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An Altair Clone: Then and Now

When I read the article “Build a Pocket-Sized Altair Computer” by David Hunter on building an Altair clone, I was reminded that I too had designed an Altair clone, but I built mine in 1977. Mine required seven boards in a 19” rack. This article details the resources I had then in a comparison of what resources are available today. I’ll also describe how I designed and built my clone.

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Restoring the Heathkit ES-400 Computer

It took me eight months of part-time work to restore all 168 pounds of a Heathkit “H-1.” I would like to share a few of the trials and tribulations I went through to resurrect this beast.

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Build Your Own Funky STEAMPUNK Display

I use LCD displays in almost every project. However, in this modern age of steampunk, I stumbled on something much cooler — 1” high seven-segment electromechanical displays (EMDs) that go clickity, click. Here is an ambitious project that features five 1941 vintage rotary phone step-by-step (SXS) switches. These EMDs are the perfect match to display the dialed digits.

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Build a Custom Weather Gauge — Part 1

This fun, elegant, and useful project pulls data from the Internet so a series of useful displays can show all kinds of cool info in real time from your mantel or bookshelf in this impressive platform.

In this first article of a two-part series, we’ll discuss the circuit and code for each of the core components for the weather; take a deep dive on how the stepper is wired up; then learn about the node.js code that drives it.

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The Retro PIC Single-Board Computer

Over the years, I have accumulated a bunch of chips from before the era of true PCs when computers with names like Altair, KIM-1, and Cosmac ELF were popular. I’ve been looking for a way to use them in new projects, so I designed a system around a 40-pin PIC16F887. I figured this would put some of my historic chips to work and be a great learning tool for understanding how a microcomputer works.

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Build the Retro Regen Radio

In the fast moving world of digital electronics, I find it incredible that the vacuum tube — a piece of early 20th century analog technology — has managed to survive. It should have bitten the dust long ago but that just did not happen. This back-to-the-future one-tube radio is made with readily available parts, operates on 12 volts, and offers amazing performance.

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A Full Motion Home Simulator

Building a full motion simulator will require some mechanical work, electronic work, and even a little programming, but surprisingly, it’s not a great deal more difficult than many other Nut & Volts projects. I’m confident that the first time you step into your flying machine and leave reality for cyberspace, you’ll agree it is worth the effort!

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