A Decline in Hobby Electronics?

Posted 20 Dec 2003 at 23:56 UTC by steve Share This

Most of us robot old timers grew up reading electronic project books written by Forrest M. Mims III. Mims recently wrote a letter to Mark David of Electronic Design magazine, lamenting a declining interest in hobby electronics. Apparently Radio Shack has pulled all their electronic project books from the shelves due to declining sales. Mark reports that NASA, fearing a dearth of future engineers, is funding educational programs that are promoting interest in electronics through robotics.

It used to be that- - -, posted 21 Dec 2003 at 01:35 UTC by Frank McNeill » (Apprentice)

- - - kids had to build most of their toys. Now though, there isn't anything a kid could build that can't be bought already built as well as better and probably cheaper. In fact, kids don't even need to build or buy toys now that most of them have computers and programs for virtual toys like airplanes, race cars and sim cities that they can build and demolish at will.

Back in my day......, posted 21 Dec 2003 at 04:27 UTC by Rog-a-matic » (Master)

This seems sad because it was so much fun building computers from 7400 TTL, making pinball machines with erector set parts, and analog synthesizers with descrete transistors. We were on the bleeding edge and we knew it was going somewhere.

But todays kids are riding the current wave just like we did, it's just a different wave at a different level. Our parents thought we were crazy too and probably felt bad for us. It's the same with every generational change. My wife's father, for example, was told by his parents to quit reading so much. Nowadays we have to PAY our kids to abandon TV and video games and read.

Wonder how disgusted our kids will be at our grandkids?


Reply..., posted 21 Dec 2003 at 18:41 UTC by simonthehappy » (Journeyer)

Hi. I'm a 15 year old high school student, and I can honestly say that that is very true. Most of the other students are like that. Addicted to TV, computer, etc. I used to enjoy making robots (with Lego Mindstorms) but that passion slowly died out. However, I am beginning to renew that passion for electronics, mechanics, robotics, etc. Also, how come my school doesn't have any NASA sponsored program? I want one!

Platform deconstruction, posted 26 Dec 2003 at 05:30 UTC by aplumb » (Journeyer)

Robotics works as an education inspirer when the toys and tools which can be bought "off-shelf" can be respun into something new. Take for example what magazines like Servo have been doing to shed light on "toys" which have been designed with the hacker in mind. The i-Cybie is a great example.

I think we should use a different approach..., posted 3 Jan 2004 at 02:18 UTC by Balthaser » (Apprentice)

Robotics is a very interesting subject. Alot of people take part in robotics competition in Singapore. But when we talk about the real stuff like making your own endo/exo skeleton, programming, designing fancy gaits and making sure that they even work puts alot of people off. The people who do *real* robotics happen to be those in tertiary or university.

So I think that introducing BEAM robotics would be a great way to start. Get people fascinated and let them realise the need for processors. It's this drive that makes them want to learn more. It's only a small percentage of the population that make up the number of people really dedicated to robotics(or anything else related).

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