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Getting kids into electronics

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Members Lounge' started by flippineck, Nov 4, 2016.

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  1. flippineck


    Sep 8, 2013
    Nearly bought one of those 100-in-1 project kits for my lads 7th birthday today. He's recently demonstrated the ability to read instructions and follow them through ok, by himself.

    When I actually got to the store and looked at the kit I decided to leave it & he's getting Power Rangers instead lol. I thought, he hasn't got the basic idea in his head yet.

    When I was a very young lad it was my mother who got me into electronics, by giving me a 4.5V battery (with the 2 copper strips on top as terminals) and a torch bulb. She showed me how to tape the bulb on top of the battery so the short terminal was clamped against the bulbs screw thread, and the longer negative terminal was free to be pushed down with the thumb so it contacted the bulb's centre pip. Hey presto lil torch

    She told me about all the electrons that were in the battery that wanted to get out through the bulb to the other side, and that could only happen when I made the bridge for them. Woo, I was fascinated.

    Once I had that idea in my head, electricity being little tiny creatures hot tailing it through a wire, all the Tandy project kits that followed made sense to me

    What and or who was it, when you were a child, that switched you on to electronics?
  2. Bluejets


    Oct 5, 2014
    Crystal set with the added option of purchasing components for a whopping single transistor amp.

    Biggest hurdle was getting info to feed the brain cells.:confused:
  3. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    We didn't have money, but it was the 1960's. On the way to school Friday mornings, I'd leave early and pick
    through the trash cans lining the street for discarded clock radios, and the like. What got me interested, was that
    back then you could usually see visible heat damage that caused the failure. I'd fix the discards up and outfit
    my family with usable electronics, and could sell some desirables to other kids or neighbors. The more things
    I fixed, the more I learned. Guess it was the fact that I could make something work that somebody else had discarded,
    and then return the device to useful service.
    Don't ask me about all the fireworks I created in the basement of our house, the blown fuses, or the radio chassis carcasses that I saved for parts. I was extremely lucky that I didn't hurt myself. I was also lucky to have parents
    that got mad at me, but tolerated my learning curve. My dad became an expert at the old glass, house-fuse replacement skill, and only used corporal punishment when I set things on fire.
    I used to salivate at the 100 and 1 electronic kits I saw in catalogs that I never had the money to buy.
  4. GreenGiant


    Feb 9, 2012
    So when I was younger, my parents got me a kit very similar to (if not the exact same one as) this, the only complaint that I had about it was that it did not explain a ton about what was going on with the circuits. I remember spending hours building a circuit, then messing with it, ripping it out and starting over.

    But with your knowledge and guidance you could probably help explain what is happening in the circuits and why the things act the way that they do.

    On a side note, in a few years when he has had his fun with it and is bored of it, he can rip it all apart and see the internals, I did that as well.

    The other thing that got me interested was tearing apart electronics (like radios and such) that were (mostly) broken and just exploring what was inside, not necessarily fixing anything, but exploring the components.
  5. cjdelphi


    Oct 26, 2011
    At about 9 or so my dad brought home a 200 in 1 machine, loaded it up with batteries, then i would flip through the book of circuits and make the simple but interesting ones...

    Absolutely no educational value for me, the compinents were not explained, i've not been a fan of them..

    The best way is a few of every basic component, 10 pnps / 10 npns 10 leds of different colours, 100/300/500/1000/10k/100k ohm resistors, 1uf/100uf/1000uf (or what you can get) and a breadboard and a 5-12v dc power supply

    Start off with the importance of never shorting a power supply as it could blow up, so careful in which power supply, for example a 12v 5amp power supply fed into a switch mode regulator which will limit the current to 3 amp in a short, start from there and ohms law

    Then pick an area of interest, get a couple or several 555 ics, find something that he's
  6. cjdelphi


    Oct 26, 2011
    However now though.... i think it would be fun now i understand electronics :)

    Kit vs breadboard, a new breadboard for $5 is cheaper than buying a new machine if you like the circuit, or perfboard it...
  7. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    I was bought a 10 in 1 kit when I was very young. I eventually ended up with a 150 in 1 set which must have cost my parents a small fortune.

