Author Topic: Convince me not to give up on electronics.  (Read 9956 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Mint.

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 523
  • Country: au
  • Account is inactive now. Thanks everybody!
    • Personal Blog, Mint Electronics.
Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« on: September 28, 2012, 10:48:31 am »
It has been almost a year now since I started to be a formal hobbyist in the art of electronics. Unfortunately the journey was no what I was expecting it to be. At first it was tiring and boring when I started learning about the basics (and I am still not finished), however I kept myself motivated and going by looking into the future and imagining all the cool things I could build with my knowledge. When I tested my circuits on the breadboard, but most of the time they never worked the way I wanted them to and hence I became highly demotivated, but I still kept going. I knew I wanted to become an electrical engineer.

Then a month or so I had work experience (aka job shadow), I just sat there for the next 5 days crimping wires and screwing on sockets onto various cases, boring and repetitive. I didn't even get to do any soldering, because I was "inexperienced", I tried telling the guy I was a hobbyist and if he could only give me a chance to show that I can! But no bulge. I asked various questions about electronics, but none of them seemed to be interested in it outside of the workshop. They told me they didn't use math at much and the whole process with picking values and components was just a hit and miss selection. The experience really shook me and gave me a wake up call, I began to question whenever I really want to have a job like this. Whenever I really am just going to be somebody working in a dirty lab soldering PCB's and screwing on components onto boxes.

Quite recently I have finished a little project which is basically a notification system, you press one button on one end and on the other an LED flashes and a sound can be heard. During the experience I came across many difficulties, I became highly demotivated and even though I managed to finish the project, I am not too pleased with the result.

Now I am working on an LED strip that flashes to the beat of the music, but the whole design process is highly limited by my understanding of maths and electronics. I can construct circuits, but I cannot understand how they work. Transistors have twisted my mind into a knot with their strange properties as well as other basic components such as op-amps and such which never seem to work for me.

Even now I am entering year 11 in school and with it being the second last year of my schooling, I don't think I will have any time for electronics as all it is for me right now is just reading up on books and websites to gain as much knowledge as possible, hence I kind of get no break from study with learning in school and learning at home.

I'm just very disappointed with this whole experienced as I have invested a rather large amount of money into this hobby. I am not sure whenever I should keep going or not.  Whenever all this knowledge can be put to use into a future where everything electronic is far too complex for a hobbyist to fix and modify and a future where it would probably be easier to buy something rather than make it yourself. Now I am not saying that hobbyist electronics is going to die, but that is certainly how I feel at the present moment.
Personal Blog (Not Active Anymore), Mint Electronics:
http://mintelectronics.wordpress.com/
 

Offline Rerouter

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4612
  • Country: au
  • Question Everything... Except This Statement
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2012, 11:10:48 am »
whether or not you want to pursue it is your own choice, and requiring validation from an external source means your likely to relapse on this state of mind in another week or so even if they tell you to keep it up, as such i will offer some aid to your current conundrums

transistors act like a current amplifier, while this is not the true model, the crude analogy helps make them more understandable,
effectivly whatever current you feed into its base is multiplied by the "hfe" or gain and that amount of current then flows between its collector and emmiter, and when no more current can flow between the collector and emmitor jucntion (say you have a load that drops the voltage) it is in a state known as saturation

when its base is lifted to about 0.7V the "base to emiitor" junction begins conducting, this then allows the "collector to emitor" junction to break down and conduct far more current and why they need atleast 0.7V on the base to work,

understanding circuits is just about understanding the properties of the parts, e.g. a diode conducts after a certain voltage is crossed, zeners also do this but also breakdown in the other direction at a higher voltage, resistors are a resistance, capacitors store voltage, while inductors store current, (simplifications) transistors are current based amplifiers, mosfets are voltage based (the gate to source threshold voltage is where it starts conducting and the gain is not as easy to quickly sum in your head as a transistor)

logic is just transistors and mosfets set up so they effectivly operate at 2 voltage levels, either high or low, e.g. once you pass a threshold is immediatly ramps its output from low to high,

micro-controller code is the basic instructions on how it operates, e.g. telling it to move a byte to a port to turn a pin on at its lowest level, next layer up being using a command (layers of abstraction) like pin = 0, the next layer up being complex commands and functions like a pwm function where you simply feed it the percentage, they are all just built upon one another and are there to try and make things easier for new guys,

this is the simplest way i can convey the basics as i see them to someone who may be having difficulty, while i could spend some weeks reciting off the top of my head the theory i recall, being how you are at this decision point it would probably not hold the most merit or time,
 

