Where to go from here...

Discussion in 'Electronics Resources' started by Nick S., Feb 25, 2015.

  1. Nick S.

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 25, 2015
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    I'm a relatively new electronics hobbyist in high school and was wondering what are some good ways to learn electronics. I've read the beginning sections of "electronics for dummies" up to the integrated circuits section. I'm also reading Make: electronics and doing the experiments along with it, but I still feel like I can't do much designing circuits on my own. For example, for a while I've been trying to make my own designed oscillator without using integrated circuits or relays. I don't know if thats a really hard project to a beginner but it felt too hard for me and couldn't do it. I've also tried to make some other things, but oftentimes they just don't work. I think I've gotten down a lot of basic electronics theory, but I don't have enough experience when it comes to actually making circuits. Any suggestions on how to continue or what the best resources for learning are? Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks
     
  2. alfacliff

    Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2013
    2,449
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    find like minded enthusiasts in your area. local ham radio clubs can be helpfull, a lot of people in electronics got a start in ham radio.
     
  3. crutschow

    Expert

    Mar 14, 2008
    13,052
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    Learning to use a Spice simulator may help you. That would allow you to experiment with many different circuits, from a simple RC passive filter to one performing complex functions, without having to buy the components, and it's much faster than building it.
    It also allows you to view all voltages and currents in a circuit (which is difficult or impossible in a real circuit) to help understand how the circuit works (and why it may not).
    Many on these forums use the free simulator LTspice from Linear Technology. It has a somewhat steep learning curve but it has a tutorial and many example circuits to help get you started as well as a Yahoo users group.
    I think you will find it well worth your time to learn.

    Of course, once you get a circuit to work in LTspice you may want to built it to see how well it performs as compared to the simulation and determine what might be the cause of any differences.
     
  4. bushrat

    Member

    Nov 29, 2014
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    Where are you located?
     
  5. darrough

    Member

    Jan 18, 2015
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    It is kind of an expensive hobby. You will need a breadboard and a multimeter. Also you will need a variety of parts and books. An oscilloscope is also really useful but expensive. You can use batteries for power but they are a pain. A power supply and function generator and nice. You can make them, but then you are getting into more permanent forms of construction, and there are additional costs.

    As far as multimeters go, I recommend the B&K Precision 2704C. It gives you voltage, amperage, resistance, a capacitance meter, a continuity tester, a frequency meter, a logic probe and a transistor tester all for one low price. The best budget oscilloscope is the Velleman PCSU1000. Someone has a homemade oscilloscope in the finished projects section of this forum.

    Alternatively, you just design things in LTSpice and not worry about actually building anything.

    Another alternative is Arduino or other demo boards. The hardware is all preassembled and all you have to do is programming. But it is expensive too.
     
  6. bushrat

    Member

    Nov 29, 2014
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    Yes, it can be expensive, but you only have to buy it once. If you only assemble the circuit on breadboard, you can re-use those components over and over again (unless you damage or solder them).

    I got lucky then it comes to equipment and components. For few years I worked to circuit board manufacturer, and they would throw away some components (wrong specs, no longer used, ect, ect), and I made a deal with some people, that I would take them and they wouldn't have to pay fee to dispose of them; it was win-win for all of us. This way I got about 2,000 AM29F040 EEPROM's (anyone want some for free? just pay for shipping). When one of the engineers that I was friends with died, his family wanted to throw away all of his equipment from home. For $300 I got a soldering microscope, oscilloscope, multimeter, frequency counter, function generator, and enough components that I had to make 2 trips in my suv to get them all. It's been 3 years, and I still haven't sorted all of the resistors that I received. Total value (if i was going to buy it on my own) was reaching well into few thousands.

    Currently I work for different electronic company, and occasionally I still get unwanted components. Last week I got about 80-100 precision op-amps (OPA627AM), and the disposal bin for parts is open to me again. The only restriction is that I cannot take any parts that are programmed (PLDC, and so on) and completed circuit boards.

