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Self-made components

Recently I've been thinking about the limited range of components available to the average hobbyist. Regardless of whether you salvage then from electronics devices you have on hand or purchase the components from a vendor (online or off), the components you have are still limited by the demand for them to be made in the first place. So If you had a niche project and you need a unique part that could be made but doesn't exist. Then making it yourself seems like an obvious way to go. I think this is well beyond me but has anyone tried this?
 

DerStrom8

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I once made a variable resistor using a pencil and two alligator clips. I've also made capacitors out of tin foil, salt water, and beer bottles.

Is that what you had in mind?
 

schmitt trigger

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Back in the early Golden Radio days, amateurs would indeed make a few components, like inductors, resistors and capacitors.

But they still had to purchase the vacuum tubes. At the amateur level one could not afford the equipment to make a vacuum tube, nor did they have the required skills.

If you require to make a semiconductor, even something as simple as a transistor, the difficulty becomes tenfold, unless you are a graduate student with access to an University's semiconductor laboratory, which not all possess.

Nowadays, the most you can do is obtain some ferrite cores and wind your own custom transformers and/or inductors. But proper magnetic design is not for the faint heart.

Exactly what do you want to do?
 

Nigel Goodwin

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Recently I've been thinking about the limited range of components available to the average hobbyist. Regardless of whether you salvage then from electronics devices you have on hand or purchase the components from a vendor (online or off), the components you have are still limited by the demand for them to be made in the first place. So If you had a niche project and you need a unique part that could be made but doesn't exist. Then making it yourself seems like an obvious way to go. I think this is well beyond me but has anyone tried this?
The obvious and classic example is a microcontroller, by programming it to do what you want you're essentially creating your own custom component. A PLA would be another example.
 

Nigel Goodwin

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If you require to make a semiconductor, even something as simple as a transistor, the difficulty becomes tenfold, unless you are a graduate student with access to an University's semiconductor laboratory, which not all possess.
You don't have to be a 'graduate student', you just need to work at the University :D

My son-in-law is a Technician at a University, and has access to semiconductor manufacturing - and my daughter, who worked there doing research until January, had to make a solar panel as part of her clean room certification.
 

ronsimpson

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In about 1960 (?) I made a crystal radio. The coil/inductor was made of wire on a toilet paper tube. Like in the picture I had a version that used a razer blade as the diode. Then I got a real crystal.
1586282281444.png
 
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Diver300

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Inductors and other wound components can be made and modified with simple technology. Other components need far more complicated equipment to make something that is anywhere near equivalent to what can be bought.

I've made or modified a lot of inductors and transformers. It's quite easy to add a few turns to add a low voltage winding to a transformer, or to add a few volts to a higher voltage winding. On a buck converter, an output at an additional voltage can be added with a few turns and a schottky diode, and with an unsheilded inductor, it's quite easy to add the extra turns.

I've made current transformers from a small transformer, but cutting away the secondary, and putting a single turn in its places as the new primary, with the old 230 V primary as the low current secondary.

I rewound a relay to make it current-operated rather than voltage operated.

While making components is generally difficult, components can be used in interesting ways. The old germanium transistor, the OC71, was often used as a photo transistor by scraping the paint off. LEDs are generally photo-sensitive, are occasionally used as a light sensor.
 

Nigel Goodwin

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The old germanium transistor, the OC71, was often used as a photo transistor by scraping the paint off.
The manufacturer, Mullard, didn't like it though - as they sold a far more expensive OCP71 opto-transistor (just an OC71 that wasn't painted fully). So they modified production of the OC71 and added an opaque filling, to prevent it's use with paint scraped off.
 
Thanks for the replies! In part yes this is what I meant. But I also was interested in whether anyone had tried inventing brand new components for a specific project. But I imagine this would be very difficult in practice.

Exactly what do you want to do?
I contemplated making a part similar to an LED which would be tunable and would emit a wide range of wavelengths, ranging from the IR to the ultraviolet. The more I learn though the more I doubt it's possible. I think that when you look at it from a physics perspective rather then an engineering one, it makes it look more simple than it actually is. Other than that I just wondered how easy it was to invent a new part and if anyone here had done something like this.
 

dr pepper

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Nice radio ron, I wish I had stuff I made long ago, I wasnt quite around in the 60's.
Diver I remember making a light controlled audio oscillator using a transistor with the paint scraped off, an acsomethingorother, also tried iit with a bc107 that works too.
Mr dont_look, if you was able to make a led that was able to produce those wavelengths you'd be doing something remarkable.
If you want to make a component that is interesting and doable try a diode.
 
Mr dont_look, if you was able to make a led that was able to produce those wavelengths you'd be doing something remarkable.
If you want to make a component that is interesting and doable try a diode.
I think I should more learning before I attempt something that advanced. But there's a chance I might try it one day. Thanks for the reply!
 

Nigel Goodwin

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I think I should more learning before I attempt something that advanced. But there's a chance I might try it one day. Thanks for the reply!
Why do you want such a device anyway?, what are you hoping to do? - not that I'm not extremely dubious about your creating a new semiconductor device that doesn't even sound remotely plausible in the first place.
 

Grossel

Well-Known Member
The components that are wastely available, is all those SMD components that are to be found anywhere. I've thought for some time to try to use strands from an normal cat5 cable to solder "custom legs" so that those smd components can be used on a breadboard experiment.
The issue is that it would be very tedious and takes some attempts to get the soldering right.
 
Why do you want such a device anyway?, what are you hoping to do? - not that I'm not extremely dubious about your creating a new semiconductor device that doesn't even sound remotely plausible in the first place.
If I had a component like that I would probably wire it to a raspberry pi and then I would be able to use it for a variety of things, by just writing python scripts. I don't have one specific function in mind. but think it would be a useful thing to have. But I agree with you, I don't really think it's possible for me to do. But trying to do it might still teach me a lot. So it still might be worth the effort in the end.
 

Nigel Goodwin

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If I had a component like that I would probably wire it to a raspberry pi and then I would be able to use it for a variety of things, by just writing python scripts. I don't have one specific function in mind. but think it would be a useful thing to have.
Useful for what? - if you want a variable coloured light that's already commonplace.
 

Nigel Goodwin

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We have a portable appliance test every year, and every time they get around to the portable welder I get flamed for forgetting to remove my 6mm bolt fuse.
Presumably they fail it, and put a 'do not use' sticker on it? :D

I've done PAT testing (and now have the tester from where I used to work), and checking the plug fuse is correct is one of the simple tests, as is a visual inspection.
 

ronsimpson

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Most Helpful Member
gimmick capacitor
1586373600920.png1586373644906.png
self-made-components
It is hard to say what a self made component is. Certainly the gimmick cap.
Years ago we were having a hard time finding 1500 volt 20A diodes. We started using the Base-Collector junction of power transistors. We had a meeting with Motorola and they realized a way to make HV diodes on the transistor line. Millions of diodes were made. Did "we" make the diode?
 

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