Online madires

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 5243
  • Country: de
  • A qualified hobbyist ;)
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2012, 11:28:46 am »
Maybe you expect too much progress and success in the beginning. I've started with electronics experimentation kits and most kits got a nice documentation explaining everything with simple words. Later on I got a subscription of an electronics magazine for beginners. It's not something you'll learn in 30 days, it will take years, but it can be fun and rewarding. If you want to go professional you have to be tough. At the university about 50% drop out of EE because it's too hard, too much maths, too boring or whatever.
 

Offline Baliszoft

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 277
  • Country: hu
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2012, 02:09:49 pm »
If you need someone to convince you to not to give up, then give up.  ;)
 

jucole

  • Guest
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2012, 02:10:05 pm »
Hi Mint, sorry to hear of your woes;  Most EE is sadly very much math orientated in some way, there's not much you can do to get away from that.
Why don't you get into Arduino or Microcontrollers, that's another fun aspect of electronics and it doesn't have to break the bank.
Electronics at any level is good to know and will come in handy.


I only do electronics as a hobby myself but here's something I found really handy when I was learning about transistors, and how they work as a switch.









 

Offline Christe4nM

  • Supporter
  • ****
  • Posts: 243
  • Country: nl
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2012, 02:10:13 pm »
Well my 2 cents:

First off all you have to have fun doing what you do. Suppose you intend it to be your job, and you don't have fun doing it, (in my experience) you won't last. That is to say, there are always times that you just have to go on and you might not like what you're doing at the moment. But in essence you have to be liking it. In my opinion that is not limited to what you eventually will be able to design, but also to the process of learning. In my experience that is also the key in advancing. By liking EE, you get enthusiast about it, eager to learn, and you get the drive from the inside to go through the harder stuff.

That said, I get that you get demotivated by what is not working. Well, first of all electronics has to be learning in very small steps if you're doing it completely by yourself. It might be a good idea to make a list of subjects that you want/need to learn. Than order those into how they build upon each other. Then break every subject down again in it's subparts. The table of contents of EE books might give you an idea of how to do so. This way you have a clear outline on how you can progress through the subjects.

Now that you know whát to learn, it's time to get to the how. First you need the theory, preferably with lots of example circuits. Those can be breadboarded, measured, and help you to understand what is going on. Make sure you understand why something is, or is not working, before moving on. This way you prevent yourself getting into too complicated circuits that are as of yet too hard to troubleshoot if something does not work.

It will also help to start projects with goals that are achievable in a month or so. Even if the whole projects spans a year, it can be broken down into subparts. By getting the parts to work you feel you've achieved something, even if the project as a whole doesn't work yet. Getting things to work, however small and simple they may be, will motivate you to continue.

All in all it seems to me you took a bite more that you can chew at the moment. Maybe take some time off EE. Get back to it when you feel like you're going to have fun doing it again. Frustration blocks the fun, and it will costs you a lot of your energy, while a hobby should actually give you energy. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to let it go. By taking some time off, taking a step back you can get the overview again. Find out how you want to progress. Find out what the root of the problem/frustration is, and act upon that.

This way I had to let go playing electrical guitar for a few years now. Even though I could play quite OK, learned really fast, I aimed too high for a long time. I got frustrated and couldn't get past it. Now, when I play, I have fun again. When I'm up to it, I'll get to getting better again, but only as long as I have fun doing it.

Goodluck!
 

