#148 – Contextual Electronics, ClubJameco and Solderpaste – Lifelong Learning Likelihood



Many thanks to our sponsor, Club Jameco, for their continued support. Go to ClubJameco.com/TheAmpHour to see the morse code kit mentioned on the show and to support the show.

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Thank you to Steven Groves for the picture of the 75-in-1 kit!


  1. says

    Sorry, I don’t do iTunes. I am an occasional listener to the Amp-Hour.

    There was some discussion about Chris’s new wep page. While I agree that you don’t learn much from building stuff that works, it is my feeling that troubleshooting stuff it very difficult for a beginner. I learn best by starting with something that works and then changing it to see what happens. Might I suggest this approach?

    • says

      Yes, I like this idea better. I agree about the troubleshooting too. That will be a part of the course, at least the parts of troubleshooting that can be taught.

      I talked to a friend who was in a class once where he said 60% of the projects didn’t work by the end. While you should encourage people to strive to succeed (and struggle in the process), I don’t think you should set people up for failure either.

  2. robert says

    “I hope your project fails!”…

    One idea: provide a detailed list of footprints, some with swapped pins 😉

      • robert says

        If your course covers layout and the pitfalls, the idea was that the students should intercept the bad ones before sending out their gerbers.

        Swapped pins happens quite easily. Just take KiCad and use the ‘standard’ N-MOSFET schematic symbol and combine that with a SOT-23 footprint. Chances are high that the pin-mapping will be off.

        • says

          Completely agree! But as your example shows, this kind of swap can happen naturally. Rigging it so it’s guaranteed to happen may not be necessary.

  3. says

    I listened during my road trip from NJ to NC… A couple of comments:

    You guys were joking about a ham radio license being an “attractive” quality. Did you know that Dilbert did a cartoon on this? http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1995-01-19/

    Regarding the hovering test equipment… …some of Tek’s bench scopes, like the MDO4000 series, have a standard VESA mount feature on the back. This allows you to mount the scope on an articulating support arm typically used for monitors and TVs. Using this, you can lift the scope up and out of the way when you’re not using it, and pull it down when you need it. It also keeps people from wandering off with your scope!

    …and, thanks for the mention of my YouTube channel!

  4. says

    You are spot on when you say that sometimes you might want to figure out what motivated the manager to come give the engineers shit. I thought that the path to being super engineer is to be the guy in charge. I did that for 15 years before I figured out that the more “in charge” you are, the less you actually work on stuff.

    I don’t know how many times I got stuck in the middle between Engineers and the CIO. I once had to have a talk with an engineer because the CIO didn’t like the manner in which the engineer walked to get stuff off the printer.

    “He just saunters over like he doesn’t have a care in the world.”
    “Do I really have to talk to him about how he walks?”
    “Yes, tell him he should walk like he has purpose.”
    “… don’t saunter?”

    I got fed up and finally got out of management, now I’m an engineer.

    A recent request that I was given by my boss:
    “When assigning an IP address to devices in the plant, I want them done low to high from left to right.”
    “Left to right? What does that mean?”
    “When standing in front of the plant and looking at it. An IP address of x.x.x.1 will be on a device on the left side of the plant.”
    “Are you kidding?”
    “No, I’m serious.”
    “You realize the plant is a 3 dimensional space right? What if there is a device above x.x.x.1 or what if it’s on the left side of the plant and it’s 100 feet behind it? Are we going to assign a number based on it’s altitude and distance?”
    “Hmm… I’ll get back to you on that.”