Andrei's hobby blog

      About me

      My name is Andrei. I live in Iasi, in north-eastern part of Romania. I am married with a smart and beautiful wife, Maria. I work as a system architect, mostly in embedded domain (automotive, IoT, industrial automation). On these pages I am going to share some of my hobbies.

      Since always I was addicted to building stuff. It doesn’t matter what. Software, electronic circuits, metal works, garden stuff, telescopes, they are all equal source of satisfaction to me.

      Until high school my interest focused mostly on electronics. Computers were not so available back then. On the other hand, the house was full of electronic components and devices from my father. He also had a sizable library with books and magazines that were a great source of information in the pre internet era.

      Then I went to a computer science high school, and I also had my first PC. A Cyrix 5x86. A whole new universe opened. Or two. One was programming and the other one was gaming. In the first years I abused both. After a while I started to lose interest in gaming to a point where I considered it a complete waste of time.

      After high school I went to a Computer science college and since next year I attend also an electrical engineering college. At this time I discovered the embedded systems and I liked the combination of software and electronics.

      Over time my interest floats in unexpected directions. Right now I’m very excited about software defined radio and DSP. I had a lot of fun with a Raspberry Pi and a quadrature sampling detector. I'm also interested in analog RF. Listening to what is on the air or talking across the world with your radio is fun.

      I also suffer from eternal fascination about vacuum tubes. Their many pins invites to endless experiments and the glass, the glow and their complex internal structure indicate that mysterious things are happening inside.
      And since now they value almost nothing I'm collecting some. Small planar triodes that withstand 500G of early missile guidance systems, high efficiency pencil rod tubes used on the first satellites, glowing mercury or gas discharge rectifiers, large transmitting tubes with graphite anode, small microwave tubes that can generate tens of kW of radar pulses or the strange and menacing hydrogen thyratron that can switch kV and tens of amps.

      From this I believe that derived my interest for tube radios. I found irresistible the old Swan, Drake and Hallicrafters transceivers. Maybe is their relative simplicity or the specific tube sound, or the weight of the metal buttons and the glow of the tubes. Or the intricate mechanical gears of high end receivers like Collins R390 and the pure functional and incredible robust design of military radios like R326. I must agree with the person who said that “they have a soul”.

      At some point I start to enjoy repairing electronic equipment. I acquired broken oscilloscopes or power supplies just for the fun of fixing them. High quality brands like Tektronix or HP/Agilent have very detailed documentation and it was a pleasure to dig into it.

      I’m also a sucker for electronics flea markets and Ebay. I like to collect all kind of components and to imagine what I could do with them. Could be some electromechanical filter, a ceramic coil with chemically deposited silver windings, the latest LDMOS transistor or a 50uA large analog meter, I must have them all!

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