Offline djsb

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 593
  • Country: gb
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2012, 03:22:00 pm »
I got into electronics by playing about with radio's. I suppose it started as a kind of escape for me from the emotinal chaos of puberty. Engineering is predictable and reassuring in a way so that helped. It's also good to be able to solve problems on a small scale and handle the setbacks you come across in your understanding and helps to develop patience.
Maybe a book like this could offer inspiration

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Most-Secret-Wordsworth-Military-Library/dp/185326699X

My interest in electronics also comes and goes but it's worth sticking with.

David.
David
Hertfordshire,UK
 University Electronics Technician, London PIC,CCS C,Arduino,Kicad, Altium Designer,LPKF S103,S62 Operator, Electronics instructor.  http://debuggingrules.com/ Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
 

Offline AntiProtonBoy

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 770
  • Country: au
    • Youtube Channel
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2012, 04:01:26 pm »
My thoughts:

Don't throw away an entire potential career because of some shitty work experience job. Knowledge in this field takes a hell of a lot of time to mature.  I think you're be better off building kits that were already designed for you. Try understanding the math later when you have more experience. What you should focus on is having fun with electronics without fussing too much about the fundamentals. You should also concentrate on your high school studies. High school will prepare you with the necessary mental tools for dealing with the theoretical aspects of electronics later.

And remember, every failure is one step closer to success. ;D
 

Offline Sionyn

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 848
  • Country: gb
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2012, 04:06:20 pm »
nothing works first time round i remember back in secondry school and anguish i had with my project the biscuit tin alarm it was two simple voltage dividers a LDR  and comparator. with hand etched pcb (damn teacher disaproved of pcb circuit design opting for transfers and marker pen). worked well in simulation software and likewise with breadboard model.

it happens to the best of us.

We Built a robot for robot wars I still have ding on ankle from being hit by the damn thing, this thing would knock over full wheel bins smash glass doors 10 in total thanks to our teachers very novel control system, a jerry rigged off  the self boat servo system controlling his home made speed controller (a pot).

Quite powerful things 30mph with a adult I remember welding a chair to two of them and racing each other with the other driver controlling your car whilst you controlled his. Its been 10 years since secondry school man I miss fooling around like that.
eecs guy
 

Offline IanB

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 9692
  • Country: us
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2012, 04:18:57 pm »
...I am entering year 11 in school...

That would make you about 16 or so, is that right?

Now thinking back to when I was 16 at school, I was quite bright academically and I had a strong interest in all things scientific and electronic, but I was certainly not able to design complex circuits and I was only able to build simple projects from instructions.

It is important not to overestimate what you can do at such a relatively young age, at a time before you have finished high school and before you have been through college or university. It may seem dispiriting now, but perhaps you are expecting to be able to do too much, too soon.

At 16 you are nowhere near able to do what you may be able to do at 21, and at 21 you will be nowhere near able to do what you will perhaps be capable of at 30. Also, I don't think at 16 your mind has finished growing and developing, so things are going to seem hard now that later on will seem much easier.

In short, don't look at the "advanced" things that others on this board seem able to do and automatically think everyone can learn to do them just like that. It takes time to learn and practice and grow those abilities.

Be patient, concentrate on your education, and the things you are finding hard will become easier. In the mean time, concentrate on "fun" things like building projects from existing designs and seeing them work.
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Offline nack

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 75
  • Country: nl
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2012, 05:03:26 pm »
Have a look at this video, might teach you something!



 

Offline AndyC_772

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3610
  • Country: gb
  • Professional design engineer
    • Cawte Engineering | Reliable Electronics
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2012, 07:33:06 pm »
Young would-be engineers do tend to find themselves doing crummy jobs with screws, connectors and wires, and it can be immensely frustrating. But you will find the ability to confidently wield a crimp tool is a useful skill, so take that away with you and move on. If the people you worked with choose components by hit-and-miss, they're designing the next generation of crap anyway. By making the effort to learn the basics properly, you're already probably a step ahead of them where it counts.

