Some things, like aerodynamics, automotive mechanics, and woodworking, I learned from my father. For other things, I’m a very self-taught guy. I taught myself programming, yes, but also electronics and circuitry (my father helped with this, too, by buying me lots of stuff). But I’d worked with electronics as a teenager, even soldered a little piece-work for a friend’s company. I didn’t keep up with it, though.

Until a few years ago, when I found a design for a sound box on the web. I got George Sanger involved, ordered a bunch of parts, and broke out the old soldering iron.

We made magic.

Seriously, doing electronics after so many years was…profoundly self-affirming, very validating. I hadn’t fiddled with breadboards and resistor color codes for so long, and yet i COULD get back to it. I hear from my wife that when you don’t use a language, you lose it. But THIS was more like riding a bike. It all came back so easily.

Now, I define myself as a programmer. Software, not hardware. It’s what I’m really an expert at, and I’ve no intention of changing my life’s focus. But now that I’m watching (and participating in) the FM&CG show, I’m inspired to build more circuits, and especially to work more with microcontrollers.

So I ordered a couple of Japanese plastic mecha models, and they came in the mail today. One is smaller, and kinda chunky, which is perfect, ’cause I want to add USB ports to it’s arms and legs, and make it a unique USB hub.

The other is larger, and has lots of pretty translucent parts. I have a vision of adding 20-30 LED lights inside it, and making those lights flash and pulse in complex patterns, driven by a microcontroller.

Still have lots of parts to buy, and fiddly decisions to make. I’ll keep ya posted.

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