Customer Success Stories
Boombox, Electronic Fireworks, Magic Mushroom and the Electric Guitar
Whiz Kid's BoomboxOne of my favorite Jameco memories is the time that a friend of mine asked if I could build a stereo for him and integrate it into a suitcase that he had. We talked for a while and found that a dual LM386 design would be perfect. There was one problem though: He needed it completed in one week.
The first place I looked to source all of my parts from was Jameco. Jameco had everything I needed to complete the project, from the perfboard to the pots and mounting hardware. I had the order processed and 2-day shipped to my door. That weekend I frantically soldered and assembled my project. It worked great! I met the deadline with time to spare thanks to Jameco's fast processing and shipping options. This was one of my first Jameco orders and it caused me to make several more orders. Jameco is my favorite part supplier that I will continue to order from for years to come.
See the video of the Boombox project here.
Electronic FireworksI've been an electronics hobbyist since junior high school – which I hate to admit was over 40 years ago. Obviously, I've had a lot of projects cross my bench during that time – some were even completely finished.
Recently I've become addicted to high power, large count LED projects. I've always loved fireworks so I decided to build a simulation of multicolor aerial shell bursts for the 4th of July. The 4' x 4' panel, attached to the front of the house, includes a 12' PVC pipe covered with strip LEDs that extends to the ground to simulate the ground charge and shell trail up to the panel. The panel has red, blue, white and orange LED strips and high power discrete devices as well as eight, digitally-triggered xenon strobes. The routines last about 12 minutes and are accompanied by stereo sound effects synchronized with the show over an FM transmitter.
Most people can only enjoy the 4th of July for about 30 or 40 minutes, but my neighbors have to "enjoy it" nightly for about a week. The only thing that's missing is the smell of gunpowder.
Putting the Magic Back in the MushroomMy story begins with a tired lawn ornament – a mushroom with an incandescent light that shines down on a fairy underneath. It was supposed to light up at night and recharge its battery with its solar cell the next day, but the cell had reached the end of its useful life. Then the piece got clobbered by a package, knocking the top off. When the bulb burnt out I didn't think much of it, but when the mushroom cap came off and I saw the wires sticking out, inspiration hit me.
I used a small photocell from my junkbox (no part number, but any photocell would work), a 2N7002 MOSFET, a tiny 10K trimpot to turn on and off the LED (NTE 300045) that replaced the bulb, and I installed a four cell AA battery pack to drive the whole thing. I also attached a 6V solar cell purchased on an online auction site that pumped new life into my once tired lawn ornament. The schematic for the PCB and the project as a whole was a simple one and I used point to point wiring to put it together. Now my Magic Mushroom greets my wife and me every time we pull into the driveway after dark.
The experiment was a fun success and I now wish that everything I work on would turn out so well.
Jimi Hendrix – NOTI have a 1992 Fender Stratocaster electric guitar that was made at the factory in Mexico. These guitars are known for having the same bodies and necks as those made in the USA but lacking in the electronics. To bring out the best sounds from this guitar, I decided to change out the three potentiometers (two tone and one volume) and the capacitor. I have only a basic understanding of soldering but decided to try it. At least if I messed it up I could get it redone correctly by a pro. I downloaded a wiring diagram from the Fender website and started to remove the guitar strings and the front pick guard that the pots are mounted to. One by one I desoldered the wires from the existing joints and soldered them to the new parts. I was careful to use flux and not to overheat things. Working slowly and carefully I was done in about an hour.
I restrung the guitar, tuned it and then held my breath as I flipped on my amp switch. Not realizing that I had neglected to turn the volume knob down, I instead had it cranked full up. I about %&$# my pants when that thing roared to life!! I nearly threw it across the room, I was so startled! Lesson learned: Always twist that knob full to the left before flipping on that amp!
If you have an electronics story you'd like to share, please send it to [email protected].