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THE MAGAZINE FOR THE ELECTRONICS ACTIVI
Holiday Light Sequencer Make your home the envy of the neighborhood!
Sliding -Bar Antique Radio Reconstruct a relic from yesteryear!
SCR/Triac Tester Easy -to- build, easier to use!
Nikola Tesla: Interplanetary Communicator? Did Tesla's experiments have an unexpected audience?
Slave -Flash Trigger Get professional -looking lash photographs using our unit!
Piezoelectric Gener -
And much more!
0 71896 48784
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Save With "Hotline" Order Service II
is Your Radio Shack store man- sd wide I> mgr % variety
vager can of parts
Get Your Novice Ham License Y
O. 1995 f
^ warehouse- tubes, ICs, e phono styli, diodes, crystals,
Sams PHOTOFACTS' and t( more. No postage charges, no
t minimum order. One -week ...o..... service on most items.
Radio Shack's Novice Exam Study Package will help you pass the test. It includes two cassettes for self -paced Morse code learning plus practice questions and answers. Get on the air! #62 -2402
Speech /Word Recognition IC
Understands Seven Commands
VCP200. Explore leading-edge technolo voice recognition! P gy- g Recognizes spoken commands regardless of the person speaking -five motion commands and two on /off commands. Ana- log input -no external A -to -D conversion is required. 20 -pin DIP with data. #276 -1308
Harness the Power of the Sun
(1) H (2) I
(1) NEW! Flexible Solar Cell. High -tech breakthrough! This amorphous silicon alloy -on- stainless steel cell is efficient and rugged. Produces up to 1.2 VDC at 65 mA. 3'/4x17/8" #276-138 5 95 (2) Solar Energy Project Set. Just the thing for models and school science class. Includes solar cell prewired to DC motor, color wheels, propeller, informative project booklet. #277 -1201 9 95
Safe Handling for Sensitive ICs AC Power Controller /Protector
4995 Switches Up to Four Devices Automatically
Allows one component to switch up to four other devices. Also protects against damaging power -line spikes. Use with a remote -control VCR. TV or stereo to switch on /off entire audio /video system. Or. use with a VCR or clock radio to switch other components automatically at preset times. Has one sensed, four switched and one unswitched outlets. heavy -duty spike protector. noise filter, circuit breaker. UL listed AC #61 -2781
(1) (2)
(4)
(1) IC Inserter / Extractor Set. #276 -1581 6 95 (2) IC Pin Straightener. #276 -1594 2 99 (3) Static - Draining Wrist Strap. #276 -2399 2 79 (4) Conductive Foam Mat. 5 x 5" #276-2400 894
Solder Anywhere Small Bargains A i
(2)
(1) NEW! Small -Value tors. #272 -806 (2) NEW! 12V Microlamps. leads. #272 -1092
(3) Thermistor. #271 -110. (4) NEW! Micro -Hook Banana plugs #278 -018
Ceramic Capaci- Pkg. of 5012.99
Ti - size. with Pkg. of 2/1.39
1.99
Gold- (1)
Plated (2)
Plugs (3)
3 49 #274 -856 .. 3.99
#274 -857 2.79 #274 -858 3.49
Computer Helpers ii (3) ir-1 }
(2) / V atiffEll - 2995 Super Gift!
Our gas - powered iron provides up to 60 minutes of continuous solder- ing. Refills in seconds like a butane cigarette lighter. Adjustable tern- perature. #64 -2160
(1) Snap - Together Toroid Choke Cores. Easy -to- install RFI /EMI /line- noise filters #273-104 Pkg. of 2/6.95 (2) "Business Machine" Cord. CEE- style connector. 6 it. #278 -1257 3.99 (3) RS -232 Spike Protector. Installs in- line D sub 25 #276.1402 16.95
28 -Range FET VOM
49 95
10- Megohm FET Input -Works Like A Solid -State VTVM Easy -to -Read 5" Meter Our best analog multitester! Features single- knob range control, audible continuity tester and handy 10 -amp DC range. Includes probes and illustrated manual. Batteries extra. #22 -220
Solderless Breadboard Logic Probe aid Pulser
16 PSobe
1795 i Pulser
Logic Probe. Color -coded LEDs and tone outputs indi- cate logic states. For TTL, LS and CMOS. #22 -303 Pulser. Teammate for the probe. Produces a single 5 is pulse or a continuous pulse train #22 -304
, .1. .v.
