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Electronics can be a very useful and rewarding hobby. However, it can also have a high cost, if you don't watch your budget carefully. Here, we present ideas aimed at saving money while pursuing an interesting hobby, which can save you money by making your own electronic devices and doing simple servicing of other equipment. Always remember when working on mains powered equipment, that mains voltage is extremely dangerous and can result in death if you are not careful and pay close attention to what you are doing. Read some simple tips for keeping safe below.


Some of the projects and servicing stories on this website involve working on mains powered equipment. Extreme care must be taken when working with high voltage.


1)  Make sure the outlet you are using is protected by a SAFETY SWITCH.

2)  If you are unsure about 1), use a PORTABLE SAFETY SWITCH.

3)  Pay close attention to what you are doing and keep bystanders and children away.

4)  Make sure nothing is plugged in before you touch anything.

5)  When taking measurements, make sure that you don't touch anything.

6)  Remember that if you grab both mains wires at the same time, you'll still end up

      DEAD, because a safety switch only protects against EARTH LEAKAGE FAULTS.

7)  Remember that if you are using an ISOLATION TRANSFORMER and you grab

      both wires, you'll still end up DEAD.


Computer Case Ventilation

There seems to be a widely held belief that computer cases need to have a large number of  fans sucking the hot air out of the case, in order to properly ventilate the case. This wide-spread practice usually causes more problems that it's worth, later in the computer's life  and I see the result of this first-hand, on far too many occasions.

With more fans sucking the warmer air out of the case than the number of fans blowing cooler, outside air into the case, this causes a low pressure situation within the case. This means that additional air has to enter the case from somewhere and this is usually through any external openings in the case.

Read about the problems this causes and how to set up computer case ventilation.


Making Your Own Printed Circuit Boards

Anyone with an interest in electronics and the construction of projects, will from time to time, require a printed circuit board. Whether you are building a project from an electronics magazine, such as Silicon Chip ( or whether you have designed your own circuit, the time comes when you need the printed circuit board (PCB) to be able to assemble the project.

In this article, we outline the steps in the process of making a PCB, using a laserjet printer to print the track-work onto overhead projector transparency film and then ironing the track-work onto the blank board, before etching with ferric chloride. You can even print a component overlay on the top of the PCB using the same method.


Make an iPhone Breakout Cable

When my son wanted to use his iPhone for professional quality sound recording, he checked on the availability of an iPhone Breakout Cable and found that they weren't exactly cheap, so we looked into making one.

At first, we had problems with the cable not working, due to an incorrect schematic that he'd found on the internet. Eventually, with further research, we finally had the correct information to make the cable work.

Read about the construction and see the correct schematic for making the cable.


Paper Isn't Paper

You'd think A4 copy paper would be pretty much the same, no matter what you bought, wouldn't you? Well, you'd be wrong. There is a BIG difference between buying good quality Australian made paper as compared to spending a little less on imported paper.

This fact came to my attention recently, when I was printing out some artwork that contained a large area of black. Normally, I don't do a lot of printing, mainly just a few letters and other documents occasionally, so I hadn't noticed any major problems with printing this type of document, other than the time taken for the ink to dry.

See the difference between quality Australian paper and cheaper imported paper.