Electronic Computer Projects


Issue 24

Nov/Dec 86

Next Article >>

<< Prev Article



Compute! Publications

Many of the 'old hands' at Atari computing came into the hobby several years ago when there was not much available in the way of peripherals and accessories and they often already had a background in electronics so that amongst several specialist interests was that of the 'hardware hacker' who built his own equipment. There has always been an interest in adding home made projects to computers but there has never been an easy guide for the electronics 'layman'. Until now, that is.

Electronic Computer Projects is the ideal introduction to hardware projects for any Atari owner even if he has never picked up a soldering iron before. The book takes you step by step through all the stages required to build your own joysticks, paddles, sensors, switches, burglar alarms and more. Staring from the very beginning it explains in detail different methods of building a circuit and how to use a soldering iron. Most of the projects in the book use a 'solderless breadboard' but you will need to do a little soldering. Fear not, a step by step guide is included for those who have never soldered before.

Introductory chapters explain how the computer and the joystick ports work before the first project, a simple logic probe,. is tackled. Each project has a list of parts, including part numbers, which can be obtained from any Tandy store followed by detailed step by step instructions for construction. At various points special notes are included to explain the reason for certain actions in greater details. Where extra care is needed, that too is explained. Finally the procedure is given for testing your project. If a program is required to operate the hardware, a simple but effective listing is given. Every procedure is carefully explained and remarkably easy to follow.

The main projects include two types of simple joystick and importantly, now that they are no longer available, game paddles for those excellent games like PAGE 6's BREAKOUT that require them. What is more you can make these yourself for a fraction of the commercial cost. More advanced projects include a light pen, sensors that can detect movement or light and even a full scale burglar alarm. With these simple projects you can switch on lights, control model railways, time events, control robots and more.

The book is excellent value at 8.95 and, whilst aimed at beginners, will provide information to any owner who wishes to try his hand at interfacing his Atari to the outside world. You will have hours of fun with these projects and, what you may not realise, you can do so at very little cost. Most of the parts required will cost no more than a couple of pounds in total and some projects might cost only pennies!