Your experience level with Electronics

Thread Starter

Pushkar1

Joined Apr 5, 2021
416
I'm just a curious person. I thought it might be interesting to share your level of experience with other forum readers,

My own electronics experience is very little at the design & programming level. I write an embedded c program for microcontroller in my project.
 

KeithWalker

Joined Jul 10, 2017
2,318
I hope you are ready for this, Pushkar1. You did ask.......

I became interested in electronics when I read a book that was awarded to my father when he graduated. The book was called "The Boy Electrician", published in 1912. I was 11 years old and the year was 1949. A year later I had built my first "reflex regenerative radio receiver" from junk parts. I was hooked!
I joined the Royal Air Force in 1956 and was trained as a ground radio technician at No.1 Radio School, RAF Locking. After training, I was posted to that station as a maintenance technician and instructor.
I was demobbed in 1959 and went to work as an instrument maintenance tech at Harwell Atomic Energy Research Station. While I was there, I worked my way through university and got my electronic and light electrical engineering degree.
In 1963, I left the Atomic Energy Establishment and went to work at the Production Engineering Research Establishment of Great Britain as a development engineer.
In 1966 I was made an offer by Petfoods Ltd. to head a team for 1 year to automate their plant. I accepted and successfully completed the assignment. When that was done, I emigrated to Canada.
I had no Canadian experience, so my first job was repairing radios and stereo systems until I established myself. After 3 months I went to work as a project engineer with a company that made supervisory control systems. I stayed there for two years and then accepted the position of production manager and development engineer at another company that made supervisory control monitoring. equipment.
I left them in 1972 and joined Hewlett Packard Canada as an applications engineer. I specialized in electronic measurements. In the late 70s, HP developed the GPIB which is an interface that can establish communications and control between measuring instruments and computers. That gave me the opportunity to learn about computers, microprocessors and all levels of programming.
In 1983 I received in depth training in project engineering and became a systems consultant, working with manufacturing customers to design, build, program and commission automatic test systems for whatever they manufactured (everything from paper pulp to nuclear fuel rods).
I retired when I turned 65 in 2003 but continued to do some consulting for a number of years. Now I have lots of time for my many hobbies which include electronics, drawing and painting, music and model building.
 

Thread Starter

Pushkar1

Joined Apr 5, 2021
416
I hope you are ready for this, Pushkar1. You did ask.......

I became interested in electronics when I read a book that was awarded to my father when he graduated. The book was called "The Boy Electrician", published in 1912. I was 11 years old and the year was 1949. A year later I had built my first "reflex regenerative radio receiver" from junk parts. I was hooked!
I joined the Royal Air Force in 1956 and was trained as a ground radio technician at No.1 Radio School, RAF Locking. After training, I was posted to that station as a maintenance technician and instructor.
I was demobbed in 1959 and went to work as an instrument maintenance tech at Harwell Atomic Energy Research Station. While I was there, I worked my way through university and got my electronic and light electrical engineering degree.
In 1963, I left the Atomic Energy Establishment and went to work at the Production Engineering Research Establishment of Great Britain as a development engineer.
In 1966 I was made an offer by Petfoods Ltd. to head a team for 1 year to automate their plant. I accepted and successfully completed the assignment. When that was done, I emigrated to Canada.
I had no Canadian experience, so my first job was repairing radios and stereo systems until I established myself. After 3 months I went to work as a project engineer with a company that made supervisory control systems. I stayed there for two years and then accepted the position of production manager and development engineer at another company that made supervisory control monitoring. equipment.
I left them in 1972 and joined Hewlett Packard Canada as an applications engineer. I specialized in electronic measurements. In the late 70s, HP developed the GPIB which is an interface that can establish communications and control between measuring instruments and computers. That gave me the opportunity to learn about computers, microprocessors and all levels of programming.
In 1983 I received in depth training in project engineering and became a systems consultant, working with manufacturing customers to design, build, program and commission automatic test systems for whatever they manufactured (everything from paper pulp to nuclear fuel rods).
I retired when I turned 65 in 2003 but continued to do some consulting for a number of years. Now I have lots of time for my many hobbies which include electronics, drawing and painting, music and model building.
I am 19 year's old, You have very long work experience in electronics. Glad to seek guidance from someone who has done many real world projects
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
25,025
I hope you are ready for this, Pushkar1. You did ask.......
Very Eerie,
My whole experience was very very similar to your post in many ways.
I was Just born 1 year earlier, Qualified for deferment on NS due to on-going training, went into the Royal Signals, served 2yrs in Libya, worked for BMC (Morris Motors) until 1970 then emigrated to Canada 1970 and did radio and TV repairs until a good opportunity came along, involving CNC retro-fitting and repair and custom industrial electronics design and repair.
Eventually 'retiring' and working for myself where it turned out to be lucrative as no-one else in the area was in the same business.