95 19 Shop Early! A Great Gift For Students
And Hobbyists Our best! This 2'/4 x 6'/2" b -board is mounted on a "stay -put" steel base with rubber feet. Has 240 plug -in points which accept DIPs, discretes and up to 22 -gauge wire. Three binding posts. #276 -169
Over 1000 items in stock! Binding Posts, Books, Breadboards, Buzzers, Capacitors, Chokes, Clips, Coax, Connectors, Fuses, Hardware, ICs, Jacks, Knobs, Lamps, Multitesters, PC Boards, Plugs. Rectifiers, Resistors, Switches, Tools, Transformers, Transistors, Wire, Zeners, More!
Prices apply at participating Radio Shack stores and dealers
Radie ihaek The Technology StoreeM
.n. ,.r, ,r a ., , nua,ta-
CIRCLE 16 ON FREE INFORMATION CARD
29
39
58
60
INCLUDING v rg II 11-PAGE
CONSTRUCTION Holiday Light Sequencer -the light control circuit for the holiday season
and all year 'round
Build a Sliding Bar "Antique" Radio -return to yesteryear, and take some solid -state with you
Build the Slave Flash Trigger -a low cost circuit that will trigger that slave in a flash
Build Your Own SCR Tester -make useful this tester a part of your tool kit
FEATURES All About Piezoelectric Generators -they produce voltage from pressure
Those Indestructible Novice Transmitters -built strong to last long
Nikola Tesla: Interplanetary Communicator ? -a man ahead of his time
All About Microphones -all mikes are not created equal...learn which works best under what conditions
Isolate Yourself and Stay Alive -think safety first when working with AC circuits E -Z Math -more on network analysis
HANDS -ON REPORTS Audiovox Car Alarm -an auto security system you can install yourself
SPECIAL COLUMNS Think Tank -the ubiquitous 555
Circuit Circus -you can power simple circuits using a diode detector
Computer Bits -make your computer do almost anything with a single stroke
DX Listening -the sunspot cycle Antique Radio -the shutter -dial set plays again Amateur Radio -getting on 10 meters Scanner Scene -there's a whole world out there waiting to be scanned
DEPARTMENTS Editorial -it's in our blood Letters -let your thoughts be heard New Books -the key to electronic knowledge New Products -just in time for holiday gift giving FactCards -a quick electronic reference GIZMO -toys for kids of all ages Free Information Card -go straight to the source
DECEMBER 1988

IQs T
ICS ACTIVIST!
I. 1988
Popular Electronics is in our blood After reading last month's Editorial, a few readers called to tell the staff how excited they were that Popular Electronics was coming back. They cautioned, however, not to claim that we are the old Popular Electronics just because of past associations with that magazine.
They are right! We are not the old Popular Electronics; rather, we are the new Popular Electronics. a magazine that is under- going a change for the better. Look at the type style we are now using. It is up -to -date and easy to read. To allow us to bring you more information each month, we have gone to a three -column format in our feature and construction stories. Our reader's let- ters, books, and new -products departments, as well as our regular columns, have been modified in style, title, and content. Greater attention, and we hope creativity, is being paid to the appearance of almost everything you see in this magazine. In short, what you see today is the development of a new and exciting look.
But we do have many strong links to the old Popular Elec- tronics. Herb Friedman, our associate editor, sold his second article to Popular Electronics in 1958. He wrote for the maga- zine for many years thereafter and currently writes a column for us. A fine technician and author, Homer L. Davidson, has written for Popular Electronics for over 20 years and is currently writing for us. There are several other authors who share the same distinction. Andrew Duzant, our technical illustrator, was on the Popular Electronics staff for more than 20 years and now he is on our staff.
Many authors who wrote for the old Popular Electronics. and even previous staff members who worked for Popular Elec- tronics in the past, will be contacting us after they see the familiar Popular Electronics logo on the newsstand.
Maybe we'll all get together one day for a big party. You see, Popular Electronics is in our blood.
The Editorial Staff
Art Kleiman, editorial director
Julian S. Martin, KA2GUN, editor
Carl Laron, WB2SLR, managing editor Robert A. Young, associate editor Herb Friedman, W2ZLF. associate editor John J. Yacono, associate editor Brian C. Fenton, associate editor Byron G. Wels, K2AVB, associate editor Teri Scaduto. assistant editor Kathryn Campbell, editorial assistant Ruby M. Yee, production director Karen S. Tucker, production manager
Robert A. W. Lowndes, editorial associate
Marcella Amoroso, production assistant Andre Duzant, technical illustrator Injae Lee, assistant illustrator
Jacqueline P. Cheeseboro, circulation director Nancy Estrada, manager. HOE Bookstore
BUSINESS AND EDITORIAL OFFICES
Gernsback Publications. Inc 500 -B Bi- County Boulevard Farmingdale. NY 11735. 516 293 -3000 President: Larry Steckler Vice- president: Cathy Steckler
by Cover photography Walter Herstatt
Composition by Mates Graphics
Advertising Sales Offices listed on page 105.
