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April 19, 2009
by mcai8sh4
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Ok, this is purely of interest to me, but I'm sure others would like to know who's who. I'm proposing a thread where everyone can give a little information about themselves (if they wish) and where new members can introduce themselves. To get the ball rolling, I'll start...

My real names Steve, I live just outside Manchester in the North West of England. I'm 30 years old with a mental age of about 3! IRL I run a small company developing products in fluoropolymers for use in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

I've been a geek all my life, everything I had as a child was taken in pieces to see how it worked.

I went to university at UMIST in Manchester, studying Software Engineering - sadly since leaving uni and working in my current business, I've forgot most of the things I learnt. The Nerdkit has reinvoked the passion for C programming that I once had.

Aside from computers, I have a love of music. I play several instruments and constantly have music playing whilst I'm on the computer.

Beer is my friend, my social life revolves around going out with mates and having a cheeky pint or two.

I could waffle on in more detail, but I'm sure no-one really needs to know any of the rest.

I'll happily help anyone if I can, but sadly I feel I may learn more being here, than I will teach people.

Now it's your turn....

(Staff don't need to get involved, you already have an about page!)

April 19, 2009
by n3ueaEMTP
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OK, I'll bite.

My name is Chris & I live in a small town called Manheim in Lancaster County Pennsylvania. I've had an interest in computers since my parents bought a Commodore 64 one year for Christmas. Like Steve, I've always had an interest in electronics & most of my toys that had a battery ended up in pieces.

I have no formal education in electronics or computers; I work in the medical field as a paramedic. I did spend a few years working as an electricians helper for about two years after high school.

As we all know, need is the mother of invention & I needed a way to wake up quickly in the middle of the night for ambulance calls. To that end, I used a 555 timer to develop a circuit that sounded a peizo buzzer & turned on a light when an ambulance call alert was received. after a while, friends started to want a system of their own. Those friends than wanted their system to do other things (open garage doors, etc.). Initially I had no idea how to accomplish these tasks until I came across the NerdKits website.

So far, everything I have learned about microcontrollers & the C programming language is from the NerdKit staff ( and NerdKits guide) & "Absolute Beginner's Guide to C" which makes me the #1 n00b on this forum.

So, that's enough about me, who's next?

Chris B.

April 19, 2009
by wayward
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Pass the baton, Chris, I'll take over.

My name is Zoran and I live in Bloomington, Indiana, U.S.A. I hail from the beautiful, if fool-ridden, country of Serbia (that used to be a part of Yugoslavia for those of you who remember, and no, it never was a part of the USSR ;) ). I came here to work as a programmer at the psychology department, Indiana University. At 11, I already had electronics as a hobby, but I hardly understood what was going on; I knew what individual components did — transistors, capacitors, resistors, etc. — and I could build a circuit according to the schematic, but didn't know any math or physics behind it. Luckily, at that point I got my hands on a small book about BASIC, learned how to write simple programs in it, and began pestering my father to buy me a computer. The good man yielded after only two years of incessant yapping from his younger son, and in 1991, at 13 years of age, I got a PC XT. One of the later models in that line. 8088-based. 640KB RAM. Hercules graphics. 32MB hard disk! Etc. I was happy and immediately began to type in my BASIC programs. (Of course they didn't work.)

(fast-forward some 17 years, give or take)

After having spent the best years of my young life in a darkened room lit only by the cathode ray tube (you get the picture) and having taught several courses in data structures, algorithms, programming paradigms and languages at a couple of institutions back home, I came to the States to work as a programmer. Enter fast Internet, enter Slashdot, and on Slashdot a post about NerdKits. I recalled my earliest childhood crush in an instant (no, Vesna, sorry but that ain't you, electronics beat you there) and ordered one.

The story continues on your local forum threads.

See you all there,

best, Zoran :)

April 20, 2009
by ranger
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...I think I'm right behind Chris as #2 n00b. This is my first experience with an MCU that doesn't involve a hammer.

Seriously. My [older] brother was the engineer, he'd tear his toys (and mine) apart, usually not putting them back together. I got some amusement from seeing what shapes I could bang the parts into.

Anyways, my actual name is Luke, but due to star wars (no, I will NOT use the force), I've picked up the nickname Ranger and it stuck. I live in a smallish town in NH, barely within the high speed internet coverage area.

