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One giant squeak for Mankind

September 04, 2009 | eetimes | 219501450
The Moon landing inspired generations of engineers, but magazines like 'Practical Electronics' should also take a bow. Kendall Castor-Perry revisits an audio circuit project from a May 1969 issue, discovering what would have been a boyhood revelation, despite the results being not quite sound!
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Click here to see all articles by Analog Guru Kendall Castor-Perry

Anniversaries, eh? Today, easy access to historical information on the web makes every date significant for some reason. By the time you read this, the media froth about the first Moon landing (July 20th, 1969) will probably have settled down. But it did make me think: what was I doing then, electronically speaking? What formative things were happening, starting to make today's me?

At the tender age of eleven (and what does that mean? Eleven is a prime number, so it's pretty resistant to arithmetical damage) I was transitioning from the worlds of Meccano and of chemistry experiments (sorry about the burn marks and the smell, Mum) to a world of soldering irons and electricity (er, sorry about the burn marks and the smell, Dad).

Dad was a keen electronics hobbyist, but sometimes he didn't "get" something on a project he was attempting. He was more of a refrigeration and aircon guy. We had a home-made freezer with a throbbing compressor from a 1930's Frigidaire; gauges with trembling needles like you'd see in a black-and-white sci-fi film. Every time we recharged it with R12 the hole in the ozone layer above South London got a little bigger...little did we know.

So I started stepping in to have a go with the darkroom timers, the phone bill calculators and the drill speed controllers how hard could all this electronics stuff be, anyhow? Good early apps experience, obviously. Practical Electronics was regular reading, and I was particularly taken by the May 1969 issue because it included a design for an electronically controlled Meccano model.

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