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Newbie educational electronic kits; Which one?

Discussion in 'Discussions, Opinions & Editorials' started by W5INC, Dec 27, 2012.

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  1. W5INC

    W5INC Ham Member

    My friends 13 year old son has expressed interest in learning how to become an AR OP. He has started to learn the code already and now needs to get a basic education in electronics. So I am thinking a electronics kit with different projects included in it, that you can build and get an education at the same time. The ARRL looks to have a kit that fills this niche, is the ARRL kit a good 1? Are there any other basic educational kits that other Zed members have used in the past? Thanks to the Zed braintrust once again. :)

    http://www.arrl.org/etp-kits-projects
     
  2. KY5U

    KY5U Ham Member

  3. KA9VQF

    KA9VQF Ham Member

    Good luck in your quest.

    IDK,... when I was a bit younger than your friends son what I wanted more than anything was a broadcast radio receiver of my very own.


    As time passed I, on my own, found a book that detailed the construction of a foxhole radio using a rusty Gillette blueblade and a high impedance earphone. Finding someone who knew where I could obtain a high impedance earphone was my next problem.


    I built the set then went on to a 'better' crystal radio using a lump of galena and a very fine,stiff, pointed coil of copper wire for the detector.


    While these things did 'work' they were not much good for tuning in WLS and listening to the tinny sounding earphone was a real drag. This was before there were a lot of solid state devices to be had for next to nothing. Diodes were still mostly tubes, transistors were pretty exotic and quite expensive to just play with.


    Eventually I turned up a AM radio at the town dump then spent almost every dime I made mowing lawns and shoveling snow to buy new tubes for the thing. Then of course my neighbor sold me a fully functional Hammerlund general coverage receiver that took the next summers and winters worth of earnings to get.


    Sort of as a byproduct of fixing these things, I learned a lot about how the electronics of it all worked.


    The biggest problem I have with the electronic kits available these days is they are usually quite limited and what I consider to be expensive.


    I do realize its not 1957 and hasn't been for sometime now, and that the good electronics surplus stores are long gone but its still a little tough for a kid to get the funds for an electronics addiction.


    There are still a lot of aged electronic devices around to tear apart and scavenge parts from but the SMT things are really tough to do that with and reassemble the bits and have it work.
     
  4. W5INC

    W5INC Ham Member


    TNX for the answer there KY5U and KA9VQF. Not many electronic parts of today can be re-used as in the past, as VQF points out. The electronics parts houses here in Houston are boom box speaker and car alarm parts houses for the most part.

    I would like to pave a easy path for the young lad to learn something in the electronic field as he is very inquisitive and mechanically inclined. He works on his bikes, helps his Dad fix things around the house and doesn't play video games. He plays sports and is and all around good kid. He has taken an interest in CW after seeing/hearing a few CW contacts on my old BA setup and is learning the code on a practice oscillator I gave him with a straight key. The young lad would make a good AR OP and I would be more then glad to help plant a seed to help him further his education in electronics. KY5U the link you posted does contain some project kits that should work for the young fella. TNX agn for pointing me in the right direction. :)
     
  5. KD8DEY

    KD8DEY Subscriber

    Way back when.....(Probably the same way today) kits didn't go into theory. Pretty much place wire between point a and point b then "Hey Ma!! lookie what I built!!"

    If you really want him to start getting into electronics make sure his math skills are up to par and get him into algebra 1 when it is available to him to help prepare for the higher algebra math principles.

    If he is really into electronics this will help him more than you can imaging. Start out with a book on the basics DC fundamentals to give him a solid foundation to start from. one of those 300-in one kits( using a proto board) will come in handy.

    If he doesnt get disinterested and gets through DC, You might want to check into the free (Advanced microdevices) version of multisim. At this point you might want to start thinking about a "more serious workbench" at least a O-scope, signal generator and Nice bench supply with multiple outputs to go along with a book on AC Theory.
     
  6. W5INC

    W5INC Ham Member

    TNX for the information Mr. Robert. The idea of the electronic kit would be to get him to learn some theory of electronics along having fun building the projects. I have no idea which kit is a good educational tool and which units are wothless, so to speak. Projects that actually exhibits how different electronic pieces work in conjunction with each other and what each electronic part does in the project. I don't know if they make a kit like that anymore of if they ever did.

