Brown Sign: National Electronics Museum

IMG_2224The Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The busiest travel day on the East Coast, and your Mother-In-Law is flying into BWI, which is a three-hour drive from your mountain home.  Then, the biggest storm of the season moves across the country, drawing warm moist air from the Gulf and freezing air from the Great Lakes.  On Tuesday, before the Wednesday, the line of pink ice on the radar map hovers over your cabin.  Time to make a reservation at an airport hotel, and drive to Baltimore after work, rather than risk driving over ice the next morning.  Her flight arrives about 11 a.m.  So, what do you do from when you wake up at 6 a.m. until arrival time.  As you pass the mile of hotels and franchise restaurants to find your hotel to be the last in the line.  You turn the corner and notice the National Electronics Museum.  Huh?

Being the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, at 9 a.m. we nearly had the place to ourselves.  One man was in the Fundamentals of Electronics room.  A teacher at the local community college arrives an announces that some of his students should be joining him.  Does he really expect that his students are going to spend the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at a museum?  We are delighted.

Over the next hour or so, we review electro-magnetic fields, DC and AC generators (not the rock group), tubes to transistors to semiconductors, binary coding, video cameras to cell phone camera technology, wax cylinders to gramophones to Hi-Fi to MP3 players, and radars of all sorts.  Nifty!

The display contain a lot of information, so much so that we had exhausted our reading time with only half of the Fundamentals of Electronics room.  We browsed through the rest of the museum, which could take quite a while to digest, unless you just like to look at square boxes of wires without knowing which are telegraph machines vs field radios vs radars, etc.

IMG_2226The museum started as a display of gizmos that Westinghouse made at this location.  A group of employees began to assemble examples of the finished products for display to the researchers, developers, and production crews, so that at an annual event they could see what their company made for the defense and aeronautic industries.  They requested to display a specific item, but were not permitted to possess one of these by the Department of Defense, unless they were a museum.  With some corporate and grant funding, they established a museum, which went through a few incarnations until Northrop Grumman (now the owner of this Westinghouse division) provided them with the museum space.

One message the museum conveys is that electronics fill our lives.  Thinking about this, we listened to a simple transistor style weather radio while preparing to go to work.  Later, we used a computer to access the internet via a wi-fi system to check the weather radar images of the storm.  Then we used the computer-internet-wi-fi system to find a hotel, make a digital registration & use our credit card, connected to a digital banking system to verify our account and transfer the funds.  Our vehicle is full of electronic parts from the battery to spark plugs to gas gauges and dash-board displays.  We listened to the radio picking up stations from WV, MD, and PA along the way.  In one fuzzy zone, we put in a music CD to listen to.  Driving in rain, we had lights on, using some of the most basic electronics that Thomas Edison experimented with 125 years ago.  Electronics everywhere.

Well, the National Electronics Museum is certainly off the beaten path, but let your inner-geek have a morning there some day, when waiting for a plane to arrive at BWI.

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About hermitsdoor

Up here in the mountains, we have a saying, "You can't get there from here", which really means "We wouldn't go the trouble to do that". Another concept is that "If you don't know, we ain't telling." For the rest, you'll have to read between the lines.
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8 Responses to Brown Sign: National Electronics Museum

  1. No one else on earth would have found this museum. Have a great Thanksgiving.

    • hermitsdoor says:

      Thanks for dropping by, and the fish sandwiches. We could have driving right by, trying to find our hotel (which we missed the sign once), if we were not in tune with finding quirky museums.
      Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. Mother Suzanna says:

    Only you guys could find a NATIONAL Electronic Museum on a back street on the way to a hotel you’d already missed! More power to you. You can probably do a room each time Emily comes down and you have bad weather!

    • hermitsdoor says:

      That did cross my mind 🙂 Had we not had the treat, and realization, of snow on the way home, we three might have spent an hour in one of Baltimore’s art museums. That will wait for another occasion to. I heard once that “luck” is not random chance events, but being open to opportunities as they arise.

  3. rommel says:

    Urgh! I would be so discombobulated if I get there. 😀 And I also have to keep my hands behind my back, else I might get electrocuted. 😀 I would definitely need a supervision if I do chanced upon it,

    • hermitsdoor says:

      Lots of hands-on experiement, including becoming a conductor of a current. Compare when you place both hands on the pads, then place one hand on a pad, the other against a companion’s hand, and the friend touch the other pad. The current changes.

  4. The Vicar says:

    That sounds like one of my conversations with Mac. You know, the one where I keep nodding my head as if I actually understand what he is talking about, hoping his passion for electronics will distract him from the glazed look in my eyes.

    • hermitsdoor says:

      Connecting with another person’s interests and passions can be challenging some times. I think I could spend more time studying electronics than football statistics.

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