hobbyist resources

Disclaimer: these are my own personal descriptions and experiences.
Your experiences and opinions may vary.

electronics and hobby: new materials

  1. Jameco has always been hobbyist friendly for all parts (chips, resistors, capacitors, connectors).
    There's now an online Clearance Center
  2. DigiKey is similar
  3. Mouser tends to be more expensive but has more complete lines of specific parts such as LEDs, connectors.
  4. JDR seems to be mostly out of the parts business but they still have some parts such as crystals for 69 cents.

electronics and hobby: surplus materials

  1. Marlin P. Jones has been in business a long time, offering great prices on
  2. BG micro is also a great source for LCD panels, LEDs and such.
  3. All Electronics tends to advertise in hobbyist magazines, particularly their LCD panels.
  4. American Science & Surplus (was Jerryco) has the funniest descriptions! Just reading the catalogue is a joy!
    You never know what they'll find!
  5. Don Lancaster (famous for the TTL cookbook and electronics magazine columns) has an ebay store
    See also his home page.
  6. Electronic Goldmine ummm, I've been disappointed with their stuff: I tend to find it cheaper elsewhere and some of their stuff I can salvage myself.
  7. Herbach & Rademan seems to specialize in motors and high end surplus assemblies.

other sources

Computer Shows are still held: I ought to list hamfests since they're high tech too.

Kits Still Available

Bell Labs Kits have been copied and are still available from Comspace Corp of Hicksville, NY.
Barbara A. Sweeney of the AT&T archives department stated that there were five titles in a series of "Bell System Aids to High School Science Programs". The first science kits from the program, which was introduced in 1961, included: "From Sun to Sound", "Speech Synthesis", "Energy from the Sun" and "Experiments with Crystals and Light". In 1968, another kit was made available called CARDIAC.

Cash For Parts

Essential and Required Reading

Donald Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things (originally published as The Psychology of Everyday Things) ought to be REQUIRED READING for all engineers of all disciplines. It goes way beyond the “user interface”. Read it and take it to heart before your former customers do! It ranks high enough for inclusion in this top 13 list. Citing Amazon.com reviews:
Anybody who has ever complained that “they don’t make things like they used to” will immediately connect with this book. Norman’s thesis is that when designers fail to understand the processes by which devices work, they create unworkable technology. Director of the Institute for Cognitive Sciences at University of California, San Diego, the author examines the psychological processes needed in operating and comprehending devices. Examples include doors you don’t know whether to push or pull and VCRs you can’t figure out how to program. Written in a readable, anecdotal, sometimes breezy style, the book’s scholarly sophistication is almost transparent.

Essential reading for Electrical Engineers:
The best of Robert A. Pease, National Semiconductor. He is the Czar of Bandgaps
Why did Bob Pease declare himself the Czar of Bandgaps??
Because a lot of people were repeating old mistakes in their new bandgap reference circuits. Pease has been able to cut down the repetition of old errors. From here on in, engineers have to make NEW errors. When we have the COLUMN on CZARS up on the web, we’ll link it up to this page.

Periodicals and Magazines


Here's a nice article addressing The Microcontroller Debate

Having spent a semester learning the PIC-18, that's my primary microcontroller of choice.
Since they're so cheap (or free), I have plenty of development kits on the shelf. I find the primary obstacle to adopting a new system is the "learning curve" for the architecture and software tools (particularly since each mfgr wants to trap you into their own SDK (Software Development Kit), few of which are open source.

Freescale is the nastiest by taking CodeWarrior and neutering it from supporting all chips to supporting only their chipsets and processors.

updated 13-July-2010