I'm about to "graduate" from "homeschool highschool". My nerdkit is considering "computer science"... I think? Anyways, I got tired of just working with HTML/CSS/PHP/MySQL/JS(AJAX), and when I saw the slashdot article...

April 22, 2009
by Kevin
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Hi All my name is Kevin and I live in Massachusetts about 20 miles north of Boston.

Although I have a fair amount of electronics experience, this is my first experience with micro controllers. A few years ago back I was an Electronic Technician in the US Navy. I maintained SATCOM transceivers and the associated multiplexers. I also worked on RADAR equipment and maintained the shipboard servers and LAN. When I got out of the Navy I began concentrating in IT - Network Administration. I always kept tinkering with electronics and I have done a fair amount of work with PLCs and process controllers. I always had an interest in micro controllers and I saw the Nerd Kit as a good way to "get my feet wet".

I am currently building the Marquee.

April 25, 2009
by digiassn
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I think I follow Kevin in that I'm not a n00b, but haven't ever worked with micros :)

My name is John. I am from San Antonio, Tx and I am a software consultant specializing in Business Intelligence and e-Commerce. I am the author of "Practical Data Analysis and Reporting with BIRT", and I have a good history of presenting and teaching programming and programming related courses, with topics including but not limited to Java, C/C++, Pascal, Assembly, reporting, data structures, program logic and design, and software engineering lifecycles.

I started when I was around 11 by getting into playing computer games on my fathers PC. I think I learned everything anyone would ever need to know about PC IRQ's and memory addressing from last minutes fixes to get deathmatch games going in Doom (if you remember those days, nothing like trying to dial a modem only to have some IRQ conflict at the last moment). Ever since I was hooked on electronics and programming. I taught myself programming by picking up two books on Pascal programming (the de-facto standard at the time, next to C) and program logic and design, and read them back to back, doing all exercises in a 2 night marathon session when I was 14. I also taught myself electronics initially by picking up the timeless "Getting Started in Electronics" from Radio Shack, and building several circuits from a small radio transmitter to several electronic gadgets of dubious intent after getting involved with the underground BBS scene.

I also took several electronics and computer science courses in high school and college, worked in a TV/VCR repair shop, and served as a production engineer, electronics technician and programmer for the Pink Floyd laser light show (LaserSpectacular) which is where most of my electronics background comes from.

I took several years off to focus on a career in programming, ending up as a consultant. I came across the Valentines DIY post on Slashdot, and got really fascinated by building circuits with microcontrollers. I ordered my first NerdKit and built my wife a card based on that design (which, by the way, chicks dig crafty type stuff, don't let anyone tell you otherwise ;) ). Since then, I've built several circuits based on the basic Nerdkit circuit, including a parallel port driver, an interface to a really obscure VFD display device, and a Nixie tube alarm clock (older electronics guys should remember Nixie tubes). I'll post schematics and tutorials when the box designs are completed :)

Outside of that, I am crazy for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (have to be crazy to let people choke and try to break your arms), am an avid runner (run about 3-10 miles a day) and I play video games :)

April 27, 2009
by Heimy
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Next in the queue...

My name is Ricardo and I come from Gran Canaria, a Spanish island in front of Morocco's coast :P (belonging to the Canary Islands)

I started the whole geek-think quite early, as anyone in here, I guess, and by 10 I had pestered my mother to buy me a computer (quite similar to wayward's, only without a hard drive!). After a few years of tinkering (BASIC, Pascal, C, assambler...) and knowing the innards of my computer I wanted to enroll on a Computer Science degree, but as they didn't offer that here in Spain on undergraduate levels, so I got myself a degree in Computer Engineering (and my background served me well).

After a number of years of working on the software design/consultancy I moved to an even smaller island (also in the Canaries) to work as a system manager on an astronomical observatory, position that I'm enjoying quite a lot! I spend most my days tinkering with servers and programming a lot of Python and some C/C++ (mainly to interface Python with something else) It has also made my electronics-spot to start itching after a number of years of neglecting it (I like it quite a lot, but at college I didn't pay much attention to the analogics...), so I bought a NerdKit to start playing with it. Now I also own an Arduino and I'm getting also some bigger things (ARM7s).

May 01, 2009
by Pheryllt
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Greetings everyone,

I guess I'll play along with the bare your soul to the board game.

Names David, I live in RI but grew up in MA. Studied electronics in H.S. (Blue Hills) and dreamed of going to MIT. (Dreams die hard) I worked in computer repair for 8 months or so just out of high school and was bored to tears with board lvl replacement and diagnostics. (not to mention the pay was horribad) Went on to do many different jobs in many different fields but always longing for a return to my 1st love.

