Around 30 or 40 years ago, just about everyone knew somebody who loved electronics and was always working on their own electronic devices. This ranges from a cousin who repaired televisions, to dad building Heathkits, to an uncle who fixed radios, everyone knew someone whose hobby was electronics. There were bunches of tools, tubes, components and various other electronics laying around. There are issues of old electronics magazines all over the place. The smell of melted solder hung in the air in their garage or basement workshops. You could likely find a few PCB prototypes around each corner.
What about today?
Do you know anyone who fits that description? Probably not. The long time home for DIY electronics, Radio Shack, has even been emptying their inventories of the DIY stuff. So where did they go? How does a whole group like that just go away?
Really, they did not disappear. The old school guys who purchased all of the electronics kits are now purchasing robot kits. Those girls who used to operate the ham radios are now computer hackers. A young boy who once built RC boats and airplanes is today experimenting with embedded controllers and programming languages. Let's not forget about the old school hobbyists that are still plugging away. They're still using the perfboards, and electronic components, and purchased kits to design their homemade electronics. Don't forget about the hobbyists who use CAD software for their custom PCB designs and their goal of becoming a home made millionaire. Learn about using CAD software.
Progress or Perish
Why evolve? It's simple - to progress From the moment the integrated circuit was invented in the early 1970s, the hobby was destined to change. Circuit size was shrinking but the circuits were actually becoming more sophisticated. Weekend hobbyists couldn't keep up any longer. (Learn about making a protoytpe PCB)The inexpensive mass production also had a role. As integrated circuits were being produced on a mass scale, their prices plummeted. In most cases it was, and still is, cheaper to buy the ready-made products than the parts to build or fix one yourself. Can you remember the last time you took something to be repaired instead of buying a new one?
Advancements in computer technology and robotics have also lent a hand in depleting the amount of hobbyists. Still, hobbyists today are still doing many of the same things they would have done 20 or 30 years ago. The hobbyists still build, rebuild, and experiment with all types of electronics. They have just upgraded their tool boxes with embedded controllers, ICs, and wireless controls. Learn more about PCB prototype creation.
As technology evolves, so will the hobbies. When the electronics realm changes, so does the electronics hobbyist.