Wednesday, March 8 2006
One of the things people commonly do once they've been liberated by the relative financial flexibility of their adulthoods is to acquire all the things they were denied as children. Of course, not everyone is financially liberated by their adulthoods. I myself didn't feel liberated until I was in my 30s. My friend Josh F (heir of a modest though still-six-digit fortune while in his mid-20s) went out and bought not just a house and a monster truck, but also a pool table, a baseball bat, a baseball glove, and a football. Somebody's parents' must not have been too encouraging of somebody's nascent athletic interests.
When I was a kid my interests were similarly modest, though a few of my desires lay completely outside the realm of reasonable. One of these was to have an oscilloscope, but I knew from a well-thumbed Heathkit catalog that the cheapest of these cost $500. So you can imagine the joy I had when I found a working antique oscilloscope in a dumpster at the University of Virginia back in 1998. I was already 30 years old, but the discovery took me back to my early teens, so much so that I acted with teenlike recklessness, accidentally notching the end of my thumb with a power saw while modifying a power cord for the oscillscope's weird AC connector. A couple years ago that oscilloscope quit working and I've been cannibalizing it for its beautiful vintage parts (the bakelite knobs are now used to set the temperature limits on the solar controller).
Today I took delivery of another oscilloscope, one I bought on Ebay. It's a dual-trace 25 MHz model, which should be fine for testing the sort of electronics I'm capable of building in the laboratory. (This include 8 MHz ISA cards and even low-speed USB communications.)
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