“Cracking Contraptions”

Last three evenings of mine were utilised (yes, not just spent) in doing something interesting, so I thought of sharing the experience. The outcome was not cent-percent what I had originally planned, but I would say I could achieve eighty percent of the task I had set out for.
I am so keen on sharing this, because after a long time I could get back to things which I loved to do as a kid (and beyond)….which somehow got lost in the oblivion, mostly because I’ve always had so varied interests that it’s difficult to pursue each of them.
Anyways, enough of groundwork, let’s get to the story.

So here goes:
It all started many many years ago, a kid was always interested in electronics — although he didn’t understand the circuits or any of its components, but he was good at breaking things and observing it. By seventh standard he had a full set of ‘electronics repairing kit’ with him. It had a Soldering Iron (a must-have), set of tiny and tiny-tiny screw drivers — enough to break into any kind of electronic gadget — some old resistors, some DC bulbs (which he’d flicked from his dad’s LML Vespa), a LML Vespa beeper (the thing that beeps when you switch the indicator button). He also had a collection of DC motors of various kinds, and voltage ranges. He was particularly fond of multi-voltage adapters because they helped him test everything with different voltages and see its effect. The only thing he had always longed for, and couldn’t ever get was a multi-meter.
(OK enough of blabberring in 3rd person)

I was very fond of the beeper I had flicked from Dad’s Vespa. I used it to make some games, which worked on the basic principle of a circuit getting complete and the beeper going off. One day Mom got me a dynamo (after much pleading and begging) and I was on top of the world. Within the next few months that dynamo was being used for something totally different than its original purpose (a hopeless headlamp for the bicycle). I used the Vespa beeper and concealed it under the seat of my bicycle, I grounded it below the seat itself, and I thought it’d be so cool to show everyone that my bicycle had a horn (that meekly beep). Then I took the other wire, and put it in the dynamo, and grounded the circuit on the body itself. The other wire I took upto the handle and the beeper used to go of whenever I touched the wire on the handle, because of the circuit completing.

I thought I had the coolest bike ever!!

It so happened one day that it was drizzling, and I was acting cool, and I had wrapped the wire in my thumb, and was riding at a high speed, because a higher voltage would give out a louder beep — I touched the wire on the handle bar, and there was a small spark, and a voltage of ~12V DC, went around my body. It was a very small current, but it was enough to make realize, that OK, maybe naked wires, and a current, and rain were not conducive to ride a bike. ๐Ÿ™‚

Few years later, I, and as nutty a friend had realized that we’re crazy about music, but both of us didn’t have anything to “play it loud”. We, in consultation with a friend, who owned an electronics-cum-music shop and had a diploma in electronics, made an amplifier — good enough to shake our house: We didn’t have a PCB (for an amplifier), and were on a shoestring budget. The only thing we did have was the ‘electronics repairing kit’ and a lot of yearning for loud music.
We got a simple circuit mesh, and the other components as suggested by our electronics-guru friend. However since he had a shop to take care of, he used to draw us a circuit diagram and a lot was left upon us to discover and do on our own. We used a simple copper wire to create the base circuit, and soldered all the components. The IC that we used was a very basic — a mono-amplifier one. After about a month of fiddling, the amplifier come out to be a fairly decent one. It even had a bass and treble control. I got a good enough six-inch subwoofer and a tweeter for about Rs. 200. Later on, we kept on improvising on the amplifier, and after few months it started to resemble the amplifier that pan-wallahs keep (with lots of dancing LEDs and what not!).
Much later, we had a carpenter working in our house and I finally got a decent hard-board casing made for the woofer. I sealed it with M-seal.
That amplifier stayed with me for the rest of the time I was at home, and I loved it — it was one of my biggest feats as kid, and I was proud of it.
Later on, I never got the chance or motivation to work upon any other Cracking Contraption, but the longing remained. And always will! ๐Ÿ™‚

The rest of the text qualifies to be separately posted on ‘the other’ journal. Faint-hearted may discontinue here. ๐Ÿ™‚
[15 years later]

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