Recommended components/tools for a beginner

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by dublem, May 2, 2012.

  1. dublem

    Thread Starter New Member

    May 2, 2012
    I want to start building circuits, but am not sure where to begin in terms of which components and tools to buy. There seem to be a vast array of kits available (as well as makes for individual components!), and I'm reluctant to spend too much money without being fairly sure that what I'm getting is what I'm going to need (or at least find useful). A bit of help would be much appreciated!

    To provide a bit more info, the area that really captures me is logic circuit design, from basic logic gate components to projects involving microcontrollers etc... I'm currently studying Computer Science and have been working through 'The Elements of Computer Systems', which takes you through building a basic 16-bit computer from NAND gates using a VHDL-like language. Ultimately, I aspire to implement something along those lines in actual hardware. (I'd also eventually love to build an autonomous quadcopter and a usable wind turbine...)

    I'll have plenty of time over the summer, and want to really understand the gritty depths, so 'user-friendliness' isn't a top priority, especially if it comes at the price of a deeper understanding of how what your using works.

    So what would be awesome is maybe a list of components/tools that you would recommend for a beginner wanting to head in the sort of direction I've suggested. Thank you!
  2. MrChips


    Oct 2, 2009
    Get a solderless breadboard. A single board will do.

    9V battery
    9V battery clip

    one or more LEDs
    one or more resistors: 220, 270, 330, 470, 1k, 2.2k, 4.7k, 10k ohm
    two or more capacitors 0.1μF, 1μF, 10μF

    TLC555 Timer IC

    one each:
    4001 NOR gates
    4011 NAND gates
    4071 OR gates
    4081 AND gates
    4069 Hex inverters

    Total cost: US$20 max (my estimate)

    Later you want to buy resistors and capacitors in sets or bulk to cut costs.
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  3. jwilk13


    Jun 15, 2011
    Welcome to AAC!

    I second what MrChips said.

    Once you get familiar with all of that stuff, it sounds like you may want to look into something like this. I've used this exact FPGA development kit before and it's quite a lot of fun. You can program the FPGA using VHDL or by building a schematic with logic gates, multiplexers, etc. to make just about any circuit you want.

    If you're wanting to get into microcontrollers, I've used this kit from Microchip before as well (until I destroyed it). It's great for learning PIC programming at the basic level. The development board has LEDs, a potentiometer, a pushbutton, and some places for components and it comes with the programmer and debugger.

    With those two recommendations in mind, it is essential that you start at the beginning. I wouldn't get either of those kits without a firm foundation in electronics basics and a knowledge of assembly language or C programming. It sounds like you know some VHDL, so that shouldn't be too bad.

    Have fun, and be sure to visit here regularly. The people on here have extensive knowledge and have helped me a BUNCH.
  4. MBVet05

    New Member

    Jul 21, 2011
  5. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    I have a large array of parts it has taken me decades to accumulate. Basically build things with protoboards that are resuable, and save the parts, even the wire.

    This is what I call a protoboard...


    Other people may call it something else.

    If you look at volume 6 you will find many experiments and projects of various degree of complexity.
  6. Rbeckett


    Sep 3, 2010
    I too have been accumulating parts for a decent bench stock. So far I have been collecting for about 2 years with a 50 dollar per month max spare parts budget. I buy as many inexpensive component selections and assortments as I can to save money and quickly expand my available values pool of each additional base component. I also have several larger and a dozen or more mini breadboards that allow me to build a circuit and manipulate it while I learn, and leave assembled to allow me to experiment with linking them together like building blocks. Once I get that working properly I transfer to a perf board and solder it together more permanently. Be patient, and look around for a few different suppliers who offer assortments and it will help save you a good bit and expand your abilities rather quickly. So definately a +1 on what Bill sez!!! The most important thing is to insure that you have fun while you are learning and make some good old fun stuff along the way to help cement the info into a usable form in your head.

    Wheelchair Bob