Finally got my electronics “workbench” set back up. So far, I’ve made a few custom audio cables (mostly 1/8″-male to 1/8″-male interconnects) and am working on an LED clock kit to get back up to speed on soldering. Unfortunately, the spring in the TC201T soldering iron for my WTCPT soldering station is wearing out, so I had to order another one and will continue working on things once it arrives on Monday the 16th.
I got a pretty good year’s worth of use out of this WTCPT station; it only cost me $29 shipped off eBay and had obviously been through many years of use before I acquired it. The base power unit should pretty much last forever, and with this new TC201T (a newer version than the one I currently have), I can simply replace the heater unit and switch (for $30) if it happens to wear out. All told, not counting tips I’ve only spent about $100 total on the original WTCPT and the new replacement iron – that’s still cheaper than $130-150 for a complete new station.
After those are done, in a month or so I’ll be assembling my long-awaited P112 Z80-based single board computer kit. I’ve built a Z80-based SBC before (the Southern Cross I), but it was a simple trainer with not much I/O and a hex keyboard and display. The P112 is a “real” computer that runs CP/M and uses floppy disks (or IDE storage with the “GIDE” add-on board).
My ultimate goal would be to save up enough to build a new-reproduction version of the Altair 8800, but they’re $1500; for that much I’d rather just save the money to upgrade my Mac to the latest model in a year or so.
One of these days I’ll get around to posting my rant about the current state of hobbyist electronics that’s been bouncing around in my head for the past couple of years.