Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Some people can look at a bucket of Lego and imagine buildings, towers, vehicles and all sorts of creations. I just had that same experience today.

Banana has been saddled with a science project. She has to build two devices - one that has motion (via a 1.5 volt motor) and one that has some sort of on/off switch trigger function. She decided to build a robot (just a tread-based vehicle) and an alarm. Me, being the ever-helpful parent (especially when I don't have to read french and DO get to work with applied sciences) jumped right in to help. I was asked to pick up parts so during a work-related road trip, I stopped into Active Components, a local electronics store.

The place had a few rayon-clad browsers wandering the aisles and friendly counter staff who looked like they couldn't wait to help. Initially, I was a bit overwhelmed at the the terminology that I hadn't dealt with in a while. How many volts current could run through the LED? Should I have a resistor in series ahead of it? Did Ohm's Law factor into it? How much amperage would a D cell produce? Questions, questions, questions.

I admit to being a novice (but not illiterate) when it comes to electronic circuit design, but the assortment of switches, light emitting diodes, transistors and resistors brought me back to a point in my youth when I used to dabble in connecting this kind of stuff together. The store had a whole section of project kits, too. Electronic timers, metronomes, FM receivers, ... it made me feel like a Weight Watchers refugee at a Baskin Robbins taste-testing counter. I could imagine myself with multimeter and soldering wand in hand, creating amazing and handy little gizmos, all to the delight of friends and family.

Some of my friends may shudder at the thought (I was once told that my soldering looked more like welding), but as a retirement project, I wouldn't mind relearning how to read schematic diagrams and doing some simple projects.

Now, all I gotta do is get enough money to retire.