About This Site

Why does this website exist?

First and foremost, I wanted to learn how to create a website. That was the only reason some 20 years ago, and it continues to be the principal motivation today as I continue to experiment with web technologies. However, once the search engines found me, I was pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback that people took the time to send me. I've always tried to help people whenever I could, and it seemed that the information on this website was doing just that. I can't deny that that's a nice feeling...

Additionally, it allows me to document some of my projects with a view to inspiring like-minded people. Nothing here is especially ground-breaking or original, but what I build is generally well-engineered and reliable - even the one-off projects thrown together on Veroboard - and I hope it shows that anyone can do electronics, given a bit of study, patience and attention to detail. That same approach works for many other fields, such as DIY and vintage radio restoration, and some parts of the website cover aspects of these - unlike many websites, I've never tried to focus on just one area. After all, it's only right that my personal website represents my personal interests!

Finally, I have to admit that it also allows me to show off a bit! I have always enjoyed taking pride in producing neat and tidy projects that are easy to maintain or modify if needed in the future, and it was frustrating that I was the only person to know how nice things looked under the covers. Well, not any more!

What you see here is a selection of my simpler projects, and obviously only those built for myself. Please note that I don't aim to provide complete projects for people to print out and build. None of my designs are offered with any sort of guarantee that they'll work for you - expect to do some engineering of your own if you're trying to copy something. If you're after ready-made projects there are lots of sites out there that will sell you complete kits, PCBs, plans, etc. This site is about ideas and inspiration for people that want to learn - it's not a "cookbook".

Generally speaking, I'm not aiming to cater for complete beginners, but most projects have a reasonable amount of explanation and background that should help you learn about the subject. Having said that, I do intend to increase the number of tutorial-style articles in the future, covering basic electronics and PIC programming.

But as well as the projects, there is information about test equipment - sometimes obscure and rarely written about elsewhere - as I have a pretty decent collection these days (having struggled without in the pre-eBay days!) and restoring and caring for test gear is an interesting sub-hobby in its own right. There is also a reasonable amount of information about a few areas of hi-fi, complete with pictures and technical deconstructions. Many of the items covered were hardly mentioned elswhere on the internet when I wrote the pages - in many cases that's changed now. The BBC and Rogers loudspeakers section remains especially popular, and has been developed considerably recently.

Important - Please Read!

I maintain this website in my limited spare time, and offer it "as-is", with no support implied. I do my best to respond to messages, but can only do so on a "Reasonable Endeavours" basis.

I make no money whatsoever from the running of this site - which, as explained above, was only started as a way to learn HTML back in 2000 - indeed I have to pay for web hosting as this site gets an extraordinary amount of traffic and has long outgrown the basic hosting that comes free with my ISP. Currently there is no advertising, but this might change in the future if the hosting costs rise.

So please be patient when contacting me, and please have realistic expectations of what I can offer you for free.

Cookie Policy

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Site Design

Work began on this version of the site back in 2009, and mostly came about because I wanted to learn a bit more about CSS. So this site doesn't use tables for page layout purposes - which is the modern way of thinking and will certainly make future facelifts much, much easier.

As I'm a glutton for punishment, all the code has been written by hand using a text editor (ConTEXT, which is still my favourite text editor). Every page is straightforward HTML, with CSS and occasional bits of Javascript. Everthing is written by me - I don't like to include third-party "widgets" that I can't understand or control, and remember (again!) that the point of having a website in the first place was to learn about these technologies. Perhaps one day I'll migrate to a PHP/MySQL solution which will make it easier to add more content, but again, that'll be hand-coded by me - for better or worse!

I develop using Firefox, but double-check that things look as intended with Chrome and half-reasonable with Internet Explorer (!). I use Windows and Linux, and occasionally have a look via Android and iOS. I haven't had any nasty surprises in the last decade, but always keep interoperability and compatibility in mind - preferring to keep things simple rather than use the latest whizz-bangs. Web design is constantly evolving, but as an engineer, I'm pretty conservative and try to avoid the fads!

About me

I have had a life-long interest in electronics and audio engineering. Apparently, right from the very beginning, even before I could talk, it was obvious that I had an engineering mindset - what fans of Dilbert will know of as "The Knack". As a toddler I had a collection of broken electrical things and tools lying around my bedroom, and apparently my first teacher once sighed "if only he could write with a screwdriver"! An uncle gave me a soldering iron for my 5th birthday, and amazingly my parents let me keep and use it. Well, things were different in the 1970s! With the help of a couple of Ladybird books, I was on the way...

I can't remember for sure when I first became interested in music - it was something that was always there in the background, usually from the radio - but I do remember how my audio obsession started. My dad bought himself a "music centre" and let me take possession of his mono portable record player - a Bush SRP51, complete with a Garrad 2025TC auto-changer, in glorious black and chrome. I would have been 7 or 8.

This record player had a number of DIN sockets on the front, and the one labelled "STEREO" was especially fascinating - I knew from my dad's upgrade that stereo was a big deal, so surely this socket must be the gateway to better sound? So started a journey that lasted throughout my childhood. Incidentally, while my original record player is long-gone now, I did pick up an nice example recently, and must admit to being surprised at how good it sounds. And it came with the matching AU51, which houses an identical amplifier and loudspeaker in a similarly styled case and plugs into the enegmatic "STEREO" socket.

By the age of 10 or 11, I'd graduated to using a pair of loudspeakers made from the 1960s radio­gram that my grandparants had - a HMV Stereomaster 2401 unless I'm very much mistaken. The loudspeakers had separate enclosures within the cabinet, which was dense chipboard covered in teak veneer, and it was an easy matter to cut out the centre section which housed the electronics and turntable. It was transistorised, so fairly safe and easy to repair. I re-housed the electronics and turntable, creating a basic "separates" system that was the subject of much modifying and tweaking. After a couple of years of this, I upraded the cartridge to a moving-magnet type, and went through several homemade stereo amplifiers until I was able to build something that somehow managed to look and sound quite good. It even got me a qualification!

Since those days, I've built countless things and learnt a lot from doing so. In my experience, you learn most when things don't work first time because the real lessons come from debugging. Given that I didn't get any decent test equipment until my late teens, I guess I had a lot of luck on my side in the early days. I also learnt a lot from fixing things - once people knew that I collected old electronic stuff, an amazing amount of broken gear came my way - at first most of these things were beyond my diagnosis abilities, so became sources of components, but as time went by I got better at fault-finding. In my late teens I had a part-time job with a local electrical shop where I was able to learn much more about this. Of course, back then electronic components were big enough to see, and had wires emerging from them so you could easily replace them - not at all like the throw-away stuff we see today.

After finishing school and university, I took up a job in the broadcast industry, and have worked there in a variety of technical roles since.