Author Topic: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice  (Read 10719 times)

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Offline EEVblog

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EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« on: July 02, 2012, 02:28:05 pm »


Dave.
 

Offline FenderBender

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2012, 03:16:53 pm »
Great video Dave. I too, am a beginner. Only 2 years of experience...or lack of.  :P Great points.

And good to see some walk-time rants back.

 

Offline Architect_1077

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2012, 03:33:30 pm »
Liked the lady waving at the camera  8)
 

Offline G7PSK

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2012, 03:40:20 pm »
When you do these walk about's Dave how do you carry the camera or do you have a camera man with you, Nice park by the way.
 

Offline T4P

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2012, 06:46:15 pm »
He uses a monopod that he holds in his hand

Great tips for a 3 year beginner! Thanks Dave
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2012, 06:56:07 pm »
There is one big issue with the suggestion to design a kit as first project as a beginner: The poor customers who buy it. Instead of doing the appropriate thing (hiding the first work), selling it? That is not right - unless you are in China.
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Offline tom66

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2012, 08:35:24 pm »
People can invest in hobbyist products with the full knowledge that they are made by hobbyists, and understand any pitfalls that may come with this. If you tried to pass it off as a professional product and made a lot of promises you couldn't keep, then you have done wrong. How else does one release a "first product"?
 

Offline StubbornGreek

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2012, 09:24:03 pm »
There is one big issue with the suggestion to design a kit as first project as a beginner: The poor customers who buy it. Instead of doing the appropriate thing (hiding the first work), selling it? That is not right - unless you are in China.

I find myself chuckling a bit but that was a little mean.
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Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2012, 11:25:59 pm »
There is one big issue with the suggestion to design a kit as first project as a beginner: The poor customers who buy it. Instead of doing the appropriate thing (hiding the first work), selling it? That is not right - unless you are in China.

I didn't say it had to be your first project, and I didn't say you had to actually sell it. I said you could design it like you were going to sell it, just as a fun learning exercise.

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Uncle Vernon

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2012, 12:48:29 am »
There is one big issue with the suggestion to design a kit as first project as a beginner: The poor customers who buy it. Instead of doing the appropriate thing (hiding the first work), selling it? That is not right - unless you are in China.
Maybe other peoples first kits were of a lot higher standards than your own efforts!  As a supposed engineer, how do you quantify that  a first project must be hidden, what relationship have you used in determining this. Heaven forbid its the quantitative result of more B@W ass play.  ;)

A kit is probably a lot more difficult to design than most finished products, but the general theme of applying tight cost and supply limitations to a design should apply to any project. A commercial reality which will apply for anything other than a because-we-could creation.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 01:06:10 am by Uncle Vernon »
 

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2012, 05:00:01 am »
I'm a little surprised by your advice here.  I see no fault with it, just surprised.

Well, seems like kit production considerations would get in the way of learning electronic fundamentals.  I mean Ohms Law is hard enough, but then you tack on parametric search for a case?  ;D
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2012, 05:06:28 am »
You know, when the black death was rampant in Europe they had people collecting the dead bodies. Someone walking the streets, ringing a bell, and shouting Bring Out Your Dead, Bring Out Your Dead. So they get more or less properly disposed.

We don't have the same for failed electronic projects. Still it is best to bury your dead, not publicly exibit and sell them.
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Offline Joker94

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2012, 05:29:23 am »
Great advice Dave. Approaching my current project with such a mind set has really helped develop my idea from a half ass attempt at something to something that i can finish and be proud of. It makes you think about all your choices and how you could do it better.

Anybody, including myself could have thrown a project together using junkbox parts that could have got the job done. Putting that extra thought into the project is where design skills come in and can be further developed.

We don't have the same for failed electronic projects. Still it is best to bury your dead, not publicly exibit and sell them.
I watched a talk recently given by Adam Savage. He got a job to create a mechanism for a department store, when it came to the deadline, he had failed. to this day he has parts of that project as it was a result of this project that he came to some significant realizations about himself and that not everything will work out. I myself still have project that around that don't work as intended that i either plan to fix or that drive me to do better and think harder about other projects

Cheers

Joker94
 

Offline T4P

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2012, 08:30:05 am »
You don't have to neccesarily sell your designed kit,
you can
1) give it away to EE students for evaluation
2) give it away to dave and it will be a refreshing experience
3) try building it yourself and see what you find lacking compared to commercial kits

these are good stepping stones that when you got to the working world to have
 

Offline johnwa

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #14 on: July 03, 2012, 08:54:48 am »
We don't have the same for failed electronic projects. Still it is best to bury your dead, not publicly exibit and sell them.

