What is the League of Mad Scientists

The League of Mad Scientists is a loose federation of professional and amateur, engineers/scientists/technicians who meet periodically to have fun, discuss events, and help each other with projects.

Where did the name come from?

The League of Mad Scientists is a meme that arose around American Universities sometime before the 1970s. From medieval times, universities have been rare havens where
You tried what?!
was less likely to be followed by
You can't do that. Are you crazy?"
and more likely to be followed by
What happened? Did it work?
After leaving university and working in factories and offices, often far from college and family, techies congegated after work at the local pub or pizza shop, as they once met at the rathskeller, or student-staffed restaurant. From California to Pennsylvania, these weekly or monthly meetings were known as the League of Mad Scientists, and a well of Good Old American Know How.

What were past interests?

In the 1950s, the League of Mad Scientists might help the local teens build the town's first radio station for Rock and Roll 2, and in the 1960s, wire the towns police cruisers for cellphone 3. In the 1970s, the League of Mad Scientists was likely to help someone setup a satellite dish1. and in the 1980s, help a parent setup a computer in their child's school library 4. In the 1990s, the League of Mad Scientists might bring gamers and surfers together for a net party 5, and help churches and schools hookup to the internet in the 2000s.

What are today's interests?

Today, the problem is not lack of information, but its opposite, filtering useful information from the internet firehose. The techie in India who generously posts his working tv tuner circuit to a British do-it-yourself forum probably doesn't mention his easy-to-build never-fails project assumed 230VAC at 50Hz and DVB-T protocol. The Canadian chemistry major who downloads the tv tuner circuit is likely to be disapppointed after building everything perfectly, only to see the tuner fail to understand American ATSC, or worse quickly destroy itself plugged into Windsor's 120VAC 60Hz. A casual mention and theory of operation explanation, over pizza with a local electician can save lots of money and frustration.

Prospective employers want to see a prospective employee's prior work, but past employers don't want former employees to show their work to competitors. League of Mad Scientist projects can be shown to demonstrate skill to a prospective employer.


1 In the 1980s a public utilities commission meeting was likely to listen to hours of public fear that geosynchronous satellites hid Soviet bombs.

2 Many campus radio stations built by engineering students, played records, without commercials, to students around the clock, when most commercial stations only broadcast live with an announcer reading ads, during the hours when potential customers were listening.

3 A radio transmitter is much more senstive than a receiver to line noise, temperature, and vibration. Before car manufacturers included cellphone-compatible accessory jacks, early car radio installation was a fusion of custom car mechanics, Robinson Crusoe power supplies, and wilderness camping chemistry.

4 Schools generally had no budget nor staff trained to manage a computer. Libraries, and most rooms in houses and businesses, had only two wire ungrounded outlets. Many school districts simply disallowed school computers as unreliable and black holes of effort to solve mysterious failures. Many school children owe their computer introduction to League of Mad Scientists advice to use a surge protector and grounded socket for pre-laptop computers sensitive to distant lightning or a sump pump kicking in.

5 Early internet access was spotty. Those fortunate to have a clear 56K telephone connection would host net parties for recent graduates going through arpanet withdrawal.