12 February 09
My Ultra RX-1 ultrasound receiver kit AKA the bat detector arrived yesterday. It joins my kit-building queue, behind a Elecraft dummy load kit and ahead of a SW-40+ QRP transceiver kit I recently ordered. The Elecraft kit is simple, about the same level of complexity as the crystal radio I put together a week-and-a-half ago ; I don’t expect to receive the SW-40+ kit for a couple of months so the bat detector kit is something to put together in the interim.
As Pica says, much of working by hand is putting pieces together: this is certainly true in electronic kit building where the exercise is to take a box of resistors, capacitors, ICs and so on and delicately yet precisely solder them on to a printed circuit board to make up a working piece of gear. The bat detector kit has 78 parts, many more than the dozen or so parts of the crystal radio kit. I need to figure out a system for keeping all the parts sorted (capacitors the size of grains of millet are awfully easy to lose). Egg cartons? Those plastic boxes to hold sewing bits and bobs??
Part of the appeal in learning to build these kits is opening up the black box. An electronic device gets transformed from being a mysterious gizmo that somehow does stuff to being something whose internals one understands, at least in broad outline. It is a great leap to go from the kit-building stage to actually being able to design these devices, but the tinkering and learning that goes along with kit-building is how you get there.
On a completely different topic, happy birthday Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, both born 200 years ago today!