Yes, I have a big cardboard box full of PCBs from old kits that didn't work (or that worked to spec, but didn't do anything useful). While it does in some ways represent hundreds of dollars of components wasted, the knowledge that I gained from building them was priceless.

I would disagree somewhat with your idea Dave that producing designs for mass manufacture is necessarily the best way to learn. Even when you design something for yourself, there are always constraints on part availability, costs, and function. Though it is much more fun designing something to your own requirements, rather than to someone else's.  ;) Sometimes these constraints can be just as demanding - you need something right now, and you have to build it using only the contents of your junk box, or the quantities will not justify tooling up for a custom enclosure, so you have to use something off-the-shelf and modify it.

Even in a professional setting, a project may only call for one or a few instances of a design. I used to find this frustrating at work, as our products are quite low volume, and this obviously places constraints on tooling cost (and design time!), but you just have to treat it as a challenge.

However, I suppose you can still try to design for manufacture, even if you are only making one for yourself. I usually try to only use readily available parts in my own designs, so that they would at least be easy for other people to replicate. But sometimes I end up using some hard-to-get part if I have it on hand, and it makes things easier. (I have found that this is often the case for RF designs, for some reason)

 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2012, 11:03:29 am »
Unfortunately,Shane_95 who asked the original question is a very long way from designing anything!

Refer to :"Why did this happen?"in "Beginners".

I'm sorry,Shane,& I'm not being nasty,but if you do a bit of research,you wouldn't have to ask questions at the level of this one in "Beginners",& several others as well.

I see this sort of thing a lot on this,& other forums,where people talk about various grand plans they have,then reveal that they have virtually zero knowledge of Electronics.

It's really quite easy,all you have to do is get some books,& read a bit,& you will begin to know a few basic things,which will lead you to other things,till you really may be able to design a kit,or whatever.
 

Offline T4P

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #16 on: July 03, 2012, 11:31:33 am »
Just like that 5Gigsample scope guy
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2012, 12:18:22 pm »
I'm a little surprised by your advice here.  I see no fault with it, just surprised.
Well, seems like kit production considerations would get in the way of learning electronic fundamentals.  I mean Ohms Law is hard enough, but then you tack on parametric search for a case?  ;D

It's a good "next step" in learning electronics when you want to take things to the next level. I should have made that clear. I'm not advocating every beginner go out and design kits and products from the get-go.
In fact, eventually any good electronics designer must start doing this sort of stuff at some point, so I'm just encouraging it early for those who want to learn a different way.
What was I supposed to tell Shane? No, don't go designing a kit or product because you aren't ready yet?, or you don't need those skills, or you won't learn anything of value? etc?
IMO leaning this stuff is never a waste of time at any point in the electronics learning process.

Dave.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #18 on: July 03, 2012, 12:20:26 pm »
You don't have to neccesarily sell your designed kit,

Heck, you don't even have to build it! Just the act of setting design constraints and then working through the issue and comparing countless datasheets and parametric searches etc, you can learn a heck of a lot.

Dave.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #19 on: July 03, 2012, 12:24:19 pm »
I would disagree somewhat with your idea Dave that producing designs for mass manufacture is necessarily the best way to learn.

If I said that or implied that it's the best way to learn, that was not my intention. I simply meant it's a good way to learn, that not many think of doing or often think is even worthwhile. There are many different ways to learn electronics, and I consider this part of it. In some cases, a very essential part.

Dave.
 

Offline FJV

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On the other hand
« Reply #20 on: July 03, 2012, 04:54:18 pm »
Ignoring the constraints you normally get when you design something commercially can be quite liberating.

Sometimes you want to make something exactly the way you want it and not make such compromises. :)



 

Uncle Vernon

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #21 on: July 04, 2012, 12:02:38 am »
You don't have to necessarily sell your designed kit,

Heck, you don't even have to build it! Just the act of setting design constraints and then working through the issue and comparing countless datasheets and parametric searches etc, you can learn a heck of a lot.

Dave.

I think your spot on here Dave, and I am a little disappointed with the discouraging approach of many of the other old hands. A beginner does not have to be doomed to the penance of fun-way kits as the only way to learn. Those are great for some but not all beginners are at a primary school level.
Sure many may need to tone down their expectations of an initial project but going through the steps you've suggested would suggest have most sane individuals coming to those conclusions without the condescension of others.

