Although now it’s impossible for a DIY nut to build electronics for less money than a factory, this wasn’t always the case. For 45 years, Heathkit produced inexpensive kits for just about everything. Heathkit closed it’s kit business in 1992, but now they’re back. They’re starting out with a few DIY kits at first, namely an ultrasonic garage parking assistant and a wireless swimming pool monitor.
Heathkit is calling all builders to submit their ideas for future kits. While this comeback rings of some other outlets with a rich heritage, Heathkit is still remembered fondly; Barry Goldwater jetted out to the Heath HQ twice a year for kits. Not many people are that attached to Realistic and Optimus gear.
If you’re wondering about the kind of stuff Heathkit offered, feel free to check out the 1984 catalog that features computers with 128kB of RAM available for only $1899.00 (yes, a very competitive price)
Tip ‘o the hat to [Jeffrey Bail (N1BMX)].
[Vince Briel] has created an embedded device based on the Parallax Propeller chip that acts as a serial terminal. It takes input from a standard PS/2 keyboard and outputs color VGA. It also has a second serial port to connect to a PC for debugging or programming. He is selling kits and has the schematics available. The board has a lot of hacking potential and it could easily be made into a video game or a Wikipedia browser.
[Oomlout] has created an Arduino Experimentation Kit that uses basic sensors, buttons, and LEDs to teach electronics and programming. Printed overlays are secured on a breadboard, indicating components and connections. The Arduino is then used to drive the circuit. Examples include driving motors, using shift registers, and making beeps with a piezo element. These are backed up by explanations and code. The breadboarding kit is very similar to the classic 300-in-1 project kits marketed to beginners. In addition, all of the materials are released as open source. Kits are also available that include everything needed to create the circuits.
Related: Opensource Robotic Arm
[via Hack a Day flickr pool]