Fast forward to now, I'm 38, working as a cabinetmaker/odd jobs in slow times and determined to reclaim my glory days with something other than video games. Saw info on the nerd kits, read up a bit on it and decided to dive in. I have no real programming experience (unless you count Basic, line numbers and all in jh and hs) and never played with MC's or any programmable logic for that matter.

Looking forward to the learning process, and maybe it will even prompt me to continue my edumacation for real.

May 10, 2009
by mongo
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Hey, might as well join in here. Real name is Dave. I am probably the oldest guy here. I have been in the electronics industry since about 1975 professionally, though I started learning it back in 1963 with basic electricity. I stayed in the industry for many years but the bottom dropped out and it seemed that technicians were a dime a dozen. That was about 1980 I guess. I have remained busy tinkering and stuff over the years and tried to stay current but things began to move too fast to keep up. My first computer was an HP Mini, I think it was a 4 bit machine and the size of a refrigerator. The 1MB hard drive looked just like a washing machine and it also had a tape drive for the main subroutines that were not included in the paper punch tape programs. Been building them ever since, until it got cheaper to just go out and buy one.

Since '80, I have been primarily an industrial maintenance engineer and mechanic but the early background was a major bonus when it comes to troubleshooting industrial equipment.

Now that I have a little more off-time, I thought I would get reacquainted with the newer stuff. I thought that putting these little processors to use some how, starting with a solar/wind power control system.

May 24, 2009
by andy_b1986
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Hey im andy.

Relatively new to C programming and love it!. Im at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication studying Broadcast Engineering. My final year project is to create a motion tracking pan and tilt head. This is where my nerdkit comes in as i will be trying to use the servo control rc_car project that nerdkits provide to control the head. My website is KamtraK which has images of the final design which works by way of remote control.

The software I am using is an opencv face recognition software project which i have customized to output x and y coordinates of the circle it generates when a face is near by. These coordinates are then put into an algorithm I created which displays the voltages needed in order for the head to move in that direction. These numbers need to be sent to the nerdkit where the PWM process will happen. I am having difficulties with this at the moment as I cant get the nerdkit to run from my programme i have been using terminal to control it as a test from the servosquirter tutorial. So if anyone knows how to communicate with a nerdkit through xcode in c++ on a mac then Im all ears!!

Been working in Broadcasting for 6 years as an engineer on the channel4racing and am keen to go into the research and development or systems integration field. Anyway have a look at my blog tell me what ya think, and any pointers would be amazing! cheers

December 06, 2009
by gerrit
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Unbelievable, no new members since May 24? :) I was just browsing the forums and found this thread, so I thought I'd add a brief post about myself as well.

My name is Gerrit and I'm from Germany currently living in Baltimore, MD. I first got involved in basic electronics a little prior to the Commodore 64 in the 80s, and finished high school with a focus in electronics. It was a relatively new program in which they shared two semesters with industry (4 days a week) and school classes (2 days a week), and then two semesters of classes only. Lots of theory and mechanical work, but not a lot of practical, applied electronics. In the following years I focused on mechanics and technical drawing, got involved in bbs-systems, fidonet, zerberus and usenet in the early 90s, then web-design and development in the mid 90s, worked for an ad/web-agency, then decided to continue to study computer science in media in Furtwangen (Black Forest). Still focused on web and client-/server-based systems, I mostly worked with PHP, Java, C++ at that time, then graduated in 2002 and was back in the real world trying to catch up with everything I missed outside of academia. In 2003 I moved to Baltimore and worked as a graphic designer first, now moving back into a web-development role again.

Electronics are not really so much part of my professional life anymore and just a hobby. I never programmed microcontrollers, but it's been something I always wanted to learn about. I'm really glad I found a great introduction with the Nerdkits that not only managed to refresh my memory but also show me things I didn't know before. I want to learn more about physics, signal processing, microcontrollers, embedded systems, about how electronics we use (and program) on a daily basis works under the hood, how to build and perhaps repurpose electronic devices... and so much more. Eventually I also want to take some classes again if time and money allow.

And that's how my journey led me to Nerdkits :)

December 07, 2009
by NK_EK
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Hi, my name is Ernest and I'm from Nelspruit, Mpumalanga in South Africa.

