Mechanical engineer to get some knowledge

Thread Starter

MechanicalEngineer411

Joined Apr 13, 2020
4
Good day to you all,
I'm a mechanical engineer with a strong background in Maths and Physics.
I have a keen on robots and stuff and I would like to know the fundamentals of everything related to electronics in order to:
- develop robots (I guess it's automatisation)
- work with wireless apparels
- design electrical circuits.

I'm good in programming but I would like to know how I could start learning on these projects.
If there's a path to follow, what steps to take and voila.

I would like to be able to design robots and hence acquire the knowledge I miss, electrical and electronic engineering.
Also, I've been doing some Arduino programing and circuit making.

Best of luck and thanks for your answers :)
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
21,069
Bienvenue, Welcome to AAC!

That is a tall order. Most of us would require 2 to 4 years of basic electronics, hardware and software design, and a program in mechatronics.

You can do this on your own with guidance from others, books, videos, online instructions and doing it.
If you wish, start small and take one step at a time.
Get an Arduino board, a motor and motor driver, servo motors, sensors, and do something simple.
For example, build a small mobile that follows a white tape on the floor or a bright light.

Just start doing it!
Bonne chance!
 

Thread Starter

MechanicalEngineer411

Joined Apr 13, 2020
4
Get an Arduino board, a motor and motor driver, servo motors, sensors, and do something simple.
>> yeah i've been doing that. But I wished to understand the underlying theory of why those choices have been made. But solid idea thanks

Take a look at the Picmicro 'Pendulum' project.
>>> I didn't know it existed but I'm gonna have a look.

Would you have any good books over all to suggest?
 
I have much the same background as you. Working in the automotive industry I was constantly in contact with electrical engineers. In todays environment it's probably rare that mechanical engineers aren't working in close contact with electrical engineers. Just a suggestion but strike up some friendships. You could probably learn a lot from them. More so than most engineers, electrical engineers seem to have their own outside interests and projects going on.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
6,024
Bienvenue, Welcome to AAC!

That is a tall order. Most of us would require 2 to 4 years of basic electronics, hardware and software design, and a program in mechatronics.

You can do this on your own with guidance from others, books, videos, online instructions and doing it.
If you wish, start small and take one step at a time.
Get an Arduino board, a motor and motor driver, servo motors, sensors, and do something simple.
For example, build a small mobile that follows a white tape on the floor or a bright light.

Just start doing it!
Bonne chance!
If you want to learn about circuits and electronics DO NOT get an arduino! Programming is not like creating circuits and understanding voltage drops and current. Start with an introductory textbook that teaches about basic circuits and resistance, current, and voltage. Building toy circuits is a fun thing but without any basic understanding of what is happening it is strictly fun, not learning any circuit stuff. As an EE I had to know statics, dynamics, and kinematics before I was able to design machine systems that worked right the first time. It seems that there is a lot more to mechanical engineering than just strength of materials. Quite a revelation that was. So starting withe the basics is the way to begin.
 

MaxHeadRoom

Joined Jul 18, 2013
20,656
I have a keen on robots and stuff and I would like to know the fundamentals of everything related to electronics in order to:
- develop robots (I guess it's automatisation)
- work with wireless apparels
- design electrical circuits.
Also Robots used in industry have a high end type of CNC control, unlike other systems they generally retain their position when switched off, avoids the need to re-reference them.
The Pic AN964 gives the schematic and building and programming details and is a good intro to PID control, which is the heart of robotics.
Max.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
6,024
>> yeah i've been doing that. But I wished to understand the underlying theory of why those choices have been made. But solid idea thanks


>>> I didn't know it existed but I'm gonna have a look.

Would you have any good books over all to suggest?
That is why I suggested looking at basic circuit theory. So that you can be aware of the relationship between voltage, current, and resistance. Then you can understand how transistors amplify and switch. You would also have a clue about power supplies. The arduino cookbook approach teaches none of that.
 

