Author Topic: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics  (Read 14509 times)

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Offline yashrk

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Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« on: April 26, 2014, 08:24:31 am »
Hello Brothers,
             This may not be the right place to post but this is necessary for beginner so I posted this here. :-//

             I started this Topic so that the people who are already in to electronics can help beginners like me by guiding us. I really want to know your journey how you got in to electronics, how you masters skills  :phew: and became so good, what different steps you took and what makes you different from other. Please tell me and others how we should study electronics and become a good engineer.

             Please share your story, any small tips or something from your experience may help other in shaping their future.

Thank you.  :-+
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Offline Whales

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2014, 12:10:35 pm »
There are an infinite amount of different ways to think about and approach working with electronics.  If you've become uninterested/bored in (for example) an environment where you are being taught about electronics, or even in your own line of personal research: look for other ways to your goal.  They exist -- you just have to discover them, even if no one else has yet :)

Offline retrolefty

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2014, 02:24:05 pm »
 I can share my personal journey in learning electronics. I was always curious and interested in electronics starting as a 10 year old youth in the 50s, reading any electronic magazine I could get a hold of, taring down stuff, and building simple circuits. However it was all rather fractured knowledge and I had no real confidence in what I knew or didn't know.

 Only after enlisting in the Air Force did I gain any real structure in learning electronics. The military tech school training started with 13 weeks of basic electronics theory and lab work based on a 6 hour days, 5 days a week. This was pretty fast based course and if one failed the weekly test the first time you would be put back one class and if failed again they would transfer you to training in washing airplanes, Air Police, or cook schools. After that one started in specific training on the equipment you were going to work on, in my case teletype/crypto maintnenace for another 23 weeks.

 I've seen a few times on E-bay the training material used in past Navy and Air Force electronic basic electronic courses and would not be a bad reference to have if attempting self training.

 
 

Offline AndyC_772

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2014, 02:53:06 pm »
My top tip would have to be: decide what you want to actually design, develop or work on, and then work out what knowledge, tools and equipment you need to work on that project. Think about why you want to learn electronics at all, and go from there.

Seriously... it's amazing how many people post questions which boil down to "I have no clue what I actually want to do, but can someone please tell me what are the best tools for a beginner to have", and the answers inevitably boil down to whatever meter, scope or soldering iron is currently perceived as fashionable. Nobody gains, or provides, any information that's genuinely useful to anybody.

Let's suppose, for example, that what you actually want to do is design yourself an audio amplifier. You'll need to learn about topics that are relevant to that area: audio frequency analogue design (obviously), power supplies, thermal management, grounding, protection circuits and so on. You'll probably want a physically big, powerful soldering iron, a basic multimeter that's nevertheless safe to use on the mains, and an old analogue oscilloscope will serve you well.

Or, if you want to make a device to feed your cat while you're away on holiday, then you'll want to know about microcontrollers, batteries and motors. The tools and equipment you'll need are quite different; you'll want a much smaller soldering iron, and a digital storage scope with plenty of channels. A dirt cheap meter will probably be absolutely fine.

Before you start buying anything at all, download yourself a copy of LTSpice and become familiar with it. Simulated components are great, you never get dry joints, they never blow up, and you can measure anything you like. Tools like this simply weren't available when I was learning the basics; now they are, take full advantage.


Offline yashrk

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2014, 06:40:21 pm »
@Whales : Thanx for the reply but seriously when I get bored by electronics I just watch Dave's video he has energy of 10 year old man and if life gets more frustrating I just watch Ironman 3.  8)

@pereczes : On your way buddy  :P

@retrolefty : You are lucky man, you found your passion at the age of 10, I was like in my Jr College I was taking Comp. Sci. classes and after that I was searching for good colg for aerospace engineering then looking back in my past I realized I always was fond of electonics gadget and knowing how they really work then after all that I ended up going to electronics and found what a fun it is to make stuff and its so easy.

@AndyC_772 : Bro u nailed it, I am actually going through similar type of feeling like what I really want to do (in electronics) like in my 1st year I was working with arduino and I made impressive project using it, then at the middle of my 2nd year I was making cold storage and energy generators and now I am working on solar cell, Li-Po batteries and power electronics stuff I seriously enjoyed each of them and I succeeded in all of them.  :-// And now I don't know what should I focus on as my carrier ?
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Offline VK5RC

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2014, 11:25:07 pm »
For me electronics is not my job but a passionate hobby,  I have found amateur radio a great stimulus to investigate different aspects of electronics but also radio propagation etc.  A large number of areas are needed to be covered,  dc supplies,  amplifiers,  antennas,  microphones etc.  There are some exams to sharpen your knowledge and lots of clubs with experienced people to encourage /assist.  I think the best is a combination of practical /hands on stuff and theory.  In today's crazy world,  a piece of paper (qualifications) can be needed in some circumstances but practical skills essential,  Dave is a good example,  practical and but serious theoretical knowledge behind. :-)
Whoah! Watch where that landed we might need it later.
 

