jonathan foote  

dorkbot-SF October 23


Jonathan Foote

Electronics: Almost as Much Fun as (use your imagination)

OK. I might as well admit it: I have a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. BUT:  rather than spouting off about how clever I am, I would like to show *you* how clever *you* are. By the end of my talk, you will understand basic electronics through an intuitive "waterworks" analogy. Using a few of my illuminated works as a motivation, I will demonstrate how you yourself can build straightforward LED, laser, and neon circuits -- easily and cheaply. And yes, there will be high voltages, audience participation, at least one explosion, and if that's not terrifying enough, an equation or two.


Here are some links and supplemental sources for the above talk. I've rated some according  to a completely subjective opinion of price, selection, service, and how entertaining their catalog is.

**** best of breed

*** pretty good

**  run of the mill

* try someplace else first.

SF Bay Area electronics, surplus, and junk:

SF Bay Area surplus sources:

These seem to go out of business will a certain regularity, but I've had good luck at the following places:

*** Excess Solutions:
Big selection, of components, best place for hardware (nuts $ bolts).

*** Weird Stuff Warehouse:
Seems to specialize in computer bits, and a little expensive for old junk, but HUGE collection of boat-anchor disks.

**** Halted/HSC:
Great selection -- can browse there for hours. I particularly like the morgue of old test equipment. Used to have some tubes, but seems like fewer and fewer...

*** Alltronics:

** Fry's
Well, it's better than Radio Shack....right?

Online sources:

**** American Science and Surplus:
Junk junkie's Mecca.

**** Ramsey Electronics:
This place rocks. Great selection of kits designed and made there. Everything from there comes with a excellent manual and always works. Some emphasis on amateur radio but lots of other great stuff like high voltage, remote control, and EKG (Kal's Monkey On My Back uses a Ramsey EKG heart sensor to drive the humper and the tail twitch).

Electronic components:

**** B.G. Micro:
This is one of my favorites. Really reasonable prices, great stuff, occasional deals on hard-to-find stuff, otherwise pretty much all you need.

*** All Electronics:
Doesn't always have everything, but very reasonable prices. Good selection of motors, power supplies. Usually has very cool surplus displays like LED traffic signals. In LA area so CA sales tax.

* Marlin P. Jones:
Good selection of kits, power supplies, sometimes has stuff others don't.

** Hosfelt Electronics:
Excellent selection of LEDs and displays. Not always the cheapest, but at least they publish the wavelength (color) specs for their LEDS.

The Old Standbys:

If you know what you want, you can price check electronic components at the old standbys. unlike the above sources, they don't have surplus, which means nothing that interesting or particularly cheap.

** Jameco:
Fast, reliable, not too much of a ripoff.

** Digi-Key:
Larger selection than Jameco. Good all-around choice.

** Mouser:
HUGE selection, telephone-book catalog, clunky web site.

Fellow Travelers:

The LED Museum:
This site was clearly done by a true fan. Consider yourself warned.

Mike's Electric Stuff:
Geissler tubes, neon, and klystrons, oh my.

Nixie tubes:
For you nixie tube clock geeks.