Cleaning the Basement: When Junque is just Junk

I don’t know who coined the term “junque”, but it used to be used on the QRP-L mailing list to describe questionable treasures brought home from a hamfest. “But honey, it’s not junk, it’s high-class junque!”  Like many engineers, I’m a bit of a packrat for old parts and gear, and there was a time in my bachelor life when I saw it as my duty to rescue as many old HP and Tektronix instruments as I could, especially the tube variety. Call it a misplaced attempt to emulate the Endangered Species Act.

My wife has quietly tolerated my electronics junk in the basement, but my life has moved on. I have two children, and my sense of what I’m doing in my hobby has crystalized. Now I look at a basement full of stuff and think, “Boy, it would be nice to have a rec room here.”

This week, I went on the warpath and started cleaning. I started with the shelves under the basement stairs, which were packed full of “treasures”. Among them I found these endangered species:

Three HP antiques
Left to Right: HP 400D vacuum-tube voltmeter, HP X-Y plotter, HP 211A square wave generator

Continue reading “Cleaning the Basement: When Junque is just Junk”

New Projects Pages

I’ve added project pages to Skywired. The top menu bar will now list one page devoted to each project I write about on the blog. The project pages will make a one-stop location for getting schematics, layouts, and source code, and they will have a list of posts related to the project, too.

The first project page is about the A3PN250 FPGA Breakout Board. It will be joined by others as more projects cross my workbench.

I’m excited about the project pages. This is a feature I’ve planned from the start of the blog. I think you’ll find them a big help.

Texas Instruments buys National Semiconductor

Surprise news this morning: Texas Instruments is buying National Semiconductor for $6.5 billion.  National is strong in power and analog chips. Many of the jellybean op amps and voltage regulators we have all used came from National, whether directly or via copies sold by other companies.  TI is strong in just about everything: general analog, specialty and high-performance analog, digital signal processing, logic, microcontrollers, and so on. Continue reading “Texas Instruments buys National Semiconductor”