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Old 3rd October 2014, 05:42 PM   #1
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Default On growing old (and keeping it up)

Double entendre was intentional but this is not about bedroom performance.. This is about doing the things that made us visit this forum and keep on doing them regardless of our age, whether as a hobby or as a profession. This is about electronic projects and old-age.

I'm nearing mid 30s and so far still blessed with a good pair of eyes and steady hands. Both are unquestionably needed when messing with parts smaller than our finger nails. Lately i've been thinking, perhaps seeing my dad slowly falling apart from getting old has something to do with it, how long will i have them? My mind goes back to decades ago when grandpa was still alive. When he was young, he had the same interest in electronics which was hard to believe since i remember him struggling to hold a spoon whatwith Parkinson's attacking his nerves. I fear the day when i can no longer insert resistor leads to PCBs or read the numbers on ceramic caps, let alone soldering SMD parts! Sitting in a bus for 3 hours and not doing my projects is enough to get me antsy, i can't imagine if age gets the better of me and makes that ride permanent..

I'm sorry if this post depresses you.. it was not my intention I notice a lot of members here are from those days when thermionic valve appliances were still the norm.. which is good news for me! (hey, they are still visiting so they must be doing fine!)

In short.. how do you keep on doing what you do? What can we do now that would help us later? Stories and experiences are appreciated.
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Old 3rd October 2014, 06:06 PM   #2
chrisb is offline chrisb  Canada
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Never given to profound thinking, my initial response would include:
-"nearing mid 30's"? - some of us have sneakers older than that
- inherit good genes
- wake up every morning
- revise your expectations to match your abilities

All kidding aside, the types of physical and cognitive degeneration of which you speak are no laffing matter, and I wouldn't wish them on anyone .... well that's not quite true... and no matter how blessed we currently are, and how well we try to take care of ourselves, we're all targets for the universe's caprice.
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Old 3rd October 2014, 06:08 PM   #3
Bigun is offline Bigun  Canada
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Growing old is a privilege. If you can keep sight of that, you'll be just fine.
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"The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed." Robert M Pirsig.
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Old 3rd October 2014, 07:05 PM   #4
TheGimp is offline TheGimp  United States
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How old is old?
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Old 3rd October 2014, 08:10 PM   #5
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I am 57 and I am short sighted now.
I use reading glasses for building pcb's.
I use a magnifying glass for reading small text on components.
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Old 3rd October 2014, 08:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
-"nearing mid 30's"? - some of us have sneakers older than that
My first thought was...some of have tubes older than that, then I actually engaged my brain and realized that I have IC chips older than that and the output tubes in my TSE are now 85 years old. Time does fly and it will slip away faster than you realize.

Quote:
I fear the day when i can no longer insert resistor leads to PCBs or read the numbers on ceramic caps, let alone soldering SMD parts!
I started my job at Motorola in 1973. We still shipped one product that used tubes. It was an airborne SELCALL (selective calling) decoder that used a pair of 12AX7's and mechanical vibrating reeds. Its replacement had been designed in the 60's but the FAA's flight qualification process was quite long at the time. For the last 30 years I was involved in advanced development, primarily designing and building prototype devices. When I started that endeavor, leaded components and through hole PCB's were the norm. When I left the company multi layer HDI boards and 0201 SMD's were the latest tech.

As I grew older my eyesight got weaker. Mot got me a microscope to deal with smaller SMD's so vision was never a problem. I think I upgraded my microscope 3 times during my career.

The real problem was hand shake. As parts got smaller the vibration at the end of a pair of tweezers in my hands got worse. About 3 years ago I could no longer deal with the 0204 SMD parts. Fortunately we had a lab tech that could solder them for me. He was older than me, and retired last year leaving me without help.

My situation may be unique, but I learned to deal with the shake as best as I can. Avoid caffeine when soldering. Some days are better than others. If you can't solder the small stuff one day, put it away and try again tomorrow. Build stuff with big parts!

If DIY is your passion, you will likely be capable of building something well into your later years. Will DIY electronics still be around and viable, say 40 years from now......That may be a bigger issue threatening younger readers. A good bit of today's tech is already out of reach to non corporate people.
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Old 3rd October 2014, 08:21 PM   #7
rayma is online now rayma  United States
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ballpencil View Post

In short.. how do you keep on doing what you do? What can we do now that would help us later? Stories and experiences are appreciated.
After some time you'll need an inspection microscope, a low power stereo device.

