The Cranky Sysadmin A world of technology, fun, and ignorant rants.

September 16, 2011

A New Old Hobby

Filed under: Arduino,Electronics — Cranky Sysadmin @ 8:48 am

When I was a kid, my dad would bring home various bits of electronics hardware he acquired from his job as a field engineer. I used to spend a lot of time desoldering components and building simple projects. When I joined the Marine Corps, I repaired RADAR, so I still got to play with a lot of hardware. I also got to learn how to use oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and logic analyzers and other nifty pieces of test equipment. Since then, I’ve been losing touch with my hardware side as I became a sysadmin and a bit of a programmer.

Recently though, I came across a link to a Boe-bot on amazon and my interest was piqued. I didn’t actually buy the boe-bot though. While following links around on amazon looking at interesting things, I came across some Arduino boards. I had considered getting a PIC microntroller starter set but the whole idea of open source hardware was attractive to me.

I recently had a birthday and received some great loot in the form of amazon gift cards. With those, I bought some basic tools, an arduino board, and some components. It’s a fun board, and the programming language is C no matter how hard they try to hide it in the IDE. The tronixstuff site has some great tutorials about the arduino.

With a new hobby comes new money sinks. My dad had an old Tektronix 465 oscilloscope which he passed on to me. I used to use one of these when I was in the Marines. They are great, sturdy scopes. You can get them on ebay for around $100 plus a ton of shipping. Mine is from the early 70’s, but it seems to be in calibration and the display is crisp and bright. The fan makes a ticking sound that I’ll have to chase down some day. I have a Fluke 87 from my field engineer days, so I didn’t have to go buy a multimeter. I’ve bought some other new stuff, but I’ll save those descriptions for reviews in the future.

So now I spend evenings in the basement hunched over a lab bench instead of hunched over a computer. My wife is tolerant of my new hobby so far, though she prefers me to be close by. I should figure out how to solve that, but our main house doesn’t have the space for a proper electronics workspace except in the cellar.

On an unrelated note, I really do plan to upgrade the OS on this blog machine. I will be saving the little-referenced blog data.

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