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Customer Testimonials » NerdKits: On the verge of expanding horizons in digital electronics

July 26, 2011
by lcruz007
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Hello everyone in the Nerdkits forums!

It's a pleasure for me to address to you these few words of excitement and personal reward because a simple decision I made on January 2009. After a couple of years of programming experience, as a sophomore in High School, I began to venture in the digital electronics world. Posterior an extensive research I made about microprocessors and embedded systems, I knew that due to my lack of experience on this subject, I'd have to buy a beginner's kit or something similar. I found the perfect learning kit in digital electronics on Amazon, called “NerdKits”, I ended up buying the kit on January 20, 2009. That decision not only made me choose my future career, but changed the course of my life in the following years.

Video games have always been part of my life, but it wasn't until I began to study game programming that I acquired a strong interest in the video game development. As a junior in high school, when I was 16 years old, I began to combine my game programming experience and digital electronics to build a video game system. It was a hard task, but I wouldn't give up despite the scarcity of resources and the lack of support on this field in my country, Honduras. The project began as a wireless infrared controller, able to send three different commands to a remote station by pressing buttons that eventually included an embedded accelerometer to add the feature of being sensitive to motion. I didn't posses any experience whatsoever of transmitting data electromagnetically, however, my perseverance took me to invent the code, the circuit and the algorithms from scratch with just a breadboard and a handful of electronic components. Same happened with the rest of the video game system, I had to study how to send data to a NTSC TV from scratch, for both monochromatic composite video and monaural sound. By finishing the whole project, I had officially developed the first video game system in my country, consequently taking some attention from the media; therefore, being published in local newspapers, local TV shows, US periodicals such as “MAKE Magazine” and received invitations to address speeches about my accomplishment and invitations to tech events.

“Where am I heading now?” I asked myself, I didn't have the answer for that question. However, in pursue of the American dream and better opportunities in my future career, I moved to Colorado Springs, CO, USA with my parents' support and financial sacrifice in order to finish my senior year of high school. While devoting part of my time at school keeping my good grades, I also worked in many different electronic projects to enrich my knowledge on this field when I had free time. A stronger motivation was going to make me work on a new project when I met one of my classmates that was tetraplegic. Meeting him, and hearing about some testimonies of people with similar illnesses, made me realize that a lot of people with disabilities doesn't have access to technology that help them overcome communication problems just because those systems are way too expensive.

Combining some ideas I had for previous projects, and the motivation I had to help people with disabilities in my country and the whole world made me work hard enough to finish my first stable version of a Human-Computer Interface that would provide the user the ability to communicate with other people and interact with the computer using just their eyes. The monitoring system of bioelectrical signals I developed, could be built with as little as two hundred US dollars, while other similar biomedical systems available could cost a minimum of ten thousand dollars. I'm currently doing some other improvements such as conformable interfaces like glasses, instead of invasive skin electrodes.

The reliability, stability, and the practical use of my project is wonderful, considering it is still the prototype version. That made my mind up to compete in the regional science fair in Colorado Springs, receiving the first place in the senior category from the Armed Forces of Communication and Electronics (AFCEA) and other awards, as well as qualifying to compete in the Colorado State Science Fair on April 7th 2011 where I received partial scholarships, certificates from the US Army and other awards. That same month, I received an email from the vice president from the sales department of INTEROP inviting me to be an exhibitor in that prestigious annually technology expo in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 10-12, 2011, with a granted booth space of a value of $6,600. Attending that event, made me the first high school student exhibitor in the history of that expo, the first Honduran exhibitor in that expo, and probably the youngest entrepreneur with my own company exhibiting my projects next to huge companies such as Microsoft, Dell, HP, Cisco etc.

I am now 18 years old, and I just graduated from High School. I'm currently looking for scholarships to study electronics engineering in the US, and looking forward to commercialize my “Eye-detection System” by looking for fundings and sponsors in order to help people with disabilities in my country and other parts of the world, specially developing countries. My project has again taken the attention of the media (specially because of young age as a developer), even CNN in Spanish is going to transmit something about me and my project in the following days, and possibly MAKE magazine is going to publish an article about this project on January 2012.

I know as a fact that this is only the beginning of my journey and endeavors, as I am always doing new projects to improve my engineering skills, and thinking about new ideas that can change people's lives for good. But that wouldn't be possible if it wasn't for the decision I made on 2009 of buying my first “Nerdkits kit” due to their informative materials, the support of the NerdKits Team, and even some of their donations. Hence, Nerdkits will not only enhance your engineering abilities and knowledge, but will also widen your horizons in your career.

