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Is it safe for kids to take apart electronics?

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by momwithtools, Feb 11, 2005.

  1. If the wall plug is cut off, a switching supply is no more dangerous
    than anything else. The caps don't stay charged very long and to be
    sure, it's a simply matter to short out the big one(s).

    --- sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ Mirror: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/
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  2. Tim Schwartz

    Tim Schwartz Guest

    Hello all,

    A local school in my area has an annual science day (called Super
    Science saturday) and one of the activities is a 'take apart' corner,
    where there are various old appliances, radios, toasters, VCR's and
    computers and tools for taking them apart.

    I think the key here is PROPER SUPERVISION to make sure that items with
    really sharp edges are tossed, and that the kids don't get to wild, like
    trying to stab a screwdriver through sheet metal. For example, younger
    kids get plastic housed boom-boxes, where as older ones might get a
    toaster that could have some sharp metal edges. I'd cut off all power
    cords in advance, and I'd skip items with CRT's (picture tubes) or any
    other glass items. Don't forget to have a few trash barrels handy (or
    access to a dumpster), as the stuff takes up even more space when
    apart. You'll also have to decide if they can take home some parts
    (treasure to some kids) or not, or leave that decision up to their
    parents.

    Regards,
    Tim Schwartz
    Bristol Electronics
     
  3. Tim Schwartz

    Tim Schwartz Guest

    Hello all,

    A local school in my area has an annual science day (called Super
    Science saturday) and one of the activities is a 'take apart' corner,
    where there are various old appliances, radios, toasters, VCR's and
    computers and tools for taking them apart.

    I think the key here is PROPER SUPERVISION to make sure that items with
    really sharp edges are tossed, and that the kids don't get to wild, like
    trying to stab a screwdriver through sheet metal. For example, younger
    kids get plastic housed boom-boxes, where as older ones might get a
    toaster that could have some sharp metal edges. I'd cut off all power
    cords in advance, and I'd skip items with CRT's (picture tubes) or any
    other glass items. Don't forget to have a few trash barrels handy (or
    access to a dumpster), as the stuff takes up even more space when
    apart. You'll also have to decide if they can take home some parts
    (treasure to some kids) or not, or leave that decision up to their
    parents.

    Regards,
    Tim Schwartz
    Bristol Electronics
     
  4. My guess would be that the people who think taking things apart is a stupid
    dangerous idea are those who had no strong interests in electronics or
    engineering in general as a kid and only went into a technical field
    for other reasons. I know this may be a gross over generalization but
    I can't imagine someone who actually had a early passion for how things work
    to make such a statment.

    --- sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ Mirror: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/
    Repair | Main Table of Contents: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/
    +Lasers | Sam's Laser FAQ: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/sam/lasersam.htm
    | Mirror Sites: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/F_mirror.html

    Note: These links are hopefully temporary until we can sort out the excessive
    traffic on Repairfaq.org.

    Important: Anything sent to the email address in the message header above is
    ignored unless my full name is included in the subject line. Or, you can
    contact me via the Feedback Form in the FAQs.
     
  5. I certainly agree that eating the components on circuit boards is not
    advised but it's more likely you'll find something toxic playing in dirt than
    on a most circuit boards. Beryllium is very rare in consumer electronics.

    And, yes, if they are too young follow instructions not to lick their
    fingers until thoroughly cleaned, thena show and tell would be better.

    --- sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ Mirror: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/
    Repair | Main Table of Contents: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/
    +Lasers | Sam's Laser FAQ: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/sam/lasersam.htm
    | Mirror Sites: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/F_mirror.html

    Note: These links are hopefully temporary until we can sort out the excessive
    traffic on Repairfaq.org.

    Important: Anything sent to the email address in the message header above is
    ignored unless my full name is included in the subject line. Or, you can
    contact me via the Feedback Form in the FAQs.
     
  6. BOB URZ

    BOB URZ Guest

    Hell, in most schools around here most of the items in my tools
    box are considered weapons with possible expulsion for possession.

    Back in HS electronics shop, we used to charge up the high voltage
    caps in the bench shop stations drawers in case some unsuspecting under class man would grab one
    across the leads. Dam cruel ;)

    Bob
     
  7. BOB URZ

    BOB URZ Guest

    I remember when i was 16 in HS sourcing a single large TO3 power transistor and
    trying to build a car stereo amplifier out of a single one.
    Of course at the time, i had no clue on class A, B or circuit topology and
    such. I figured a couple of resistors and i was good to go. Needless to say, it
    never made it off the bench and into my car. But the 8 track tapes back then
    were sure cool!

    Bob
     
  8. BOB URZ

    BOB URZ Guest

    Sam,

    Do you think someone could resurrect a company like Heath used to
    be and sell electronic kits these days? I sure thought that was great
    fun and educational. But i fear the nintendo generation cares more
    about flashing lights than what makes them work.

    Bob
     
  9. BOB URZ

    BOB URZ Guest

    All these years of sniffing solder fumes and non of my vital
    body parts has fell off (yet) ;)

    I did have a TV fall of a 8' high shelf and bop me on the head and
    body and knock me silly. So i guess TV can cause brain damage.

