want shown on the display. It can have multiple windows, and each scrolls and line-wraps automatically. In multiple colors.
Read a USB keyboard with single serial line: Inexpensive (£14 @12/14, incl VAT, but not p&p) small board which can interface an ordinary USB keyboard to your microprocessor project. Turns key presses into serial data.
Shaft encoders: No rocket science here... just an introduction to this family of sensors.
DC "motors": An overview of the different sorts of DC "motors" that hobbyists find uses for- simple, servo, stepper, with links to further pages with more detail... especially for using them with Arduinos.

Besides those pages, I also offer an organized tour of using computers (large and small) for sensing and control: sensors, actuators (or "effectors"), and the processing to integrate them. Those pages are hierarchical, to help you study what you want to study. (Those pages also get into the details of specific devices.)

I've spent most of my time on the digital side.

If only I had been at school after 1985! If only I had some local fellow enthusiasts!

I get a lot of pleasure from my dabbling with electronics. My most gratifying 'triumph' to date was building, from scratch, the hardware and software for a 6802 single board computer.

EVERY school (and many homes) should be introducing children to the hobby of electronics. I hope the pages attached to this will help anyone so inclined.

In December 2014, I came across a nice site with a Java applet which provides you with neat, interactive, graphics illustrating many principles and basic circuits (A sub-page of Falstad.com). You have to click on the "go to the applet" link, and then load the different simulations using the "circuits" menu item.

The globe on the right helps me see if doing these pages is worth the time it takes. It is interactive; play with it, if you wish. (You need to use your browser's "back" button to get back here after doing so.) The only information the system records is when visitors access the site, and where their ISP connected them to the internet. (In my case, that is 60 miles from where I live, at the moment.)

This comes to me as a free service from Revolvermaps.com. If you know how to insert HTML into your own web pages, it is easily added.

I also have a more jumbled collection of bits and pieces which are intended to be added to this more ordered section in due course. You can visit that selection by clicking here.

If you click here, you will be taken to a page with book recommendations.

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The gates in my computer are AND, OR and NOT, not Bill.

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Ad from page's editor: Yes.. I do enjoy compiling these things for you. I hope they are helpful. However... this doesn't pay my bills!!! Sheepdog Software (tm) is supposed to help do that, so if you found this stuff useful, (and you run a Windows or MS-DOS PC) please visit my freeware and shareware page, download something, and circulate it for me? Links on your page to this page would also be appreciated!
Click here to visit editor's freeware, shareware page.

How to email or write this page's editor, Tom Boyd

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