Local Electronics club - dissection of old to learn and new projects

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by RogueRose, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. RogueRose

    Thread Starter Member

    Oct 10, 2014
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    I know there are a lot of clubs that deal with various things like HAM radio and Linux (being the closest related clubs I could think of to electronics - next to IEEE). I am wondering if anyone here is involved with a local electronics club and if so, where are you located (general area), how many people usually attend (and age range would be interesting) and what you do.

    I was wondering if people in general have any interest in this stuff and if they found out what was possible and how relatively easy it was (depending upon what is being done..) if more people would be interested in attending a club like this.

    With all the E-waste, it should be easier than ever to teach electronics I would think, at least the general understanding of how everyday items work and interact with each other.

    With all that is available on the internet with regards to databases/knowledge of "parts/components", 3D printing and import ability, it seems that making projects would be fairly accessible and not too difficult nor expensive - and most of all exciting!!

    I'd like to get an idea if people here would join a local club were one available (some people will do internet stuff but not local stuff it seems). Activites would cover: library of projects (builds and dissections - pictures, videos & text), repairing & troubleshooting things, brainstorm & build new or custom items, help those new to electronics learn about it & guide them as best as possible, help other members find items they need (scrapping old stuff, or finding stuff - noitify members).. Other suggestions would be appreciated.
     
  2. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    For just over 25 years I've been a member of the 6502 Group that meets in the Denver area. They've been meeting continuously since 1976. There are currently about a dozen active members with six to ten showing up at the weekly meetings. At 50 years old I am one of the youngest members of the group and our efforts to attract fresh blood have not been too successful over the years. I think there are a number of factors involved, but these guys grew up in the era of electronics/electrics you could tear apart and see or figure out how it worked and also in an age when you could build your own stuff for a fraction of what it cost commercially and have it work better in most cases. Today the reverse is usually the case. You can buy something for a fraction of the cost it would take to build it yourself and the commercial item will do ten or a hundred times as much and do it better in most cases. It's hard to get young folks interested in electronics because when we tore a clock apart we saw lots of fascinating stuff that we could spend hours trying to tinker with it to see how it worked whereas today you see a printed circuit board with a glob of black goo in the middle of it. Many folks in times past learned about electrics/electronics/mechanics as a means to repair their cars and appliances. Today there are very few things that are repairable or worth repairing.

    Just my $0.02.
     
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  3. RogueRose

    Thread Starter Member

    Oct 10, 2014
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    I agree with you on what might be the reasons. After years of working as a system/network tech & admin as well as doing repair work (board replacement) of various electronics, I came to the point where my frustration led me to dig deeper into learning how these products work. It seems that with the advent of things like the adurino, RaspPi's and such, there is so much more that can be done with electronics without having to be a full blown engineer.

    IMO if we are going to be so reliant on our electronic infrastructure the benefits of having at least general knowledge of electronics can't be underestimated just as having similar education in auto mobiles is equally beneficial.

    I'm curious as to what kind of things you do in the group. Do you think children today would be better served focusing on the software/programming aspect of electronics and computers or would/could they be equally well served learning EE (obviously an understanding of both could lead to great results!)
     
  4. tindel

    Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    I too am a member of the 6502 group. I met WBahn through this website and he invited me to the club. Without doubt, I'm the youngest active member of the club - and at 33 - I don't know that I am that young anymore. I'll have a decade on any college students that might show up.

    Things I like about the group:
    No dues (I looked into the local makers club and they wanted $400 a MONTH for membership.)
    Smart people with lots of experience - I learn something just about every time I go. There are hobbyists, engineers, technicians, and even a physicist that regularly attend meetings. It's very cranial.
    Everyone is themselves... and I'm free to make stupid comments or even disagree with people.
    Lack of organization - aside from a mailing list and a treasurer - there really seems to be no organization - and no one person in-charge. Just people with a common interest getting together to hang out - you get to show off your projects - see other people's projects - team up with others to accomplish larger scale projects... throw out ideas and solutions to problems. I think this is the club's greatest strength - no egos are in the way.