    Bob
     
  10. BOB URZ

    BOB URZ Guest

    Sam,

    Do you think someone could resurrect a company like Heath used to
    be and sell electronic kits these days? I sure thought that was great
    fun and educational. But i fear the nintendo generation cares more
    about flashing lights than what makes them work.

    Bob
     
  11. BOB URZ

    BOB URZ Guest

    All these years of sniffing solder fumes and non of my vital
    body parts has fell off (yet) ;)

    I did have a TV fall of a 8' high shelf and bop me on the head and
    body and knock me silly. So i guess TV can cause brain damage.

    Bob
     
  12. BOB URZ

    BOB URZ Guest

    All these years of sniffing solder fumes and non of my vital
    body parts has fell off (yet) ;)

    I did have a TV fall of a 8' high shelf and bop me on the head and
    body and knock me silly. So i guess TV can cause brain damage.

    Bob
     
  13. BOB URZ

    BOB URZ Guest

    All these years of sniffing solder fumes and non of my vital
    body parts has fell off (yet) ;)

    I did have a TV fall of a 8' high shelf and bop me on the head and
    body and knock me silly. So i guess TV can cause brain damage.

    Bob
     
  14. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest

    I would suggest something that they are intimately familiar with, say maybe
    an old computer or something similar. At least you could show them all the
    components (Power Supply Motherboard, RAM, Processor, Disk drives, Floppy,
    CD-ROM, Peripherals, Interfaces to USB, Power, etc.) I think they could
    learn a lot if you do it right. Just make sure they understand that there
    are lethal voltages inside most electronics so they should never try it at
    home by themselves.

    The only other thought is if you want to do "safe", try to stick with
    something lower voltage such as battery powered hand held electronics (old
    walkman, gameboy, etc.), but these are less interesting and are small and
    sometimes more difficult to open up.

    Good luck Please do let us know what you decide to do and how it goes from
    the kids and parents perspectives.

    Bob
     
  15. TCS

    TCS Guest

    I had a HS physics teacher who had us do a lab where we were supposed to charge
    up a cap and see the cute little spark when we discharged it. I got out a 50V
    10,000uf cap and charged it up with a current limited PS. I then discharged it
    with a screwdriver and permenantly welded it to the cap's termnals.
     
  16. Hi!
    It would be nice if somebody would try. I remember in the early 90s when the
    Heathkit catalog came in the mail how eager I was to look inside at all the
    neat stuff. Trouble is that they got out of the business before I was able
    to build anything but the simplest kits they sold. I think the most complex
    one I ever did was a 9V powered "portable" motion detector.

    William
     
  17. But there are still companies making kits, though they may not be
    as fancy as Heathkits. For that matter, Heathkits had such detailed
    instructions that anyone was supposed to be able to build them if
    they followed the instructions.

    I think many people look at this wrong. "KIds today aren't interested,
    they have other things" when maybe it's more like, "Kids aren't interested
    because we haven't promoted these things".

    A few years ago, I went to a few regional science fairs. And it looked
    pretty much the same as when I was a kid. There were the ones who
    produced a good science fair project, but it was a fairly generic
    topic (what's inside makeup), or whatever the trend was, but really
    well presented. But there were the ones where clearly the people doing
    it had an interest in these things, and the science fair wasn't about
    "doing good schoolwork" but in pursuing something they were already
    interested in.

    And realistically, science hobbies may never have been all that popular,
    though maybe more visible (if for no other reason than that you could
    find pertinent magazines on the newsstand). I was the only kid in school
    who had a ham license in elementary school, I'm pretty sure I was the only
    one in high school who had one, though I knew of a few who were interested
    and pursued it to some extent. This was in the early seventies.

    In the years since, there's been all kinds of "let's make the ham license
    simpler, so more people can get involved" but very little about making the
    hobby more visible. The local ham clubs don't get the notice of their
    fleamarkets into the papers, they don't poster, they don't even post
    in the local buy and sell newsgroups. Yet these can be useful to more
    than hams, since hobbyists would be interested in the parts and books
    and test equipment. If you can't even do this low level publicizing,
    it's no wonder "kids today" don't find their way to the hobbies.

    I can't remember whether I had an interest in electronics before
    I learned of amateur radio, but I learned of ham radio because it
    was in the Scout magazine I got, and in one of the children's magazines
    I got, and that certainly caused an interest in electronics. IN
    effect, we are talking propaganda, because if you make something sound
    interesting, that will get people interested.

    But it's rare to see any mention of the hobby outside it's circles.

    The same applies to the other technical hobbies.

    Michael
     
  18. Bob Shuman

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Your Boy's Life magazine story reminds me of the time I spent a year or two
    back with a 12 year old boy who had "screwed up" an old computer and no
    longer had it working. The parents asked if I could look at it. Once I got
    the software issue fixed, we took a look at the hardware since it was
    running terribly slow. He really enjoyed getting it apart and putting in a
    faster processor and some extra memory that I had gathering dust on the
    shelf. At the time I couldn't help but think how much he reminded me of
    myself many years ago.

    Bob
     
  19. NSM

    NSM Guest

    Guess again. I just remember what dangerous things I did - and survived. Not
    a smart way to learn. Why not show them how to build a crystal set, and
    later to add some transistors to it?
     
  20. Bob in PHX

    Bob in PHX Guest

    posted 4 times,,, must be the brain damage......


    bob in phx
     
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