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Roll Call

Reader's Comments: Why I Love Electronics

What We Love About Electronics

Jameco told you about what some of our Great American Electronics Hobbyist Census participants said about their love for the electronics hobby, and our readers didn't hesitate to let us know their passions behind the hobby that has so many hooked. We couldn't resist sharing some of their personal experiences with you.
Heart Robert C. – I remember when I was a young boy, not quite a teenager, I took my first radio apart (this was when radios still had tubes and resistors). I carefully removed the screws that held the case together. I looked at the electronics with wonderment and amazement. I watched the tubes flicker and listened to the hum. I traced the circuit that was pasted on the back panel. I had a very basic voltmeter, the type that had a needle rather than the new digital types they have now.

I used electronic magazines and various books to learn what the different parts were. I didn't know how to calculate and understand how the various parts worked, but I had a fire that burned so bright that I had to learn about them. The more I learned and understood, the more I wanted to know. It was like a moth to a flame. The emotions I felt were incredible. To this day, I keep that radio on my shelf. Now it has lit the fire in my son. It's incredible to see the look in his eyes, much like the one I still have.

Stephen B. – I like electronics because electronics gives me the opportunity to learn and to fix household electronics. For example, I just fixed a mic issue with an Xbox 360 controller by cleaning the PCB solder points. The points were being shorted by solder-related corrosion/grime; this corrosion/grime was easily scratched off. I tested the controller by using it to play a video game. The results were gratifying.

John W. – I started when I was 8 years old when my grandpa gave me an old Crosby multiband radio. I loved tuning around and in the process came upon CW. I read Popular Electronics religiously, so I wrote and asked how I could learn to copy it on the Crosby. To my mom's surprise, I got a letter back and the writer told me I needed a BFO (beat frequency oscillator) and even included a schematic for one. My dad was taking a correspondence electronics course at the time and between the two of us we got it going. A few years later (1963), we were both licensed hams and built all our own equipment (except the keys).

This hobby led me into an exciting (albeit an unplanned for) career and even when I changed fields I kept up the hobby. The challenge of designing and building something is only matched by the thrill of firing it up and watching it perform. In the 70's I started adding single board computers to the mix and built an HF 5 band solid state transceiver. That was exciting. The thrill is still there, though I have problems finding standard components these days. I have been a Jameco customer off and on since the late 60's and I still think they know hobbyists like no other company.

David M. – I love electronics because every two weeks, the company I work for gives me a nice chunk 'o money, and I get to work in a warm or cool lab (depending on the season). Much better than construction!

Bud M. – When I was 10 years young, I had a deep need to tinker with electronics... actually to tinker with everything! That was 50 years ago when science fairs were held and when everyone was building their own color TV's and heath kits were very popular. Since that time, the electronics hobby seemed to have waned a little bit, but it sounds like the hobby has started to come back big time.

My hobby back then involved anything to do with high voltage and physics. My dad was building his own experimental aircraft and he belonged to the local EAA chapter. This is where I met quite a few guys who worked at NASA Lewis Research. I would attend all the meetings with my dad and I learned a tremendous amount from listening. My room truly looked like a mad scientist's laboratory. There was stuff everywhere.

I attended a science fair and my study at the time was particle acceleration. I had built a homemade particle accelerator with a home built Van de Graff generator and an accelerator tube powered by static electricity. I never got it running as my dad had always seemed to find a way to deter this. It's funny how moms and dads seems to intervene when things might get dangerous.


Editor's Note: Let us know what you love about electronics at [email protected].