I feel a little Thankful that with electrical/electronics, I came up through the valve era, followed by solid state/transistor, IC's, then Micro processors.
So it was a continuous learning process along the way.
 

ApacheKid

Joined Jan 12, 2015
625
My association with the subject is entirely accidental. As a kid growing up in 60s Liverpool, I had no father, just my mother and sisters and grandmother. I was always drawn to science and machines (understanding little until I reached my early teens). I had some junk boxes that contained all sorts of odds n ends found and collected from various places. I'd often find abandoned (valve, tube) radios and televisions, there were still a lot of bomb-sites where people tended to dump stuff, these were actual sites where bombs had fallen during the war and no rebuilding had yet taken place.

So I had boxes of old valves, transformers, wire, sticky wax capacitors as well as old gears, brackets etc. a whole mix of junk that I found interesting but understood little about. I read that valves have heaters, 6v heaters and so I also had a 12v transformer used for my train set and decided to apply some power to the heater pins of a valve, it glowed and looked "good" but of course little else.

I found an old radio chassis with valves in it and connected the train transformer power to the heater circuit, by this time I had a vague idea of how they were all sharing the power for their heaters, they all glowed and I marveled at it but it did absolutely nothing!

So I had a very basic awareness of these things, I knew what "heater pins" were, knew what a transformer "looked like", knew that metals "conducted" and glass or plastic did not and seemed to the average adult that I understood some of this but I did not, I was just drawn to these things that reminded me of science fiction movies and comics, I must have been about 10.

Anyway at the age of about 14 or 15 a guy in my school class who was quiet and wore glasses was fiddling around with some colored blobs in the classroom, I had seen things like them before in old radios and stuff but never knew anyone who knew about them they were resistors. We chatted and he told me he had made a radio from these kinds of things, I was amazed and wanted to know more.

We became friends and he showed me a few books and some old electronics magazines, we each became immersed more and more and learned from one another making radios, metal detectors, all kinds of simple stuff. We used to go to a store named "PRS" (progressive radio supplies) in Liverpool this was now the mid 70s and the electronics as a hobby was at a peak, transistors and some integrated circuits were becoming common, he and I never built or worked much on valve equipment, that age was already receding and we were in our mid teens and totally immersed in transistor projects.

We had no money really but by scrimping and collecting old components I was able to build up a small workshop in a disused section of an old kitchen in our house. Here I would build and experiment with stuff.

By the time we were each 18 we managed to get into colleges dedicated to electronics, these were paid for by small government grants, he went to a famous one in Liverpool named Riversdale and studied marine radio and radar, I studied at a different place and did telecommunications and computers.

So our areas of expertise grew and contrasted well, where I was weak he was strong and vice versa. Eventually his two years ended and he joined Marconi space and defense, my courses ended and I had huge problems finding a job, there was huge unemployment at that time and little investment in technology, at least where I lived. Marconi were very selective and favored those with marine/radar emphasis so getting into that company was not an option.

