My First Electronics Kit
Some of you may remember these, the Radio Shack 200-n-1 scientific kits. Radio Shack (Tandy) came out with various kits for kids and young adults to teach them about electronics while building 200 projects. I got into electronics when I was a young kid because of a friend of mine, Eric; his dad was an electrician and we got to play with spare parts and tear stuff apart to learn what everything was and how it worked. I was really young and didn’t appreciate how cool that really was. My parents learned that I was interested in electronics and learning more. Neither of them has a background in electronics, but they got me a 200-in-1 kit to play around with. I went through all the experiments, but there were two that really stuck with me; the “door alarm” project and creating a radio signal. The door alarm is an obviously cool project for a kid to build and use in their room, but the Radio broadcasting is what really blew my mind. I was able to tune my alarm clock radio to a specific frequency and could hear myself over the radio when I spoke into the electronics kit.
I lost in touch with Eric after we moved a bunch of times, but my love for building never went away. After I outgrew this kit, it was a good while before I got into electronics again. I instead went the way of web development and programming in High School (class of 1997). That’s when the Internet was still dial-up only at home, but the school had a much better connection. I spent all day in the computer lab instead of in classes, and it wasn’t a surprise that my teachers didn’t approve.
Ten years pass by with me continuing to learn programming and concepts, and in 2007, I started at Parallax, and my electronics passion was revived fully. I learned about components, microcontrollers, sensors, and a whole host of technologies that went along with creating “real world” devices and robots and continue to build and make things to this very day. I also keep up with web development as well, but more for personal projects instead of commissioned projects.
I looked up and found that the kits that helped me understand electronics that I enjoyed as a kid are still available, and still inspiring the next generation of makers and engineers. You can find them online or even in thrift shops if you are lucky.
Here is a video of a one of those lucky people who found one at a thrift shop.