Author Topic: Do I know enough?  (Read 4912 times)

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Offline ICSB_Tech

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Do I know enough?
« on: March 23, 2012, 09:40:20 pm »
Hi there, I'm an 18 year old American high school student studying abroad in Europe, and I've developed an interest in electrical engineering over the past two years or so. A friend and I build guitar effects pedals and amplifiers in our spare time, and I've been trying to broaden my knowledge on electronics design in general. I've been watching Dave's show a lot, and the stuff he talks about sounds so awesome, and I get some of it, but a lot of it flies over my head. I'm planning on majoring in electrical engineering when I go to college next year, but I worry that I don't know enough about electronics now to be able to catch up; Like I saw Dave's video about his childhood electronics experience, and I didn't get into that stuff until i was 16... So is it too late for me?
I've built few distortion pedals, a guitar amp, and I'm working on a delay pedal. I also have an arduino which i've been dabbling with, but it's hard to get specialized parts (like most IC's) from the local electronics shop here In Budapest Hungary. I'm willing to learn, and spend a majority of my spare time researching electronics design crap. But sometimes i get discouraged because I don't know how to make what I visualize in my head..
 

Offline McMonster

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2012, 10:04:18 pm »
(...) So is it too late for me? (...)

It's never too late if you really enjoy it.
 

Offline Blofeld

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2012, 10:33:28 pm »
Yeah, I agree with the monster, never too late. And at 18 you certainly have no reason to panic. When you say you build effect pedals and stuff - do you build them strictly after existing schematics or do you try to modify and "play" with the design ? This would be more useful as preparation for studying. Also, when you want to major in EE, there will be lots of math and for many students this is the real killer.
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Online IanB

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2012, 10:47:13 pm »
I've been watching Dave's show a lot, and the stuff he talks about sounds so awesome, and I get some of it, but a lot of it flies over my head. I'm planning on majoring in electrical engineering when I go to college next year, but I worry that I don't know enough about electronics now to be able to catch up; Like I saw Dave's video about his childhood electronics experience, and I didn't get into that stuff until i was 16... So is it too late for me?

Is it too late? Good heavens no!

In terms of practical hobby stuff you are probably ahead of many of your future classmates, and maybe some of them will be ahead of you.

But if you do a degree in electrical engineering then what you really need to learn they will teach you. As was mentioned above, degree level engineering courses are very heavy on the mathematics, so the best college preparation you can make now is to brush up on your math and other other basic theory like physics.

Don't get too much of the idea that what you see in Dave's videos is what you will learn in college or university. Much of what Dave shows and talks about is "real world" stuff, which you pick up a lot more in your first job after college. In college they are trying to give you a good strong theoretical underpinning to build on. The practical side of things is not "what" you learn, but "how" you learn. It's there to help you put theory into practice and to internalize what you are taught.

So anyway, it's not too late, but make sure you keep on top of your schoolwork. It will help you prepare more than the practical side of things at this stage.
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Offline RRobot

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2012, 11:03:59 pm »
Typically the first year in Engineering is generalized, with applied Calculus, applied Physics, maybe a Organic Chemistry course, intro Thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, analysis of static and dynamic systems, etc.  You probably won't specialize til 2nd year or even third year.

Any thing related to electronics you initially do will be simple circuit analysis and setting up RLC networks etc, with the purpose being to show the students how to create math models of systems and solve them using various transforms (Laplace etc.). In any case like the others said your not too late, stay on top of your courses (especially maths) and keep in mind this isn't high school, you fall behind you won't catch up.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 11:10:35 pm by RRobot »
 

Online EEVblog

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2012, 11:58:17 pm »
As the other have said, it's never too late.
And you'll almost certainly know more than the majority of the students, who will be absolutely clueless about electronics.
It may have changed more in recent times, but IME very few people studying EE have little real interest in it, and know nothing outside of the theory they get taught. They won't even own a multimeter, let alone browse electronics forums like this, read industry mags, or build stuff etc.

IanB is right, the kind of electronics I show and talk about in my videos is more the practical side of things that you mostly won't learn in school.
Engineering education is mostly about maths and lots of advance theory, which has it's place of course, but there is an infinite world of electronics out there that does not really need that.

Dave.
 

Offline ICSB_Tech

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2012, 10:30:13 am »
Thanks for all the input

When you say you build effect pedals and stuff - do you build them strictly after existing schematics or do you try to modify and "play" with the design ? This would be more useful as preparation for studying.

We started out working with existing schematics, but have customized and modded a few others. Our most successful pedal was actually an accident because we didn't have all the right past so we substituted some random values for the heck of it and it turned out to sound pretty awesome  ;D



 As was mentioned above, degree level engineering courses are very heavy on the mathematics, so the best college preparation you can make now is to brush up on your math and other other basic theory like physics.


That's what i've heard from my engineering student friends, and I've been preparing for that. I'm pretty good at math (34 out of 36 on the ACT test) and taking both AP physics and calculus this year so that i'll be ready for college.



