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So many toys vying for affection

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zeeglen
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re: So many toys vying for affection
zeeglen   5/7/2011 9:24:47 PM
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This afternoon I took my son to a used-book store for research on his high school project. At the checkout we were told that today's special was a free comic book. I took a quick flip through the box of used comic books. Found a 1986 edition of "Archie's Ham Radio Adventure". That's right, Archie Andrews and Jughead, Big Moose, Betty and Veronica, Reggie, and of course Dilton was the ham operator. Surprisingly, so was the rich Mr. Lodge. The small print indicated the comic was a "joint educational project by members of the amateur radio business community in cooperation with the ARRL" and was distributed free of charge. Front and rear pages have info on ham licensing and Morse code. I have to wonder how many school kids were inspired to get into ham radio and then into electronic engineering as a result. Then I asked my son if there was a radio club at his high school. No. There is a science club, their main activities last year were a T-Shirt contest and a poster contest. He does belong to a small robotics club which actually did put some hardware together that didn't work. The last science fair I visited (years ago) all the displays were poster boards except for another son's Tesla coil which he was not allowed to operate since it was "too dangerous". When I was a school kid the science fairs had real working gadgets, beakers of hydrogen that actually blew up with a nice loud bang, hovercrafts, magnetic levitation, breadboarded electronic circuits, Tesla coils that roared and emitted lovely long arcs of corona and created oodles of ozone to get high on, all hands-on real goodies instead of posterboard displays. So am doing some more wondering. How many readers have kids in a school that still has a radio club? Do today's schools still attempt to foster an interest in the techniques and science behind radio communications? Or has it become "too easy" with the proliferation of over-the-counter cell phones?

David Ashton
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re: So many toys vying for affection
David Ashton   5/8/2011 12:53:26 AM
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I remember in my high school physics class the teacher got the Van de Graaf generator and picked the girl with the longest blonde hair, got her on a rubber mat next to it and got her to put her hand on the top. Fired it up and eventually all her hair was standing straight out. Can you see them doing that these days? And the time I nicked a thumbnail sized bit of sodium from the chem lab. Had it in my pocket all the way to a friend's house, where we chucked it in the pool and watched it whizz around, and eventually blow up showering us with water. if it had ignited in my pocket I would probably have lost a leg..... That WAS dangerous and if I'd been found out I would (rightly) have had my ass tanned... I have a workmate who is a radio ham. He has a few flash looking transceivers but wouldn't think of building one himself. I have lent him a comms textbook and we are going to build ourselves some GDOs (Grid Dip Oscillators) but I think he finds the theory intimidating. Still, he is better than most of the population, who take all the magical technology we have now as a given, and want it to do even more without even wondering how we got it as good as it is.

zeeglen
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re: So many toys vying for affection
zeeglen   5/8/2011 1:17:41 AM
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"Gate Dip Oscillator" unless you really do use a vacuum tube instead of a FET. I still have a Heathkit GDO that uses a 6CW4, and it still works, or did the last time I turned it on. Good thing that sodium did not blow up in your pocket. (Radioactive Balls is better than Noballs) I think many of us can remember youthful episodes in which we were darn lucky to survive, or at least to not get caught by the cops. As for the girl with the long blond hair, today the parents would be crying "Sue, Sue, Sue" - and her name is not Sue... That's progress.

zeeglen
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re: So many toys vying for affection
zeeglen   5/8/2011 1:29:20 AM
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Kudos to your workmate who wants to get his hands "dirty". Starting with GDOs he may eventually get to transceivers. The idea is to learn from what you struggle to achieve. As you point out, most would rather purchase than learn how to do it themselves.

kdboyce
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re: So many toys vying for affection
kdboyce   5/8/2011 6:09:27 AM
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The answer to the leading question in the article is very hard to call. For me, I had my General class amateur license as well as a Class D license to be a commercial radio announcer before I had an engineering degree :-). I as able to play with stuff in kit form, or scrounge through radio parts at a local store to try and build something, or better yet...getting hold of some military surplus radio gear and modifying it. Because of the hobby, I was given the opportunity to resurrect and modify an ancient Gates AM transmitter with 250W triode tubes to become a CONELRAD transmitter for the local radio station. Talk about fun when that thing finally came back to life! Who remembers CONELRAD and what it was for? So for me, the hobby clearly lead to an EE degree, but the interest in all things electric/electronic pervaded all.

agk
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re: So many toys vying for affection
agk   5/8/2011 11:37:16 AM
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Radio HAM is a good hobby related with communication technology. Those who have interest in circuits building testing and communicating with HAM family can easily enter into this and leisurely develop their skills. It needs a percentage of your earnings spent in the begining stage for a couple of years to establish strongly.

Sheetal.Pandey
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re: So many toys vying for affection
Sheetal.Pandey   5/9/2011 11:31:51 AM
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I liked the story especially the moonbounce.

Matt Thayer
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re: So many toys vying for affection
Matt Thayer   5/9/2011 11:31:54 PM
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As a young (26 years old) engineer, I don't recall ever actually seeing a real life science fair. There was a science fair episode in every sitcom I've ever seen on TV, though.

old account Frank Eory
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re: So many toys vying for affection
old account Frank Eory   5/10/2011 12:13:09 AM
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Too funny David, my high school physics teacher did the exact same demonstration, but used himself as the test subject (he had fairly long hair as well). In high school chemistry, whatever the lab experiment was that week, we often managed to supplement it with the experiment of dropping sodium metal into a flask of HCl, then covering the flask opening with a baloon and doing a "what caused the Hindenberg to explode?" demonstration. These days, I doubt a physics teacher would be allowed to even have a Van de Graaf in the classroom, and I don't think chemistry students even get to use real chemicals anymore :(

Neo10
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re: So many toys vying for affection
Neo10   5/10/2011 2:23:21 AM
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Stuff like these, we can only watch in some clunky movies. The classrooms and labs have all gotten cleaner with a/c and neat set of drawers with prefabricated devices. Just plug them into the circuit and check the waves on the oscilloscope. that's lab for you.

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