Basement Project – Electronics

Basement Stories


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“Clutter, a free spirit, and a have-fun attitude leads to real creativity” – Bronson Potter

When I was about ten I developed an interest in electronics. I would take apart old radios and try to understand how it worked. Later I bought an electronics kit that had schematics for several different projects. This was a time before integrated circuits and transistors, so the kit consisted of tubes and discrete components. It wasn’t very safe either since it operated on line current. It was a way to learn how to solder and learn some basic electronics. Later I moved on to a company called Heathkit that sold kits for everything from amplifiers to a digital computer (with vacuum tubes). I built amplifiers, a VTVM, and an AM/FM tuner.

These kits would arrive in a box with a chassis, bags of parts and very precise instructions. Soldering tube sockets was a royal pain and the instructions would tell you when to apply solder since each lug usually had multiple wires attached. The instructions contained illustrations showing how many wires should be attached to each lug. There were no printed circuit boards back then so everything was done with wires. It was tedious but back then I thought it was fun.

Later in the early 1970s I took an online course with the GI bill and built a Heathkit color television. It was an insane project and it cured me of any desire to ever use a soldering iron again. The damn thing worked but I didn’t want to spring for a cabinet, so it sat on a table with all the dangerous wiring and high voltage components exposed. It was the last model that was completely analog and required constant adjustment to keep the colors somewhat life like. Thankfully my young son didn’t get electrocuted as  it sat on the table emitting X-rays.

This was my first kit, which generated an audio tone transmitted to an AM radio. I used it with a telegraph key to practice Morse Code. It is a Hartley oscillator. Sadly it no longer works, so I’m going to say goodbye after 50 years.
Pretty isn’t it? I think this was a test breadboard for the alpha chip developed by Digital. It belongs in a museum, not in my cellar.
I’m a sucker for old electronic equipment and this arrived at the Green Center,  It can produce a serious amount of direct current, 25 amperes is impressive.


As I expected the voltage control is a variac transformer which I think is the coolest thing. It also had two beefy transformers and a serious group of rectifiers.
Two transformers and one big electrolytic capacitor.
My family has always used Electrolux vacuum cleaners. At one time I had about 3 of the older ones in my attic that I had picked up at the dump. As a kid we had the 1940s sled model that looked like a rocket ship. My parents bought it from a door-to-door salesman. It came with all kinds of accessories such as this paint/ bug sprayer. This is old school, the black top is bakelite , an early plastic.
Need parts? these are going to the Green Center. The centipede looking things are integrated circuits. Can you spot the tube socket?
My nephew is a mechanical engineer who designs guns. He built this rubber band model when he was a kid. I’m going to return it to him.
The same nephew took me shooting and I recovered shell casings and slugs from our “target” (see below)
No Compute
Boot error on the hard drive.
Such a cool device to measure high electrical resistances. Note the bakelite case. I bought this at a yard sale at the home of Bronson Potter, an eccentric inventor who lived in Mason, NH.
Time to rid myself of these. They all work!
Auto lights, need one?
Turn signal flashers, do they even use these anymore?

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