[Table of Contents]People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about
and learning some of the history of early electronics. Popular Electronics was published from October 1954 through April 1985. All copyrights (if any) are hereby acknowledged.
hobby magazine worth the paper its printed on has a "tricks of the trade"
type column. Popular Electronics
started out its very first
issue in October 1954 with a column that went by exactly that name.
For some reason I did not scan and OCR the entire article, but
here are the first couple pages of tips. In looking at the other missing
page, I'd say nothing really useful was missed, so unless someone specifically
requests it, this is all that'll be published.
It's good stuff
to know, even in 57 years later in 2011.
See all articles from
Tricks of the Trade
REMOVING BRAID FROM SHIELDED CABLE
cable, whether used in audio or r.f. work, always presents a problem
to the experimenter as stripping and removing parts of the braid are
not easy. A good technique is as follows:
If an outer layer
of insulation is used, remove a portion by running a sharp knife around
the cable, flexing it slightly to break the insulation loose as shown
in (A). Too much pressure on the knife may nick the braid.
Loosen the braid with the fingers and push it back so that a flat
ring is formed as shown in (B). Using diagonal cutters, clip the outer
edges of the flat ring (C) thus separating the braid. Remove the excess
braid and strip a portion of the insulation from the inner conductor
as shown in (D) . . . . . . . L.G.
* * *
STRAIGHTENING BUS BAR
Bare, tinned copper wire
or "bus bar" is often used in commercially-built test equipment. Unfortunately,
this bus bar develops kinks and wrinkles if left around the workshop
bench and should be straightened before being used in home wiring projects.
To straighten any sized bus bar, from 22 gauge to 12 gauge,
clamp one end in a heavy bench vise and grasp the other end tightly
with a pair of pliers. Now apply a strong, steady pull on the wire.
Use plenty of strength, but don't pull too hard or jerk the wire as
it may break. The wire will straighten out nicely and may even stretch
slightly. If this happens, the wire diameter will be reduced and the
wire will tend to be stiffer and hold its shape better.
* * *
TERMINATING SHIELDED CABLES
shielded cables, such as microphone cable, as well as small sizes of
r.f. coaxial cable, may be terminated in a professional way by using
the method shown in the diagram.
If the cable has an outer insulator,
remove about 3" of this material as shown in (A) thus exposing the braid.
Next, push the braid back to loosen it and bend the cable slightly.
With a soldering aid, a scribe, or a small nail start working the strands
of the braid apart to form a small hole as shown in (B). Keep working
on the opening and bending the cable until you can get the tool under
the inner conductor (C). Now slip your tool under the inner conductor
and pull the free end out of the braid (D). Hold the edges of the braid
back with the fingernail, if necessary, while performing the operation.
With the inner conductor free of the braid, stretch the braid out
until the opening is closed tightly around the inner conductor (E).
Finally, finish the job by stripping insulation from the inner conductor
and flatten the extra length of braid to form a ground strap as shown
* * *
A Self-Tapping screw, suitable
for use in aluminum, as well as Bakelite, lucite, polystyrene, and other
plastics, may be made in a few minutes from a conventional machine screw.
Using a steel machine screw of the desired size and length,
run a nut up on the screw, almost to the head, as shown in (A). Next
clamp the screw and nut in a vise and taper the end (B) using a flat
file. Then, using a triangular file, file three or four tapered notches
along the screw. The notches should run the length of the screw as shown
in (C) and be deepest at the end farthest from the head.
Finally, remove the nut, as shown in (D), thus restoring any damaged
* * *
Too-Long machine screws may
be shortened by following a few simple steps. First select a steel nut
to fit the screw, then run it up on the screw past the part to be cut
Clamp the screw and nut in a vise, cut off the unwanted
portion, using either bolt cutters or a hack saw. Remove sharp burrs
with a few passes of the file and then remove the nut. As the nut is
run off the screw, the damaged threads will be restored
* * * FOIL SHIELDING
foil is a handy accessory to have in the home workshop for trouble
shooting chirps and whistles in superhets due to insufficient shielding.
Every "newborn" home-constructed superhet receiver seems to have at
least a couple of these hard-to-clean-up bugs.
Place the set
on a sheet of foil and fold up the ends to determine whether shielding
the entire chassis will help. Form the foil into temporary tube and
coil shields and put barriers of the foil between any components suspected
This is much faster than the usual procedure of
setting up permanent shields and then removing them when they don't
seem to help. When components feeding back are found, isolate them entirely
with conventional shielding. Always be sure to ground all shields-permanent
or temporary. D. McM.
* * *
Recently I found it necessary
to shield a small superheterodyne oscillator coil. Since none small
enough for the purpose was on hand, I used the zinc can from a flashlight
Simply cut the can with a hacksaw close to the positive
end of the cell, grasp the cloth lining with pliers, tear out, and clean
the inside of the can. Cut holes for the leads and lugs for screw fastening.
Penlight cells make good subminiature shields for portable
* * *