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Posted Saturday, March 26, 2011, at 9:17 AM

Your Kid Can Do This
I recalled this morning that what you play with as a child may actually have a major influence on your life. Now I hadn't thought too much about it recently until I read an article this morning about sunspots. Now why in the world would I want to read about sunspot activity?

I was probably like a lot of other city boys. I had a Tinkertoy set (that push together stick construction set that you make lots of different stuff out of), Lincoln Logs (another creative construction toy), but what I had that most kids I knew didn't have was a HeathKit Electronic Experiment Lab Kit.

This was for kids 10 and up and I had a ball with it. To start with, I had to assemble the experiment board to start really working with it. A Masonite board 1/8" thick board pre-drilled with lots of holes that had to have springs, screws, and electronic components attached before I could started experimenting. For a kid that likes to put something together, it was a blast just getting started.

After building the experiment board, the reason for all the springs becomes apparent. Depending on the circuit to be assembled on the experiment board, wires are pushed between specific spring terminals (they are easily reusable that way) that connect to various electronic components. I could go from a simple turning on and off of a light through a switch, to controlling that light through transistors and LED's. There were over 100 electronic circuits to assemble, and by the time I got through all of them, I understood basic electricity and electronics quite well. For sure a great foundation for my working life in telecommunications, and I wonder if I would have gone that route had I not gotten that Heathkit set.

What does that have to do with sunspots? Had I not gotten a taste of electronics as a kid, I'm pretty sure I would have no interest in amateur radio. Since I have an interest in amateur radio thanks to Heathkit, I'm also interested in sunspots.

Radio wave propagation (how radio waves travel) is effected greatly by sunspot activity, and it seems we're in an active period of an 11 year sunspot cycle. The good news for me is that my ham radio should be able to contact folks under better transmission and reception conditions.

I'm not sure why that old Heathkit set came to mind today. I know electronic kits have sure changed. Transistors were the newest thing when I was a kid. Now, YIKES! Everything has a chip in it, even greeting cards have 'em. Could your kid get interested in that? If you think there is even a glimmer of a chance, I recommend you try a search for "kids electronic projects" to get a feel for what is available for less than a hundred bucks. That latest video game costs about the same and you don't learn much. Who knows, perhaps your child will grow up be the person to perfect cheap, clean, universal power, and all because of a childhood toy.

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No truth better said, other than a certain Book I know about.

Make a fun game, out of learning, and who knows, that child could take us to the stars, or even Galaxies. Beam me up, Scottie. Sadly, the children of today, may not know about Star Trek. I had one of those 'electric' toy/kits, but then, I also had a younger brother, not into leaving wires where connected. Now, the 'Erector Set,' where one could bolt everything together, younger brothers couldn't yet master the wrench, and that learning tool was semi-safe, but bendable. Ha.

I noticed you were not working with a thirty or forty year old kit there. Digital?? Oh-Yeah, high tech.

I do hope that some parents will see your article, or perhaps the paper would print an article, about constructive games, a child can construct, into a life of learning, and growing, as they construct their lives. Yeee-Haaa!!! and AMEN

I tell you young folk today (early twenties) they will never be able to quit growing in knowledge, especially in their chosen field, as advancement in technology will leave them behind in the blink of an eye. The only thing I can think of that will take one along, in the blink of an eye, is the Rapture. (Sneaky, huh??)

Fifty-Nine was a terrible Sun-spot year. We traveled from San Diego, to Japan, almost totally without Radio communication, due to the static, and sun-burst noise. Since we were heavy in the use of Morse Code, we copied a few messages, but not many...Teletype was not on board yet, the key was the only long distance mode of talking. Ah, the good old days, when a 'sail,' was still a canvas sheet on a mast.

Nuff said. Thanks for the article.

-- Posted by Navyblue on Sat, Mar 26, 2011, at 8:31 PM

Good read Brian, sounds like you grew up with a good background in electronics, and it paid off. I spent most of my time playing on the republican river, until I was a teenager, then working for farmers. I guess I should be a Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn, perhaps thats why I like adventure, who knows? As far as the youth today they could be a Grand theft auto, a Dragon slayer or a Starcraft fighter. What the hell, stranger things have happened.

-- Posted by Keda46 on Mon, Mar 28, 2011, at 1:27 AM

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