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Post details: My Life In Stereo!

My Life In Stereo!

Posted by: The Mad Scientist

The song 'Life in Stereo' being played through my Heathkit OS-01 Laboratory Oscilloscope

The Just Add Water song "Life In Stereo" being played through my Heathkit OS-01 Laboratory Oscilloscope

You're looking at one of my insanely great new toys, the Heathkit OS-01 Laboratory Oscilloscope that I purchased from my scientist friend from Fermilab! While I suppose that I should be something useful with this particular piece of sophisticated testing equipment such as troubleshooting electronic circuitry or checking my amateur radio equipment for good transmit signal quality, like any good mad scientist I opted to do something that was cool and completely useless with this oscilloscope instead-- I hooked it up to my stereo system! I am sure you are saying, "But oh smart, wise, and incredibly dashing mad scientist sir, shouldn't you be doing more useful things with this piece of equipment that you worked so hard to get?" Well, as of right now, no. I purchased two oscilloscopes from my Fermilab scientist friend, and my other oscilloscope is a much more powerful and sensitive Hewlett-Packard Model 130BR oscilloscope. I will be using the Hewlett-Packard oscilloscope for all of my electronics and robotics work. In fact, I intend on using the Hewlett-Packard scope to start looking at the output signals created by my homebrew servo controller boards that I built back in January very soon! If I come up with something more important that my Heathkit oscilloscope could be doing, I will take it off of stereo duty and use it for real work.

My Heathkit OS-01 Laboratory Oscilloscope hooked up to my stereo system
At first I was very nervous about hooking my Heathkit oscilloscope up to my stereo system. I wasn't sure what the impedance of the electromagnets in my stereo's speakers and my oscilloscope's electron gun were, so I was afraid that an impedance imbalance between the two devices could damage one or both pieces of electronics. I later found out that I didn't really have anything to worry about and that I was being very over cautious, and once my fears were set aside it took longer for me to move the stereo away from the wall to get to the speaker outputs on the back of the unit than it did to actually hook up the stereo to the oscilloscope. Two simple 12-gauge wires from my electronics toolbox attached to each device and I was in business!

What I did to hook up my stereo to my oscilloscope was to shove my two 12-gauge wires into the back of the right stereo speaker's output along with the right speaker's wires. This insured that I will still get sound going out of my right speaker even though that speaker's output would also be hooked up to the oscilloscope. I then ran the two 12-gauge wires from the right speaker output and hooked it up to the vertical input on my oscilloscope. I then set the base sweep speed to 10Hz and adjusted it until I got some very good looking signal waveforms on the oscilloscope's display. I could have additionally hook the left stereo speaker's output to the horizontal input on my oscilloscope to get some funky circular patterns on the display, but I thought that this looked much cooler!

While I don't know too much about the history of my Heathkit OS-01 Laboratory Oscilloscope, I am assuming that it dates back to around the late 1960's or so. It is filled with glowing vacuum tubes, and the oscilloscope gets fairly warm when it is turned on and fills my room with a wonderful musty electronics smell. I suppose that most mundane people wouldn't consider the smell of ozone coming from a vintage electronic device to be the most delightful of aromas, but to a mad scientist it's heaven! While I could probably be accused of being over-easily entertained, I never get tired of watching the oscilloscope when I am playing music, and I mess around with it nearly every day! I have wanted my very own oscilloscope for more than half a decade now, so for me this thing is the absolute coolest toy I have gotten in a long time and a dream come true! Now if I could only find a way to impress the single women at the bars with it....

My Heathkit oscilloscope during an intense part of a song

To give you an idea of what you are looking at in the photos above, the dark rectangular object with the circular screen in the middle of the photo is my Heathkit OS-01 Laboratory Oscilloscope, and underneath it is my stereo system, which as you can see is 27-seconds into a track that it is playing. Directly to the right of the oscilloscope is a tower of music CD's. The glass jar with the radiation symbol on it that is sitting on top of the stack of CD's actually has radioactive material in it-- it is filled with vaseline glass marbles which contain a little bit of Uranium in them to give them their yellow-green color. They have so little radioactivity in them that the glass marbles are completely safe to own in any amount and are unregulated by the government. I have some of these marbles because the Uranium makes them glow in the dark underneath a blacklight, which is really cool looking, and because they give me something to test my Russian Military Surplus DRSB-01 handheld Geiger Counter with. (Yes, Russian Military Surplus Geiger Counters are legal for people to own too!) The blue light in the photo is coming from a blue cold-cathode decorative lamp that I own, and the framed picture in the upper-right portion of the background is a limited edition Disney Aristocats pencil drawing from Walt Disney World. Yes, even though it is a bizarre combination, I have a love for Duchess from the Aristocats just like I have a love for high voltage electronics! That's why I am a mad scientist that builds cute animatronic robot foxes instead of death rays and giant peace-keeping robots of mass destruction like all of the other mad scientists that I know in the Mad Scientist's Union! Consider yourselves fortunate that I am not the death ray type and that I like cute fuzzy cartoon characters instead! As always, comments about my projects are welcome!

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