Your approach for completing the electronics project.

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by abhiananth, Feb 2, 2015.

  1. abhiananth

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 24, 2014
    18
    1
    I love electronics. I wish to create many projects. I have ideas too. But the problem is I am not able to complete the project which I have started.

    Let me explain my approach.

    Step 1: I will define an idea

    Step 2: I will do the programming(if the project involves microcontroller)

    Step 3: I will simulate the circuit in circuit simulator

    Step 4: I will buy the required components

    Step 5: Build the prototype circuit in breadboard

    Step 6: build the final project in PCB

    But the problem is I always stuck at step 4 and 5. During step 5 only, I will find that I am in shortage some more components. It always take more than a week to get components.

    I love to work in focused manner with no distractions for long hours.(My ultimate strength)

    Whenever I sit to build prototype, I find that I can’t able to work in it because either I don’t have required components(that are not used in circuit simulator) or I wouldn’t get the output that I got in simulator

    If I don’t have required components, I can’t proceed any further and I have to wait till another 1 week for buying those components. Since I love to work in focused manner with no distractions for long hours, I get stuck because of lack of components and I fail to complete the project (My ultimate strength becomes ultimate weakness)

    If I wouldn’t get the output that I got in simulator despite doing everything as I did in simulator, I am stuck because I don’t know what to do further.

    I have so many ideas and tried many projects. But always stuck at step 5. Even tried to analyse many of this forum thread and tried answering it but again stuck at step 5.

    Please provide me any suggestions or your way of completing electronics projects.

    Also please provide a list of electronics components that should always be present in the lab.
     
  2. urb-nurd

    Member

    Jul 9, 2014
    269
    3
    i can relate to this!
    It has characterised almost all of my projects.
    Now that i am at university and NEED to finish projects, i find that i struggle just as you do - but have the perseverance to push on for answers without being disheartened with my performance.
    The AAC forum is nice enough to answer my silly questions when i get stuck, that is my major hold up - something goes wrong and i dont even know where to start.
    Forums aid me during this time, even though i irritate the majority of people with the endless stream of questions -- AAC always helps.

    I have ADHD and struggle with consistency with my work, i suspect you may exhibit similar tendencies.

    My advise is to set small obtainable goals.

    I tend to believe i am a genius when it all works, the i start to feel remedial if i mess up. They cant both be true!
    Intelligent, but unintentionally careless.
     
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  3. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    Like this. :D
     
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  4. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    Seriously, a lifetime of accumulating is not enough to keep up with the constantly changing parts. Ordering everything correctly the first time confounds most of us.
     
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  5. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    Ditto. Most recently I had some diodes arrive and had to slap my forehead when I realized I'd ordered a model with leads too fat to fit the holes in the PCB. I was trying to get the best specs I could for the money - and I did - but I totally forgot to even think about the lead diameter.

    Part of the solution to your problem is to have more than one project at a time. When one stalls for a while, pick up the other one. In R&D and marketing management, it's called portfolio management. It's not practical to plan for ANY project to not have roadblocks, unless you're in upper management. In that case you plan for projects to be completed in record time without cost, to capture more than 100% market share.
     
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  6. crutschow

    Expert

    Mar 14, 2008
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    It can be difficult to determine why the breadboard doesn't work the same as the simulation.
    You can probe the breadboard and try to determine what node voltages are different from the simulation and then try to determine the reason why.
    Often it's the difference between the simulation models and the real devices or the result of parasitic capacitance or inductance in the breadboard that was not captured in the simulation.
    Another factor is that simulated devices of the same type all have identical characteristics (such as transistor gain), although in real life these characteristics may have a wide tolerance.
     
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  7. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Others have offered a lot of good advice. I will add some of my own.
    Focusing 100% on one task at a time is unrealistic. As wayne says, you have to learn to manage multiple projects on the go at the same time.

    Parts procurement

    I will usually not begin a project until I have all the parts at hand. Of course, a lot depends on how easily you can acquire components. I do not order one part at a time via online. I wait until I have a substantial list of items for multiple projects before placing an order. I will always order extras for spares. So over the years I have a very good assortment of commonly used items. Most of my resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, LEDs etc are bought in bulk (100s) at flea markets or surplus at bottom prices. It is almost inevitable that the design will be altered and a different component will be required. It helps to have a wide assortment to cover these situations.