I've always been interested in computers - mostly software - and spent a lot of time programming - mostly in pascal, C and later in Visual Basic.

I got my B.Com degree in Informatics ('96) and started a job in network administration. Been doing that since.

I was never really that interested in the nitty-gritty of electronics, but I do have a love for model trains and started looking at systems to use in that field.

It's actually during a search in this regard that I stumbled onto the NerdKits (don't ask me what I searched for) and I haven't looked back since. I've managed to damage my first MCU (still usable, but only for experimenting / testing), but as they say: "no pain, no gain" (or something to that effect).

Anyway, hope to start my LED Array soon and from there on out, the sky's the limit...

December 07, 2009
by Rick_S
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Well, I figure maybe since people are giving their history, I'll give a bit of mine. My name is Rick (probably guessed that based on my User-Name). I live in Northwest Indiana about 70 miles from Chicago Illinois, USA.

I'm 44yrs old and began my journey in the late 70's early 80's. I was always a tinkerer and often disassembled my toys to see what made them work. I collected "junk" electronics (and still do) and could often be found trying to make something do other than what it was originally intended.

All my electronics knowledge has come from books and has been self taught other than 1 semester at Devry University in 1984.

I began with computers in high school when I purchased my 1st computer (1982). I taught myself BASIC programming with that. From there I progressed through several different variations of BASIC (GW-Basic, Quick-Basic, Visual Basic for DOS). I dabbled with Pascal, and C But hadn't touched any of them until about a year ago when I discovered micro-controllers.

The micro-controllers have merged my love for electronics with my enjoyment of programming and my non stop need to learn.

If you had told me a year ago I'd be doing today what I am in this hobby, I'd have never believed it. I'm so thankful to the Nerdkit guys for the well written guide, and EXCELLENT tutorial videos. They have helped me get over my 1st hurdle and make the move into C.

I'm looking forward to bringing more of my projects here and am even more excited about seeing some of everyone elses projects.

I know I have Lots ahead of me and hope to continue to grow and develop my knowledge and skills.

I'm on the forums often so I'm sure you'll be seeing me. :)


December 08, 2009
by Capt
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Haven't seen this topic before!

Fredrik on my 20 year, from norway. Always had a good eye to electronic/electricity. Am a student/Apprentice as an electrician.


December 18, 2009
by 59zoocat
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Howdy from Montana, USA! I graduated Industrial Electronics in 1985. Have been working in the adult gaming industry since 1987. In school I loathed assembly language programming so when I stumbled across Nerdkits it was really a breath of fresh air. I taught myself C and C++ in the early '90s but have forgotten much of it. I always seemed to hit a brick wall when it came to "Inheritance and Polymorphism". The past few years I've dabbled in the 'BSD' based operating systems learning networking and system administration.


December 23, 2009
by banerjen
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Hi everybody,

I'm Nandan from Calcutta, India. Guess I'm the odd one out here. Well, this is my first post. I read the forums very often and it has helped me a lot in getting things to work with microcontrollers. I'm very much interested in making the LED marquee like many of you all out there.

I'm 18 and am a 2nd year student studying Computer Science at NIT Durgapur, India. I started working with electronics in my 9th grade when with a li'l bit of help from my uncle I got to know the basic functioning of a capacitor and built a blinking neon light using RC circuit. I used the 555 timer IC in my 10th grade to build a dual blinking LED light. My electronics work got temporarily (for a long time) stalled because of the extreme high school pressure and college entrance exam competitions (believe me, the competition in India is way too high).

I started programming in Visual BASIC and I learnt Pascal in the 11th grade (well, not everything). I learnt C and C++ at college and thanks to NerdKits I'm now finding Python quite nice. I simply love the NerdKits and the support it has given me.

And, lastly thanks to you all. Because of you all, I am continuously being able to grasp the microcontroller functions more effectively. :) :)


December 23, 2009
by Rick_S
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Welcome Nandan! Don't feel like the odd one out, there are people from all walks of life on here. Young, old, and from all sides of the planet. Diversity and different ideas helps us all grow.

If you are planning on building an led display, there are several threads on the forum discussing that project. (Including a few of mine :D )

As always, if there are any problems we can help with, there is almost always someone here with the knowledge and/or experience to help.


December 23, 2009
by Farmerjoecoledge
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Hey Rick how did you know I was old? I only told you I got "too many" gray hairs, ha ha.

Hi, I'm Grant from Edmonton Alberta Canada.

