Long-term hobbies

My electronics hobby, turned profession, turned hobby-profession is certainly my longest standing interest. I was about five years old when I started and now 44+ years later I'm still going.

Photography is another hobby that I started in my early childhood and still practice. I was an avid landscape photographer when I was in grad school. Photography took a backseat role once I started working and audio took over as my main hobby. These days I mostly do product photography for my website.

I wasn't into team sports growing up, so it wasn't until I moved across the pond and saw ice hockey played on TV that I developed an interest in it. I first strapped on skates at age 31 and the rest is history as they say. It's certainly one of the best activities I've started for myself. After skating out for a year-and-a-half I tried goaltending one night and just fell in love with it. I love the technical challenge and how it makes me live in the moment. I also love that I get to be a bit different but still be accepted.

Imagining Tom in his other hobby; (Hope you dont hate the Bruins or something...)

I read this as goattending. I was somewhat confused as to why it was technical. I went back, reread :)
Goat tending and technology come together sometimes, and not by choice.

I worked at Motorola for over 41 years, changing jobs every few years to learn something new, or just do something different. After spending a few years designing cell phones I wound up in a corporate research group for the last 12 years I worked at Motorola where every job was different than the last.

While most of the "real engineers" in the Motorola plant where I worked would rather spend their time stuck in front of the computer calculating and simulating, I took every possible opportunity to get out of the building and do some real world testing. After several years of driving around south Florida with test equipment strapped to the roof of my car and boxes full of pricey radios better than theirs in the back seat, most of the local cops knew who I was and quit asking the same questions. Mall security, however, was always a pain in the a$$.

What does this have to do with goats? About 20 years ago I spent several weeks outdoors dragging all sorts of expensive stuff through places it was never meant to go. This paper was the first installment in a series discussing interference seen in real world police situations. This was first brought to the attention at some high level meetings in Schamburg. I was assigned to look into it and on the first call with the boys in Chicago they described two real world worst case locations, both were within a few miles of my house.

This was in effort to solve some real world technical problems that caused public safety radio equipment to malfunction in some situations. "Real engineers" write technical white papers detailing the results of some fancy new technology or to justify their jobs, I wrote more readable papers which could be read by less technical people since these people could influence your employment. The second installment involved dragging a wheeled hand cart into a field full of grazing cattle, a few horses and a lot of goats. The cattle were oblivious to the intrusion, and the horses kept their distance, but the goats wanted to eat everything including my clipboard and all of my notes. they also chewed a cable in half ending that excursion into their field. I returned a few days later with another Motorola technician and someone who worked for the owner of the property and who could keep the goats occupied while we took our data. We would return to this place again several weeks later to take more data and test some more stuff.

Unknown to us at the time there was also a hidden agenda to restructure several frequency bands to the benefit of a major US cellular carrier. That rebanding did occur several years later and the fallout from it resulted in the high powered LTE project that I had spent two years on being cancelled. The second picture shows me hard at work testing a 100 watt 700 MHz LTE transmitter in a temperature chamber. I would take the buyout about two years later and leave.


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Some years back I was reading up on the early history of flight in the UK and of an incident where a biplane pilot ran low on fuel, landed in a field and legged it to get fuel for his plane.

He got back and found cattle in the field and they'd eaten enough of the doped fabric from the wings to make the plane unfit to fly.
My longest term hobbies, since I was a kid, have been playing tennis and playing drums. Unfortunately, tennis is also my longest term hobby showing the least amount of improvement. Following in terms of longevity would be astrophotography - it is a wonderful hobby that gets me outside at night to see and hear aspects of nature that I would otherwise sleep through. I also like to program, and have written some code to make the rather complex opensource DRC room correction package easier to configure.
My electronics hobby, turned profession, turned hobby-profession is certainly my longest standing interest.
Same here. In what I thought was a cruel move my parents bought me an electric guitar, but no amplifier for Christmas at about age 5 or 6. The "story" was that the guy at the music store told my mother that it would be quieter than a regular acoustic guitar (true) and my father worked rotating shifts and didn't want to hear it.

A year or two later my father ditched the mono Magnavox console "HiFi" for a Silvertone stereo. It took me about 27 seconds to splice a guitar cable into the wires in the tone arm of the Maggie with masking tape. I had an amp...... and it was LOUD. I built my first real DIY guitar amp out of parts salvaged from old TV sets in the trash dump somewhere around age 7 with some help from a ham radio guy who was the older brother of a schoolmate. It was a near clone of an old Fender Champ 5C1 with a 6BQ6GT as the output tube and two speakers from discarded radios. Been making them off and on ever since. We got free silicon (within reason) at Motorola so my late 70's and early 80's amps were based on one of the SWTPC Tigers.

Now 65 years later there are two different guitar amps designs under development on my workbench.

Blowing up tubes in the quest for sound was my primary hobby forever, blowing up silicon, GaAs, GaN, and SiC for $$$ was my day job.

