Blast From The Past: Schematic Templates

If you want to draw schematics today, you probably sit down at your computer. Why not? There are a ton of programs made to do the work easily, and the results look great. Back in the day, you might sit at a drafting table with a full set of T-squares, triangles, and maybe a Leroy. But what about when inspiration struck at the coffee shop (no, not a Starbucks in those days)? Well, you probably had a schematic drawing template. We were surprised you can still buy these at high prices. Or you can 3D print your own, thanks to [Jan Stech].

Templates of all kinds used to be very common. There were several for schematics, logic symbols, furniture, and even geometric shapes and curves. They were almost always green and transparent. A quick search on Amazon for “drafting template” shows you can still get the generic templates, but schematic ones are still expensive.

[Jan’s] templates are miniature. You probably can’t easily make them clear either, although you could probably use them as a guide for cutting out some green plastic. There’s even a related one for logic gates, should you need that one.

We will admit to occasionally resorting to the worst CAD package ever. Even though the second worst one is admittedly better.

27 thoughts on “Blast From The Past: Schematic Templates

  1. No offense but isn’t this something that laser cutting would be perfect tool and 3d printing much less so? You could get these done in anything from clear pmma to stainless steel, or even cardboard for disposable ones, get nice surface finish and excellent dimensional accuracy.

      1. 3D Print your prototype to check the dimensions, then take a dxf slice through the stl file (openSCAD can do this, as can Blender) and send that dxf off to a commercial laser cutting service. I’ve done this for laser cut stainless steel parts.

    1. Actually, if you follow the link, you’ll also see ones printed with an chamfer, not something you can easy do on a laser cutter.

      But, I do agree on the general concept that a lot of things are better off made with a lasercutter. However, if all you have is a hammer…

      You could also argue that this generates less waste. With a lasercutter you do generate a tiny bit of waste.

      On the flip side again, the laser could engrave some nice things on it as well making for a better final product.

      1. You can also cut the shape twice and make the hole smaller or larger in the copy, then sandwich the parts together to create a stepped aperture.

        This would allow you to make templates with a bridge to hang non-connected areas and reach under the bridge with the tip of a mechanical pencil to draw continuous lines.

  2. My father had a friend that made these kind of templates in the 60s. I got one from him that had templates for drawing tubes, though I was too yong to know about tubes in those days.

  3. I still have many of my templates (my favourites are the TI-branded logic symbol ones they gave away at trade shows in the 1970’s/80’s). If you have old ones stashed away, beware the stench, though. As the material degrades over time, the butyric acid smell (barf-smell) gets strong with some. They also often get sticky as the plasticizers leach out and break down.

    1. Thank you for this comment — I had wondered for years (decades!) why a set of tools my grandparents had always smelled awful no matter how many times they were cleaned. Always assumed it was some kind of grease that had gone off, but now I know it was the handles!

  4. I remember wanting these things so much as a kid but at the prices they sold they would have been too much of my project budget. Now they would be so easy to have… but I don’t want them.

    Very cool that someone did want them and did make them though!

  5. I was looking for these exact style templates like 2 weeks ago. Available through a large online bookseller for about $10-15: Berol R31, traceease, Alvin TD1515 and TD1279
    Not sure why these types of things are considered unobtanium but do like this article’s small handy pocket sized version as well.

  6. Somewhere around here I have a template like the ones for circles, geometric shapes, and Golden Spirals like the Academic Industries Mathtools “The Geometer” but for this very purpose – the drawing of electronics schematics. It cost like $5 when I bought it back in the day, was 8″x11″ and had holes that allowed it to be secured in a three-ring binder.

  7. Wouldn’t it be simpler to buy one? I can start a fire but I own a lighter. I have an idea for an invention. Bear with me. It would be a stand-alone structure, hooked into municipal mains, preferably situated somewhere accessible both by e-vehicle, e-bike, Razr Scooter, even pedestrians! The interior would house multiple items, mostly unrelated but organized into categories. Each item has an alphanumeric code. The user would enter the structure, select the items he wants and exchange digital tokens for them. There is of course a transaction record for forensic and diagnostic purposes. As a backup measure paper tickets can be used for the digital tokens, there is a back office that reconciles these transactions overnight. I foresee a day when tool exchange facilities such as these will be ubiquitous.

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