Everything for Electronics
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Circuits for a Day at the Races

Many of us have fond memories of assembling sections of track and spending many enjoyable hours racing slot cars, either alone or with friends. Maybe it’s a hobby you’d like to get back to (or never left) or share it with the next generation of slot-car racers in your family. Racing these miniature cars around a track is only part of the fun! With a little amount of expertise in electronics, there are definitely many accessories we can build ourselves — probably enough to fill at least a small book. Since we don’t have that much space here, I’ll highlight only a few of these project ideas.

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Build a Pocket-Sized Vacuum Cleaner

This project takes you through the build of a compact pocket-sized vacuum cleaner. It’s portable, convenient, and super easy to use. It includes features like powerful suction, reverse mode for a blower, built-in nozzle storage compartment, and line-in mode to power from an external power brick.

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UV Sanitizer: How to Build One and Measure Its Efficacy

With all the focus on the coronavirus (or COVID-19), there has been an upsurge in demand for a variety of germ-related products. This science project presents an afternoon build of assembling a UV sanitizer from a UV LED panel and a small reflective enclosure.  With STEM students in mind, we’ll look at measuring the efficacy of the sanitizer on bacteria through the use of inexpensive, premade agar plates.

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Newton’s Apple

When I was in junior college, I did an experiment in a physics class that I have never forgotten. It was the classic falling body experiment to measure the acceleration of gravity; 9.81 meters/sec2. I loved carefully adjusting the apparatus and meticulously taking the data, trying to get a result that was as close as possible to the established value. Frankly, I don’t recall how close I got but it was the thrill of scientific inquiry that grabbed me. Now, in this age of computer technology, I thought it might be challenging and fun to see how good I could do in my garage with a fairly simple DIY apparatus.

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Build an Audio Loop System

The last time I had my hearing aids serviced, I discovered that the devices included a T-mode operational feature. The T-mode (or Telecoil) setting allows you to receive audio signals fed to an induction loop, which is just a wire loop laid on the floor around the perimeter of the desired area. Induction loops can be found in places such as concert halls, movie theaters, auditoriums, churches, banks, and public buildings where PA announcements are common. I decided to build an installation for my home. Here’s how it went.

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Build a Radio Pet Tracker

Knowing your pet’s location is invaluable. With modern technology, there are commercial solutions giving accurate GPS location for days on end. However, these options are costly. So, as a useful and educational project, I built my own tracker using a simple radio beacon.

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Build a Configurable Clock/Timer

This project implements a clock/timer device with several handy features other than just a simple alarm. It utilizes a 16-bit PIC, the MPLab Code Configurator, and a serial LCD.

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