JunkieNL

Joined Mar 19, 2020
22
If you want to learn about circuits and electronics DO NOT get an arduino! Programming is not like creating circuits and understanding voltage drops and current. Start with an introductory textbook that teaches about basic circuits and resistance, current, and voltage. Building toy circuits is a fun thing but without any basic understanding of what is happening it is strictly fun, not learning any circuit stuff. As an EE I had to know statics, dynamics, and kinematics before I was able to design machine systems that worked right the first time. It seems that there is a lot more to mechanical engineering than just strength of materials. Quite a revelation that was. So starting withe the basics is the way to begin.
I have to disagree. An Arduino is great way to learn some basic electronics. You can learn programming and electronics at the same time. An Arduino gives you immediate results that will help you to keep motivated along the way. I have written down some tips:

Tip #1: Don’t fall into the “spectacular project” trap.

That is what I did when I started with Arduino. I just googled “awesome Arduino projects”. Picked one out that seemed interesting to me and started to build it. Of course, I was in over my head. People learn in small steps. You take what you already know… add something very small… and learn that. If you try to learn to many different things at the same time it is not only very inefficient, but it will also be very frustrating. You should start with an easy project and gradually build your way up.

Tip #2: Pay as much attention to the programming as to the electronics.

Eventually you are going to need both to become a successful maker (of for example wireless robots).

Tip #3: Learn Arduino in small steps and build your way up. You could start by doing the following "projects" in order:

- Get the onboard LED to blink at a blinking pattern of your choice. You learn how to actually connect and program an Arduino and do some first coding.

- Get an external LED to blink. You will learn to use logic outputs. You will learn about Ohm’s formula while you try not to blow up your LED.

- Make a thermometer out of an NTC. You will use your first analog input. You will also learn about analog to digital conversion and again use Ohm’s formula.

- (more beginner projects here)

- Get a button to work as input. You will learn about floating voltages and pullup resistors. You will also learn how to debounce a switch. There is a hardware and a software solution. Try both.

Tip #4: Count your achievements based on what you have learned and not what you have built.


If you buy your materials on AliExpress only 30 dollars/euros will last you throughout the whole corona crisis. :)

Materials that come to mind:
-Arduino nano + usb cable (better buy 2)
-breadboard
-jumper wires
-set resistors (e.g. 10x 20 values)
-set ceramic capacitors
-set electrolytic capacitors
-dupont wires (male-male ND male-female AND female-female)
-some buttons for your breadboard
-cheapest multimeter
-led's
-an NTC
-maybe some $1 motors since you're interested in robotics.

I would leave the wireless part for later. Start with the basics.
 

Thread Starter

MechanicalEngineer411

Joined Apr 13, 2020
4
Start with an introductory textbook that teaches about basic circuits and resistance, current, and voltage
>> Thanks for the message, I am aware of some bits of the basics since I had the opportunity to have some books about it. But is there a solid book you recommend to go from theoretical knowledge to practical hands-on experience?

The Pic AN964 gives the schematic and building and programming details and is a good intro to PID control, which is the heart of robotics
>> Thanks, I read one very abstract lecture from a teacher at MIT but again, I didn't get how you go from theoretical to practical. Do you think practicing with the PIC AN964 would allow me to understand it ? Is there a good book about it?

I have to disagree. An Arduino is great way to learn some basic electronics. You can learn programming and electronics at the same time. An Arduino gives you immediate results that will help you to keep motivated along the way.
> thanks for the tips but even if I learnt some aspect of programming and designing circuits I still have the feeling that I'm not getting the bigger idea of circuit design and that's why I was more prone to get some background checks for the theory
 

RAMBO999

Joined Feb 26, 2018
244
Good day to you all,
I'm a mechanical engineer with a strong background in Maths and Physics.
I have a keen on robots and stuff and I would like to know the fundamentals of everything related to electronics in order to:
- develop robots (I guess it's automatisation)
- work with wireless apparels
- design electrical circuits.

I'm good in programming but I would like to know how I could start learning on these projects.
If there's a path to follow, what steps to take and voila.

I would like to be able to design robots and hence acquire the knowledge I miss, electrical and electronic engineering.
Also, I've been doing some Arduino programing and circuit making.