IanB is right, the kind of electronics I show and talk about in my videos is more the practical side of things that you mostly won't learn in school.


This is mostly what I was worried about, I didn't know to what extent college prepares you for the practical.
 

Online IanB

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2012, 10:45:03 pm »
This is mostly what I was worried about, I didn't know to what extent college prepares you for the practical.

Practical is how you discover if you have learned the theory properly. You build things you have designed and see if they work, or you see if you can figure out why they don't work.

If things consistently work the way you expect them to work when built to your design then you are doing well. If things don't work after you have tried to design them or troubleshoot them, then your practical abilities alone are only going to take you so far.
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Offline bearman

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2012, 07:57:56 am »
ICBS Tech

You have way more opportunity to catch up today than 25 to 30 years ago.   If you wanted to learn by reading you had to go buy a book.  The hardest part is you had to find that book that met your needs.    Today you just have to turn on you PC and its all there and you don't even have to get dressed.   Availability of knowledge for electronics is incredibly easier than it was back then and its instantanious.   It took weeks to get that book mentioned above.  Fast shipping is also great new technology that wasn't available then.

Good luck.

B
Work is for people that don't know how to fish.
 

Offline Baliszoft

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2012, 08:37:37 am »
but it's hard to get specialized parts (like most IC's) from the local electronics shop here In Budapest Hungary.

I do also live in Budapest, Hungary and i can source any kind of parts i want. What do you need which causes problem?
Also be advised that all major european online suppliers ship in 24 hrs to hungary (like rs, farnell, etc...)
 

Offline ICSB_Tech

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2012, 01:57:39 pm »
but it's hard to get specialized parts (like most IC's) from the local electronics shop here In Budapest Hungary.

I do also live in Budapest, Hungary and i can source any kind of parts i want. What do you need which causes problem?
Also be advised that all major european online suppliers ship in 24 hrs to hungary (like rs, farnell, etc...)

Szia Baliszoft Hogy vagy?  :P I currently get my parts from a small electronics shop close to the Klinikák stop on the M3, on Üll?i út I believe. I can get most any value discrete parts there, but they don't have a large selection of other parts, at least i think so. It's hard for me to ask for the things i'm looking for because my Magyar isn't very good...

And I am aware that many major suppliers can ship here, but it is complicated ordering because I'm an American, and have an American bank account and ordering things in Europe with it gets complicated and expensive.


This is mostly what I was worried about, I didn't know to what extent college prepares you for the practical.

Practical is how you discover if you have learned the theory properly. You build things you have designed and see if they work, or you see if you can figure out why they don't work.

If things consistently work the way you expect them to work when built to your design then you are doing well. If things don't work after you have tried to design them or troubleshoot them, then your practical abilities alone are only going to take you so far.

I've never really thought about it that way, but it makes a lot of sense. Thank you for that
 

Offline Baliszoft

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2012, 02:23:34 pm »
Szia ICSB_Tech Köszönöm szépen jól! :)

I would suggest you to visit f.eg lomex (www.lomex.hu), it is a mid size electronics store, maybe they have got a bigger selection (it is not quite in that part of the city though). If you register in their online shop (min. order is 2000HUF, ~9 USD), they will prepare the parts for you and you will be able to collect them for free (or of course you may ask for shipping, too).
 

Offline ICSB_Tech

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2012, 08:26:54 pm »
That looks great! I will definitely check them out.
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: Do I know enough?
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2012, 02:06:38 am »
but it's hard to get specialized parts (like most IC's) from the local electronics shop here In Budapest Hungary.

I do also live in Budapest, Hungary and i can source any kind of parts i want. What do you need which causes problem?
Also be advised that all major european online suppliers ship in 24 hrs to hungary (like rs, farnell, etc...)

Szia Baliszoft Hogy vagy?  :P I currently get my parts from a small electronics shop close to the Klinikák stop on the M3, on Üll?i út I believe. I can get most any value discrete parts there, but they don't have a large selection of other parts, at least i think so. It's hard for me to ask for the things i'm looking for because my Magyar isn't very good...

And I am aware that many majorDo it suppliers can ship here, but it is complicated ordering because I'm an American, and have an American bank account and ordering things in Europe with it gets complicated and expensive.
Do it retro-style!
Start a small bank account in Hungary,just for your parts,& you will only have to do the messy stuff when you set it up,& top it up!


This is mostly what I was worried about, I didn't know to what extent college prepares you for the practical.

Practical is how you discover if you have learned the theory properly. You build things you have designed and see if they work, or you see if you can figure out why they don't work.

If things consistently work the way you expect them to work when built to your design then you are doing well. If things don't work after you have tried to design them or troubleshoot them, then your practical abilities alone are only going to take you so far.

I've never really thought about it that way, but it makes a lot of sense. Thank you for that

Don't live in a vacuum,though,have a look at how other people in the real world do things.
Many people spend all their time "re-inventing the wheel".
 


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