Star Simpson is designing classic circuits from Forrrest Mims' "Getting Started in Electronics"

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Go Star!!! I lost track of her after she left for the mainland (not including the Logan Airport debacle), but am very happy to see she’s working in her field, doing the kind of subversive design she likes.


He coulda just titled it “Star Simpson!” and I would have clicked.


If they are from Forrest Mims’ books, then she’s not “designing classic circuits”.

She appears to be packaging those circuit, but that isn’t all that clear.

The point of the books were simple circuits for people to try at home, either by breadboarding or soldering (might as well start with simple circuits when starting to solder), using parts one could get at Radio Shack.

But apparently simple is too hard for the masses, so others step in to sell them a Disneyfied experience, while putting a premium on the cost. How can “making” be great if it’s really about some profiting off the experience?

If you aren’t doing some level of scrounging, you aren’t doing anything. It’s when you get to the point of some understanding so you know about scrounging that you’ve made progress. It has to get beyond hand holding. There are no exotic parts in those books, so take apart the VCR for some switches, motors, LEDs and generic transistors. Maybe you’ll have to look elsewhere for the opamps and 555 timers. But the handholding of the “maker movement” is a liability, all those detailed parts lists and photos instead of conveying understanding.


Not everyone is you. It’s entirely appropriate to offer different levels of complexity for different people with different skill sets, priorities and interest levels. One size does not fit all.


I think of these as really cool bits of educational art. More inspirational than anything.


Eaxctly! A few days back I voided the warranty on a hi-fi berry to mount a stacking connector. I desoldered the old one by polishing an appropriately sized hunk of pure copper and heating it with a MAPP torch. Once I tinned the long narrow face, I could press it against all the pins at once. Then I cleared the holes for the new connector by blowing the solder out of three of four holes at a time onto the shop floor. Worked great, and I’m totally not kidding.

People shouldn’t have access to stuff like electric soldering irons, see, it just makes them weak.

aw thanks :slight_smile:


Kids these days don’t even make their own transistors. Bah.


@Skeptic is exactly right. Making isn’t about everyone doing it all for themselves. We’re not Heinleinian heroes mastering everything under the suns. We’re geeks with specialized expertise. Making is about taking practical knowledge back from corporate appropriation and learning from each other to expand our skill-sets and help one another be agents of our own user experience. I’ll bring my mechanic and woodworking skills, and you bring your electronic and metallurgy skills, and we’ll make something cool. Focus on the skills that fascinate you. If that’s electrical engineering, awesome. But electronics isn’t every Makers priority.

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Hi Michael!

I think the confusion here comes from the fact that I’m calling the series “Circuit Classics” which comprises printed circuit boards that I have designed.

My goal in building these was to create the experience I wish I’d had when I was first learning to build electronics when I was 14. Breadboards are useful tools, but I find they tend to be confusing for beginners, and you can’t keep your first work enshrined forever on a breadboard, since you’ll probably want to reuse it for something else. Additionally, as Radio Shack leaves the communities it once served, it’s harder than ever to get access to those basic tools (as I did.)

That said, I hope I’ve solved some frustrations people while creating something beautiful, iconic and well designed that does help with developing an understanding. For example, the copper traces connecting components are highlit in white silkscreen to replicate what it was like for me, holding Good Old Green boards up to lamps to see how everything was connected. The point here is to give people a great first experience with hardware.

And, to be clear — I’m all in favor of scrounging for parts! Love that. Have done so for many hours myself. Hopefully this way even more people will be introduced to building hardware/electronics and can learn to love it as much as you do too.


I must know you! But I’m not having an easy time placing you by your username. Any hints?


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