The trouble with electronics is that there are very, very few people out there who can teach it well. It's also an unfortunate fact of life that people who are genuinely knowledgeable, capable and keen also tend to be very busy, and that can mean they're too busy to spend time on training. This is a terrible shame, but it's nothing personal; unless you're extraordinarily fortunate, you will need to self-learn a lot. And if you already want to do just that, then you're in a good place.

You have some major advantages compared to when I was learning the basics myself.

- You have the internet, so you have a route whereby you can show your circuits to experienced designers and have them offer help and advice. Take full advantage, but be aware that the skill you'll need more than any other is the ability to describe your problems in detail. Many full-time professional engineers find this difficult and struggle with it.

- You have access to free circuit simulation software, so you can experiment with how individual circuit elements behave without ever actually having to suffer the poor connections and random noise that plagued me when I first started playing with breadboards. Simulated components always work properly, they don't burn out, and the parts you need are always on the shelf. Building stuff is great, but it's also a great way to get bogged down in practical difficulties which get in the way of understanding how a circuit should be working.

- Useful, working test equipment - meters and oscilloscopes - are much cheaper now than they've ever been before, and it's essential to be able to accurately measure things that are happening in your designs. On the other hand, inaccurate and faulty test gear is misleading and has no value whatsoever, unless you can rip it apart and salvage at least some useful components from within. Guesswork is better than measured data which is actually wrong.

You don't need advanced maths, but you do need to be really confident doing basic arithmetic. Ohm's law will get you a long way, and equations don't get much simpler than that. Simulate the most basic circuits you can come up with, try and guess what voltages and currents will do, then compare your results and work out what happened if they differ. It's just as important to have an intuitive feel for whether a circuit change will (say) make a current increase or decrease than it is to be able to spend ages actually doing the calculations to work it out the hard way, and you'll get this with experience.

The tricky part is getting that intuitive understanding of what electricity is like, how it behaves, and what the basic building blocks are that we can use to control it. I have an analogy I like to use...

Current in a wire is very like beer flowing in a pipe. The beer itself is electrical charge, and the rate of flow of beer with time is what we call current. A battery is a pump, it maintains a constant pressure (voltage) difference between its two ends. Wires are like big, fat hosepipes, and a switch is like a tap that you can only turn fully on or fully off. A resistor is a kink in the hose, so it restricts how much beer (current) will flow for a given pressure (voltage) drop across it. A diode is like a flap valve, beer only flows one way. A capacitor is like a pipe with a taut rubber diaphragm stretched across it, so although beer can't flow straight through, fluctuations in its pressure can be felt on the other side, and you can store energy in it by applying pressure which causes the diaphragm to stretch.

I could go on, and I will if you like - but for some reason I feel thirsty...  ;D

Offline FJV

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 91
You could look at other options
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2012, 08:10:04 pm »
imagining all the cool things I could build with my knowledge.

Could be that electronics or engineering is not your thing.

Maybe you doing "the imagining all the cool things" bit and having others build that stuff would be an option?

This way you could be still be involved with developing cutting edge tech, except it would be in a different field.

For instance industrial design person, where you get to make ordinary product into something cool that people want to have.
For instance the Swiss army knife:






 

Offline miceuz

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 374
  • Country: lt
    • chirp - a soil moisture meter / plant watering alarm
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #13 on: September 28, 2012, 08:56:11 pm »
Firstly - maybe it's not your thing? If you don't feel the thrill of doing stuff, overcoming problems by understanding the inner workings of the system, then maybe you should think of another career.

As regarding to not giving up electronics - I would suggest you to start building things that you really need. Not just some random stuff, that looks kinda cool, but _real_ things that you need - to solve some nagging problem, to show off to girlfriends, to empower friends or yourself. This will give you a focus - it's not just a hobby, it's a craft and a very powerful one. Then, don't leave loose ends - gain understanding of why you circuit does work, or why it does not work - and fix it. You have all the internet for you to offer help, places like this forum or http://electronics.stackexchange.com -- ask questions until you sort it out, go down to basics, learn.

