While recalling the fun one could have with the project kits and parts found in the Radio Shack of the 1970s, I found a little board I made in 1978 (as usual stumbling across it while looking for something else). Every part on this thing came from Radio Shack. The IC is a National Semiconductor LM3914N, which is a 10-LED bar/dot display driver which at the Shack cost $2.49. Solderless breadboards were a new thing back then, with CSC (that is Continental Specialties Corp.) being the primary vendor at the time. Radio Shack offered the perma-proto board seen here for about $1.79. The LEDs were sold in packs of 2 for $0.79 and with the wire, switch and a few passive parts the entire project cost about $10. The short demo videos show the bargraph and dot display modes.
I went on to make a stereo VU meter later that summer, again all parts from Radio Shack:
And while it came with a data sheet, remember–this was Radio Shack–they had Forrest Mims notebooks. This exact circuit is used twice:
I went on to do more with the LM3915, such as build a 70-LED spectrum analyzer. However I will save that for another day. (read: I have to find it!)
8-6-2021 (August 6, 2021) is the Snakiest day of the year and it’s also this year’s CircuitPython Day! The day highlights all things CircuitPython and Python on Hardware. See you there!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.