I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve needed to get caught up since the antenna-project, and whatever time I have had for ham radio I’ve spent on the air! It’s been a blast, too — lately the DX has been like low-hanging fruit. I’ve especially enjoyed DX on 40m. But my son and I started something this week that is too good to keep to myself, so here I am blogging again.
My good friend and brother in Christ, Scott Paulson, spoke highly of Radio Shack’s “Electronics Learning Lab.” As a signalman for BNSF Railway he is constantly going off to school to learn about electronics, and the Electronics Learning Lab is required for his classes. (By the way, guess what one of their textbooks is? The ARRL Handbook!) So this week I dropped by Radio Shack, took a look, and promptly bought the thing to add to my son’s homeschool curriculum.
My son and I both love the Electronics Learning Lab! I have to admit that I’m going to be learning right alongside him. All of this stuff I’ve studied, of course, or I wouldn’t have my ham radio license. But with this breadboard-work I’m applying the stuff I’ve learned, some of it for the first time. And there’s nothing like fiddling with a circuit on a breadboard, swapping out this resistor for that, this capacitor for that, etc. to get an intuitive grasp of this stuff. Flipping through the workbooks to see what’s in store for us, I began to think that maybe, just maybe, I might actually be able to design some basic circuits myself instead of just building them from kits. (For crying out loud, that’s a skill Amateur Extra’s are supposed to have!)
The Electronics Learning Lab comes with two workbooks that guide you through over 200 projects:
Just as Scott told me, “It’s like painting by number.” We only started on it yesterday, yet this morning I found my son working on the next project all by himself, so comfortable was he with the directions in the workbook. I jumped in so I could learn, too. After he finished today’s project we wanted to keep going, but exercised self-control and put it away until next time.
As a homeschooling father and as an Elmer I’d pay double what Radio Shack is asking for this kit. And no, I don’t work for Radio Shack, nor do any of my friends or relatives, nor do I get one red cent from them for lauding one of their products. Whatever your age, if you want to graduate from kit-building to circuit-design, this seems like a good way to take a step in that direction.