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Radio Shack Electronic Kits

Discussion in 'Electronic Equipment' started by Too_Many_Tools, Jan 15, 2006.

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  1. I like many of you had my first experience with electronics through the
    electronic kits that Radio Shack has had over the years. The versions
    that spanned the 50, 100, 200 electronic experiments all come to mind.

    My question many versions and types of these kits have they
    had over the years?

    I would be interested in hearing which ones you recall.


  2. Michael Ware

    Michael Ware Guest

    I think they had a 250, it had a neat plastic case with a hinged lid, and
    controls, displays, meter and speaker on the front of it.
    I still have a 150 that I have had for 25 years.
    The good ol' days of Radio Shack, when they were actually a good source for
    hobbyists. Now they are not much more than Best Buy wannabees.
  3. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Hello Michael,

    But why is that? Many kids aren't creative these days. They hang out in
    front of the TV or some video game but don't actually build stuff.
    Places like Radio Shack as we knew it from the old days can only survive
    when people built stuff.

    The Radio Shack here in town has closed. It become a cell phone store. Sigh.

    Regards, Joerg
  4. Ken Weitzel

    Ken Weitzel Guest


    Wow, memories again! :)

    Bought one for my daughter about 25 years ago. Though she's been
    grown and gone for a good while, it's still intact and sitting on
    the top shelf of her closet (her closet here). Just looked at
    it - it's a 150 in 1. Radio shack part number is 28-248.

    Anyone's interested I'd be happy to scan some or all of the experiment
    pages and make them available.

    And about 5 years ago bought one (used) off ebay for the young
    fellow a couple of doors over birthday. I think he's still
    enjoying it. One of his favorites was a rain detector project.
    Figured out that if he wanted to know if it was raining, all he had to
    do was put it together, carry it outside, hold it up for a while,
    and bingo! Knew whether it was raining or not :)

    Just for curiousity looked on ebay, searched electronic kit,
    and the first thing that came up was one :)

    Take care.

  5. CLFE

    CLFE Guest

    I'm not going to try to address any or all of the issues as to market needs,
    pay scales, bla bla blah - but I will say - I suppose these kids today -
    think those video games and so on - appear out of no where. Yes, maybe they
    can program something on a computer to do that - but they should try
    tackling the "component" level stuff. Actually learn what it takes to do all
    that. There are probably a host of reasons we could bring up as to "why"
    they don't - but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way. Even
    miniaturization goes so far...... if the demand for the larger parts such as
    we're used to working with would increase - maybe the action would pick back

    As to the kits and Radio Shack, I learned from their books. My father bought
    me like a 50 in 1 kit from Lafayette Radio - I think! Back then, Radio Shack
    hadn't gotten in our area yet. BUT then when they did, I bought every book
    they had. I've had technical training since then and went beyond that. I
    build items from junk parts just to have something to do when not repairing.
    It is a very enjoyable hobby. I went to a Hamfest this past summer and
    someone gave me a 150 in 1 kit with a book. I have other items here which
    have power strips and so on - but you have to supply the parts yourself. But
    still - makes for a lot of designing fun.

  6. Michael Ware

    Michael Ware Guest

    That's true, I guess the electronics hobby just isn't as big as it was in
    the late 70's-early 80's. You would think kids would at least have some
    curiosity about how the game controllers work, or how to build a power
    supply to run their GameBoy to save the batteries. Of course, you can buy a
    power supply for a fraction of what it costs to build one from scratch.
  7. JR North

    JR North Guest

    The really sad thing about the RS kits is they failed to explain to the
    novice user how the components acted together to make the circuit
    function. Instructions to insert the + lead of C4 into hole 4-12 did
    nothing to educate the user about electronics. Once the novelty and
    interest in the buzzer and LEDs flashing waned, the user departed, non
    the wiser and no more knowledgeable about electronics than when they
  8. CLFE

    CLFE Guest

    Good point! Maybe they thought that the kit builder would "become"
    interested in why - and reach further......... Who knows.......?

  9. A related question... Does anyone know of a "science project kit" that
    is actually nicely made with a child in mind (not with just looking
    flashy to sell at a store display). We bought one recently and I was
    very disappointed. Thanks

  10. - exray -

    - exray - Guest

    CLFE wrote:

    Hi Lou, long time no see.
    I don't think they "thought" anything. Just filling a niche marketing
    wise. Lots of kids have an interest in something new - not necessarily
    something specific - and the only way for a parent to capitalise on what
    might be a budding ambition would be exposure to something like this kit
    rather than just disassembling the family's clock radio.
    Anybody who has raised a kid who wanted to be a "musician" in the school
    band at about 7th-8th Grade knows what I'm talking about :)
    Hehe...I remember my "chemistry set". It actually had instructions
    about how to make a stink bomb. That didn't turn me towards being a
    chemist but the exposure to all that stuff at least gave me some
    cognizance of what it was all about at an age when I knew absolutely zip
    about chemicals. Not that that has changed any in the past 40 years !

