Technology
Advanced electronics kits?

Sbrgb-WMichael is looking for more advanced electronics kits…“I love building electronics kits, but I have run into a slight problem: there aren’t many out there past the “solder these 20 things” level. I’d love a complicated kit (too bad Heath Kits no longer exists). I would love an article on complex kits you can buy (maybe highlight a few in each price range). The last kit I bought that I really loved was an RGB LED Blinky from Ramsey Kits. You assemble a little tiny SMT circuit board (that was challenging, quite fun) and the one LED (which is 3 in one) glows all different colors. Very cool to show off.” Link. Any suggestions?

18 thoughts on “Advanced electronics kits?

  1. You could look at getting into Amateur Radio. The homebrew culture is alive and well and there are lots of kits for transceivers out there. One Ham vendor, Ten-Tec, has several kits from shortwave receivers to a 2 meter band mobile transceiver. Elecraft, another vendor, has an excellent reputation for their transceiver kits as well. And if you just want the experience of building without getting a Ham license, you could sell them on eBay and easily get more than the kit originally cost. Or you could go to Paia electronics and get a theremin kit, or a synthesizer kit if you’re musically inclined. Be sure and post back any other info you find, I’m interested in some challenging projects as well.

  2. Another option is Megasquirt. If you’re into cars at all, it’s a fuel injector computer. Great if you’re converting an old carburated vehicle to FI, or if you need full control over the fuel delivery in an existing FI car (say, if you’re turbocharging it).

  3. First note: you can just buy old Heath Kits on eBay.

    I agree that a lot of cool kits are radio kits. Many of the neatest ones also involve hacking your own hardware to make it better. I submitted one of my favorites for the best projects kit article (along with the recently posted Bell Labs kits):

    Most FM radio stations broadcast content that few will ever hear on their own radios, but that can be made easily available to your radio of choice by building a simple decoder.

    FM stations in the US are found in the 88.1-107.9 MHz range in 200 kHz increments. Each station can transmit audio which is up to 100 kHz, a much larger range than the range of human hearing (perhaps 20 kHz). How do they use all of the extra bandwidth? They divide it into different subcarriers and you’ve probably heard the content two of them. One carrier includes both the left and right stereo channels (which allows mono-receivers to play the sound from both channels) and one is the DIFFERENCE between the left and right channels (which can be added to or subtracted from the first subcarrier by stereo receivers for the separate left and right stereo channels).

    But there is plenty of more bandwidth left & you can find readings of newspapers, magazines, books, and other information for the blind on these channels. You can also find commercial-free muzak and background music. But to access any of it, you will need a decoder.

    While you can buy decoders or pay to have your radio modded, building your own decoder is a great way to spend an afternoon. The kit I first built (before trying a few other designs) was the SCS Radio Technologies’ adapter.

    Another fun project: buying an old PRO-2006 scanner & modding it with any of the numerous mods that have been written for it. You can apply many mods, which make for a more useful scanner & also make for a bunch of bite-sized projects of varying complexity.

    The second best kits after radio kits are probably audio kits. There are numerous high-quality DIY-amplifier kits and similar. The theremin kit, suggested by tnash, is quite cool.

  4. If you have any interest in audio kits hit up http://www.paia.com . They have kits for simple headphone amps and guitar effects all the way up to a full blown MIDI controlled analog synth with real knobs. I built their FatMan synth about 8 years ago and it was a blast to assemble and test.

  5. If you’re into electronic music there’s quite a few plans/kits for out there.

    As dmann99 mentioned, http://www.paia.com has some kits

    There’s an “open source” kit from ladyada.net called the “x0xb0x” that’s supposed to be nearly indistinguisable from legendary TB-303, but there’s a waiting list and it’s $300…I’ve been waiting a couple months now for one of these babies…

    They also have some other (non-synth) projects as well: http://ladyada.net/make/

    http://www.musicfromouterspace.com has some plans and printed circuit boards for a cool synth called the “Sound Lab” among other things (including the Weird Sound Generator mentioned here last week)

  6. If you’re after something a bit unusual, and you can’t find a kit, you could always ask somebody (i.e. me) to design a project for you. I’m sure there’s plenty of other Electronic Engineers around who would do the same. If you know what you want to build, but don’t know how to make it, I’d be more than happy to design a kit. Might even turn out cheaper than the professional kits, too.

  7. If you’re after something a bit unusual, and you can’t find a kit, you could always ask somebody (i.e. me) to design a project for you. I’m sure there’s plenty of other Electronic Engineers around who would do the same. If you know what you want to build, but don’t know how to make it, I’d be more than happy to design a kit. Might even turn out cheaper than the professional kits, too.

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