From a very early age I always loved tinkering with electrical & electronics stuff and during my early teens I'd often fix old car radio's, 8-track cartridge players and cassette players etc for my dads car repair business. I did get paid, but not much though!.......it was always for the fun. Later, my dad moved into the CB and telecommunications trade business and although still at school I helped out by doing all the electronic repairs and upgrading of CB radio's, amplifiers and power supplies etc. Around this time I took up the guitar as a hobby and built my own amplifiers and effects pedals which helped stretch my knowledge of electronics, albeit self-taught.
The move into computers came by way of a schoolmate who loaned me his Sinclair ZX81 and later the purchase of my own Sinclair Spectrum. I got into both the hardware & software by building my own eprom programmer, modifying my Spectrum and writing a stock control program for my dads business. It was on leaving school that I joined the family business where I spent my time repairing and upgrading mostly CB Radio equipment.
At aged 19 I joined an oil service company specializing in electronic drilling instruments & controls. I joined the workshop as a technician and moved up through the ranks over the coming years; Technician, Electronics Engineer, Technical Support Group Leader and on to R&D Manager in charge of all electronics design including managing the departments software engineers.
It was through the company that I learned all about analogue & digital electronics from design, assembly, building systems, testing, installation, commissioning & repairing. Being a relatively small company we did everything in-house including making all our own PCB's, writing all our own software and coverered everything from data acquisition, comms, PSU's, PLC, Scada, instruments etc. We designed and built all our own panels and deployed them worldwide.
Back into music, as a hobby I also got involved in a local 14-piece Soul Band, I was the resident tech guru/soundman and could often be found with my hands & soldering iron deep inside Hammond Organs, mixing desks, power supplies and amplifiers. All this exposed me to the world of audio electronics.
Other hobbies around the late 90's included motorcycle trials. I developed a webzine called TRIALS ACTION, attracted around 15 paid advertisers continuing over a 4 year period and eventually sold the site and domain names in 2001.......no I didn't become a dotcom millionaire!. Here's a snapshot from the website in 2000 courtesy of the Wayback Machine.
In 2005 I left the world of hands-on electronics and took a desk job (still in the oil biz) and also gave up my soundman duties. However, after a few short years I realized I missed the electronics workbench and the soldering iron so built a home workshop and began having fun. The result is www.IanJohnston.com. The website began as a hard coded site running on a home-built webserver at home and on the end of a DSL line, however as traffic increased it eventually moved to where it is now, hosted by 1and1.co.uk on a Winows dedicated server.
Join me if you can via this site and my YouTube channel as I cover some old ground, experiment with new technologies and generally have fun with electronics and software. As my tag line says "Because it feels good to make stuff".
Thats me on the far right circa 1988 building & testing a DRILLING COMPUTER for an offshore platform.
Soundman & "Mr. Fix-It" for 14-piece Soul Band "Souled Asylum"
Thats me circa 1995 aboard my 1991 Beta Zero