I'm myself not an EE, I'm into electronics for the 3rd year and I've spent last winter and spring designing and building a darn linear power supply *almost full time* (I'm in position not to work right now) I was asking myself the same question - I'm a programmer, why do i need this shit? But then again - the unsolved quest kept on nagging me and I finally found, that I was missing some simple stupid mistake that I made by reading datasheet not carefully enough. I've spent yesterday while learning how to design a simple single transistor amplifier stage for the 3rd time already (and maybe finally got it) and I'm running debug tests on capacitive moisture sensor for the 3rd week already while i thought it's ready to rock and roll a month ago.

Electronics is hard, the learning curve is very steep, but it's very empowering in the end - I've made a furnace PID controller for my girlfriend which enabled her to precisely control temperature while burning glaze on ceramics and now she makes nice things - and I've made it possible - it's hard to describe the joy i felt.

Regarding a job you had - it's just a random crappy place, nevermind it.

Offline TriodeTiger

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 200
  • Country: ca
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2012, 09:13:36 pm »
For your op amps not working, or simple circuits not doing what you had expected, there are two things I have found useful:

  - Take a step away for awhile (sleep, remove it from your mind for a couple of days). There have been countless times I've thought "lets move this over there..." and have restored my original functionality at the beginning. If you've outlined exactly what you want, then rebuild it in a new manner (after realising why the previous one had not worked.)

 - More importantly, ASK! The link to electronics stackexchange is a good place, here you'll get plenty who'll give you some alternate methods you just haven't seen yet (you can't create much without knowing how to, right?) ... I can't seem to interpret "how opamps work"...until I understood feedback from something unrelated (trying to make a tracking pre-regulator in LTSPICE based on dave's) and realised... "that's why you use resistors for feedback..." ... and "as I've seen in instruction videos, op amps DO 'try to get the difference between inverting and noninverting inputs the same'..."

As said: You may want to try Arduinos and whatnot. I just created a nice R2/R ladder DAC, and slamming a simple loop (for i=0; i<128; i++ { PORTB = i }) to test it with the Arduino was very rewarding. I'd be very frustrated if I had to put functions in to eeprom, or create binary sequences from logic chips to test the DAC. It gave me another project to learn with my scope.

Maybe for me, moving on to veroboard and atmegas with a programmer is what sounds fun to me - or lowly pics and arms, they're so small and inexpensive, you can build all sorts of useful things (your notification feedback for example may be a lot easier in a micro if you haven't! if it was, did you put it in an interrupt? loops are sometimes blocking and slow!)

Alexander. (thought I'd put my opinion in the bucket, I know I loved reading many like this when I asked similar when I first joined...
"Yes, I have deliberately traded off robustness for the sake of having knobs." - Dave Jones.
 

Offline EEVblog

  • Administrator
  • *****
  • Posts: 31345
  • Country: au
    • EEVblog
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2012, 01:10:27 am »
It's not something you'll learn in 30 days, it will take years, but it can be fun and rewarding.

Heck, I'm still learning something new every day after 30 years!

Dave.
 

Offline VonKlitzing

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 7
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2012, 04:42:10 am »
Nothing ever, ever works first time, you learn through failure, it is just the way it is. To help you learn more efficiently keep a lab notebook and write everything down, draw schematics again and again (do this by hand), write out exactly what you think is going on within each part of the circuit in simple, easy to understand English, it doesn't matter if it is wrong you can always go back and amend it later if there is a mistake. Take the last 10 pages and write down any useful equations you find, label every single term plainly, there is no shame in using cog sheets.

If you are completely stuck there is no shame in randomly replacing component values and seeing what happens, this is actually a great learning tool in and of itself just as long as you sit down and try and understand why changing a component value here or there has the effect it does. It may seem a bit scatter gun but the (very) rare times it works can really pay dividends in the learning process.