7X-45X Inspection Dissecting Pillar Stand Zoom Stereo Microscope + 64-LED Light

Get a solder fume extractor, a good chair for the bench, and stay away from caffeine entirely. .
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Old 3rd October 2014, 08:27 PM   #8
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I had not worked at the PC board level for several years, and then at about 45 I had to build a custom PC circuit and realized I could not see well enough at close range to solder the darn thing. Well out came the lighted magnifier and reading glasses. My distance vision is still quite good. I just turned 58 a couple of weeks ago. I am lucky to still have steady hands, so no problem there.

You've just got to stay active.
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Old 3rd October 2014, 10:22 PM   #9
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I used to play bridge in college and when i joined tournaments, it was not a rare occasion that i get to be seated next to elderly ladies. They were still memorizing bids and card signals when some people their age can't even remember their birthday (which should not be underestimated. Those who play the sport would understand). I should play bridge again.. i believe it's a good sport for the brain. At least it takes care one of the three internal factors i think are essential on doing these projects: brain, eyes, hands.

Quote:
I use reading glasses for building pcb's.
I use a magnifying glass for reading small text on components.
Next on the list is eyes. I'm eating my vitamins and always try to read in well-lit rooms but i guess being near-sighted is kinda difficult to avoid. If the solution is just simple magnifying glass+microscope, i can live with that. Although, i'm not pessimistic that i will experience the future when those are no longer needed with the development of medicals and surgeries. I'm sure LASIK surgeries at least would be cheaper.. I should add that mom is now in her 60s and she is still inserting threads into needles herself when sewing so i should be more optimistic.

Quote:
If you can't solder the small stuff one day, put it away and try again tomorrow. Build stuff with big parts!
This. When it comes to hand stability, I have expected this to happen to me someday. It's not always a bad thing though. They say wisdom comes with age.. i guess having to do things slower has something to do with it. I lost count of how many times i rush into things and end up with magic smoke escaping from my chassis.

Quote:
Will DIY electronics still be around and viable, say 40 years from now......That may be a bigger issue threatening younger readers. A good bit of today's tech is already out of reach to non corporate people.
Ah yes.. we are spoiled by our Chinese friends with cheap modules just some Ebay clicks away. I am still flipping the same Elektor magazine pages that i got from my uncle some 20 years ago, the ones with Crescendo and AXL amplifiers, Prelude preamps,etc. It's sad to think that i can't find similar magazine right now locally.. That clearly shows the lesser interest in DIY electronics lately (or does it? with the internet storing schematics and keeping overseas sellers close to us, i shouldn't be too sure). Just a few months ago i ordered one of my PCB fabricators to make me copies of Elektor's universal perforated PCB. I'm talking about the one they used to giveaway with every magazine purchase. (I just found out they no longer offer it on the website! They still did just a few months ago!) Anyway, it turns out it was a bad idea as making perforated PCBs are more expensive than PCBs for particular circuit design (with lesser number of holes). I guess my PCB fabricators don't have the proper drill hardware for it. It's sad because that universal PCB was a very good idea.
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Old 3rd October 2014, 10:44 PM   #10
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Smile Growing old

From my experience (I will officially be a senior in December) the body ages much faster than the mind. A love for music or technology never fades but you may have to adjust your parameters and have some young buck who is in his 30's build your weird pentagonal surround speakers for you. Just put your coffee at the back of your counter and if you can reach it in the morning make a toast to another great day, take the dog for a walk and enjoy the people you have the good fortune to meet.

My hats off to Dave, Chris and all who continue to explore the creation of sound, so I can sit back with a dog on my lap, a cup of coffee in my hand and enjoy the vocal awesomeness of the likes of Cecile Mcloran Salvant, Diana Drew, Ann Hampton Calloway and the retro sounds of Alan Parson's project.

If you spend any time worrying about growing old you are missing the potential treasures of today.

Ok, time to walk the dog, have a cold beer and see if my speakers can handle the power that is Lara Fabian.
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