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Make your own Xbox, anybody?

Just two hours before 'firing up' time, and the King of barbeques was ready. The product of about six hours assembly-work, drawn out over a week, this gas-fuelled creation is quite possibly the best BBQ ever built.

Standing admiring it in all its rock-solid glory, I reminisced over the many highs and lows experienced during the complex 'build'. The relief of finding that the little plastic packet of screws and nuts did indeed contain all that was required to construct the monster, counterbalanced by the low of discovering that the gas tube was not included …

It struck me at the time that were it to have been suggested that I build my own cooker, or microwave oven, I might sensibly refuse. But a BBQ is one of the few items that a manufacturer trusts its clients to assemble – that, and any item of IKEA furniture – despite the risks of faulty construction that both types of goods entail.

Let's be honest, there's an innate, sometimes sadistic, pleasure to be found in assembling and fixing things. My colleague Bill Schweber wrote recently about the misappropriated wiring on his washing machine, but I am sure he secretly delighted in being able to fix it.

Who can blame a younger generation for its tendency towards instant gratification when everything they encounter works straight out the box. It's 'plug and play, or no way.' I dread to think what would happen if we gave them a Philips screwdriver and asked young consumers to start assembling their mobile phone or Xbox.

But, but, but, in the early days of consumer electronics we had crystal radio sets. Cheap, popular and accessible, these long forgotten 'kits' innocently hooked a generation into a love of electronics, but where are their equivalents today?

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