    Testing and debugging

    I rarely use a circuit simulator. Why? Because either they fail to model the real world correctly or they are outright wrong. Building the real thing and getting it to work is the ultimate proof. I always say to students, if you design and build something (hardware or software) and it worked perfectly the first time (which it rarely does) then you would have missed the opportunity to really learn.

    The real challenge comes when you have to diagnose and fix a problem. Learn to test parts of a system functionally. What are the symptoms? What would cause those symptoms? What kind of test can you devise to isolate and pinpoint the problem?

    Multiple Projects

    Not all of my projects make it to completion. Many of my projects involve "wicked" problems. That's what makes it challenging. Most of my projects take months and years. They need to go through a seed planting, germination, incubation, growth period over time. Solutions will often evolve or morph over time as new ideas come to mind. This is a natural process for me. For this reason I can easily have a dozen projects on the go at the same time.

    Each project will have its own file folder or note book. I might leave it for a month or so and then get straight back into the swing of things when time permits. To be able to do this I must take good notes. It doesn't stay in my head. I'm out of memory space.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2015
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  8. sirch2

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2013
    1,008
    351
    I often find it's the step after the PCB that trips me up, i.e. the mechanical bits, getting it all in a case with a PSU, etc. One thing I have learned is to expect things not to go to plan, components with different lead/pin layout (variable resistors etc.) or needing an extra connection you didn't expect. It seems to be a psychological thing, if you expect to be tripped up you take more care and you are not as thrown when you are. One thing I have taken to doing is placing a number of extra empty pads along the edge of the PCB, at worst you won't need them and you have wasted a bit of copper clad board but at best you can solder on a few extra components and jumper them into the circuit.
     
  9. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    That's my nemesis. I am famous for being so hyper-focused that I fit everything in a case so small that I end up adding a fan or a slab of aluminum to get rid of the heat. Imagine a finished project with a CPU heat sink on top like a stegosaurus has fins. :D
     
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  10. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    I just ordered 6 different parts with up to 30 pieces of some.
    To my surprise, Digikey only charged $4.99 for shipping & handling.

    It is not so bad if you forget a part. Just think the project through and make sure you have everything, then order again.
     
  11. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    To Canada they charge a standard $8.00 and it is on the doorstep next day, but I suspect the OP does not have that luxury?
    Sounds like he maybe somewhere that does not have the N.A. supply advantage?
    Max.
     
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  12. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    If you look under "Flea Market", one poster makes Canada sound like the 3rd world. Then again, if I remember correctly, you are closer to DigiKey HQ in western MN than I am in PA.
     
  13. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    I should add that one advantage to having several parallel projects is that I can often order parts for more than one project, saving on shipping. And I always pad the order. If I go to the trouble to choose a part and find out it's cheap, like a diode or a resistor, I can't resist getting several. Maybe they'll get used in the next project, maybe not, but I won't have to find that part again for a while.
     
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  14. crutschow

    Expert

    Mar 14, 2008
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    Don't let MrChips discourage you from using a simulator. If he doesn't like them that's fine, but I find them invaluable in doing a circuit design and would never do one without simulation, even a simple circuit. Simulation is particularly useful for non-linear circuits where the calculation of the circuit response is difficult or near impossible.
    It's true they often don't exactly match the real world circuit performance but, especially for circuits operating in the low MHz or audio range, the simulation is usually good enough to show whether there's any significant design errors in your circuit.
    Simulation also makes it easy to try different circuit designs for optimizing the circuit.
    My experience is that a Spice simulator is rarely completely wrong. If so you can usually recognize it as an artifact of the simulation. Many times I thought the simulation was wrong when it was really my design.
    But certainly you need to build a breadboard of the circuit to verify the operation and perhaps tweak the circuit to get the performance you want before committing the design to a PCB.
     
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  15. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Same as I do. I buy enough on one order so that the shipping is free.
     
  16. abhiananth

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 24, 2014
    18
    1
    Thanks everyone for ur suggestion.

    points which i noted are,
    1. Have more than 1 project in hand
    2. Always buy more components than required as per design
    3. Break big projects into small projects
    4. Learn testing and debugging.(helps when circuit didn't work)
    5. Be consistent
     
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