I got my first comp in Nov2006 and in Dec2007 the usb ports quit. I suppose you could say that's when my real interest in what makes these things tick started. At first I thought a driver was hardware. I used my new Acer for about another 2mo's when one day it just wouldn't start anymore, the mother board died. I bought a second hand Dell for 120.00 and it still runs like a top. (besides the gcc, it still don't work)

I was a woodworker most of my working life, now retired (56) I have lots of time to learn some of this, I'm not in it for money, but you never know I could stumble on something big.

Farmerjoecoledge (high school nick name)

January 11, 2010
by biochemjian
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I'm J, right now I'm in MS; I love electronics and making thing by myself; it's a good kit, till now, it still works fine with me I want to make something awesome like other people did, so I tried my best to learn some basics from nerdkid, its a good website also, I enjoy every minute of it

January 12, 2010
by sd7132
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Hello fellow travelers. My real name is Jeff.

I got started in electronics at the ripe old age of 9 when I reconstructed a color television from parts I found in a junkyard. I’ve been hooked ever since. I detoured away from the electronic side for a number of decades to concentrate on digital communications and computers. Along the way, I picked up a Master’s Degree in Applied Computer Science. I know how to program in several different languages and build both computers and radios with equal vigor; but, don’t possess more than a rudimentary understanding of microcontrollers – which is why I’m here.

I now teach cyber security and find I have enough free time to return to my first love. The fundamentals of electronics haven’t changed in all this time, which is comforting if you think about it. E=IR is holding steady and batteries still go dead at exactly the wrong time. I have some far-fetched ideas about applications for these microcontroller thingies and sincerely look forward to reading about all the other members’ ideas here on the forums – like andy_b1986’s camera panning application, for example.

Enough meandering. Next …


January 12, 2010
by ese
ese's Avatar


My name is Mike.

My YouTube channel is EmptySpaceEnterprise(/s?). I think my selection of favorites is a pretty good indicator of what my head bends toward. "You are what you eat". Or maybe it's "You are what you like to eat".

I'm really enjoying my NerdKits experience. I think I like you folks.;

January 13, 2010
by jastermerrel
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Hey everyone,

My name is Jeramy. I live in good ole Mississippi and am about to finish up pharmacy school. My only previous experience in programming was C++ 11 years ago in high school. I didn't pick up an interest because of lack of physical feedback (light flashing, servo control, etc) from that programming experience. Have looked at other MCU kits in the past, but for some reason I bit for the Nerdkit and now have been sucked into it haha!

I have the led array kit sitting in its box on my desk and am waiting for the weekend so I can put it together.

January 13, 2010
by ecornwell
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Hello Everyone,

My name is Eric and I live in Ohio. I current work as a network admin at my current company but I have a degree in Computer Engineering. I graduated college in 2004 and haven't really touched any electronics since. I just got my Nerdkit and I love it! We had some projects in school that used a Motorola HC11 and had to write assembly to program it. It was one of my favorite classes. I don't really understand the analog world very well and am hoping that the nerdkit will help. I've done a few projects and have really enjoyed myself so far.

January 13, 2010
by justin
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Hi everybody!

My name is Justin, although I'm sure you could figure that out from my username. I am a computer science student in college, currently about halfway through my undergraduate studies.

I started playing with analog electronics when I was 10 or so, and it's been a hobby of mine ever since. By the age of 13 I had discovered computer programming, and that took over for a while as my main interest. Recently I developed an interest in combining electronics and programming, and learning digital electronics with a nerdkit seemed like the perfect way to do that. It's a little different from the kind of programming I'm most used to, but I find it pretty exciting to see the results of my programs in a more tangible way than the usual text output on my monitor. :)


January 14, 2010
by Mike
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Hello, my name is Mike IRL.

I'm old, just so you know.

I have a fair amount of experience with electronics, not much in programming. Can build just about anything, can't program it a lick. But I'll be working on that.

I was an electronics engineering tech. I'm from Oklahoma, but live in Waterloo, Ontario. My son is in Computer engineering at U of Waterloo, first year.

January 14, 2010
by Rick_S
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Hey... We're not old around here... just seasoned! :D

Welcome aboard all...


January 14, 2010
by N3Roaster
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I'm Neal from Racine, WI. I started programming computers at the age of 7 on a machine that in many ways is less capable than the MCU in the kit and just kept going with it, but instead of doing that professionally I decided to drink coffee for a living instead. Still, I apply my programming skills in my work and hope to do the same with all the things that I'm now learning on the hardware side. So far I'm having a lot of fun with this and am glad to have found a place where others are also learning and having fun.

