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General => General Chat => Topic started by: MONODA on July 14, 2012, 04:32:04 pm

Title: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: MONODA on July 14, 2012, 04:32:04 pm
So I just finished my first year of undergraduate electrical engineering study and feel like I don't know nearly as much electronics as I like or am willing to learn.

For the past couple of months I've been trying to teach myself by reading electronics magazines (Talking Electronics being one of them) and other articles here and there rather than learning from a text book. My concern is that I could be using my time a lot more effectively by solving exercises and working through textbooks. Especially considering I will have to in the coming years of my education.

What do you guys think?
Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: McMonster on July 14, 2012, 06:39:31 pm
Build circuits and blow stuff up. Theory itself is not enough if you don't understand it enough to build any usable circuit.
Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: T4P on July 14, 2012, 06:43:37 pm
Build circuits and blow stuff up. Theory itself is not enough if you don't understand it enough to build any usable circuit.

Ironic you say that, i just blew up a laptop cooling fan as a final farewell to send it straight to afterlife
Lots of smoke and it stank for 1 hour
10 secs ~7V, 5 secs ~30V, the rest 14V-16V 0.7A

But still, interesting that the hall effect sensor gave out a shitload of smoke
Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: free_electron on July 14, 2012, 07:46:34 pm
not a good idea to stink up the place with fried semiconductors..
That carbonized epoxy is not very healthy , let alone the dopant used in the chips...

Anyway, reading books does not make you an electronician , just as it wold not make you a mechanic.
you need to do things. take things apart , build things, repair things.

Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: IanB on July 14, 2012, 08:21:26 pm
An especially good idea would be to build things from a plan or existing design, then understand how it works, then modify it and improve it. You can learn a lot by example.
Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: Colin55 on July 14, 2012, 09:35:43 pm
The best way to learn things is to build lots of projects.

Colin Mitchell
TALKING ELECTRONICS

I only really started to learn electronics AFTER finishing an electronics course.
Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: vk3yedotcom on July 15, 2012, 02:44:21 am
An especially good idea would be to build things from a plan or existing design, then understand how it works, then modify it and improve it. You can learn a lot by example.

+1

And once done draw the circuit, date it, note its source and put it in your 'own projects' file.  Leave room to note any modifications or when you pulled it apart. 

If it could interest others write an article, tell us about it here and/or do a YouTube video.

Peter
Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: vk3yedotcom on July 15, 2012, 03:03:50 am
For the past couple of months I've been trying to teach myself by reading electronics magazines (Talking Electronics being one of them) and other articles here and there rather than learning from a text book. My concern is that I could be using my time a lot more effectively by solving exercises and working through textbooks. Especially considering I will have to in the coming years of my education.

What do you guys think?

Why not try both, eg through designing and building some basic test gear?   Or any project where you need to work something out, using a formula, for it to operate.

In the past one might have build one's own voltmeter or ammeter with an old meter movement, but there may be little functional need unless you want the swing of an analogue movement or need a specialised instrument to measure extremes. The design of this would have required Ohms Law exercises similar to but more practical than in the textbook.

A bit more complex but possibly more useful is a low value inductance or capacitance measuring instrument.  There's various methods, but something including a crystal oscillator, LED output indicator and the (adjustable) tuned circuit under test works for me.  Formulas that could be useful for this include the one that calculates the resonant frequency from L and C.   Enhancements could include adding extra measurement ranges.

Peter
Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: Psi on July 15, 2012, 03:21:16 am
Make stuff, seriously, it's more important than the theory imho.

Don't try to start with a super complex project. However what you can do is build complex stuff out of existing modules.  eg, a power supply module, a RF transmitter module. etc.
You do learn important stuff trying to join things together and it's a nice feeling to know you can build almost anything using this technique, even if you don't have all the theory quite nailed down yet.

It's not necessary to 'reinvent the wheel' every time you need a circuit, and trying to do this (especially early on) can lead to giving up the entire project. Which is what you want to avoid happening at all costs.

Once you've finished a few projects (and know how awesome it is to finally finish stuff) you will look forward to this feeling again and it will motivate you do finish harder projects.
Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: szhighstar on July 15, 2012, 03:29:28 am
step by step, theory guides practice, practice verifies theory, continue to raise level at the loop.
Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: vk6zgo on July 15, 2012, 05:57:52 am
So I just finished my first year of undergraduate electrical engineering study and feel like I don't know nearly as much electronics as I like or am willing to learn.

For the past couple of months I've been trying to teach myself by reading electronics magazines (Talking Electronics being one of them) and other articles here and there rather than learning from a text book. My concern is that I could be using my time a lot more effectively by solving exercises and working through textbooks. Especially considering I will have to in the coming years of my education.

What do you guys think?
As IanB says,build some stuff from other people's designs.

Once you get a feel for things,start analysing why the designer used a particular component or technique.
Often it isn't very "high tech",it just happened to be the part lying on the bench! ;D

If you can,"Tear down" some Commercially made equipment,whilst looking at the schematic,if available,to determine how things are built in the real world.

After a while,you will notice that Manufacturers don't always strive for unique design,--If a Sony  circuit looks a lot like a Philips or Sanyo circuit,is that a bad thing?

Many EEs,or would be EEs on this forum will advise you to "design something".
My problem with that,is that if you don't have a feeling for how things are done,you may get tied up trying to "design your way around" problems which someone sorted out in 1936!

As you are at Uni,don't neglect the wonderful resource you have in the University Library.
If your present knowledge doesn't give you an answer,look in the Library first,before you "Google",or ask on a forum.
You may get an answer to your direct question on the 'Net,but a book will often answer other secondary questions,& give you more background on the subject.

I was a contract Tech at UWA for a while,& one of the things I had to fix was a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance instrument.
Well I didn't know a thing about NMR,so I had a look at the Library,& there was all the information I required to make intelligent guesses about what the fault was.

Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: EEVblog on July 15, 2012, 08:01:21 am
The best way to learn things is to build lots of projects.

Colin Mitchell
TALKING ELECTRONICS

I only really started to learn electronics AFTER finishing an electronics course.

Hey Colin, great to see you on the forum, welcome!

Dave.
Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: mikeselectricstuff on July 15, 2012, 11:51:58 am
Find some junk electronics and take it apart - try to figure out how it works. See if you can re-use bits for other interesting purposes.
Title: Re: Best way to learn electronics?
Post by: bullet308 on July 15, 2012, 03:24:45 pm
An idea: take an interest in a hobby or some-such that relies on electronics and then master the electronics aspects of that hobby.

For instance, I play with Geiger counters and other radiation detection gear. Other natural points of entry are RC aircraft or cars, robotics, ham radio, home automation, astrophysical or the whole maker/Arduino scene.

Seems to be working okay for me.

And all of the above as well.