Beginner's List of Components?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by thakid87, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. thakid87

    Thread Starter Active Member

    May 23, 2009
    So, I want to get a litte past the theoretical stuff and start messing around and trying to make my own atrocities on a breadboard.

    What basic components should I get? I want to buy a decent amount of components to make up for the shipping.

    I'm thinking resistors, capacitors, diodes, transistors, IC's, etc.

    I don't know, am I going over my head?

    Also, with the caps, there are so many different kinds. Electrolytic, tantalum, ceramic, etc. What's the difference?

    Any help is appreciated.


    Sorry if this is a useless post to some of you guys....
  2. russ_hensel

    Distinguished Member

    Jan 11, 2009
    You need a bit more focus on what you want to do, either type of project or type of technology. For example you might decide you want to work on op amps or micro cnotrollers. For type of project it is a bit harder to categoize. Are you experimenting, or do you want to get some sort of projects done. I would not start with just basic conponents unless you are working explicitly to understand them.

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 26, 2009
    If I were you I'd buy the passive devices first (resistors, capacitors, and diodes). You won't be needing inductors much unless you'll be doing RF building. Some active devices would be nice as well, this may include some general purpose transistors (2N3904, 2N3906) and you might also like to get a few op-amps. Other than that, your inventory doesn't need to be too extensive. If you are building a major project, you can simply purchase the ICs and such when you'll be needing them; but for general building, the parts suggested above are usually all that's necessary to meet your standards.

  4. SgtWookie


    Jul 17, 2007
    Better have a plan for organizing stuff before you acquire it.

    Otherwise, you'll wind up having boxes of stuff and won't be able to find a darn thing. It'll be taking up space, but you can't use it if you can't find it.

    Ask me how I know this. :rolleyes:

    There are some good ideas on storing electronics items in The Projects Collection forum:

    Be warned that many of the fair sex have nearly uncontrollable urges to "tidy up", which usually involves dumping any electronic parts you might have lying around into a box and hiding it in a closet someplace. They all LOOK the same, they must BE the same, right? This is guaranteed to drive you nuts. Avoid that problem entirely by having your storage plan already made; stuff that comes in the mail, goes right into the storage you've already set up for it.

    You can spend a lot on parts if you're not careful.

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 26, 2009
    Excellent suggestion SgtWookie! :) Most of my family sure knows the frustration I have when I don't find the right parts, or when I unintentionally dump a organized bin(I recently did that with my resistor bin; a big mess).

    "AAAAGH!" Austin screams in utter despair, "MY RESISTORS...." :D

  6. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    As far as getting parts there are a lot of good sources out there. I particularly like "Dan's Small Parts and Kits" (google it). He's an odd duck, doesn't do business though the web, but has an online catalog. You will get to find out how we used to do business, via snail mail for the order and payment, and delivery!

    If you are fortunate enough to have a electronics store near enough to drive to, plan your projects ahead. There is no sense buying stuff that you might use if it is local. Of course, this is a case of do what I say, not what I do. :rolleyes: I can't seem to help myself.

    Any idea what you're going to try for? If it is general experimentation find a good cheap op amp such as the LM358, a couple of 555, and a small selection of transistors, diodes, and LEDs along with a selection of resistors and capacitors (Radio Shack actually has some decent deals on those) along with a protoboard, a variable power supply wall wart, and a cheap DVM, and you're good to go.

    I am a strong advocate of building your own test gear. It is generally cheaper and you learn a lot doing it. If you can fold metal or work wood this is a plus, as buying prebuilt chassis boxes is expensive.

    AAC has a excellent library of experiments in Volume 6. You can look at them by clicking on the links at the top of this page.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2009
  7. KL7AJ

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 4, 2008
    Greetings, "kid"

    I've been collecting components for more than 45 years....I'd hate to think what it would cost if I had to start from scratch now!
    However....I'd start looking at catalogs from Mouser, DigiKey, All Electronics, Mouser Electronics, and Edlie Electronics. Look for resistor and capacitor kits....and it's probably worth investing in the nice drawer things they sell with them.
    Check with local ham radio flea'd be amazed at the components that show up at these events...especially now that fewer hams are doing component level troubleshooting...their loss is your gain.
    Also check in on, and let them know you're looking for raw components. There are GREAT deals there.

    Also, you might want to get a couple of these Mystery Boxes from Electronic Goldmine:

    One of the best kept secrets in "electronicdom"

    Good luck!

  8. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    It was cheaper back when most gear was point-to-point. You just grabbed TV's off the curb and clipped out resistors and capacitors.

    One thing, though - you never have quite the right resistor on hand. An assortment of 3/8" trim pots is very handy. They don't handle any power, but you can get oscillators and such (555's) to hit the frequency you want without strings of series and paralleled fixed resistors.

    Job sites used to be good sources for scraps of telephone cable. The 4 wire stuff is good and the multipaired stuff is really nice. Don't know if they just toss 10 foot lengths like they used to, though. Dumpster diving may not be permitted, though. Check ahead of time.