Some pictures of the expo at Las Vegas: http://img109.imageshack.us/img109/6977/dsc03093q.jpg http://img687.imageshack.us/img687/3234/dsc03104l.jpg http://img89.imageshack.us/img89/5379/dsc03123d.jpg

Thanks for reading about how NERDKITS changed my path in life, and how it is changing the way I see the engineering field now. I hope this serves as an example for other people of my age! =)

Luis Cruz

For videos, more information about my projects and donations for my education visit my website at: www.intelsath.com

July 30, 2011
by mongo
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Luis, You are just about 70 miles or so south of me now. (I am in Denver). Electronics has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember but I had to figure it all out on my own. It wasn't until a year ago when I finally had the opportunity to go for the degree that everybody thought I already had 30 years ago. Best of luck, you have taken a really big step forward already, just in your own experiments.

It reminds me of things I remember doing all over again. I am now in the second year of school and should have my associates degree in just a couple of months. I haven't decided yet if I'll go for the bachelors yet, we'll cross that bridge when it comes up. Since I am also learning the new technologies along with the old stuff coming back into play, I have a better chance at getting through that other guys in my age group, if they were jumping in cold, with no past experience.

July 30, 2011
by dgikuljot
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Hey Lcruz007 and Mongo, your guys stories and words are great motivation for me and i believe for many other people. I am also a senior in high school and have been interested in electronics since i was in first grade. The only problem i had was that i didnt have the resources to learn as my parents had no experience in technology. i would just work with components i scraped from old electronics. I have just recently gotten into digital electronics and i hope i will see some great success just like you guys. Thanks for the motivation. :)

July 31, 2011
by mongo
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That's the same way I started... At around 8 years old or so, I scavenged a bunch of parts from an old car radio. (one of the first that wasn't tubes). I had no idea what the parts did at the time but by the time I was 12 years old, I had the basics figured out. At 13, I built a guitar amp for my little acoustic guitar. Microphone in the body and the amp and speaker in a box that also contained the 9V battery.

Once you get the concepts, it starts to fall together.

It wasn't until I was almost done with high school that I got into the digital stuff. That's a whole different thing entirely and I often wonder why they are always grouped together as a single field. To me, electronics is transistors, resistors, capacitors and other discrete components assembled to perform a function.

Digital is a group of functions already made, and just get put together in different ways. Kind of a second level from the roots. Either way, I still enjoy playing with it.

The cool part is that the two aspects blend together to make something purposeful.

July 31, 2011
by missle3944
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I immediately got interested in electronics and the digital side of things the minute I opened my Nerdkit Christmas present from my dad. I knew instantly the sec I saw every discrete component I would love this forever. I'm going to be a sophomore in high school and I already want to become an electrical engineer. I know I have only skimmed the surface but it is really nice to know how things work and how I can have sophisticated conversations with other people about technology. It is also fun to tell someone what you are doing with a microcontroller and use all of the lingo and jargin and their face is just completely glazed over with confusion. I like the combo of programming and seeing a phyiscal outcome of it. I also really enjoy the troubleshooting sometimes, but it can be a pain in the buuttt!!!

-missle3944

July 31, 2011
by dgikuljot
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@Missle3944 i am glad to know there are other people from my age group on here. Most of the kids from our age group think knowing technical info is too "nerdy", and that life is all about being "Cool" and doing drugs. It is nice to know that some of us still have motivation to keep our future running. Pretty soon it will be our turn to take over in developement of the next gen technology.

i was on this other forum for a while www.thegamecreators.com, which deals with game programming and stuff and over their in the forums we had one thread going which was a completly open source project for the whole community to pitch in and develop a game. We should really have an open source electronics project as a thread on these forums, i think it would be a good way to learn different engineering and programming styles of different people from our "Nerd" community, and it would really give us that sense/ feeling of a community. What do you guys think.

August 01, 2011
by missle3944
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@dgikuljot,

I feel the same ,too. People our age don't have any knowledge about electronics or anything. It is really funny seeing people act all "cool" and crap but in the end its all the same Bullcrap with them. Also nerdkits is a great hobby that you can always comeback to. We possibly could have a community project together. I dont know how we would build the physical end but we could all contribute to the software end and just send it to someone who has the right parts for it. You might want to hit up Rick or Ralph or Noter becuase they have some good ideas and good info for it possibly. Hope this helps to all!

-missle3944

August 02, 2011
by Ralphxyz
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I need community help on my Water Curtain.

I will see it working later on this afternoon.

I need button routines, EEPROM coding, PC to mcu interface and who knows what else.

I have ideas and concepts but they all need to be discussed and someone needs to write up the code.

This project also might have commercial values I am picturing renting it out for parties , how cool would that be,

especially if you could text a message on your cell phone and see it appear on the Water Curtain.

Drop me a note on my Water Curtain thread if you would like to get involved.

Ralph

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