    Some things to consider to improve membership:
    The club's desire to remain under the radar and not have dues causes the club to not advertise - except for word of mouth. There are simply not enough [young] people into electronics these days to not advertise if you want growth. My impression is that the members do want growth - specifically in the younger crowd. There are several folks there that are very gifted teachers and they want to pass it on to the next generation. The club needs to consider advertising in their own backyard if they want growth in the younger crowd.
    Tool sharing - it would be nice to have a lab to share tools between the group... again this possibly would lead to dues and visibility to organization in which they meet. In some respects there is tool sharing though. If I need a 1GHz scope or a lathe I know a few people that will be more than willing to let me borrow their tools in their home. There's also one member that loves building pulsers - he gave me an entire box of them to test out the bandwidth of my oscilloscope.

    Overall thoughts:
    I really enjoy meeting with the group. The people are enjoyable to be around and genuinely care about the other people in the group both at a professional and personal level. I've learned an awful lot in the 6 months I've been a member. I'd encourage anyone to join our group. You can learn things that a book won't teach you, enjoy a few laughs, hear some good stories, and make a few friends along the way.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
  5. joeyd999

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 6, 2011
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    So, one of these must be you?

    [​IMG]

    You need not say (nor confirm or deny you are in this photo), but I guess the tall one in the back.

    Edit: Wish I lived in the Denver area!
     
  6. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    Sadly, I wasn't there the night that photo was taken.
     
  7. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    Unfortunately the natural dynamic drives things in exactly the opposite direction. We are victims of our own technological success. When oscilloscopes were primitive pieces of test equipment, most people that used them really learned how they worked and how to "trick" them into doing what they wanted. Today most people just press "autoset" and read whatever measurement the scope decides to make that is displayed at the bottom of the screen. The same with programming -- the software development tools have gotten so good (and so complex) that people "program" by dragging and dropping things and writing code snippets that amount to a few percent of the actual program. We let our tools do our thinking for us. The same with cars. We don't learn how to brake properly, we rely on anti-skid brakes. We don't learn how to read a map, we use GPS. Soon we won't learn how to drive, the car will do that for us. And forget about actually maintaining a car!

    None of these things are bad in and off themselves, but they should be tools that we master, instead we abuse them and let them become the masters of us.

    It's a VERY informal group -- which is the key to its longevity and success. There is no agenda and seldom anything that is planned. People come to discuss whatever comes up. Sometimes someone will bring something to show off or to talk about. Those things are generally announced on the group mailing list. Most of the members are hardcore tinkerers who love and crave knowledge about anything. One time I invited the roommate of one of my students who was a taxidermist to talk about taxidermy and it was a big hit. Whenever there's been someone practicing their thesis defense in a nearby room we've offered to be their mock audience. The backgrounds are so extensive and diverse that if you throw out a random topic there is a very good chance that someone in the group will have meaningful knowledge and/or experience in it. Artificial horse insemination? Not one, but two people!

    In years past we would occasionally have project nights where someone would come up with a hand-on project that those interested (meaning pretty much everyone) would do. One night we made 3-D glasses out of safety goggles and and LCD polarizer that we split in two and that was driven by the serial port of a computer to sync to the alternating images displayed.

    It's hard to play in the hardware world without delving into the software world anymore, but I definitely favor both. But if we could get children today to just become interested in the basics of how things, hardware or software, worked it would be a big win. But way too many of them are only interested in what the newest wizbang gadget can do and have no time for how it does it.
     
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  8. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    We have a treasurer?

    We have money?

    Actually I think I do remember something about this, but it's so vague as to almost not be there.

    I agree. We can get into spirited debate, but no one is the least hesitant to point out either someone else's mistakes or their own.

    That's not a desire, but a practical reality that is forced upon us. I tried twice to overcome it and was shot down by outside forces both times.
     
  9. tindel

    Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    And I wasn't alive yet when that was taken - just kidding - but I probably wasn't yet in the Denver area though.

    Just a side note: if anyone is reading this in the Denver area and would like to attend - PM me or Wbahn and we'd be glad to give you directions.
     
  10. tindel

    Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    Ah - I thought it was the desire of the club - guess I was wrong. I'd be interested to hear the story behind this sometime at the meeting.
     
  11. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    I'm trying to think when that photo was taken. I joined the group in 1988 and I think that photo was probably taken sometime in the 1990's.
     
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