Many would be familiar with the open source multimeter thread some months back, this was a healthy exercise even if the outcome for many was to decide such a project was unlikely to ever be viable. Lots of reallyclever design ideas were presented, shared and compared, lots of the old hands shared gotchas and pitfalls, and some of the newbies put forward creative alternatives for consideration. All up it was a worthwhile learning exercise, despite most concluding the product would likely fail at this time.
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #22 on: July 04, 2012, 06:09:58 am »
You don't have to necessarily sell your designed kit,

Heck, you don't even have to build it! Just the act of setting design constraints and then working through the issue and comparing countless datasheets and parametric searches etc, you can learn a heck of a lot.

Dave.

I think your spot on here Dave, and I am a little disappointed with the discouraging approach of many of the other old hands. A beginner does not have to be doomed to the penance of fun-way kits as the only way to learn. Those are great for some but not all beginners are at a primary school level.
Sure many may need to tone down their expectations of an initial project but going through the steps you've suggested would suggest have most sane individuals coming to those conclusions without the condescension of others.

Many would be familiar with the open source multimeter thread some months back, this was a healthy exercise even if the outcome for many was to decide such a project was unlikely to ever be viable. Lots of reallyclever design ideas were presented, shared and compared, lots of the old hands shared gotchas and pitfalls, and some of the newbies put forward creative alternatives for consideration. All up it was a worthwhile learning exercise, despite most concluding the product would likely fail at this time.

Jeez,Unc!

I'm sorry if I sounded condescending,I meant to be downright discouraging!

Seriously,though,how many times have we had people on this forum,who ask for help over & over for their project,trying one suggestion after another,without understanding in the least the results of each trial,until eventually everybody realises that they don't have a clue & cease to respond.
At that point,their reaction is often:"They're all mongrels on that forum" so they go to another one,& it starts all over.
     
Surely it is not a lot to ask,that people spend a little time to get an understanding of series & parallel circuits,Ohm's law,& a few other useful things,before launching themselves into Electronics design.

Although I am ancient,I well remember attempts to design things when I didn't have sufficient knowledge.
At that time,I could at least read a circuit diagram,& build stuff from a magazine project,but I still knew very little.

They were in almost all cases," disasters,& I do not look back on them as "Good learning experiences" at all!

The failures were all due to laziness, such as taking guesses on the number of turns on an  IF coil in a Shortwave Superhet Radio I tried to build,because the right way "looked hard"!
The thing I didn't understand back then,was experienced people can "guess" & be fairly close,whereas inexperienced people will not be close.except by chance.
 

Offline David_AVD

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #23 on: July 04, 2012, 07:01:04 am »
Surely it is not a lot to ask,that people spend a little time to get an understanding of series & parallel circuits,Ohm's law,& a few other useful things,before launching themselves into Electronics design.

That's one of my pet peeves.  Ohms Law is a simple principle, but absolutely essential knowledge right from the start.

I see a lot of posts (on various forums) where people aimlessly guess at component values, etc.  I learned about Ohms Law when I was about 10 years old so it's not hard.

It's easy to see why a lot of people give up responding to questions when it becomes apparent that the poster is looking for everything handed to them.
 

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #24 on: July 04, 2012, 07:13:54 am »
I'm sorry if I sounded condescending,I meant to be downright discouraging!
Why? It's a forum not a boys club! If Dave required a minimum entry standard there'd be an IQ test at the sign on.

Quote
Seriously,though,how many times have we had people on this forum,who ask for help over & over for their project,trying one suggestion after another,without understanding in the least the results of each trial,until eventually everybody realises that they don't have a clue & cease to respond.
About as many as those that have picked up clues along the way. Just because the world has too many dropkicks, is no justification for treating everyone that way. Especially before the over and over cycle has engaged. You said yourself you'd made attempts beyond your ability while learning.

Quote
At that point,their reaction is often:"They're all mongrels on that forum" so they go to another one,& it starts all over.
That's OK if they'd driven most of us to the point of frustration.I may well have given them reason to think such things.
     
Quote
Surely it is not a lot to ask,that people spend a little time to get an understanding of series & parallel circuits,Ohm's law,& a few other useful things,before launching themselves into Electronics design.
It's not unreasonable to keep pointing them back to basics, but that doesn't make considering other design aspects in any way unreasonable. Dave was talking about consideration such as component cost, utility etc. You don't need a degree to intelligently start considering such aspects despite any bollocks B@W and other will suggest. More to the point pondering on such things is usually a good path towards knowing when to ask for help.

