Rediscover the Joy of Electronics with these Throwback Projects from Circuit Classics

We tinker with computers for a living—which means, we’ve seen more circuit boards and electronics kits than you can shake a spudger at. But we’ve never seen a printed circuit board quite like this before.

Star Simpson, creator of Circuit Classics
Star Simpson, creator of Circuit Classics. Images via Circuit Classics.

Delightfully old school by design, Circuit Classics was engineered by Star Simpson and inspired by the work of tinkering legend Forrest M. Mims, III. In case that name sounds familiar, Mims’ hand-drawn instructional books on electronics, including Getting Started in Electronics, were widely sold in RadioShacks everywhere. His books introduced electronics to literally millions of people.

“He’s definitely a prolific educator and has dedicated his life to helping people understand electronics,” Simpson told O’Reilly Hardware Podcast on the inspiration behind Circuit Classics.

Circuit Classics brings Mims’ beginning projects off the page and into a real-life electronics kit. As part of her homage to the self-taught tinkering master, Simpson even reproduced Mims’ original diagrams and handwritten text right on the boards—so first-time tinkerers can easily connect the diagram with the physical hardware. The PCBs also look really cool, which is an added bonus.

Circuit classics dual LED flasher
Star Simpson’s custom-designed PCBs include the hand-drawn diagrams of tinkering legend Forrest Mims. Images via Circuit Classics.

Last week, Simpson launched Circuit Classics on the crowdfunding site Crowd Supply. The initial release of Circuit Classics will include three projects: the Dual-LED Flasher, the Stepped Tone Generator, and the Bargraph Voltage Indicator. Each kit includes Simpson’s hand-designed PCB, through-hole components, and a display stand (so you can show off your finished project). Circuit Classics by the way, was fully funded the same day it launched—so these beautiful boards are definitely coming to a workbench near you. Hopefully they’ll help teach a whole new generation of tinkerers how to understand, build, and fix electronics.

“I will measure impact in terms of how many people can have the experience of understanding electronics through Forrest Mims’ work, revived and revitalized in a post-Radio Shack world,” Simpson wrote.

Check out Circuit Classics here.