Offline mjkuwp

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2014, 01:57:05 am »
I started learning electronics when I was 40 (4 years ago).  My cruise control module broke and I decided I wanted to repair it myself.  Going back in time.... I had the Radio Shack ~160 in 1 kit when I was a kid.  It was horrible for learning - the book made no effort to teach and I never could figure out what was going on.  Because of that I thought electronics was too hard and did not pursue that degree. : (

The steps I took, roughly.

1. Ohms law, the obvious things that many people do tend to know.
2. Learn about forward voltage drop and how to size a resistor for an LED and why.
3. Learn how to drive this LED from a BJT transistor.
4. This book:
http://www.amazon.com/Electrical-Engineering-101-Third-Edition/dp/0123860016

etc...

found out the basics are actually easy when presented in the right way.

I think the Radio Shack kit starts out at step 1 with a 2-transistor circuit. crazy.

The cruise control module turned out to have a cracked solder joint on the crystal.  It was a tall package and obviously had fatigued from so many vibration cycles.  I did the troubleshooting the very long way around but experienced guys probably would have checked that tall part first.
 

Offline yashrk

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2014, 02:58:06 pm »
@VK5RC : are radios difficult ? I am afraid of them   

@mjkuwp : thanx for your story, I seen people not learning programming because they are now graduated from college. Hats-off sir  :clap:
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Offline VK5RC

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2014, 05:06:50 am »
Radios are as hard or as easy as you want to make it, Amateur radio often is based around Radio Clubs, whose members are often happy to help others.
Before you can transmit, you usually need to get a licence, often there is an entry level licence, in Australia it is called the Foundation licence and can usually be obtained after a weekend seminar on some basic electronics e.g. ohms law, frequency, wavelength, velocity, some safety (mains voltage), some Government regulations and how to turn on and tune a transmitter to its antenna. Usually with the entry level axam you are not allowed to alter the transmitter, but in Australia the other two levels of licence ( quite a bit more study, transistor function, impedance calculation matching etc) you are then allowed to build your own equipment.
Some amateur guys don't touch the electronics at all, enjoy talking to others, some build their own microwave gear!
My best achievement so far was to have contact with a fellow in New York USA (from Australia) with 0.1W transmitter power, It did take a while (10mins) and used a pretty hot antenna and some complex computer programme to decipher the signal from the noise (JT65HF). I have also used one of the Amateur radio satellites to talk to another Ham.
If you are interested in radio, you may have a radio club nearby, ring up and if you can go along.
Whoah! Watch where that landed we might need it later.
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2014, 06:22:38 am »
@VK5RC : are radios difficult ? I am afraid of them   

@mjkuwp : thanx for your story, I seen people not learning programming because they are now graduated from college. Hats-off sir  :clap:

In your country,there are many enthusiastic Amateur Radio operators,many of whom are very active in making "homebrew" equipment,as Commercially made radios are quite expensive.
Radios aren't difficult,just a bit different.;D

My suggestion:- Go to the Public Library & look through their Electronics section.
If you can find the ARRL Handbook,or the RSGB Manual,you can learn a lot.
In any case:- Read!,Read!,Read!

Websites?-----Many of them just seem to want to show you how to use an Arduino,or Op Amps.
No doubt,very worthwhile stuff,but not really Basic Theory.
All About Circuits isn't bad,although some on this forum will  get apoplexy from this statement.

Look at other people's schematics,& real physical equipment before you think of designing anything.

Don't try to run before you can walk---we get dozens of people wanting to do something ambitious when they don't even know Ohm's Law!





 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2014, 06:37:26 am »
I've seen a few times on E-bay the training material used in past Navy and Air Force electronic basic electronic courses and would not be a bad reference to have if attempting self training.
FWIW, the US Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS), is available for free.  :)
 

Offline yashrk

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2014, 12:19:33 pm »
@nanofrog and @vk6zgo thank you for all the info

but guy donno I am lazy or what but I don't like to read I get things better when some one explains me personally or on videos like Dave.
I am trying hard to change it by participating in forms and reading books but still an suggestion? dose any of you have such kind of problem ?
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Offline retrolefty

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2014, 02:08:11 pm »
@nanofrog and @vk6zgo thank you for all the info

but guy donno I am lazy or what but I don't like to read I get things better when some one explains me personally or on videos like Dave.
I am trying hard to change it by participating in forms and reading books but still an suggestion? dose any of you have such kind of problem ?

 Hands on training can be very a helpful and useful addition to one's personal growth in this field, however learning electronics theory cannot be accomplished just by observations and trying to memorize rules and examples. Reading, math, and learning in a structured manner is the only way you can gain the basics required to move on and up in electronics. At least that is my opinion.