    I hope you have settled in to your new surrondings there Robert and might be able to get on the air sometime soon at your new QTH. If I remember right, you have taken some electronics courses here recently and might be able to use those new found skills to get a BA radio back on the air if you choose to go that route. Thanks again to the Zed collective once again for all of their knowledge they give freely to folks like myself. :)
     
  7. KE6KA

    KE6KA Ham Member

    I think the ARRL could have better suggestions for kits.

    I would find out exactly what he likes. When I was a kid I didn't have much interest in the simplistic kits. I think because most of them were useless.

    How about a dipole antenna project for SW, or a large loop for MW dxing? There are plenty of off the shelf kits available, but they make simple homebrew projects.

    I haven't taken a look at the semiconductor websites for years, so I'm not sure what they offer now, but in the 80s you could send them a rough draft of your "project" and the necessary components it required. They would then send you the components as a sample. It simply involved using the circuits in their databook in an application. I built an FM stereo receiver with PLL. I think there were five ICs in it. I don't know how this would work out now with surface mount devices, but it is worth some investigation.

    Jameco has quite a few kits ranging from those stupid flashin LED boxes to useful things like power supplies and audio amps. They come with circuit boards.

    http://www.farcircuits.net/ (that is a cool site) sells circuit boards for projects in QST, CQ, and some from other ham magazines in the past. I think the prices are good. You supply the components. They also make custom circuit boards.
     
  8. KB9BVN

    KB9BVN Ham Member

    ARRL sells a book called "Hands on Radio" and a set of parts and pieces to build all the projects in the book. $80 for the parts kit, and I think $25 for the book. I have had literally hundreds of hours of fun with this setup.

    Also, look for one of those 200 in 1 Electronic Trainer kits...those are always fun too.

    Midnight Science has a bunch of crystal receiver kits.

    Buy him a Scout Regen kit from http://www.qrpkits.com/scoutregen.html it's another fun kit.

    Good luck!
     
  9. W4HAY

    W4HAY Subscriber

    I've built that kit. There's no gear reduction on the variable capacitor, and with the wide frequency coverage that's crammed into one band, tuning in a signal is an exercise in frustration.

    The Ten Tec 'ginny is a better receiver. While it doesn't have a vernier reduction either, the frequency coverage is broken up into small segments and it's much more user friendly. A link to a QST review is posted in the description. Incidentally, it covers both 40 and 20 and pickes up the W1AW code practice transmissions very well here in NE TN.
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  10. KB9BVN

    KB9BVN Ham Member

    The best part about building a regen receiver is the experimenting. I found dozens of ways to make it not work. Most of the fun was in figuring out how to make changes to the circuit until it did work. Lot's of web based articles on solid state regen receivers, and about 201 ways to build one. Nothing cooler than listening to a radio receiver that you built.

    Great Regen Link - Thanks to AA5TB

    73 de KB9BVN
     
  11. W5INC

    W5INC Ham Member

    I was looking at the ARRL "Hands on Radio" kit for this project. From your posting it looks like a good choice to start the young lad with. Are there novice projects for a newbie to learn from there BVN? I see a scope on the cover so I am thinking with this kit does have more advanced projects as the student gains a education. TNX for your help and the rest of the Zed members who answered this post. :)
     
  12. KB9BVN

    KB9BVN Ham Member

    A scope is not necessary for most of the experiments in Hands on Radio, but half the fun is in the measuring and substituting various values in some of the circuits. An old Tek 465 would come in handy, an old function generator is a lot of fun too, and getting your hands on a old RF/AF signal generator is worth hours and hours of fun with filters. Fire off an email to Ward Silver, he does the Hands on Radio columns in QST and see if he thinks the stuff is geared for a newbie. I'm no newbie but I have had a lot of fun with that book.
     
  13. W5INC

    W5INC Ham Member

    TNX Brian for the help. I have an old Tek 485 scope & Rhode & Schwarz SMS signal generator which should fit the bill. I will shoot an Email off to Ward as you suggest to get his opinion on this matter. I have a $10.00 birthday certificate from the ARRL and can use that to help pay for the kit. Tnx again Mr. Brian for your comments. :)
     
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