So I started writing for magazines and had some stuff published in Electronics Today (ETI), Wireless World and a few smaller magazines, this was nice money to have but hardly a sound way to make a living.

So after a year of writing and enjoying freedom I took a leap and got onto another government course teaching programming, this was for mainframes and the PL/I language.

I got work in London, moved and despite occasional serious attempts to get into electronics professionally was never able to and became a programmer which is my profession today. I left the UK to work in the US in early 2001 and have lived and settled here now.

I come to this site because I am getting back into the subject and miss the fun I used to have with electronics and radio, I can write code blindfolded so MCUs are interesting but I do miss the pure electrical and radio aspects of the subject. I can afford equipment now too, decent stuff that I would have killed for when I was 17 or 18.
 
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BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
4,785
I am a hobbyist, but a pretty advanced one, I would say. My life’s work was as a software engineer working on compilers.

I started with electronics during high school, about 1967. Couldn’t wait for the next issue of “Popular Electronics” each month. I read through every project and tried to understand the theory behind each.

As a physics major in college, I took a practical lab course in electronics to complement the EM theory course I had previously taken, so I do have some formal training. Built a Heathkit transistor Multimeter and oscilloscope in that time frame.

I then layed off it for a while, doing only an occasional project. Much later, About age 54 I got tired of replacing batteries for my drill / driver with a dumb, battery killing trickle charger. I looked up smart chargers and found one based on a PIC microcontroller. It was a digital / analog hybrid, using the PIC to control an LM 317 current source by switching in different resistors. I was intrigued by the idea of the PIC though, and finally ended up making a current controlled buck converter of my own design. I was hooked.

Since retiring, I have kept going with micros. But I also spend a lot if time doing software. I hated all the PCB CAD tools I tried, so I wrote my own. I also hate C and C++, and Java and Python are inappropriate for micros. So I have designed a language using Ada syntax but with classes ala Java. It compiles for PIC24/33 and X86. It is self compiling on X86 and I also wrote an IDE and debugger for it.

When not doing nerd stuff, I take ballroom dancing lessons with my wife. I have done several embedded projects for dance routine props, including the WS2812B gown you see on my wife and partner in my avatar. Yes, there was a micro tucked into the collar of her dress!

Edit: I have to give the lovely wife Morticia, some credit too. She designed and made the gown. If I recall correctly, 27 yards of fabric (the skirt has four layers.)

Bob
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
8,263
I’m a hobbyist also.

I got intrigued by electronics in the 4th grade when I experimented with series/parallel circuits.

Later in middle school, my interest shifted to computers and I built adders with relays.

My computer interest led to a 50+ career. But, electronics still intrigued me. I also was interested in theater and magic. I used my interest around the home, with animated nighttime garden effects.

And electronics fit right in, with animated props, control systems and magic effects. This led to animatronics and the electronics required. Plus with the advent of microprocessors, my programming background joined with my electronics interest to create the effects I wanted. I even created an animatronics programming language to control the servo, actuator and hydraulic controls I needed.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
25,025
I read that valves have heaters, 6v heaters and so I also had a 12v transformer used for my train set and decided to apply some power to the heater pins of a valve, it glowed and looked "good" but of course little else.
In the tube era I once tackled building a valve/tube tester, I stripped and rewound an old (large) EI transformer so that i could select any of the common tube heater voltages and anode voltages.
NOT something I would attempt again today!! :eek:
 

ApacheKid

Joined Jan 12, 2015
625
In the tube era I once tackled building a valve/tube tester, I stripped and rewound an old (large) EI transformer so that i could select any of the common tube heater voltages and anode voltages.
NOT something I would attempt again today!! :eek:
When me and my friend were first starting in electronics we had - and still do - a lot of respect for the old valve guys. They knew their subject well but often seemed fazed by transistors, not keen on them, dismissive sometimes.
 