    While it can be a expensive hobby, it is not so bad comparing to other hobbies. Before I got into electronics, I was active in target shooting. I would have to spend few hundred dollars on ammo each time.
     
  7. Nick S.

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 25, 2015
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    Washington DC
     
  8. Nick S.

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 25, 2015
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    I actually have all of those things (except for oscilloscope and LTspice). I guess I wasn't clear on how far I am into this hobby. I have made a few kits and have the multimeter. I was just wondering if anybody has experiences one or two resources for learning that was extremely helpful or taught them a lot. I'm also planning on buying the books "practical electronics for inventors" and "the art of electronics" if anybody's heard about those.
     
  9. darrough

    Member

    Jan 18, 2015
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    Art of Electronics is popular with rather gifted people that have an advanced education in science and want to build equipment for experiments. It is not meant as a tutorial.

    There are some good self teaching books.

    Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics by Stan Gibilisco.
    The All New Electronics Self Teaching Guide by Harry Kybett and Earl Boysen.

    Neither one requires calculus, just a little bit of trig. They both give the reader enough to figure out whats going on in any common circuit.

    If you want a lab manual, try Experiments with Electronic Circuits by Sid Antoch. Be forewarned that the book requires an oscilloscope.

    If your interest is more in the science of electricity than circuit making, then try A Kitchen Course in Electricity and Magnetism by David Nightingale and Christopher Spencer. It's got to be the best conceptual explanation of electricity. It has a number of simple experiments too.
     
  10. Nick S.

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 25, 2015
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    Thanks a lot, I'll look into those books. What do you mean when you say the Art of Electronics is for building equipment and experiments and is not a tutorial?
     
  11. darrough

    Member

    Jan 18, 2015
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    It would certainly be a better choice than an electronics engineering textbook. If you go far with electronics you will probably find it very useful. It is not a good first book though.

    In the preface for the first edition it says that the book is for, among others, "advanced graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who suddenly find themselves hampered by their inability to 'do electronics'". In other words, the book focuses on how instead of why. So, for example, a researcher in say, human vision, needs a custom piece of equipment to perform a certain experiment. Such a researcher does not want to learn electronics engineering or theory. He wants to know the minimum to make the custom piece of equipment he needs for his experiment. It is fast paced. It assumes you can figure things out on your own. He doesn't, for example, stop to show you how to calculate something or explain why a certain equation is true. He just gives you the equation. You got to fill in the missing parts on your own. Every paragraph or so the reader has to stop, work a few examples on his own, and think it though until it makes sense.
     
  12. Nick S.

    Thread Starter New Member

    Feb 25, 2015
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    I've read a few books on basic electronics so it wouldn't be my first book. The "advanced graduate and postdoctoral researchers" is kind of intimidating, but I also plan to go very far in electronics. What's a way to know if I'm ready for this book? Do I actually have to be a graduate or postdoctoral? Keep in mind I'm a high school freshman, so it might be out of my league mathematically. Thanks
     
  13. Papabravo

    Expert

    Feb 24, 2006
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  14. kdcouture200

    Member

    May 22, 2010
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    You cant go wrong with any of the following books.

    1. Grob basic electronics
    2. Electronics principles and applications by Schuler
    Any book by either of them independently or combined. Youll find though that buying kits and hands on practice will help a lot as you go along.
     
  15. OBW0549

    Well-Known Member

    Mar 2, 2015
    1,328
    890
    Don't worry about whether you're ready for TAoE yet; if you've read ANY books already on basic electronics, you'll most certainly be ready at least for parts of it. And as time goes by, you'll understand more and more of it. If you do buy it, though, wait until April 30th when the 3rd Edition comes out.

    Other good sources of info are the collections of "application notes" published and available for free on the websites of the major chip manufacturers. Texas Instruments (www.ti.com), Linear Technology (www.linear.com), Analog Devices (www.analog.com), Maxim (http://www.maximintegrated.com/), and Microchip (www.microchip.com) all maintain huge app note collections, and although much of the material you'll find in them is specific to their particular products, a good portion of it is generally applicable and a good introduction to electronics.
     
  16. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
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