Nobody becomes an expert in a year, manage your expectations and take heart in the fact that while you don't know everything you are still lightyears ahead of the average Joe and you know more today then you did yesterday.

 

Offline Dago

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 657
  • Country: fi
    • Electronics blog about whatever I happen to build!
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2012, 07:31:57 am »
My advice is that if you feel you feel you are unable to design working circuits from the ground up, then you should always try to find a known working circuit, build that and modify it to your needs. This is way easier to get working and I find you learn as much when doing this than when making your own from scratch. Then at some point you realize "hey this is obvious how I need to build thing x" or "hey I can do better than this circuit here" then you are ready to design stuff yourself. You also need to know your own limits, do not try to build stuff thats "out of your league".

Maybe the three most important things I've learned in electronics is 1) Don't try to build anything too hard for your own skillset 2) Even if there is two metallic objects that are touching, or maybe even a solder joint, does not mean there is a reliable connection...  :) 3) This is sort of related to nr. 2 but try to avoid making "shoddy" stuff. You just usually end up making an unreliable mess thats hard/impossible to debug if you for example build a huge circuit on solderless/perfboard.
Come and check my projects at http://www.dgkelectronics.com ! I also tweet as https://twitter.com/DGKelectronics
 

Offline David_AVD

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2607
  • Country: au
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2012, 08:29:00 am »
A lot of work experience placements are achieved after a school has badgered a business to take someone on.  You have to remember that the business owner probably doesn't really have loads of free time to teach someone from the ground up.  You can't really expect someone to become your private tutor while they run their business.  You are likely a net drain on them to start with.  That's why you'll get the "monkey jobs"; sweeping up and the like.

Work experience placements are often more about instilling a work ethic; working regular hours, interacting with other staff, following instructions, etc.  These are valuable things to learn too and will prepare you for the workplace once you leave school.  At your age however, it can be hard to see that.

The best WE candidates (in my opinion) are the ones who have been interested in electronics for a few years already.  I've been on both sides of the fence.  I helped out at a TV repair shop after high school each day.  It took a while (months) but the shop owner slowly gave me more technical jobs.  I was pretty motivated and had been into electronics since age 12 though.

In the end, if you need us to convince you to hang in there, maybe electronics isn't for you.  It could be that you liked the idea of getting into electronics, but are not passionate about it.  At least not right now.  Things can change and it's probably best not to "force it".  :)
 

Offline vk6zgo

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 5365
  • Country: au
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2012, 08:44:46 am »
"
Then a month or so I had work experience (aka job shadow), I just sat there for the next 5 days crimping wires and screwing on sockets onto various cases, boring and repetitive. I didn't even get to do any soldering, because I was "inexperienced", I tried telling the guy I was a hobbyist and if he could only give me a chance to show that I can! But no bulge. I asked various questions about electronics, but none of them seemed to be interested in it outside of the workshop. They told me they didn't use math at much and the whole process with picking values and components was just a hit and miss selection. The experience really shook me and gave me a wake up call, I began to question whenever I really want to have a job like this. Whenever I really am just going to be somebody working in a dirty lab soldering PCB's and screwing on components onto boxes."

Gee,my heart bleeds for you! :'(
Seriously,though,it looks like your work experience may have been someplace where they are making products for sale.
A lot of these places,below the level of Design Engineer,are pretty much the bottom end of the food chain in Electronics.
There are usually two levels at the bottom,Tech & Assembler,& in practice,the Techs are used as Assemblers most of the time.

You,on the other hand,are a "work-experience kid",& a "Smartarse work-experience kid" at that!
How about a wild guess where you fit into the food chain?

There is not a lot of maths use needed in these places--that's for the EE-your place is to "just shut up & crimp!"

That said,there are reasons for limiting what you were allowed to do.
The standard of  hand soldered joints is regarded of utmost importance by manufacturers,& they usually have a "Solder Nazi" to check your joints & reject any which are not up to scratch.
Still with soldering,their insurance may not have covered you,as you were not officially an employee.