January 14, 2010
by Mike
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Thanks Rick. I'm very well seasoned. Hopefully getting better with age.

January 15, 2010
by Solorbob
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I'll give it a go. My name is Shawn. I live in Bentonville, Arkansas. I am currently employed at a major retailer based here in the data area. I consider myself a backyard tinkerer. I like to build and make things. I've been working in the it field since '94, but not with this type of stuff.


January 15, 2010
by AVRGirl
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Hi All,

My turn I guess. My real name is Barbara and I currently live in Townsville, Queensland, AUSTRALIA. My story reads a lot like Rick_S except I'm a girl and I grew up in the era of sexual discrimination. I even once had a physics teacher say to me "Physics is a boys subject, what are you doing here?" Thankfully my parents didn't subscribe to this line of thinking, which is why today I am an avionics engineer working on anything from a cessna 172 to a Boeing 737.

I'm 46 -I began to play with computers in the late 70's (my dad had an interest) on an old (new then) Sharp MZ700 - load the program by cassette tape and use a tv set as a monitor. I've dabbled with BASIC GWBASIC PASCAL FORTRAN C/C++ but nothing serious as none of my friends were into electronics - in fact no-one I knew was into it. That's still mostly true today, but at least with the internet you can communicate with other like minded people in other countries. So at this point I will say - Thank you to each and everyone of you for showing an interest - I'm not alone with this affliction - and if there is anyone with a nerdkit in Australia, please please contact me.

I was so happy when I found Nerdkits and I have started to get back into programming again although it's been nearly 10 years since I learned C++ at uni. I'm still a little stop/start as I have an active 10 yo son, so my time and concentration is not what it could be.

I have a lot of ideas for things I want to build so I hope to be posting them here when I get prototypes made.

Cheers for now, Barbara

January 15, 2010
by DogmaticVampyre
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Hi All

I thought it was my time to take to the stand and give a little personal info. In the "real" world I'm Mick, a 47 year old kid. My experience in computing went along the Sinclair ZX81, TI44/9A, BBC Model B, Amstrad 1512 route with a quick diversion to the Mac when funds allowed. I was always a hobbyist programmer starting with BASIC and assembler on the Z80 and 6502 (ZX81 and BBC Model B), followed by Visual Basic and PASCAL on the 1512 PC (and a small flirtation with Codewarrior C), all this was some 20 years ago. All this was purely self taught while actually pursuing a career as a Nurse supporting individuals with a Learning Disability. I have no experience in electronics other than learning Ohms Law in Physics.

I saw the Nerdkit whilst looking for a new venture to while away the spare hours, I had an idea in mind to look for a project which would allow me to control some kind of sound to light interface and microcontrollers seemed to fit the bill. I'm looking at developing a LED cube with some kind of interface to music output. Its just an idea of the place I'd like to go.

Although not able to tinker with the kit (its labouring in some UK customs office, I have spent my time reading up on electronic basics and accustomed myself to the Mac Terminal (last time I dabbled in C was with Codewarrior a fully integrated IDE) Terminal sure brought back some memories of the old command line interface.

I'm looking forward to participating in the forums and I already have a stack of questions ready to roll.

I'd just like to thank the Nerdkit Team for their responses to my queries so far.

I look forward to the year ahead


January 15, 2010
by DogmaticVampyre
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Probably should have said I currently reside in Guernsey in the Channel Islands but soon to return to the UK :-)

January 27, 2010
by Keith726
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I'm Keith from New Joisey - I've had my Nerdkit for almost a year, and it has been a great experience!

I'm a 58 year old chemical engineer - yes, we used slide rules then - no electronic calculators. I grew up as computers came of age, we had a big IBM mainframe at college that we programmed with FORTRAN on punched cards which you handed in thru the computer center window (the computer had to be air conditioned), waited several hours for it to run, then after checking your printout, found that you missed a semicolon, and redid the whole process again and again - lots of fun.

