555 reflections

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by VoodooMojo, Jan 23, 2010.

  1. VoodooMojo

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    maybe this don't belong here but...

    I know there has been a lot spoken at AAC (and everywhere else) over the years about the 555 but here we are 40 years after the introduction of "the chip" and look at the hits we get when 555 is in the title line.
    almost 5000 hits in 2 years!
    close to 600 hits in 5 days!
    And also noticed is many people volunteer advice, experiences and opinions.

    We know there are better, newer ways to achieve the same results but still, there it is!

    When I started school in all this, it was all about building power supplys from 5U4 rectifier tubes, amps and tremolos from 12AX7s, triggers (flip flops) from 6N7s. In a word, it was tedious everytime something was made, it was made from scratch and required gobs of power, wires, hardware (the nuts and bolts kind) and knowledge.

    Then 2N107s were the big deal. Other discrete semiconductors and components became readily available and that was good. A bit closer to the days of "hobby electronics".

    I can remember it to the day. My first 555 IC. It was like the day Kennedy was shot, or 9-11, or Neil Armstrong's moon walk. The exact moment someone handed me one. Like the first hit of.....nevermind!

    I was like, "what the hell is this?" Yeah, right!" "It can do what?"
    But holy crap was I amazed.
    Now armed with bridge rectifiers, 2N2222s, and 555s along with a handful of resistors and capacitors I could whip up all kinds of stuff immediately!

    a "Pig Nose" on one hip and a funky little box on the other hip containing homemade guitar effects using 555 chips.

    timers, oscillators, delays, it seemed no limit!

    a lot of time has passed and a lot of innovation, we have long since moved on from the 1970 technology that gave birth to the 555. But here we are, 2010 and still the little critter is so versatile and popular.
    Still talking about it.
    Still using it.

    go figure!

    thanks for the ear...
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  2. lmartinez

    Active Member

    Mar 8, 2009
    It will always be a start....But better things have arrived as of last decade.....Microelectronics is a new start besides today's technology "Nanoelectronics".....
  3. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    Newer isn't always better. My tag line says it all.

    People are pushing µC, but the fact is programming is hard frustrating work, and isn't for everyone. For those who like it more power, but many cases a simple solution that may have a few more parts without hours (days, weeks, months) spent writing code is much better.

    The electronics field in general has taken a hit on the hobbyist side because of the shear number of options for nerds like us. People who used to dink with circuit dink with keyboards instead, and become IT types.
  4. lmartinez

    Active Member

    Mar 8, 2009
    We all are NERDS in our own ways. Enjoy...:p
  5. KL7AJ

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 4, 2008
    #1 rule of engineering: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. :)

  6. cumesoftware

    Senior Member

    Apr 27, 2007
    That is quite true. Just a few days ago, I saw a dub siren made with just three 555s. Some people just hate the 555, some even might argue that all 555 devices should be shot into space, but the proof that the 555 is an electronic marvel is there.

    As a foot note, who would guess that just two comparators, a flip-flop and a transistor for the discharge would make a marvelous IC.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  7. VoodooMojo

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Nov 28, 2009
    Claude Shannon has always been a personal hero of mine.

    I added Hans R.Camenzind to the list for quite a while there.

    I don't use the 555 as much but always have a few handy. I don't need a pin-out to know how to achieve desired frequencies, pulse widths, etc. I know what value of resistance and capacitance to get what I need. Also great introductory tool for beginners.
    Along with the 74LS, 7400, CD4000 series, the LMs and certainly with the 555, I feel like McGiver at times because of the comfort zone. I have over a thousand of the aforementioned components and the complete set of "Encyclopedia of Electronic Circuits" collection. I shouldn't run out projects anytime soon.

    I still use the 74LS47 when I train logic to technicians.
    Instead of going through the process of explaining all the gates, logics, and truth tables in a boring recital, I put up the overhead of the 74LS47 and go through it step by step. There is not a nodding head in the class.
    The chip is used for a specific purpose but works nicely to explain nand, and, inverter, and-or-invert gates, etc.
    I think it is because newbies are so excited when it comes to lighting LEDs and especially the 7 segment kind! And put a 74LS90 counter in front of it....wow! And then...dog gone it, the 555 in front of that? There will be no holding these guys back...!

    But over the years I too have fallen to the beckon of microcontrollers and microprocessors, uCs, PICs and PLCs. Mainly because of my occupation but also because having just a few different components can replace so many standard, semicustom and custom ICs.
    I still have my Heathkit ET-3400 training kit I built/used, to launch my voyage in the craft, from God would only remember what year. 1977 maybe?

    As Bill M pointed out though, At times it is quicker to just grab an IC, wire it up, and be done with it!
  8. lkgan


    Dec 18, 2009
    I fully agree with what you said. The presence of microncontroller really diverts me from my main interest in circuit. Instead of looking at circuits which was during my first 2 years in my degree, I was slowly diverted to coding with microcontroller and FPGA, which is not really suitable for me because I am not that fantastic in programming. How I wish I was just borned in the era of electronics without microcontroller and just purely circuits without much programming skills needed. Now I have to adapt to this new tech in order to catch up the trend......
  9. whatsthatsmell

    Active Member

    Oct 9, 2009
    So that's my problem! I always thought that it was "If it ain't broke, fix it until it is." :D
  10. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
    Then I do my hobbyist thing components are just parts included to reach a final result. I use both 555 and microcontrollers. I think it is wrong to exclude any of them. As long as both is cheap and available.