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Thread: Learning electronics made easy, in one cheap package

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Virginia USA
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    Default Learning electronics made easy, in one cheap package

    Thanks to one of our listeners asking a question about learning electronics my memory was jogged about a great tool for that. Back when I was a kid, radio shack was still an electronics store and sold these multi kits called 30 in 1, 60 in 1, etc. that were cardboard or plastic units with a number of electronic components mounted on it, you would interconnect them with wires on spring terminals to create different circuits made up from those common components such as resistors, transistors, capacitors etc. The manuals are VERY educational as they explain the theory, what the components do, and how to assemble the circuit. I went through every one of those and learned a great deal when I was still in elementary school. Rat shack stopped selling those back in the late 80's as far as I know but Ramsay kits still makes them, and they appear to be completely unchanged from the late 70's - early 80's.

    So, what are they? At the bottom end of the range are simple single item kits that allow you to assemble a device such as a radio. While not bad for learning some basics they are limited.

    The kit that makes the most sense as a starting point is the 130 in one. As the name suggests you make 130 different projects using the available components. The main limitation with this kit is that you don't learn much digital, however it is still a very solid entry point. Cost: $40

    The 200 in 1 is a bit more complex but still mostly analog and light on the digital. Even though it has more components it still starts at the same very basic level, you do not need to start with a smaller kit, you can go right into this one. Cost $70

    The 300 in 1 is the most sensible starting point in terms of learning analog and digital and a very wide array of circuits that you will find over and over in classic gaming consoles, arcade, pinball etc. It is also the best value and like the 200 in 1 starts at same basic level even though it looks more complex. What I like about this kit is that it uses less of the spring terminal and adds in a bread board which is a very good way of prototyping circuits. Cost $90

    I would suggest buying a basic multi-meter for $20~30 so that you can measure and observe the circuits that you build, that will help you understand what your doing better, and you will learn troubleshooting at the same time. As an aside, Ramsey, the company that makes these kits, is also the same place I bought the FM transmitter kit that I used as the heart of the pirate radio station I created. The retail site for these kits is:
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Northeast Ohio


    I started out with the 200-in-1 (the exact one pictured) when I was a kid. I attempted most of the projects, but wasn't successful with most of them. I remember building the "door alarm" project quite often though, it was definitely my favorite.
    I can't say this made me understand everything there is to know about electronics, but it did instill a desire to learn about them as I got older. I'm still no expert, but I can fix or at least understand the problems I find when I get a broken game console.

    Also, for anyone curious about electronics or just starting out trying to learn about them, get some old broken stuff and take it apart. At the very least you'll learn some of the tricks manufacturers put into them that make them hard to take apart, so when you need to take something apart and not have it break, you'll be able to.


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