HP-IB, Amigo/cs80 was Re: hp 9153 floppy & disk

Tony Duell ard at p850ug1.demon.co.uk
Tue Feb 16 14:33:58 CST 2010

> I think there is also a certain group of people (present company 
> excluded, of course) that don't want to allow the "newbies" in their 
> precious "club."  They feel that by removing the barriers to entry 
> (maybe learning to solder, learning assembly language, learning basic 
> electronics) that their self-worth is somehow diluted because the end 
> goal is more easily attainable now w/o requiring these skills.


While I have never wanted to exclude anyone from an elitist 'club' (I 
will share my knowledge freely with anyone who asks, I will point people 
in the right direction, and so on), I do feel very strongly that there 
are certain skills, and certain knowledge that are _essential_ if you 
want to do any form of electronics. Of course if you don't want to do 
electronics, then you may not need these skills, I have no problem with that.

I would including soldering on that list. Virtually all electornic 
circuits are assembles with soldered joints. Those infernal solderless 
breadboards are a waste of space or worse. They often develop 
intermittant connections, the stray capacitacne is excessive, and so on. 
Learning t osodler well enough to work with through-hole components 
should ony take an afternoon anyway. It's not difficult.

I would also claim you need to understand some basic electronics. Oh, 
sure you can wire up a few switches and LEDs to a microcontroller port. 
And then find that the built-in pull-ups of the microcontroller are not 
suffiecient to pull the signal really high all the time so you get noise 
pickup. Or you link up a relay as a load without the protection diode and 
end up zapping the microcontroller from the back emf when you turn it 
off. And so on. 

> Talk to the old grouchy hams about adding no-code tech ham radio 
> licenses on your local repeater, if you want your ear beat for 1/2 hour.

I was the equivalent of a no-code-tech for many years. The only reason I 
am not any more is that the morse code requirement has been removed. I 
never could get my ears round morse...

I would argue that there shouldn't be artificial barriers to doing this 
sort of thing. The morse code requriement made sense once, IMHO it 
doesn't any more. Please don't give me that worn out argument that many 
people enjopy morse. Of course they do. I woul;dn't for an instant 
support a _ban_ on using morse code on amateur bands. Just as I wouldn't 
support a ban on driving cars with 'crash' gearboxes. But that doesn't 
mean I think double declutching should be included in the driving test.

In the same way I don't think that just because people once made their 
own grid leak resistors, that we should still require beginners to make 
them today. Go out and buy resistors. But you still need to understnad 
what they are used for, and how to calculate (or estimate) the right 
value to use.

> I enjoy sort of the sparkfun-methodology ---- off the shelf breakout 
> boards, sensor modules, easily accessible headers for connecting things, 
> and so on.  It allows you to leverage very advanced technologies by 
> providing an easy interface.  Maybe that technology is GPS, or cellular, 
> or whatever.

There is, IMHO, one problem to totallu dumbing things down, and if this 
makes me elitist, so be it. It's this. If everyone thinks they can do 
electronic design just becasue they've plugged a sensor board into a 
microntroller board, then those people who really can design at the chip 
level or below are no longer valued, at least not by the majority. And 
that is a pity

Als, if you're not careful, this 'plug a few modules together' 
methodology leads to a number of very poor, over-complex designs. And 
some of them may even end up as products :-( I am sure I've told you how 
I once showed a so-called designer who wanted to use a microcontrolelr 
module + input interface modules + ... as part of a control system that 
his problem could be solved using few lengths of wire and otherwise 
unused contacts on his relays and swithces. Hmmm...


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