 
 

Offline yashrk

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2014, 03:32:12 pm »
@retrolefty  do you have any solution over that ?
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Offline retrolefty

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2014, 03:39:28 pm »
@retrolefty  do you have any solution over that ?

Sure, download and start to study the free reference given in reply #11.
 

Offline zimzom

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2014, 04:14:05 pm »
What I did was this,

I first thought about what I wanted to achieve/do project wise. I was interested in calculators and old computers. So I looked at the internet and what other people had done before, and if the projects were similar to what I wanted. After that I looked at all the websites I could find that related to the project I wanted to do.

My advice is pick a project that makes you grow, what does not kill you makes you stronger. going for something that requires a lot of skills or know how you do not have has the potential to have a far greater payoff - even if you do not complete it. The amount you will have learned will help you much more than say a blinky project. Try and break the project into modules, this gives you a series of project milestones and keeps your morale up. Using a modular approach as you learn better ways to tackle a problem you can always go back and redesign your earlier modules. This has a good benefit also. But it should be remembered that you can fall into a trap of never finishing.

Second, try and do as much of the work yourself, you will learn more this way than relying on someone else's code ect. I am not saying build everything from scratch but from a learning perspective you will learn more from studying the design of a module, then re-implementing it in your own way than just getting a widget off the shelf that you don't understand and plugging it in. Its a learning exercise not a commercial project in that sense.

Keeping these things in mind, I then studied a general EE 101 class, not the MIT one - but something from a community college/technical college level. Much slower pace and more practical with lots of examples. There were extra things I needed to learn that were not covered in this course - but in fairness by this point you know what areas you need to read up on. All the books, videos are available online, Next thing I did was down load as many of the data books online I could find.

Next was the bell labs books, I found these really useful on giving historical context, you can find out why things are now the way they are, how telecommunications and electronics evolved and the many dead ends along the way. It sounds boring, and honestly it is but its so worth it. Its like having a room full of grey beards brains in a jar. Just waiting for you to read there reports.

Another excellent set of books that are available for free online are the MIT rad lab books. Compaired to modern books these were written in a far more accessible way to my mind. The people that wrote these books knew there subject inside out and had worked on practical systems.

Next I would look at the archive.org site, there are many electronics books available there to download. you find the books relivant to your project and download them. after looking through, if you feel you need to research another area go get these books also.

Now go back and watch the 101 classes, you should feel very confident about the material. and probably you will pick up things you missed the first time you watched the lectures.

Read the data-books, this is how you will become acquainted with the 1000ft view of companies product lines, and its the beginnings of finding components you are comfortable with and that you know inside out. Read all the errata sheets and application notes you can. you can avoid lots of heart ache by reading these notes. Errata notes especially are written in the blood sweat and tears of a prior guys sleepless nights with the component you have in your hands. Perhaps take a moment, and say a silent thank you to that guy where-ever he is.

As much as possible study the designs of others, most projects are going to have been tackled before by someone else - some will be good, others not so good. But you can save a lot of time and avoid some of the gotchas and issues you did not consider before. With the calculators for example, there are many excellent tear-downs, articles on the various design families so a significant amount of time has been spent just looking at what other companies did and why. Its like a design masterclass for free.

Thats one of the things I like about the EEVblog videos, you can see best practices and get a expert opinion on a wide range of products, while applications and specs will probably be different for your project. The overall lessons apply across application. One of the nice things about a hobby project is nobody is going to run you over the coals for say designing a state of the art power supply with overspec components when you could have probably got away with a basic design with low-mid range parts. Its up to you.

Now look at your project, is the approach/ideas you had still viable with what you know now? if not go back and make it right. now look at breadboarding, testing, get the circuit designed. Now check with a friendly grey beard. you should get a bunch of guidance and advice on what to do to overcome some of the problems you probably have encountered. Now go back and research what the grey beard has told you. make the changes but try and understand why the changes are better. Go back and look at the books.

You repeat the process until all the modules are in a functional state, now test the overall project, got problems, research, test, ask the grey beard.

at the end of the process you will have learned a ton about your chosen projects subject area/field.

Now its time to move on and study an area that interests you in EE and start the whole process again.

Good luck, if you are absent minded like me - write as much about what you are doing down in a notebook - get a crappy quality one that you wont mind making mistakes and writing things in. putting stuff on the Internet is good also as you can get a ton of advice and help from people.
 

Offline yashrk

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2014, 05:28:54 pm »
@zimzom thanx a lot for your efforts of sharing your views I really believe it will help me and any one who read it in future thanx a lot buddy  :clap:
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Offline yashrk

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #17 on: May 01, 2014, 11:13:55 am »
Any else want to share ?
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Offline Fank1

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2014, 08:55:15 pm »
I also started when I was about 10.
Got an amateur license at 12.
College then avionics tech.
I not work in power distribution but I still do RF etc at home.