GetDeviceInfo

Joined Jun 7, 2009
2,082
I ran into a bad crowd in high school, and my grades went sideways from there. Councilor stuck me into automotives, where most of the troubled fellows ended up. From school I went into heavy industry as a Millwright, which gave me a platform to develop some respect. Mid 80's decided that I was going to learn what went on in all those industrial black boxes. Took a series of basic electronic classes and explored. Decided to acquire an Electrician cert when I tired of people telling me I couldn't access certain equipment. In the end, I'm really not that knowledgeable about electronics. What I know is applied towards process automation, from a managerial prospective.
 

KeithWalker

Joined Jul 10, 2017
2,318
In the tube era I once tackled building a valve/tube tester, I stripped and rewound an old (large) EI transformer so that i could select any of the common tube heater voltages and anode voltages.
NOT something I would attempt again today!! :eek:
In my teens I wound several mains transformers using second-hand laminations from old radios because I could not afford new components. It taught me a lot - especially when I wound one with a 1,000V secondary for a small oscilloscope I was building. I installed it and when I was soldering the lead from the inside of the high voltage winding, it broke off on the inside. I had to strip it down and start again!
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
25,951
My interests in electronics started when I was around 13 years old when a fellow gave me a point-contact crystal diode to make my first crystal radio. Then I found a local bookstore stocking copies of Practical Wireless and I was hooked. I began a mail order subscription and couldn’t wait for each monthly issue to arrive from England. I had a long 30 day waiting period when I devoured every page multiple times. I still have my collection of PW magazines. The construction techniques and trouble shooting strategies served me well in later years.

Then I got the Philips EE kit and that was a gift from heaven, the very best introduction to the world of electronics I experienced. From it I built a light beam intruder alarm for my family’s grocery store. Needless to say the alarm was often tripped by the darn cats.

When I was about 16, I built a darkroom timer with a 6SN7 dual triode. My brother and I did a lot of photo printing in the kitchen at night time.
 

KeithWalker

Joined Jul 10, 2017
2,318
When me and my friend were first starting in electronics we had - and still do - a lot of respect for the old valve guys. They knew their subject well but often seemed fazed by transistors, not keen on them, dismissive sometimes.
We had good reason to be "fazed" by transistors in the early days. They were very fragile germanium devices that couldn't handle much current. I worked for a government establishment in 1960 and was able to acquire some to experiment with. I learned the most about them by accidentally destroying them in many different ways.
 

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
8,263
Plus with the advent of microprocessors, my programming background joined with my electronics interest to create the effects I wanted.
I’d like to add a note to my comment.

There is a misconception by many experienced people as well as newcomers to electronics.

Microprocessors, particularly the development boards such as the Arduino, do not obviate the need for a basic understanding of electronics.

Microprocessors have simple digital outputs and slightly more complex analog outputs. To use the analog outputs requires an understanding of PWM and how it works. An electronics skill. And to use digital outputs requires an understanding of Ohms law and driver circuits (BJT, MOSFET or an external circuit, such as an H-bridge).

So electronics can not be ignored.

Further, I mentioned Ohms law. The current and voltage requirements of the microprocessor and any external components must be calculated and checked against the datasheet (another electronics skill).

I’ve seen more than one project fail because the current needed is more than the (maximum) current available.

Plus one must be aware of the voltage requirements? Does an Arduino need 5V? 12V? 9V? Somewhere in between… Or can you use 19V? 24V? Something else? What’s the best voltage? And there are many ways of wiring the power supply to the Arduino. And that’s an Arduino? What about the other microprocessors (and there are many).

So a simplistic view of the topic is nothing but simple. Hobbyist and experienced electronics people beware!
 

boostbuck

Joined Oct 5, 2017
179
My school had a Philips EE20 kit - that was just fantastic (fifty years ago now). A career in software with electronics on the side, until micros came along in the 90s and merged the two. Always learning.
 
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