I've always been interested in electronics. Back in the late 80s I took a night course in Digital Electronics at a local technical high school - using TTL IC chips: NAND, AND, NOR gates, flip-flops, counters, data distributors, etc. It was amazing. Books like the TTL Cookbook and the CMOS cookbook are great references for that stuff. I wanted to build a clock that uses individual LEDs for each of the seconds, minutes and hours - yes, 132 LEDs. In order to get a 1-second pulse, I used individual counter chips to divide the 60 Hz AC (at 5 volts) down to 1 Hz, then more counters to convert seconds to minutes, then to hours. I had a large protoboard filled with chips. The 5v regulator, with a heat sink, ran so hot that it would burn the skin if you touched it. Oh yeah, I also wanted a "pendulum" of LEDs, strobing back and forth in a custom pattern - all this with individual counters, data distributors, etc.

I also took a night course in the early 90s at a local college on embedded microcontrollers - using assembly language and chips that were erased using ultraviolet light.

Well, that project never got finished - it just got too cumbersome (and too hot - I was going to switch all the chips from TTL to CMOS (much less current), but gave up instead).

Enter the Nerdkit. Here on one chip was all the goodies I need, AND they already wrote the code for a real time clock! WOW! One problem, I didn't know C - so I spent many hours last year learning C from the Net and playing with my Nerdkit. I October I made a digital clock with a fancy display using my Nerdkit, made a case for it (I'm also an avid woodworker) and gave it to my girlfriend, who loves it. I did not use the NK realtime clock code, because it was not accurate enough (see posts under Basic Electronics, clock accuracy), instead, I used a separate chip (Maxim DS1302 Real Time Clock) to do the accurate timekeeping, and use the NK for operating the display and time setting, just polling the DS1302 to get the time. I learned a LOT from that - getting the NK to talk to another chip.

I still have not built the 132 LED clock yet, but now I can do it simply and easily (you know what I mean) with the NK - I'm just getting too lazy to wire and solder all those damned LEDs.

It has been a wonderful experience learning C and learning how to use the NK - it is a very serious tool. The staff at NK are unbelievably helpful - they quickly answer any and all questions, and as all of you have learned, this stuff can be tricky! Thanks again to the staff.

I guess my next adventure will be learning how to make printed circuit boards so that I can make multiples of my projects (maybe for sale?) without all the wiring & soldering. I downloaded Eagle PCB free software for doing schematics and PCB layout, and I'm learning that. I would also like to see forums on practical assembly of electronic projects - I'm using through hole, 3-per pad soldering boards, which work fine, but I need to know how to terminate wires from board to board (connectors, headers, ribbon cable ???) - I tried using solid hookup wire, but several wires came loose from handling during assembly (actually, they broke at the nick in the copper I made using my cheap wire stripper, but I digress). M. Robbins also gave me info on a product called Surfboards which allows you to use surface-mounted chips. That's the kind of info that I'm looking for now - how to take a NK experiment and turn it into a finished product.

It has been a gas (remember, I'm a chemical guy). Thank you NK!

February 15, 2010
by Jon
Jon's Avatar

Hi Everyone,

My name is Jon and I am in WA outside the Seattle area. I'm almost as old as Keith, so I used a slide rule and very early calculators in school. I dabbled with electronics (100-in-1 kit), programming and computers in HS (punched-cards and timeshare over an acoustic coupler @ 110 baud!) and then all through college, sometimes as a paying job, but mainly as a hobby/interest while studying mechanical engineering. As an engineer in those days I did most of my work in archaic languages like FORTRAN and APL. I did a lot of database programming back then too, mostly in dBase II/III/IV. Hobby stuff was almost all in Basic back then.

Skip forward 3 decades interrupted by real jobs and little time for things like this...

I picked up my NerdKit as a way to re-teach myself (modern) programming and to learn what's going on between a PC/Mac and the MCU. I have lots of ideas for practical projects, and I'm learning about CNC at the same time for use in my home shop. Ultimately I'd like to learn to control stepper and servo motors to do all sorts of mechanical things with them via software and MCUs.

Looking forward to a lot of learning as I try to get up to speed here,


February 15, 2010
by mongo
mongo's Avatar

Looks like there are a few of us 'old-timers' here re-educating ourselves in the newfangled ways...

February 16, 2010
by Rick_S
Rick_S's Avatar

For once being in my mid 40's doesn't seem so old! :)

August 31, 2010
by AreOhhEnn
AreOhhEnn's Avatar

So no new posts since Feb?