Quote
Although I am ancient,I well remember attempts to design things when I didn't have sufficient knowledge.
Yes your car battery powered car battery charger was never much in the way of a commercial success. Same apples for the longevity of WA pyramids.

Quote
At that time,I could at least read a circuit diagram,& build stuff from a magazine project,but I still knew very little.
Uh-huh. And if everyone you'd asked a dumb question to had fobbed you off, you'd be a lot further behind than you are today.

Quote
They were in almost all cases," disasters,& I do not look back on them as "Good learning experiences" at all!
Maybe if you'd look at those other aspects the disaster proportioncould have been much smaller.

Quote
The failures were all due to laziness, such as taking guesses on the number of turns on an  IF coil in a Shortwave Superhet Radio I tried to build,because the right way "looked hard"!
The thing I didn't understand back then,was experienced people can "guess" & be fairly close,whereas inexperienced people will not be close.except by chance.
Yeah. So where is the issue in someone inexperienced asking questions? I have no issue with dumb questions or even with slow learners. Those who want to answer with "no that can't be it" or those unprepared to listen are a different proposition. Those with attitude, well let's just say they soon become sport. Anyone else deserves a little encouragement.
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #25 on: July 04, 2012, 09:19:34 am »
I'm sorry if I sounded condescending,I meant to be downright discouraging!
Why? It's a forum not a boys club! If Dave required a minimum entry standard there'd be an IQ test at the sign on.

Quote
Seriously,though,how many times have we had people on this forum,who ask for help over & over for their project,trying one suggestion after another,without understanding in the least the results of each trial,until eventually everybody realises that they don't have a clue & cease to respond.
About as many as those that have picked up clues along the way. Just because the world has too many dropkicks, is no justification for treating everyone that way. Especially before the over and over cycle has engaged. You said yourself you'd made attempts beyond your ability while learning.

At that point,I had built several radios from RTV & H/EA magazines,knew Ohm's & Kirchoff's Laws,could read circuit diagrams,& read Electronics mags avidly.
These attempts were at least from that base level,where I thought I was clever enough to "guess my way" around calculations.

I wasn't going from the "I don't know anything at all,but I'm going to design an Electronic Kit "level!


Quote
At that point,their reaction is often:"They're all mongrels on that forum" so they go to another one,& it starts all over.
That's OK if they'd driven most of us to the point of frustration.I may well have given them reason to think such things.
On the other hand,in this thread,you are the very soul of benevolence--is it the  new medication?   
 
Quote
Surely it is not a lot to ask,that people spend a little time to get an understanding of series & parallel circuits,Ohm's law,& a few other useful things,before launching themselves into Electronics design.

It's not unreasonable to keep pointing them back to basics, but that doesn't make considering other design aspects in any way unreasonable. Dave was talking about consideration such as component cost, utility etc. You don't need a degree to intelligently start considering such aspects despite any bollocks B@W and other will suggest. More to the point pondering on such things is usually a good path towards knowing when to ask for help.

Certainly you don't need a degree,but it would be nice to have some idea of what you are doing!
If you don't know how the device you are designing works,you are going to be battling to intelligently consider the points mentioned.

Quote
Although I am ancient,I well remember attempts to design things when I didn't have sufficient knowledge.
Yes your car battery powered car battery charger was never much in the way of a commercial success. Same apples for the longevity of WA pyramids.
No,the longevity was great!
Where they failed was in the shape, colour,& size
After all.who wants oversized, dome shaped pyramids,especially if they are striped red & brown.
I was so embarrassed,I dumped them all up in the Kimberleys.


Quote
At that time,I could at least read a circuit diagram,& build stuff from a magazine project,but I still knew very little.
Uh-huh. And if everyone you'd asked a dumb question to had fobbed you off, you'd be a lot further behind than you are today.

After I was fobbed off,& even worse,given dumb answers,I went away & found out for myself out of a book,an art seemingly lost!

Quote
They were in almost all cases," disasters,& I do not look back on them as "Good learning experiences" at all!
Maybe if you'd look at those other aspects the disaster proportion could have been much smaller.