The biggest problem I have noticed on this site is that everyone wants to run before they learn how to walk.
That is they have a project or problem and want someone else to find the answer instead of learning the basics and figuring it out from there.

The Radio Amateur Hand Book is an excellent reference and learning material and is written so anyone can understand it.
Get a newer copy and put it on the shelf. Then find an old used copy, tear out the project sections and throw them away.
Read the rest until you understand the basics, THEN you are on your way.
 

Offline flesh

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2014, 10:57:04 pm »
Some great advice on this thread thanks to all contributors.

I am in a similar boat. I am very interested in electronics and in electronics and sound.

Similar to what you say Yashrk I have tried to read as much as possible but really struggle with learning through text. I just cant seem to absorb what I am reading and have to read each sentence, paragraph and page a dozen times before my brain can translate the words into meaning. Whereas on the other hand if some one reads the page to me or I watch a video or someone shows me something I get it in a flash. I have accepted that it is just the way it is for me and have come up with a plan to learn which may or may not help you.

I will first get up to scratch with maths which from my research so far (and as already mentioned) is a great foundation for electronics education. i keep seeing Calculus everywhere I look into learning electronics and tbh that scares the shit out of me but if its a must then OK then. To combat my struggle with reading maths should not be a problem so much since there is many structured module type learning videos online. Once I feel I have done all I can in that respect I will then seek a private tutor to go through some maths exam papers with me and make sure I have a good understanding of what I need to be clear on. There are many websites with listed tutors in any field and fortunately I have seen a few tutors who specialise in maths and electronics.

The next step for me will be to repeat step one but with electronics as the focus, I will watch as many videos as I can and write notes on what I dont understand. I will then start to go through a training manual such as the navy one previously mentioned and for maybe one hour a week have the tutor come help me with what I don't understand.

I think as mentioned the hard part for a beginner is narrowing down the most important aspects of electronics in your chosen field.
Sorry to hijack your thread.
 

Offline pickle9000

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2014, 12:20:18 am »
I thinks you'd find many old timers on the forum started with something like this:

http://www.elenco.com/product/productdetails/project_labs=NTU=/200-in-1_electronic_project__lab=Mjg1

You can still find them, they still make them. My brother "borrowed" one of my kits and I'm still trying to get it back. I was 12 when I got it and he borrowed it when he was in his 40's. Yes he is still playing with it, not for his kid.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2014, 12:35:34 am »
The way it generally works (outside of formal study), is you get into whatever branch of electronics is used in whatever "thing" that interests you. E.g. You like music, you might start with building an amplifier or something etc.
Then you acquire the tools and start branching out into more and more aspects of electronics (again, generally what interests you).
And through all of this you learn by having to solve problems and troubleshoot things, that's where the real learning happens.
e.g. if you buy a kit and then solder it and it works first go, ok great, but what have you learned? You've learned to solder and construct.
But if you build that same thing and it doesn't work, then you have to learn why it doesn't work, track it down, learn what caused it, and how how to fix it.
So I hope your next project doesn't work!
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2014, 12:36:35 am »
Any else want to share ?

My story is here:
 

Offline yashrk

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2014, 11:02:30 am »
@Fank1 Thanks for your reply , you stated perfectly what mistake a beginner make. I have noticed many problem with mine studying methods like yesterday I was reading about capacitors, inductors and impedance (from The Art of Electronics) and I notices there is lot more I didn't knew about them, which I just skipped early on thinking like I know everything about them. And there are some beautiful analogies given in that book like Filters where called "frequency dependent voltage divider" which like makes a clear picture of its working in our mind.

@flesh True bro, we are on same boat  8) . Like I mentioned above I love books like The Art OF Electronics but it really needs lots of focus for understanding the concepts from them. But ya my learning habits are bit different then yours, while leaning electronics I like to keep my option open I use all resources I have like books, internet, software and I make circuit on the spot and test them or use MultiSim if I don't have components (which is most of the time).
           Not having a electronics teacher give me hard time. But due to people like Dave and you guys who help to build such a big community is really very helpful.

@pickle9000 thank you for sharing the link. Well the only thing I hate about such kits is that they are like Magic tricks," Waala!!! It works"  :clap: but they don't teach you how it works or go into details like why we have to use components used in them.
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Offline yashrk

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Re: Suggestions for Beginner in Electronics
« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2014, 11:27:31 am »
@EEVblog Sir your wisdom really helped many of us. And like you mentioned sir, really we have to make stuff outside of our formal studies, hear in my college there are like hundreds of students who are taking electronics degree and even if I somehow topped in my college there are like thousands of other colleges all over India having their toppers so getting in to industry here is very hard unless student loves electronics and practices it on daily basis.
   Thank you sir for your story.  :-+

@wilfred thanx for sharing  ;)
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