This web site is a collection of my "projects" and discoveries in the world of electronics. I originally created it to provide support for constructional projects of mine that were published in Silicon Chip magazine and it has grown from there. There is so much useful information on the Internet that I feel that it is important to contribute back, so I hope that this web site also helps do that.
In my early days I started on a career in electronics but I became sidetracked. First into marketing, then as a UNIX specialist and finally as a consultant specialising in the management of IT centres (as you would find in banks and large corporations).
When I retired early a few years ago I went back to electronics more as a hobby and I was amazed at the progress since I left the field. For example, you can now buy the processing core of a mini computer of the 90’s in a single chip that costs less than $10.
I always liked programming and, as a consequence, most of my projects are based on a microcontroller. Writing software for them is a complete experience as you are able get up close and personal with the hardware and your software is in full control of everything. This is different from higher level platforms such as the PC where you are dependent on libraries, device drivers and an operating system that have been written by others and contain many mysterious bugs and undocumented “features” that will trip you up.
Mostly I use the Microchip PIC family of microcontrollers but that is only because I started off with them and have accumulated the tools to work with them (compilers, programmers/debuggers, etc). I have experimented with other families (for example the Atmel AVR series) but generally they all do the same thing and have similar capabilities so I have not had a great incentive to change.
My programming language of choice is C. I got started with it in 1977 (a few years after it first appeared) so it is very familiar to me. It is ideally suited to the microcontroller as it makes it easy to manipulate the hardware in a transparent fashion. In my time I have also used assembler, C++, Pascal, Fortran, COBOL, and a host of other programming languages on PCs and mini computers but I always come back to C.
When writing for the PC I prefer Microsoft’s Visual Basic but I am stuck in a time warp with version 5 that is about 18 years old. I recently tried Visual Basic 2008 but Microsoft have so screwed up the language and implementation that I gave up on it. So, a long term project for me is to switch to something like Real Studio which, on first examination, looks as if it could be the ideal solution.
I live in the suburb of Kensington in Perth, Western Australia. Perth is a long way from anywhere (the nearest similar sized city is 2,700Km or 4 days driving) but the climate is wonderful, the lifestyle is easy and the city is modern. With the wonders of the Internet and FedEx the world is a much smaller place now.