About this Site and Related Videos

I was amazed to see the activity in hobby electronics when I searched for related subjects on the WEB. Apparently activity exploded at about the same time I traded in electronics for GIS. I had lost a 24 year career when the outfit I was working for moved to India. And I mean “moved” to India. They picked up the entire development operation and hauled it away. Being an engineering technician with no EE, I found that I was easily replaced by junior engineers pulling down much less than my salary. It took about 8 months of job searching to understand that this was going to be a permanent situation.

I retrained for the field of Geographic Information Systems and didn’t look back. Maps had always fascinated me. I had gathered a collection of USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle maps covering parts of Texas, mostly the Fort Worth-Dallas area. This was related to my hobby of model railroading that always ran parallel to my interest in electronics. So GIS allowed me to stay with at least one of my interests while I turned my back on electronics.

But the lure of electronics called me back eventually. When I decided to dig out my PIC equipment and get nostalgic, I started to look toward upgrading some of my old stuff. That’s when I started exploring the WEB and found out that I had just missed the revolution! Just my luck. So, now it’s time to play some catch-up.

If you are like me, you can watch YouTube videos of electronic projects all day long. The creativity and ingenuity of so many people is fascinating to see. There’s a bunch of them that make me say, “Hey, I want one of those!” My own Tetris coffee table or quadcopter. Maybe a small robot. A two by three inch oscilloscope!

But a lot of the videos, as cool as they are, do not provide any information about how they were designed, constructed, or programmed. Bummer! So how about reverse engineering them? Well, without any hardware in hand, you can’t really reverse engineer. You are left with just trying to figure out how it was done by watching the “output”. Like figuring out an FPGA design by examining the inputs and outputs. So that’s what I think I’ll try to make these pages about. But, thank heaven, there is already a great series on building and 8×8 LED Cube. I don’t want to solder one of those up!

Not all of the projects/videos will be about a full, complete project. I think most full projects will require too much time and result in too few videos and articles to keep a good level of interest up. So, many videos will cover just specific parts or components. Those will no doubt find their way into a full-blown project sooner or later. But if you can get on with your own project by picking up some knowledge about a component that you need to use, I hope there are some happy coincidences.

I will be working on a budget. So if you are on a budget too, I should be of some help. I also use Linux (there’s a cost savings right there). I acknowledge that there will some limitations in development tools available. From time to time, I may mention tools that I find useful for the Linux fans. Windows is pretty much catered to by the development tool makers out there, so you guys don’t really need any help in that area. If you are interested in why I don’t use Windows, I’ve got the simplest argument I have ever seen: I don’t accept the EULA. Windows just wont load after I click “Decline”!

I‘ve also got limited equipment. A dodgy Tek 465 (so dodgy that it finally quit on me and I got a RIGOL DS1054Z),, Fluke 77, PICSTART programmer (it has also died, replaced by PICkit3), and a home-brew +/-30V linear power supply is what I have to work with. And as far as creating videos goes, you’re going to have to suffer through my learning curve. All content is produced on Linux using vim, Kicad, kdenlive, gimp, and ffmpeg. Also, I suck at presentations and speech-making. And I’ll try to stay off camera as much as possible.

Thanks for watching/reading. I hope you find some of this useful.