3Ih ( -Wk.:. ) Hands -on Electronics nu!acting Popular Electronics. I IS, t.
't3-29681 Published monthly by Gernsback Publications. Ini to-B Bi- County Boulevard. Farmingdale. NY 117[ 5 Se, ,n .
ass postage paid at Farmingdale NY and at addib x,al f 't es One -year. twelve issues. subscription rate U S inn ;
ins $21 95. Canada $26 95. all other countnes $29 45 Sic ton orders payable in U S. funds only. International PIstal M,,.. .
Order or check drawn on a U S bank US single copy once $25, ' 1988 by Gernsback Publications. Inc All nghts reser.red Hands -
on Electronics and Gizmo trademarks are register°, in U S an,' Canada by Gernsback Publications. Inc Popular Electronics trademark is registered in U S and Canada by Electomcs Tecr nology Today and is licensed to Gernsback Publications Printed USA Postmaster Please send address changes to Hands -On Elea tromp, including Popular Electronics, Subscription Dept P' Bo. 338 Mount Moms IL 610 54 -993 2
A stamped sell -addressed erne ,
manuscnpts and or artwork or should they be rejected We il ,r damage of manuscnpls and
possession or otherwise
' ., service to readers. Hands -on Electronics including Popular E tectronks publishes available plans or informatico relating .
hsworthy products. techniques and scientific and technology a
-mlopments Because of possible variances in the guainv i- '
, inihon of matenals and workmanship used by readers Hand, ,n Electronics mciudmg Popular Electronics disc.aim.
,nsibkty for the safe and proper functioning of reader -b . .
based upon or from plans on information publish°,;
:) .,.
riny Rurddo hone electron
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READING SCHEMATICS
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`COOKBOOK Membership Benefits Big Savings. In addition to this introductory offer, you keep saving substantially with members' prices of up to 50% off the publishers' prices. Bonus Books. Starting immediately, you will be eligible for our Bonus Book Plan, with savings of up to 80% off publishers' prices. Club News Bulletins. 14 times per year you will receive the Book Club News, describ- ing all the current selections- mains, alternates, extras -plus bonus offers and special sales, with hundreds of titles to choose from. Automatic Order. If you want the Main Selection, do nothing and it will be sent to you automatically. If you prefer another selection, or no book at all, simply indicate your choice on the reply form provided. As a member, you agree to purchase at least 3 books within the next 12 months and may resign at any time thereafter. Ironclad No -Risk Guarantee. If not satisfied with your books, return them within 10 days without obligation! Exceptional Quality. All books are quality publishers' editions especially selected by our Editorial Board. All books are hardcover unless numbers are followed by a "P" for paperback. (Publishers Paces Shown)
1988 ELECTRONICS BOOK CLUB. Blue Ridge Summa, PA 17294-0810
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15 Easy Electronic Projects From Delton T. Horn Projects you can build -some unique, some old favorites -from the author's vast treasury of elec- tronics know -how.
(a $7.95 value!)
EECTßg: CCS BOOK ELM. Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17294 -0810
Horns All-Time Favorite
Electmnic Projects
Please accept my membership in the Electronics Book Club ' and send the 5 volumes listed below, plus my FREE copy of Delton T. Horn's All -Time Favorite Electronic Projects (3105P), billing me $3.95 plus shipping and handling charges. If not satisfied, I may return the books within ten days without obligation and have my membership canceled. I agree to purchase at least 3 books at regular Club prices (plus shipping and handling) during the next 12 months and may resign any time thereafter.
Name
Address
City _ _ State /Zip _ _ Phone
Signature Valid for new members only. Foreign applicants will receive special ordering instructions Canada must remit in U S currency. This order subject to acceptance by the Electronics Book Club' Signature of parent or guardian required tor all new members under 18 RESP -1288
FIBEROPTICS A REVOLUTION
SIMPLIFI! I1
2885 516.95
4
ar Letters
COMPUTER PROS....
In response to the letter from A.R. of Hack- ensack, NJ (August, 1988): What is he so afraid of? Computers can only intimidate peo- ple who refuse to understand them. They are made of electronic components. and were invented by the same kind of people who do the electronics projects in magazines like
Hands -on Electronics /Popular Electronics. It's true that computers in cars have made
car repair more complex. However, the diffi- culty in finding mechanics who can repair them is not the fault of new technologies -it is caused by the reluctance of our society to overcome the anti -computer attitudes of
people like A.R. Can the average person re-
pair a calculator, or a VCR, or even a child's toy these days? Does that mean that we
shouldn't have them, or that we all need more education?
