Does anyone reading this remember Garland Brothers on Deptford Broadway? When I was about 11 onwards, I became interested big-time in what my Dad did as a hobby – Electronics. He had studied radio maintenance in the RAF as a National Service recruit and it led to a lifetimes interest in radio and electronics. In it’s time it led to a lifetimes interest for me too.
He worked in London and when his son became interested, he began picking up components for me on the way home. These were the days when you actually built electronic projects, didn’t just go and buy them as a kit, or program an embedded system. This isn’t acurate actually, as he would have been buying components for himself for a very long time before I became interested!
He got to know a chap there called Ernie who would recommend new things to try or alternative components to those I asked for. My first project, I believe, was a two-transistor metronome. I think it used two OC71 transistors in an astable configuration. I say I think, I could look as I still have that, built very precariously on a piece of tag board. I wil check and post a pic of it.
Not too long after, I ventured into the relatively new world of the ‘silicon chip’ or integrated circuit as it was variously called then. I remember making a Star Trek red alert siren using two 555 timer/oscillator chips. You know, I had huge pleasure just two weeks ago building a 2KHz oscillator using a 555 on a piece of Veroboard to go with a Raspberry Pi project I am working on! It’s a security system and rather than making the Pi generate a 2KHz bip when a sensor was triggered, I made a 555 circuit and had the Pi enable it for about 200mS!!! Very satisfying.
This was also the time of the classic electronics magazine for the hobbyist. There were several and I think I must have bought them all, ETI and Hobby Electronics were my favourites. Practical Wireless and Short Wave Magazine served our ham/amateur radio desires (G6AFY/G6RAD me and my Dad respectively) I didn’t buy Everyday Electronics or Practical Electronics so often for some reason. Elektor was another favourite although quite high-brow in those days.
They were really the golden days of electronics in my view, but then maybe one’s ‘own’ days ‘were’ always the best! It doesn’t seem as much fun now with the prevalence of vlsi chips and embedded systems. Having said that, my definition of a heavenly day is one spent writing code for a Pi !! Oh And taking the wife out for a good meal of course. She may come across my blog one day ;-P
If you remember Garland Brothers and/or these were your golden days too, I woud love to hear from you, please do leave a comment.