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Component retailer Sparkfun has bought an RV and will be touring all 50 US states to take electronics into the classroom, though the company's motivation is notably suspect. The tour will run over the summer, and the Sparkfun crew will attempt to visit at least one school in each state with three or four staffers, a professional …

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Silver badge

While electronics is great fun

- I used to build everything in E&WW and other bits too -

I'm having trouble thinking of much you can build with a soldering iron these days that cant be done in code - apart from sticking on the odd sensor or so on. And the solder doesn't smell so good anymore.

Given that you can make a full recording studio on an off the shelf PC and practically run the world with a pic development kit or possibly a RaspberryPi the only thing people seem to make at 'home soldering' level these days seems to be rip-off add on boards.

The remainder - hi power hifi and mains control stuff is a bit out of most kids league.

Geda and lots of ngspice could be useful...

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Linux

Re: While electronics is great fun

Useful for reverse engineering of all-in-one systems - use a multimeter to probe around for a likely looking serial/TTL-port, a soldering iron to attach some form of adaptor, see what the bootloader's up to....

Actual creation of stuff, no idea.

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Boffin

Re: While electronics is great fun

They actually do carry quite some relevant stuff, I got several Arduinos and Rasberry Pis from them, and they have lots of robotics and other projects. Besides possibly being useful for home-automation, they are fun to do with kids...

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Re: While electronics is great fun

The two skills go together. You want to make a robotic tank equipped with an arsenal of nerf darts and beanbag launchers to do battle with friends? Then you'll need code. But you'll also need a solid understanding of voltage regulation and power management so the big motors don't ruin the supply for your delicate Arduino board, enough knowledge of fundamentals to spec a motor controller that'll drive them, and the means to make drivers that'll let an arduino output drive the solonoid hooked up to the pneumatic cannon. Code will only let you get half-way there and, while you can get a lot of the parts as pre-made module, good luck finding a set of pre-made Angry Robot Eyes LED displays to mount on the front.

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Re: While electronics is great fun

Suricou -whoops your probably right there I was more thinking of educational electronics than just having fun. Though Angry Robot LED eyes can be obtained from any car park sorry scrap yard!

And while I advocate open source wherever possible pic controllers are soooooo much cheaper even if you pay for them - I've got a friendly washing machine repair man and ten minutes in his dustbin gives you enough 8 bit power - and a whole collection of other bits an pieces - to make your robotic tank cower in the corner.. just in case...

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Re: While electronics is great fun

"I'm having trouble thinking of much you can build with a soldering iron these days that cant be done in code"

Well, you can't do this for a start:

http://colonelmoran.blogspot.com/2011/11/building-aethero-galvanic-exciter-part.html

And you couldn't build the thing that plugs into it either, which is too awesome for words (which is why the build blog fell into disuse)

Computer coding isn't making stuff. It's making pictures of stuff.

Wait 'til the young 'uns get a load of what I do with the latest thing I bought from Sparkfun. A bit o' solderin' some EL-Wire and a few feet of copper, brass and lucite and the magic happens again, only even more awesomely (assuming I can master the spokeshave).

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WTF?

"...starting in Hawaii....."

I'd have thought that, if you were after touring around a large country in an RV, an island seperated from it by 2,000 miles of ocean is probably not the best place to start.

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Re: "...starting in Hawaii....."

Well, if your project is going to get pulled pretty quickly due to lack of interest, Hawaii is exactly where you'd want to start the jolly. Ooops, I mean junket. Ummm, sashay. Etc.

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Gateway electronics

First you get them to blink an LED using an circuit with two transistors and a few passives - no micro.

Next you get them to program a small micro (AVR/PIC)

Soon you have them flying drones and stuff.

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