Well, cool. My name is Ron and I'm 37 years old (I still don't quite believe it even as I type it out). I was the kid who always took things apart... and old tape recorder, telephones, radios. Half the time I'd get them back together just fine. I did mostly when I was between 9 and 11 years old. I still wonder why my mom allowed me to use razor blades to strip wires at that age.... I was the kid with a Radio Shack battery club card and had one of their 50 in 1 electronics kits. I didn't quite understand all that was going on but enjoyed experimenting. I had a VIC-20 and tape drive that I'd bought with my allowance I'd saved up for months. I rigged up a piezo and mercury switch with a battery to my desk in 6th grade (the old-school ones that you lifted up to top). I didn't like people getting into my stuff even then :) I was also fascinated by RC cars and the old Stomper 4X4 trucks that were all the rage for little boys at one time. I figured out how to modify it to 2WD by messing with the gears.

So where does that lead me? After losing my tinkering interests into high school and college (where I did mechanical engineering for a year before I switched to the business school) I began to work PT for Sears Automotive while in school. I got into cars. Not so much a gear-head but more like fixing stuff and/or figuring out how things work and interact with one another. Now I'm the guy that likes to get my hands into things tangible which explains why I did well in my mechanical engineering classes where I could put my hands on stuff rather than my required pascal programming class that just bored me.

It all comes together now IRL somehow in what I do now. I'm a car audio installer. It's never just been car audio in the industry. That's just it's high profile face. I do vehicle security, factory A/V integration, convenience items, bluetooth integration, iPod integration and my little niche in my shop, troubleshooting. I love it since I get to mess with other people's cars in the same way I used to take apart my Stomper 4X4s. My electronics experience has been all hands-on, on the job. Give me relays, some wire, capacitors, resistors, diodes and I can make your car do weird stuff. MCUs... not so much. Nerdkits is just the next logical step! I look forward to figuring out how to do more cool stuff in other people's cars, and maybe even mine.

Sorry for the long intro but I'll make it up to you all by offering my knowledge about most vehicle electrical systems if you have some idea for something you want to do with your vehicle (LED lighting that fades in and out, adding automatic window roll up and down, retaining power to your cigarette lighter plugs after the key has been turned off for a timed period or until you open your door). There is a reason they've called me WikiRon at work :) Wow, now I've got too many ideas. Time to play!

Thanks bearing with me! ~Ron

September 04, 2010
by sporkalicious
sporkalicious's Avatar

I guess I'll keep this going, my name is Tanner, I'm 22, currently unemployed and living in my mom's basement in southern California (so cliche I know). I bought a nerdkit after having gone through one of the "Radioshack electronics learning labs" and feeling like I had just read an ancient history book(though admitedly I'm glad I did, should prove extremely useful knowing how to make analog circuitry as well). I'm a computer nut by heart but have no programming experience aside from the TI-83 calculator(made a screensaver-esque program, a "Drug-wars" clone game, and a rather lengthy program of menus and equations that I sold for $20 to nearly everyone in geometry, that was capable of doing almost every problem on the test by simply choosing the one that looked similar from the menu and inputing some variables). My other passion in life is cars, and i have a dream of someday designing, and building my own fully electric VW-beetle(hopefully including designing/building/programming the entire thing myself) the biggest reason i enjoy my nerdkit, as well as complex analog circuitry, is the ability to build anything i want fairly affordably, with complete control over exactly how every aspect of it works, and use high quality long lasting components (I think a sprinkler timer is going to have to be a project for the near future, lol, a new control system for my dishwasher would be nice too, doesn't seem to rinse long enough for my liking)

May 10, 2011
by grs
grs's Avatar

Hi all!

I've been fussing with the startlingly provocative NerdKits for bit or so now. Although I maintain constant vigilance on the forums, I've not yet felt comfortable jumping into a discussion. Without a doubt, though, not only is the NerdKits team exemplary in all they do, I have concluded that the forums represent one of the most insightful, tasteful, gracious, and informative forums on the net. I have had numerous occasions when support was crucial to my ongoing investigations into the NerdKits; each time I cried for help from the NerdKits team, my support needs were handled rapidly,courteously,and in a manner that promotes intuitive education. Mike and Humberto are the best!

I've struggled (as so many seem to do) to balance time with learning. I feel confident with unraveling the hardware; however, the programming has tested my determination and patience! Even so, I continue making baby-step progress and hope to soon conjure up the courage to jump into one of the technical discussions.

A personal and huge thanks to all who have shared their wisdom, insight, and patience with others through the forums. You all ROCK!

By the way, new Library will indeed be an invaluable service; many kudos to all who participated in its creation!


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