I have fond memories of building stuff with my Dad – crystal radio sets, adding a vernier dial to a shortwave set, building a couple of electronic sets, learning how gears and cams and pieces make ratchets and convert rotary power to linear and so forth. MAKE magazine seems to continue the tradition of taking things apart and (we hope) putting them back together, perhaps a little differently, perhaps a little better.
At my recent presentation to the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Linux User Group, I showed off the LinkSys WRT54G. As soon as we were done, I offered to pop the cover off my router so we could look inside. I was immediately surrounded. My fellow LUGgers could immediately identify the serial port solder pads on the circuit board, identify the RAM, EEPROM, radio transceiver, and so forth. I asked who was confortable using a soldering iron and better than half the hands went up. As the evening wore on, there was discussion of leasing a T-1 and turning yourself into the local community wireless ISP – several members had done that – and the 3 dB attentuation per meter of leaves when trying to reach more distant sites, how to get broadband to remote rural locations, and experiences with different DSL providers.