  11. CLFE

    CLFE Guest

    Yeah Bill, long time no see - "trying" to stay out of trouble! :) Anyway,
    you are probably correct. I was "trying" to give them the benefit of doubt.
    Chemistry sets - eh? Man, my bedroom was a mini lab. If I had now - what I
    had then - they'd arrest me on suspicion of a Meth Lab or something. Man, I
    had a telescope, microscope, geology set, chemistry set, jars of
    formaldehyde (sp?) with specimens in it, and so on. Not to mention the
    electronics crap I had a ton of. I barely had room for my clothes, bed and
    other eh - more important stuff. Ya know - looking back - I miss all
    that........ That was FUN...... Half the so called Chemistry sets and so on
    now - don't have half the goodies the sets did back then. These new sets are
    garbage compared to what we used to get. Same with the new project kits.
    JUNK....... Knowing what we had, maybe there is a reason these kids would
    be bored. Somewhere, I think I have a couple pictures of my Lab - er - I
    mean Bedroom.

  12. - exray -

    - exray - Guest

    CLFE wrote:

    yabbut...remember how cool it was to imagine a little thing that
    actually worked that you could stick in your pocket and if you punched
    in about 10 switches you could talk to ANYBODY IN THE WORLD?...and have
    them deliver a pizza?

    Hey, how do you keep 'em on the farm once they've see the city?

    I imagine back in the 50s-60s the old farts were grumbling like we are
    now about having those spoon-fed kits for those (us) unimaginative kids.
    It all works out in the long run. There's 14-year-old kids with rooms
    stacked full of old curbside PCs and video cams that would scoff
    (technologically speaking) at us old guys who were limited to stink
    bombs and dead salamanders in jars.

    They'll be least some of them will...and thats the way it has
    always been.

  13. Pardon me for barging in- another Old Fart who had a lab/bedroom like
    The "imagination barrier" blurs when TV shows like the old Star Trek
    "predict" Motorola flip-phones.
    I had it both ways- I was given everything from Erector sets through
    chem to electronic sets, AND had an Elmer down the street who showed me
    how to make working stuff out of "junk".

    OTOH my mother just couldn't understand why I thought it necessary to
    disassemble my "perfectly good" microscope...
    Yep. The true hope for the future is the kid who can't help taking
    things apart to find out how they work...

    Mark L. Fergerson
  14. Guest

    What I remember most about them is the wide variety of different types
    of kit, and the garbage quality of the circuits in the books. ISTR the
    components strung between springs type were popular and cheap, I also
    saw one with square plastic cubes that each contained a part, and they
    all slotted in next to each other to make circuits. And the Philips
    ones that were a PCB with components mounted on bolts which screwed to
    the pcb.

    Best thing to do with the spring ones was to rip out the parts, then
    you got twice as many connection points to use, just string parts
    between the springs instead of wires. Add some more springs, which is
    easy enough, and you could start building more serious projects with
    them, eg radios that worked properly, burger alarms, etc.

  15. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

    On 15 Jan 2006 07:12:17 -0800, wrote:

  16. Fred Bloggs

    Fred Bloggs Guest

    I like many of you had my first experience with electronics through the

    Those kits were for sissies. Real children start out immediately playing
    with the mains wiring and electric train sets, lighting, motors
    etc...the school of hard knocks and shocks.
  17. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest

    Absolutely! Learning does not occur unless there's a failure that you
    must analyse and understand. Flame makes it sink in even more ;-)

    I estimate that I have torn up at least 20X as many sheets of paper as
    I have kept.

    ...Jim Thompson
    | James E.Thompson, P.E. | mens |
    | Analog Innovations, Inc. | et |
    | Analog/Mixed-Signal ASIC's and Discrete Systems | manus |
    | Phoenix, Arizona Voice:(480)460-2350 | |
    | E-mail Address at Website Fax:(480)460-2142 | Brass Rat |
    | | 1962 |

    Anyone can be rude, but it takes a Democrat to be a real dirtbag.
  18. They were good for getting down to the fiddly bits (for those of us
    who survived the mains wiring etc with breath and fingers intact).

    Besides, I believe I recounted some of my "teleportation experiences"
    with mains voltage in my youth. That sort of thing can be misconstrued
    as a religious experience, but I was lucky, I guess...

    Mark L. Fergerson
  19. Fred Bloggs

    Fred Bloggs Guest

    If a child walks into school with a 2nd - 3rd degree electrical burn
    these days, it is probable the police will soon be around to arrest the
  20. When I got my electric train set, I quickly found that the spring from a
    ball-point pen would glow red hot when placed across the track wire
    terminals of the control box.
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