  • Film photography & developing it myself (I limit myself to b&w)
Somewhere in the 70's I built a darkroom to further one of my other hobbies, photography. I had an old Durst enlarger from a litho shop that could handle up to a 4 X 5 INCH negative. Originally designed for B&W, I used it for color printing with a DIY filter stack. Somewhere in the 80's the darkroom got moved to the garage and then eventually discarded. I had several large format cameras. I developed and printed color negatives (C-41 on Ektacolor)) using a DIY electric tray for temperature control. It was very low tech, just a bunch of series connected resistors epoxied into the bottom of the tray connected to a variable power supply. I simply turned the voltage up to get the developer to the correct temp. The other chemicals didn't seem to matter.

  • computers - I fancy building something from the 60’s using microcontrollers (new to me) to emulate core memory and tape units, also looking at neural networks, learning LISP etc.

My journey down the DIY computer road started in 1976 with the SWTPC 6800 system. After three years I had developed several SS-50 bus boards for it. One was a memory expansion board and another was a color graphics board. I had written some assembly language programs to play what we now call "chiptune" music in 8 bit resolution vis the parallel port and lots of resistors to make a crude R2R ladder DAC. The SWTPC got swapped out for a DIY Apple II clone which got a friend called TRS-80. Both of them went away when a friend who was a contractor at IBM in Boca showed up at my house one day with a trunk full of trash he got from a dumpster at the plant where the IBM PC was born. From the trash, I made him an 8 slot PC-XT and I got a 5 slot PC. Both ran at a blazing 4.77 MHz which WAS fast compared to the SWTPC at 921Khz originally and 2 MHz with the 6809 upgrade.

  • Radio - I fancy trying to bounce a signal off the moon, and I'd like to get a Ham license, learn CW and build a Paracet transceiver
I successfully heard my own echoes from the moon on 902 MHz. back when I lived in Florida. I had a 12 foot TV satellite dish about 600 watts of RF power and a DIY receiver with a noise figure of less than 1 db at the antenna. An argument with a code enforcement person wound up escalating to a face to face argument with the mayor of the city and my dish and ALL antennas were banished from my house. I still have an active Extra class ham license, but have not been on the air in over 20 years.....someday.

  • guitar - I have an acoustic and electric, just need to learn how to play ’em!
I have several guitars, and I know how to play them. Unfortunately my guitar playing skills peaked at age 20 something and I'm now 71. Maybe it's that practice thing. That might help......

  • Sailing - a friend of mine got himself a nice boat….
I had two friends whose parents had 34 foot sailboats when I was a kid. We took them everywhere along the Atlantic coast from Palm Beach to Key West and the Bahamas. Then, I left for my job at Motorola and never saw them again. Motorola had a single page "bargain trader" sheet that got printed every month. I was working as a Mr. Fixit in the factory one day in the early 80's when I heard two women talking about an ad for a cat, a hobby cat for $800. "Who would pay $800 for a cat?" I grabbed the paper, took one look and proclaimed that if it was in good shape, I would. Then I explained that a Hobie Cat is a sailboat and I did buy it. I worked the evening shift at the time and had that Hobie in the Atlantic two to four days a week by 9:30 AM and sailed until about 2:30 which just gave men enough time to get it home and get to work by 4:30 PM.

Computer hardware design has been another great hobby (as well as a profession). It was within reach of a hobbyist in the 1970s and early 1980s, but hasn't been a practical hobby for a long time.

That leaves computer programming. Software is unbounded in the scope of the problems that it solves. Programming has been an enduring hobby because it is both practical and has no limits on creativity.
I got a job at Motorola with no formal electronics education other than a vocational electronics program in high school. After landing a job in engineering, Motorola sent me to school for an "engineering degree." I got a bachelor degree in computer engineering which taught me how to write code, and the fact that I did not want to write code for a living.

I have built three different music synthesizers using the Teensy modules which are small 32 bit Arduino compatible boards that program in "C" using the Arduino environment. The Teensy has a cool drag and drop audio library that makes synth design almost easy. There might be a Teensy powered guitar amp in my future.
1. Gaming. It eventually got me into PC hardware building. And now hardware repair from gpu,laptop, power supplies to any household items.
2. Diy-audio. This got me into hard jobs like carpentry and welding/metal works.
3. 3d printing/laser engraving/cutting. This got me into cad/3d tools.
4. Arduino. Helped me keep in touch with soft programming after college.
5. Music/movie lover. This got me into learning guitar and keyboard. And of course diy-audio.
6. VLSI frontend engineer by profession. Helped me manage my time and make most out of it.
7. All sorts of sports till my college days. Represented college/University in cricket. No play anymore 😔
8. Many in and out hobbies as they never substantiated into anything meaningful due to lack of time.
9. Find some time to be lazy and enjoy doing nothing!

Finally all these made me into a shopaholic!

Top Todo's:
Learn swimming, travel in coming years.

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