Yes,at least I learned what was possible & what wasn't.
Another good thing is,I didn't have the Internet,so I could look stupid worldwide! ;D


Quote
The failures were all due to laziness, such as taking guesses on the number of turns on an  IF coil in a Shortwave Superhet Radio I tried to build,because the right way "looked hard"!
The thing I didn't understand back then,was experienced people can "guess" & be fairly close,whereas inexperienced people will not be close.except by chance.
Yeah. So where is the issue in someone inexperienced asking questions? I have no issue with dumb questions or even with slow learners. Those who want to answer with "no that can't be it" or those unprepared to listen are a different proposition. Those with attitude, well let's just say they soon become sport. Anyone else deserves a little encouragement.
Probably just that they annoy the hell out of me!! ;D
 

Offline urbanwriter

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #26 on: July 09, 2012, 10:03:59 pm »
Hey, Uncle Vernon, thanks for your posts on 'lernin.'

I can read, more or less, a schematic. Sometimes I even have an idea what I'm looking at, or what a particular group of components are supposed to be doing (think discrete component oscillator), which is an improvement from a year ago.

For those that say 'go look in a book,' while I agree with the concept, if you don't know 'absolutely' you won't know when the answers in the book are absolutely wrong. Think 'Practical Electronics for Inventors' and its lists of errata. So, you have one book that says one thing, you have another book that says another, quite different, thing. You don't know enough to be absolutely sure which of them is wrong...

Kits. Kits are, in their best form, more than just soldering practice. Those are the kits with some 'theory of operation,' they might have test point voltages, 'scope traces if appropriate. But lots of kits are a bunch of parts in a box. Other than learning to solder most kits fail in every other regard as 'teaching' methodology.

UV's comments, and Dave's original notions about design, seem awfully reasonable to somebody who has been playing for a year or so.
 

Uncle Vernon

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Re: EEVblog #302 - Electronics Beginner Advice
« Reply #27 on: July 10, 2012, 12:02:31 am »
Hey, Uncle Vernon, thanks for your posts on 'lernin.'

Not a problem, everyone is entitled to their quota of questions, and for the newbie knowing where how to look for help isn't always easy.
I don't have a problem with question until the become repetitive or demanding, everyone started knowing very little at some point.

What upsets the grumps, (and I can be as big a grump as the best of them) Is not following a few of UV's simple rules.

Don't keep asking the same question, in the same place, or to the same people. If you don't get an answer you can understand, try rephrasing your question or approaching it from a different angle. Some concepts can take a bit of work to get your head around, but approaching  things the same way will generally return the same results.

Don't immediately contradict a reply to any question. Nothing infuriates us Grumps more than the "that can't be it" reply half way through offering an obvious answer.

Don't use other as a free design service. Engineering types by nature are generally helpful and enjoy sharing knowledge no matter how gruff they appear. What others are not, is a free service for project design of homework answers.

If you don't get any answers, have a look at the questions you are answering and consider rephrasing it, and remember your DIY special or study isn't the highlight of everyone else's world. Remember how a forum works and consider time zones, it's surprising how many get nasty at the lack of a 20 minute reply, despite half the planet being in bed at the time they asked the question.

Do explain the problem you have and the task you are trying to achieve along with the specific question. "Why are all my IC's catching fire and exploding?" is not easy to answer.  However supplying some outline about how your connecting up, what supply you are using, and what load you are trying to drive and other details will make it possible for others to help with a solution.

Do maintain a sense of humour. Us grumps sure have one and often use it to point out what should be the bleeding obvious! It's not a personal attack. Those who get bitter and twisted usually end up joining the ignore lists.

Do look through answers given and the links and suggestions provided. There is no problem coming back and saying I've read X several times but still don't get it. And there is nothing more annoying than being asked the same question again knowing no effort has been made to take the information suggested.

I'd agree that many of the kits are an exercise to allow poor soldering to be adopted by a wider user base. Kit makers have there own set of problems and rude and idiot users have generallyforced the kit makers to dumb them down to the lowest common denominator.
i don't see things like fun-way kits being of much use or appeal for adult learning despite them being a great start point for the juniors.

The idea of becoming your own design service is a sound one. Knowing what you are not ready to take on is just as important as what you can. And before any parts are harmed it makes sense to work out what an approximate spend will be, including all the development and prototyping. I agree that there is nothing wrong with failing, provided you worked out why a particular approach or design is unfeasible. If it's just giving up then the whole exercise has been a waste of time.

Newbies should be encouraged to learn, I have no problem with that or even with those a little slow on the uptake. Despite appearing outwardly begrudging, grumps like me don't mind helping others to learn, but we are not and never will be a free service. Those who make the effort to help themselves are those who will generally get the most help and encouragement.

Go forth, enjoy and never forget the end without the cord is the hot end. 
 


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