Everything for Electronics
Nuts & Volts Magazine (February 2019)

Reader Feedback (02.2019)

   View In Digital Edition  

Mims the Word

The January/February 2019 issue of Nuts & Volts is absolutely superb! The cover story photo collage and article by George R. Steber about “The Discovery of Radio Waves” is excellent. I was especially glad the article cited Michael Faraday’s connections with James Clerk Maxwell that led directly to Maxwell’s famous equations.

My next stop was Bryan Bergeron’s editorial on “The Egonomics of Learning.” As usual, Dr. Bergeron is totally on target. Those of us into DIY electronics should be thankful that a man with his credentials and immense experience is editor of Nuts & Volts.

Ward Silver’s (NØAX) article about antenna rotators took me back to 1958, when my father installed a rotator on our rooftop TV antenna. It seems that the technology worked as well then as today.

David Goodsell’s article, “Build the Laser Pencil Engraver” is outstanding. I especially liked how he included in this high-tech piece how the pencil being engraved is mounted on double-sided tape.

Then, there’s “Build a Fun Stylophone,” “Build an Internet Digital Clock,” Build an RF Frequency Counter Buffer for HF,” “More Tricks with Old-School Digital Clocks,” C Processor Reduces Debug Headaches,” “DIY Biotech: Open Source PCR Thermocycler,” and “Your Amigo Does Bluetooth, Live Wi-Fi Webcam.”

Finally — and best of all — is Paul Verhage’s “Cosmic Rays Redux.” Paul has an astonishing record of building many kinds of payloads that he flies from high-altitude helium-filled balloons. His Figure 4 showing the supermiposed flux from a muon and cosmic ray detector during a flight to 90,000 feet is worthy of publication in a scientific paper.

All this in a single issue of Nuts & Volts is absolutely amazing. Those who bemoan the supposed collapse of hobby electronics need to check out Nuts & Volts. They should also become acquanited with the magazine’s exceptionally qualified editor at www.bryanbergeron.com.

Forrest M. Mims III

Well, sir, you do know how to put a smile on a person’s face. I’m glad you enjoyed the magazine. As you know, you’ve been a virtual mentor for me since I was in grade school. I saved my quarters to buy your little notebooks at RadioShack and spent my time in the library reading your introductory classic on electronics. I learned to read (seriously) by studying your articles in Scientific American, Popular Science, and the rest. I know the other authors as well as the publisher and production staff value your opinion just as highly.

Bryan Bergeron

Teaching Tactics

I had to smile while reading Bryan Bergeron’s editorial in the Jan-Feb issue. I teach an annual 4H “Fun with Electronics” class to kids from 5 to 15 years old (in separate groups). Just the basics with a couple AA batteries, resistors, motors, wires, clips, LED, CdS, etc. I use alligator clips for 3rd grade and below. They are very tricky for the little kids and frustrating — it slows down the class when 20% of them don’t have the dexterity to handle the small components (and I’m scurrying around). With the older kids (using solder), I usually have one or two kids with a little burn (I bring a cooler with ice cubes). Your article was a perfect reminder for me to take a step back and reconsider my plans!

By the way, I find alligator clips to be a pain — it’s a very loose connection — with say the leg of an LED and the leg of a resistor. Can you recommend some other solution other than a clip? I have thought of wiring “nuts” an electrician would use, but I think that won’t work very well as the two legs (LED, resistor) won’t twist around each other as easily as multi-strand wire (which I believe is what the nuts are usually used for). Thanks for Nuts & Volts and SERVO Magazine. I also volunteered to be the “programming mentor” for an area high school FRC team, so I’m learning more about the hardware side of robotics (roborio, limelight, etc.)

Tom Harron

What a great way to teach electronics! And yikes! Third graders. I’ve extended components with male wire jumpers; the jumpers sold for use with breadboards. Makes it easy to install a component onto a breadboard or an Arduino.

Also, you can color-code the leads (e.g., red for anode). The easiest connectors I’ve used for little hands are based on magnets on each end of a component that is terminated in a magnet or magnetic wire. But that gets expensive fast. Thanks for the note and good luck!

Bryan Bergeron

Charged Up

Thanks for publishing the interesting story of early electricity! Very enjoyable! It reinforces my thoughts that one of the educational tragedies is that most of the way history is taught is from a political view when most politicians were simply reacting to the changes in technology of their time. Yet much of the history of technology is never taught or is buried or lost.

In 1997, I became aware of the book, Theory And Calculation Of Alternating Current Phenomena (1897), by Charles Proteus Steinmetz and Ernst Julius Berg. Since my class had just finished a course in AC theory and calculations I had a copy of his 100 year old text shipped to our library. Students were amazed that they could read and understand his writing and the AC math.

In the article on radio waves, Heavyside was credited with using complex numbers in the analysis of AC circuits.

Did Heavyside and Steinmetz know each other? Was Heavyside extending what Steinmetz had started? My impression was that Steinmetz was the first to use complex numbers for AC analysis but most discoveries did have many working on the problems as the current article shows.

George Shaiffer
Instructor Electronics Technology PPCC (ret)

Typo Fix

RE: Jan-Feb 2019 issue/pg 38: I read the RF Freq Counter Buffer article with great interest and would like to build one once I get my electronics workshop set up after a recent move.

There is one possible error in the description, however. Page 3 describes the circuit protection provided by D3/C4. Per the schematic in Figure 2, I think it should read D2/C4. Am I missing something?

H. Wintcher

Yes. The text should read D2/C4.

Dwayne Kincaid


As co-founder of Cepheid and a huge nerd, let me extend my most sincere congratulations on Bryan Bergeron’s open-source PCR thermocycler! Bravo!!!!!

Greg Kovacs