Author Topic: Learning the art of electronics  (Read 4214 times)

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Offline Ross_mini

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Learning the art of electronics
« on: September 24, 2016, 02:21:51 pm »
Hi Guys I’m a long time learker and supporter and I'm after some advice.

I’m about to do the Learning the art of Electronics course with my daughter, for me it will help refresh my memory.

I’m collating a component list, but was wondering is it worth me importing the parts from china via ebay as they are much cheaper than the suppliers over here. Or is it better to pay the extra and use RS or Digikey 

I have a UT-181 and a fluke 88v which I use for work, but are dirty and oily as they are used for automotive use and don’t really want them to be used at home on a bench. Would it be worth getting two UT-61’s or should I be using something better?

I also have a Rigol 1054z scope I guess that will be fine.

What function generator should I be looking at?
 

Offline BobsURuncle

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Online rstofer

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Re: Learning the art of electronics
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2016, 03:37:24 pm »
As stated above, there is stuff on this forum for LTAOE.  There is a spreadsheet somewhere.

Digikey sells a kit of parts.  The combined kit is $264
http://www.digikey.com/classic/Ordering/AddPart.aspx?WT.z_cid=Shared_Cart

The prototype board used in the book is a Global Specialists PB-503.  Amazon has it for $383
https://www.amazon.com/Global-Specialties-PB-503-Digital-Workstation/dp/B005S3SC0E
Check the book, I think the authors recommend using a much less expensive approach.

It's pretty nice in that it has 3 power supplies (one fixed at 5V, two adjustable) plus knobs, switches and LEDs.  There is also a signal generator that works up to 100 kHz.  Overall, it's pricey but everything is in one place.

I'm about to start the same kind of program with my grandson.  He started college this fall and it appears as though he may major in EE.

Since you are just starting up and you will need a certain amount of test equipment, I am going to recommend the Digilent Inc Analog Discovery instead of separate devices.  Used within its capability, the AD is a fantastic tool for learning electronics.

http://store.digilentinc.com/analog-discovery-2-100msps-usb-oscilloscope-logic-analyzer-and-variable-power-supply/

It doesn't have a breadboard but it has far more capability than the PB-503 in that it has a 16 channel logic analyzer, two channel scope, two channel arbitrary waveform generator, a network analyzer (not too many tools include this capability and it's great for filters) and so on.

There is an analog parts kit (that includes a breadboard) available with a $15 at the time of purchase of http://store.digilentinc.com/analog-parts-kit-by-analog-devices-companion-parts-kit-for-the-analog-discovery/

The downside is that it only has +-5V supplies so many op amp circuits that require +-15V supplies need another source of power.  There are ways to deal with that.  Buy a separate supply or use low voltage op amps and scale the results.  You would just use more modern op amps instead of the venerable 741.
 
Check out the PowerBricks on this page:
http://store.digilentinc.com/all-products/scopes-instruments/
A single 12V module will provide 'close enough' op amp power from a USB cable.  Each module provides both + and - voltage.

The BNC adapter and the scope probes are nice additions to the Analog Discovery as are some of those 6 pin headers (gender changers).

ETA:  Since you have the DS1054Z (a great scope, BTW), you don't need all of the features of the Analog Discovery.  OTOH, the signal generators, network analyzer, 16 bit digital IO (including logic analyzer) and power supplies may still be useful.

The UT-61 will do the job and its cheap.  From a quick look, I see that it can measure capacitance and frequency so that is a plus.  Just about anything will do for LTAOE.  Even the cheap Harbor Freight meters would probably work.  I have one of the VC-99 meters and it works pretty well.  It will also do capacitance and frequency:
https://www.amazon.com/Digital-Tester-Multimeter-Thermometer-Resistance/dp/B00MDVN6EG/ref=sr_1_1?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1474735477&sr=1-1&keywords=vc-99

I also bought a couple of the EEVblog meters.  There are now available from Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/EEVblog-BM235-Brymen-Multimeter/dp/B01JZ1ADCO/ref=sr_1_1?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1474735573&sr=1-1&keywords=eevblog

They're considerably more expensive but one of them is the only meter on my bench.  Works well!


Good luck!
« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 04:47:24 pm by rstofer »
 

Offline Aeternam

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Re: Learning the art of electronics
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2016, 04:13:10 pm »
Regarding the function generator, the examples I've seen in the first few chapters of the book are done with a floating gen. Mine is not so I can't always reproduce 1:1 what's been described in the book. It's not that big of a deal but since you're in the market for a new one, might as well pick a floating one.
 

Offline Ross_mini

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Re: Learning the art of electronics
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2016, 07:48:30 am »
Thanks for the info. I'll grab two ut61e's.
Do you think a generator like this eBay one would be good? Or should I get something better like a Rigol one?

(Not sure how to post links I'm here yet, I hope it works!)

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/262559374782
 

Offline setq

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Re: Learning the art of electronics
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2016, 09:14:35 am »
UT61E are nice. I have one.

I've got a copy of the book but I don't rate it. Just a note, unless you have the global spec analog trainer, you need two generators, both floating and one with sweep capability. The whole common mode vs diff mode stuff in the book is a confusing crock. And it seems to rely on near unobtainable parts in 2016! Plus there is absolutely no validation of your answers to questions and no one to turn to for review so you're on your own.

