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What have you guys engineered in your free time?

  1. Nov 6, 2015 #1
    I'm trying to learn more about electrical engineering to help me decide between majoring in mechanical or electrical and I'm wonder what you guys have engineered in your free time that mostly relates to electrical engineering?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 6, 2015 #2


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    • Digital clock
    • Laser scanner (for wall display of rock music)
    • Lab power supply for my own use
    • Portable battery power system (for remote HAM radio use)
    • Digital tablet (for PC user interface)
    • (lots of other stuff)... :smile:
  4. Nov 6, 2015 #3


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    • 3D printer
    • Foot operated stage effects controller (for band members to control lighting, smoke ect )
    • Vacuum tube guitar amplifier
    • automated curtain opener (my alarm clock)
    • 2 x electric guitars
    • various guitar effects units ('stomp boxes')

    Nearly all of theses projects were done before doing an ME degree. If you aren't doing engineering projects in your free time already I think it's unlikely doing a degree will change that. I think most of the skills learnt in an engineering degree aren't transferable to hobby projects, a more practical education would help more.
  5. Nov 6, 2015 #4


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    a couple of busy lads :smile:

    a good comment ... tho around the other way .... a good background in practical circuit design and building is likely to help with an EE degree

    I found this when doing my geology degree studies. I had had years of practical activities with rock, mineral and fossil collecting studying
    among other geology related activities. It was fun sitting in our practical mineral etc classes and be able to name the various samples at a glance
    where my class mates had to learn the differences between them. It left me free to battle with the challenges of all the theory :biggrin:

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2015
  6. Nov 11, 2015 #5
    I'm still in school but I've built (as far as practical things I use)

    -tons of guitar effects
    -digital hand switch control for guitar effects for my friend in a wheelchair
    -power supply for breadboard projects
    -headphone amplifiers

    Currently using FPGA to drive a VGA monitor from gameboy pocket video port, class project.

    I've also messed with my old game consoles to get rgb video out of them (n64, snes, nes). I'm currently working on a video resolution scaler (240p to 720p). I would like to make a dds function generator using an FPGA later this year as well as a music synthesizer using an FPGA.

    Basically trying to get good with audio and video outputs on my FPGAs, that way I can eventually make a game console on it :p

    My projects may be small but I'm always learning and it's a lot of fun :)
  7. Nov 11, 2015 #6


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    Nice! :smile:
    And when you start interviewing for a job, you can show them some of your projects. I always like to see projects that folks I'm interviewing have built while in school. Well done!
  8. Nov 11, 2015 #7


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    My recent ones are dual-field (M/E) devices:

    -Thermoelectric refrigerator.
    -Thermoelectric camera cooling system.

    Currently I'm working on a "field box" to act as a consolidated data and power hub for my telescope.
  9. Nov 11, 2015 #8


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    a quadcoptor (from "scratch")

    arduino based breathalyzer

    accelerator system to evaluate roller coaster forces at 6 flags.

    a taser (not recommended)

    voice activated door opener
    -Very buggy, I was talking to a friend, door opened when i didnt want it to, I got hit in the face.
  10. Nov 11, 2015 #9


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  11. Nov 11, 2015 #10


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    a slightly ambiguous question

    by engineered, do you meant totally designed and built from the "ground up"
    or just things that were build from some one else's designs ?

    I will be the first to admit that I am not a designer of anything other than relatively straight forward circuits
    probably 95% of the stuff I have built has been from other designs
    One of my fav sayings has always been ... " give me the parts and the circuit diagram and I will build it for you"

    audio, digital, analog stuff and RF gear
    Like @berkeman, I am an Amateur Radio Op and for RF have built stuff from 10 kHz to 24GHz and a good mix of transceivers across many of the bands some analog freq generation, some digital synthesis
    Homebrew really is what makes ham radio fun :smile: There is great joy to be had from building a transceiver radio then making contacts with it

  12. Nov 12, 2015 #11


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    Wow you guys are awesome! I am very impressed with some of these projects, especially the guitar stuff and video game / old CPU hacking. How do you find the time? After 50 - 60 hours of designing / debugging circuits at work I would rather dig ditches (or almost anything, really) than do any kind of engineering work in my free time. Too many other interests!

    In college I barely had time to sleep and eat and keep up with my courses. There was no way in hell I could have had outside hobby projects. I guess you guys are better at time management than I was.
  13. Nov 12, 2015 #12


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    been there done that too .... see above comments ... and during that time, my home interests took a back seat and neglected a bit
    can be a real juggling act mixing family, hobbies and study :smile:

    over the last 4 yrs, my hobby electronics, particularly the ham radio construction, has again taken a back seat
    Working full time for a company, also have my own electronics manufacturing business that I operate from home
    and also spending a lot of time and money building up my photography activities .... never a dull moment haha

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