I build things, from furniture to gadgets to electronics. Over the years I have designed and built hundreds – if not thousands – of devices for myself, for sale, and for my work.When I was forced to abandon the MCC Workshop in November of 2011 (), most of what I had built went to the scrapheap.
However, I did find a box of small assorted things that survived. This is just a random collection, but here it is, for what it’s worth. Click on a thumbnail for full size…
This is a satellite receiver error monitor/recorder/alarm I built for testing of the AP’s first small satellite dishes (M-SAT). I built a number of these to place at various different dish locations
This is an ultrasonic receiver. It is a lot of fun. Working on the same principles as an RF superhetrodyne receiver, the local oscillator in this case is tunable in the Ultrasonic frequency range (~20khz to 250khz). Besides being fun, it was (and is) useful for testing such things as ultrasonic motion detectors and older remote controls. Somewhere along the way it lost the range and tuning knobs.
This is an analog capacitance meter. Not everything has to be digital! Basically it uses the unknown capacitance to set the pulse width of an oscillator, then measures that pulse width with an averaging meter (PWM in reverse). It is actually rather accurate, and has a very large range.
During the ’80s, I was fascinated with speech synthesis. I experimented and built a large amount of stuff that talked, both for computers, and in attempts to add speech to ordinary things. Most of it was based around the General Instruments SP0256 AL2 chip, which I came to know very well. This is a voltage to speech converter. Originally intended to be used in satellite dish installations. Many times, it was hard to watch a meter and move the dish as you aligned it for best signal strength. This device constantly called out the voltage from 0 to 9.99 volts: IE: nine point nine nine (Read in “robotic voice).
This is an ASCII text to speech synthesizer. Basically a straight forward implementation of the SP0256. While synthesis is common now, in the early ’80s this was pretty cool. This box was specifically configured to plug into an AP Newswire, thereby “reading” the news out loud. (You could almost understand it
Here is a version of an SP0256 based speech synthesizer I built for the PC ISA buss. DOS 3.3 was the OS of “choice” then. I modified the DOS kernal to add speech to it. While my purpose was for use by the blind, there were far more reliable and easier to use systems available even then. (Kurtzwell?)My DOS hack was not the best in the world.
I think I made this one in the mid-80′s as it is built on a JDR Microdevices ISA Prototyping board (Which had buffers and address decoder already ready to go).
This is another capacitance meter using the “pulse width” technique…
This is our Kitten, Luna helping me with the picture taking…
One of many, many transistor testers I have built. This is an in-circut version. If I recall it puts the device under test in a multivibrator. I should look inside
This really belongs under the van project photos. This is the logic and driver board I was working on to drive the warning lights on the dash. You know, master caution, and an Annunciator Panel.
Note the reed relays to drive the lamps. They were much more reliable, and used less power than semiconductors.
One thing I did quite a bit of when with the AP was build interfaces to connect our equipment and services to the newspaper’s systems. This is one.
This is Coco the weiner dog wondering when dad is going to put down that stupid camera and feed her.
Another thing I built for our use at AP was testers. This one is a controller that allowed us to operate and adjust the paper drive in the Laserphoto Machine while sitting on the bench.
This is possibly one of the handiest things I had on my electronics bench. It is a 0-10 amp adjustable load fixture with a current regulator. Used for working on power supplies, charging battery packs, and all kinds of experimenting. It was so handy I built a number of improved and fancier versions – but this simple one ended up being the best