I have an AAB in Computer Programming and an AAS in Electronic Engineering, and it's
a good thing I got the computer degree first. Almost all the electronics courses I took re- quired the use of a computer at some point. Computers and electronics are inseparable - your magazine would be shortchanging its read- ers if it pretended that computers don't exist.
I'm also writing to ask if you know where I can get a low -cost device for bending soft metals, such as aluminum; I like to make my own boxes for the circuits I build. Thanks very much.
P.J.C.
Louisville, OH
... AND CONS
As an avid and highly appreciative reader of Hands -on Electronics /Popular Electron- ics, I completely agree with the views on includ- ing computer projects that were expressed in A.R.'s letter in the August issue. The fewer the better -your magazine is one of the few left that a true "experimenter," "messer- around." or "hacker" can really enjoy.
I am an R &D Engineer with one of the large aerospace corporations here in Silicon Valley. I, and many of my cohorts in the field, thoroughly enjoy your magazine and the pro- jects it presents. . I returned to the U.S. a couple of years ago, after living in Southeast Asia for 17 years. While overseas, I used many of the projects in Hands -on Electronics, and in Radio-
Electronics, as teaching aids at the univer- sity where I was a consultant. How 'bout that? I'll bet you didn't know that those magazines are used in areas where up -to -date texts are very hard to come by! Although the maga- zines were anywhere from one- to three - months late by the time they reached there, the information was still more current than that in the usual texts.
Again, the fewer articles on computers, the better; there are enough computer maga- zines. Keep up the good work!
R.A.G., CET San Jose, CA
And the debate rages on. The previous two letters represent a cross -section of the mail we've received on the "computer" is- sue. In general, people want either more, less, or just about the same number of com- puter- related stories in each issue.
As we've said in the past, computers rep- resent only one segment of the electronics field, albeit an important one. Because of that, and because of our dedication to serv- ing all facets of the hobby, you will never see this magazine go to an "all computer" format. Likewise, you will never see us com- pletely ignore the computer field, especially the hardware end of it, because if we left it solely for others we would be shortchang- ing our readers.
READER RECOMMENDATIONS
For all the electronic tips, tricks, fun, and education you've provided for me since I sub- scribed to your magazine, now I'd like to re- ciprocate.
In the September 1988 "Letter Box" B.E. of Delray Beach, FL asked for a recommen- dation of a good book on basic electronics. As a fellow, Hands -on Electronics /Popular Electronics reader and electronics enthusi- ast, I'd like to recommend Getting Started in Electronics by Forrest M. Mims Ill. Basic electronic theory cannot be made any sim- pler. The book contains 128 hand -written and hand -illustrated pages, has experiments that work, and costs only $2.49. The book, as well as any of the parts needed for the ex- periments, can be purchased at any Radio Shack store.
Don't be turned off by the childish -looking nature of the book's method of teaching. You'll be relieved by its simplicity, and how well it
gets the message across. I might not be work- ing as an electronic technician now without the foundation I built from this book.
Good luck -I hope it helps! J.D.
Brooklyn, NY
In the September issue of Hands -on Elec- tronics, B.E. asked for recommendations on some books to get him started in electronics. There are certainly a plethora of books to choose from, but I've found Heathkit's (Ben- ton Harbor, MI 49022) series of books/ courses to be particularly helpful. They com- bine hands -on experience with the clearest explanations of electronic theory that I have
ever read. More importantly, the series al- lows one to progress as far into electronics as even the most avid hobbyist might dare to venture.
The books /courses are outlined in meticu- lous detail in the Heathkit Catalogs. I would recommend trying the Soldering Course (EI- 3133), followed by the "Concepts of Electronics Course" (El- 3140 -A). The latter requires an "Analog Trainer" (E1- 3600), but that trainer can be used with numerous other Heathkit courses. The combination of theo- retical knowledge and practical skills pre- sented in those courses are of inestimable value to the beginner.
P.E.B. Ft. Lauderdale, FL
We received a number of responses to B.E.'s request and we would like to thank all the readers who took the time out to lend a helping hand. While many different books, courses were recommended, the previous two received overwhelming support. Judg- ing by the response, you can't go wrong following either recommendation.
PARTS SEARCH
Two recent articles by Larry Lisle -"The Build- ing -Block…