A Decline in Hobby Electronics?
Posted 20 Dec 2003 at 23:56 UTC by steve
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.
- - - 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.
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 »
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!
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.
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
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).