For those of you who restore vintage electronics, like radios or tvs, you know the importance of powering up an untested device slowly (for those of you who are new to the hobby see this article from antiqueradio.org). You also know the high cost associated with buying a decent variac. For me, this conflict lead me to building my own dim bulb tester (DBT, also known as a poor man’s variac) as a substitute. However, I didn’t want to build a utilitarian collection of home depot parts and wires like most other DBTs. I wanted something that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to sit next to the beautiful vintage radios I was working on. Thus I created this vintage, antique looking DBT.
However, just as my lack of money forced me to build a DBT instead of buying a proper variac, I was forced to use scraps and repurpose parts wherever I could. Here’s how I did it for less than $30, in case you’d like to build one too.
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, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, 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.
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