Best of luck and thanks for your answers :)
Sounds like me. I'm a Mech and Elec Eng and recently wanted to know more about electronics. You can read as much as you like but to make it stick you need to put it into practice. I spent a few quid on things like variable 32VDC power source, a variable temp soldering iron and some breadboards. I have a couple of meters too including an ESR meter. Best to start with some kind of small project and then figure out what components you will need to produce the behaviour you want from your circuits. I decided to make a pulse modulator. I started by creating a circuit that would make an LED flash on and off. I learned how capacitors and transistors work along the way and a lot about a very important circuit configuration called an RC circuit. Anyway, that's what I suggest. Practical as well as theoretical approach. The actual components are dirt cheap. The power source, meters, soldering iron aren't that expensive either. About £250 in all. But I didn'y buy them all at once. Just bought them when I feel I needed them. It sure mounts up. Step by step.
 

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atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
3,954
> thanks for the tips but even if I learnt some aspect of programming and designing circuits I still have the feeling that I'm not getting the bigger idea of circuit design and that's why I was more prone to get some background checks for the theory
I suspect that lot of people feels, sooner or later, that they do not know how to go from theory to practice (put me in that list, of course).

The "solution" (it is not actually that) consists of simple steps where you apply what you have learnt "the day before". With time you start relating subjects and combining things. And with time again, one day you will become daring and start dreaming some incredible project.

Read thouroughly data sheets and user manuals; a great percent of questions in these forums would not be posted, had the OP simply read a datasheet in advance. The regulator LM317 is probably one of the most common cases and rather good (bad) example.

Do not be anxious. Stay safe.
 

RAMBO999

Joined Feb 26, 2018
244
I don't actually thing it helps to study, say, what a capacitor does and how it does it and then try to find something to do with that knowledge. All real world projects start with a problem that needs a solution. I think that's the best way to learn. Make up a problem. Come up with the solution. Identify the functional and behavioural requirements of that solution and then find out what components will provide them. You are most likely to find a role for a capacitor in there somewhere. Along with transistors and resistors. But those are the cart. The real world problem is th horse. My 10p worth.
 

Thread Starter

MechanicalEngineer411

Joined Apr 13, 2020
4
data sheets and user manuals
>> data sheets for ? I read some data sheets but for some motors and stuff like that.

Else anybody has some solid books ? or are they more or less equal ?

on top of everything, yeah practices maketh the skills but does it mean that anyone without an EE background could be a solid robotic or electronic engineer? I have heard from some ppl in some start-ups who just so happened to be Mech eng and learnt some skills on the spot up to a point where they designed some Electrical/ Electronic circuits.
 

RAMBO999

Joined Feb 26, 2018
244
>> data sheets for ? I read some data sheets but for some motors and stuff like that.

Else anybody has some solid books ? or are they more or less equal ?

on top of everything, yeah practices maketh the skills but does it mean that anyone without an EE background could be a solid robotic or electronic engineer? I have heard from some ppl in some start-ups who just so happened to be Mech eng and learnt some skills on the spot up to a point where they designed some Electrical/ Electronic circuits.
Components like capacitors, transistors, mofsets and transformers have a datasheet that is produced by the manufacturer that describes the component's electronic characteristics, limitations, expectations and pin designations etc. I have attached an example. I don't know whether there is a comprehensive book on the subject. It would have to be a pretty thick one is all I can say. YouTube is you best friend whwn it coes to tutorials at the component level. I suggest you use it extensively.
 

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MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
6,024
I suggest starting someplace near entry level, depending on where your current level of understanding is. What I see a lot on this website are many examples of individuals who jump in without any basic understanding and then find themselves lost.
An understanding of current, power, and voltage drops should not take long for an ME to pick up, probably an hour or two. The an understanding of components and their effects and limitations would come next. A study from an AC circuit analysis textbook would be appropriate.
The school that I graduated from did teach the ME students that much, just as the EEs had to learn statics, dynamics, and strength of materials. We were not masters of the subjects, but certainly literate.
At that point building projects and using micro's and paying attention to how the I/O portion actually works would be reasonable.
Still remaining would be gaining an understanding of op-amp and comparator functioning, which are quite important since not everything is best done by software.
 
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