Stupid question from a Complete beginner

Thread Starter


Joined Nov 29, 2017

I have been wanting to get into electronics for some time on a hobby basis, though I really haven't known where to start. So I spent quite a few months looking up possible projects that I could get my teeth into which would teach me the basics.

Now I have a couple of quick questions. I'm wanting to build up a stock pile of common components, so that when I'm putting together projects I have them to hand and I only have to go out and buy the more bespoke items which will be project specific.

So the equipment I already have is as follows:-

Resistors wide range of values.
Jumper wires
Arduino Mega and Uno
Raspberry Pis

Apart from these I'm not sure what I should focus on next?
Capacitors? What range of values?
Any others?

Also does anyone know where a good place would be to find out about basic circuits, I'm thinking that if most of my projects I have in the pipeline involve micro controllers such as Arduinos and Pis, so I will be looking to reduce voltages from higher inputs to lower ones and possibly boosting lower voltages to higher ones. I believe these are called voltage regulators and boosters.

Finally is there a definitive list of circuit symbols? I understand that these differ from the USA, UK and Europe, though is there a site online which lists these symbols at all?

Any help will be most appreciated.


Joined Sep 9, 2010
Do you plan to take your projects off the breadboard and make them permanent? If so, you might take a look here. Also here and here.

I'd recommend a supply of 0.1µF ceramic capacitors for bypassing. You'll need those no matter what you do.

It's hard to recommend buying random transistors and electrolytic capacitors without having specific projects in mind. I have a pile of them but they're mostly scavenged from old electronics. I don't order new ones until I have to. Except for expensive MOSFETs I usually order several more than I need at the moment. That way I have extras but also build up a supply for future projects. I hate paying shipping, so I try to look ahead as much as I can.


Joined Mar 6, 2017
I would suggest a Digital Multimeter and an Oscilloscope. The later can be bought for not very much nowadays and even a cheap one will be adequate for most hobby type projects. Mine cost around £300 and has seen me through my entire undergraduate degree without issue.

An adjustable power supply will also be essential, preferably one with current limiting. A lot of hobby projects advocate using batteries for EVERYTHING but if you're working from a bench why wouldn't you use a mains powered supply? Saves having 500 dud batteries laying around. Also consider a split rail supply to give you +-15V to power your op-amps. You may even wish to consider buying a signal generator in the future.

When buying components, be careful not to overlook some of the "boring but essential" components. Things like:
  • Push buttons
  • Slide switches
  • Jumper wires, (male to male, male to female, female to female)
  • Plenty of LEDs
  • More jumper wires
  • Crocodile clips for your test leads
  • A few general purpose op-amps, like the good old LM741 (tin hat on)
  • A few logic chips like AND, OR, NOR, NAND etc if you want to look at digital logic.
I could go on but if you have any specific questions I'm sure you'll ask!

Best of luck with one of the most frustrating and satisfying hobbies there is!


Joined Mar 31, 2012
I'd let what you are doing currently be your best guide. Start simple and buy just what you need to do that. As you go you will have lots of, "I sure wish I had a...," moments. Sometimes, it will be a work-stoppage condition -- you can't proceed until you get it. But most of the time it won't and you can add it to the list of things to procure.

You'll find pretty quickly that you will have assembled a basic set of tools and supplies with which you can do a lot. Be pretty liberal with getting basic tools that have a lot of utility and that aren't too expensive. Resist the temptation to go out spending lots of money on tools that have limited utility at the stage you are at. For instance, if you want to get into RF then a spectrum analyzer would be very useful. But don't go out and buy a spectrum analyzer when you are at the point of figuring out what Ohm's Law is all about. You have a long way to go before that spectrum analyzer will do you any appreciable good and by the time you get to the point where it will, you will be in a much better position to make good decisions about which one to get.