The old heathkit training course is far better with less loose ends, full answer explanations and significantly lower hardware cost. I came out of that with far more knowledge. I wish they would release the copyright on that and publish online. Their entire BOM is about 70 parts and that shipped with the trainer. Just add a scope and DMM and you're done. I couldn't afford the trainer back then so I used a bodge of batteries, an AC transformer, and an xr2206 function generator and a knackered old scope from 1972 and a meter with frequency counter on it.
 

Offline danvega

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Re: Learning the art of electronics
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2016, 01:48:26 pm »
It's better to buy from China if you are prepared to wait for longer delivery. The components from China are good enough for study.
 

Online rstofer

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Re: Learning the art of electronics
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2016, 04:00:22 pm »
I don't see any reason why that FY3224S signal generator wouldn't be more than adequate.

https://www.eevblog.com/forum/testgear/feeltech-fy3224s-24mhz-2-channel-dds-aw-function-signal-generator/

I also don't see anything special about the PB-503 signal generator.  It is ground referenced and can swing between +-10V (more or less).  I'm pretty sure just about any signal generator will produce an AC output centered on ground.  I might have missed something but I don't think the PB-503 signal generator floats.  The + and - 15V power supplies for the op amps and other analog components are ground referenced.

http://www.globalspecialties.com/electronics-trainers/analog-a-digital-circuit-design-trainers/download/1590_53928ae8165bf115124a3e1c2cd24117.html

When using single supply op amps, it is often necessary to add DC bias to the incoming signals and perhaps even attenuate them thus referencing them to 'virtual ground' (half the supply voltage).  The better signal generators will have this capability as does the Analog Discovery.  I haven't gotten far enough in LTAOE to find any single supply op amp experiments.  I'm confident the issue is handled.

As to buying from China, my concerns would be whether I have to buy in larger quantity.  For example, do I need to buy 100 resistors of a particular value instead of the 10 I really need?  For resistors, that isn't a bad deal, I can always use the inventory.  But it would be a bad deal if I had to buy 25 buzzers.  I have never bought components from China so I have no idea how it works out.  I like the Digikey deal because the BOM is already established.  If I want the kit of parts, all I have to do is click once and it's done.  I don't have to search for 100 different components and add them to the cart one at a time.

Other than that, yes, parts from China will be a lot cheaper.  Personally, I have enough problems getting my projects to work without wondering about the components; I'll give it a pass.  I get parts in 3 days from Digikey - my all time favorite supplier.
 

Offline Ross_mini

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Re: Learning the art of electronics
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2016, 04:46:06 pm »
I'm happy to wait for China parts. I don't think I've ever waited more than 2 weeks for anything I've ordered before. Maybe I've just been lucky!

I like the idea of the discovery unit in princable, however I have been bitten by 'all-in-one' tools at work. Like my expensive Dmm-scope that I damaged so I lost both tools!

I've got a few resistor and capactor kits from velleman/maplin which I got about 15 years ago. I guess these should be fine to use?
 

Online rstofer

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Re: Learning the art of electronics
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2016, 05:54:14 pm »
Sure, those resistor/capacitor kits are great.  I have a couple from Jameco and I won't be running out of parts any time soon!
When I build a project, I order resistors in multiples of 100 and that helps keep the drawers full.

I don't quite buy the 'all-in-one' argument.  If you wipe out the DS1054Z, the fact that you still have a signal generator isn't very useful.  Then there is the $279 vs $400 for the scope + $80 for the signal generator.  But you already have the scope, and it's a good one, so the Analog Discovery may be overkill.  The signal generator you linked goes to much higher frequencies.  It's kind of a toss-up.  I can have an entire electronics lab in my laptop case.  That's pretty cool!  Not that I go anywhere...

Don't overlook the utility of having the AD running on a 27" display (or two).  Screen capture is just that: [PrtScn]

OTOH, I think the DS1054Z and some kind of signal generator will work just fine.  More than enough for LTAOE!
 

Offline setq

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Re: Learning the art of electronics
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2016, 06:13:45 pm »
Watch out for the odd resistor values in LTAoE. Your average E6/E12 kit won't cut it unless you start series chaining a few.

Just buy a crappy old 50/100MHz analogue scope, a triple rail power supply and two analogue function generators one with a sweep input. Probably spend less than a DS1054Z on all that.
 

Online rstofer

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Re: Learning the art of electronics
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2016, 06:21:14 pm »
Watch out for the odd resistor values in LTAoE. Your average E6/E12 kit won't cut it unless you start series chaining a few.

Just buy a crappy old 50/100MHz analogue scope, a triple rail power supply and two analogue function generators one with a sweep input. Probably spend less than a DS1054Z on all that.

But the OP already has the DS1054Z.  He's way ahead of the game.
 

Offline setq

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Re: Learning the art of electronics
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2016, 06:34:02 pm »
In that case I will actually read the thread and shut my gob :)
 

Offline Ross_mini

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Re: Learning the art of electronics
« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2016, 08:24:34 pm »
I have 2 rigol ds1054's!
A grubby one at work (automotive use) and once in my bench at home.
They are good value, I'm also impressed with the build quality. Plus it's handy that I know how to use it (the basic stuff anyway) that's why I got another for home.

I've ordered 2 ut61's and the signal generator.

I'll crack on getting the components togeather. 

Thanks for your input guys.
 


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