    It was great and I had lots of fun, but although it has circuit explanations I really didn't put the effort into really understanding them.

    I consider that a real shame because I had to do it at some time and I wish I had done it earlier.

    The one thing I did learn was hire to read schematics, certainly emphasizing the difference been a diagram and the spatial layout of a finished circuit.

    One of the things I learned pretty quickly was that if I had to join 3 points together, I didn't have to do it as A to B and A to C, I could do A to B and B to C or any other equivalent. This is really trivial, but I discovered it! Just think, I have the insufficient number of long wires in the kit to thank for that :)
  8. donkey


    Feb 26, 2011
    I saw this and thought to myself is that where you put them in a hamster wheel to produce electricity???

    I had those kits you speak of, Dad knew I was jedi for electronics. we used to go dump raiding and picking up things that were "broken" and I would work magic. A lot of it was easy like blown capacitors, or we were lucking enough to find 2 of the same thing and just swap boards around. the easiest fix to this day got me 500bucks, a belt fell of a cd player that was when they were 1000 ish so pretty new. that sucker lasted til about 5 years ago so bout 15years outta it lol.
  9. James87


    Jan 16, 2017
    I have a 7 year old son who became MUCH more interested in electronics when it came time to repair his RC car :)
  10. FuZZ1L0G1C


    Mar 25, 2014
    As a curious kid I loved stripping toys etc to see what makes them tick.
    My parents got me one of those educational electronic kits (spring connectors).
    Dad explained how a crystal set and radio waves work, while we built one.
    I was hooked.
  11. RedBall


    Oct 26, 2017
    When I was a kid, I had book where lots of handmade electronic toys was described. Unfortunately I can't remember the title of the book. What I remember is that I made a train with lighting and signals powered by a battery.
    davenn likes this.
  12. kellys_eye


    Jun 25, 2010
    Happy someone has ressurrected this thread....

    As a grumpy old git (9 out of 10 cats - who expressed a preference - agree with this figure) I find that many of todays youth have too short an attention span and waiting for a circuit to be developed/built doesn't fit with their 'I want it now' culture.

    As a youngster I too was gifted an electronics kit but in those days building a flashing light, oscillator, radio was actually 'hi tec' (LOL) and even the grown ups were amazed at what you could do with a small kit of parts.

    Today a youngster would turn their nose up at such simplicity - and I can (almost) verify this by quoting that I've seen (on other forums) requests from 'kids' - with absolutely ZERO electronics knowledge - for assistance with building a TABLET fer gawds sake!!! Telling them to start simple and build up to one doesn't seem to cut any response - it's an all-or-nothing approach with them!

    Much as the hobby electronics industry has changed there is still a requirement to learn from basic principles if you want to understand what it is you're building but there are too many instant experts now - their introduction to electronics being an Arduino and a few plug-in modules that gives them an instant result with no thinking involved.

    Quite how this fits with the future I have no idea - I suppose that with a throw-away attitude to electronics maybe the future really is robots.... making the things we need and, in the case of faults, simply tossing it away and buying a new one.

    Some youngsters will clearly run rings around me and actually show a set up consisting of a multitude of modules connected to a processor and it achieves 'magical' things that myself, when I was a youngster, couldn't even comprehend. But if I ask them HOW it does what it does they're all shrugs and 'dunno'.......

    Quite sad really.
  13. bushtech


    Sep 13, 2016
    Yep, making something work via plug and play is about at the level of a monkey flicking a light switch
  14. shrtrnd


    Jan 15, 2010
    Yep, also. My adult kids are now wizards at button-pushing, ...they think I'm an uninformed dinosaur, ....
    Until their magic box stops working. All of the sudden it's 'Dad, can you take a look at this?'
  15. Dimitri


    Oct 29, 2017
    My father got me a 130 in 1 kit, and some of the Forest Mims mini-notebooks, when I was 10 or 11. Got a soldering iron not too long after.

    I am planning on doing the same for my son, in about 8 years.
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