Everything for Electronics
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The Electric Brains of Yesteryear

In the 1950s and ‘60s, Popular Electronics and other magazines carried ads for strange looking machines called Geniacs and Brainiacs. The ads claimed they were “electric brains” that could play Tic-Tac-Toe and NIM. A while ago, I bought several sets on eBay and I would like to share my experiences of learning about them and my sometimes frustrating — but successful — efforts to get them to work.

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Take the Z80 Challenge

This project started out as a challenge to myself: Could I cram a full-featured Z80 microcomputer using DIP packages onto an ExpressPCB MiniBoard (3.8” by 2.5”)? Here’s what happened.

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Build a $6 Desk Mic

I certainly didn’t need another desk mic, but the prospect of building one from a $1 LED lamp and a spare mic cartridge was a project I could not pass up.

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Build an Instant Heart Pulse Sensor

In about 10 minutes and for about $6, you can display the blood flow through your finger. From this measurement, you can extract your heart rate, check for arrhythmia, and even modulate a red light to pulsate with your heart rate. Here’s how.

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Build a Freezer Alarm Circuit

I’m not sure if it’s absent mindedness or just old age, but sometimes I’ll forget to close the food freezer lid after shopping for groceries. With food prices seemingly going up every three days, there’s really no good time to lose a pile of food because of a simple mistake. This article describes my solution to the freezer problem.

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Build the FLiPVox Laser Theremin

In my previous Theremin article, I described the first of my laser Theremin projects: the LASERVox. This is a simple-to-construct Theremin-like device that acts as a MIDI controller for a synthesizer. In that article, I discussed the possibility of a more analog style laser Theremin that has its own built-in synthesizer or pitch generator. That’s the topic of this article! We’ll build the FLiPVox: a continuous pitch laser Theremin with its own mini synthesizer.

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Pinochle — Social Distance Style

I belong to a group who enthusiastically plays Pinochle once a week. Unfortunately, with the present circumstance of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been deprived of our weekly get together. So, with today’s technology and an introduction to the virtual conferencing provided by Zoom, I decided to see if we could play Pinochle online.

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