The other people may not really know much about the stuff you are making--they may have been enthusiastic & interested at some time,but have been "kept in the dark" due to a misguided concern about IP.

After many years with employers where I was expected to think for myself & know everything possible about the equipment I worked on,I ended up as a so-called Tech in a place where they wouldn't let us look at a circuit diagram,as we might tell the competitors.
Never mind that the only IP in the circuit belonged to National Semiconductors!

As far as learning Electronics is concerned,I would echo the advice of not trying to design things,just because other people on this forum do so.
Many of the others have been involved in design for many years,& other are well advanced into their EE degrees at Uni.
Some of them may have been prodigies & designing stuff in year 11,but I would guess the majority were not.

My suggestion is to build a few things designed by others.
Be very cautious of what you build off the Internet,as some stuff is crap,& will not work.
"Silicon Chip" is a good magazine to build things out of,or just read the construction articles,as they usually tell you a good bit of the theory behind their design decisions.
And read,read,read,The stuff you need to know is in books,magazines,& on the 'Net.
If you are trying to remember something,write it down as you read it,work out examples,& so on.
There is something about writing things out ,& working out Maths,which makes it stick in your mind.

If you want to put Electronics away for a year & concentrate on school,it doesn't mean you are giving it up.
It will still be there in a years time!
In the meantime,Year 12 is a major thing to get over----- remember,Maths,Physics,& Chemistry are all excellent tools to help you understand Electronics better,& English helps you express yourself.
 

Offline AndyC_772

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3610
  • Country: gb
  • Professional design engineer
    • Cawte Engineering | Reliable Electronics
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2012, 08:59:43 am »
"Some good advice..."

...but then followed it up with...

Quote
As far as learning Electronics is concerned,I would echo the advice of not trying to design things,just because other people on this forum do so.

Gaaahh.....!

Of course you should try designing things yourself. Start simple, of course, but get to know how common components work, and then start hooking them up together to see how they interact. Copy ideas from books, build simple projects, then modify them just to see what happens. If they blow up, figure out why, figure out which parts went bang and what caused each individual one to fail. Then replace them, get the circuit working again and then try something else.

Offline David_AVD

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 2607
  • Country: au
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2012, 09:06:26 am »
Making small changes (one at a time) to existing designs can be a really good way to gain knowledge.  Building something from scratch can lead to disappointment when it doesn't work and you've got no idea where to start looking.
 

Offline vk6zgo

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 5365
  • Country: au
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2012, 09:29:59 am »
"Some good advice..."

I'm a bit bemused by this,where did I use these words?


...but then followed it up with...

Quote
As far as learning Electronics is concerned,I would echo the advice of not trying to design things,just because other people on this forum do so.

Gaaahh.....!

Of course you should try designing things yourself. Start simple, of course, but get to know how common components work, and then start hooking them up together to see how they interact.

Copy ideas from books, build simple projects, then modify them just to see what happens.
This isn't exactly designing things yourself,& is a reasonable idea,providing you don't do something stupid!
 If they blow up, figure out why, figure out which parts went bang and what caused each individual one to fail. Then replace them, get the circuit working again and then try something else.
The problem with many beginners is they don't get past this point,& are still trying to learn by trial & error for years.
 

Offline AndyC_772

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3610
  • Country: gb
  • Professional design engineer
    • Cawte Engineering | Reliable Electronics
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2012, 10:45:22 am »
Just paraphrasing. I agree with much of what you said, so I summarised it rather than quote a lot of text verbatim.

Offline Fet

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 8
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2012, 01:23:16 pm »
Quote
It has been almost a year now since I started to be a formal hobbyist in the art of electronics. Unfortunately the journey was no what I was expecting it to be. At first it was tiring and boring when I started learning about the basics (and I am still not finished),

however I kept myself motivated and going by looking into the future and imagining all the cool things I could build with my knowledge.

When I tested my circuits on the breadboard, but most of the time they never worked the way I wanted them to and hence I became highly demotivated, but I still kept going. I knew I wanted to become an electrical engineer.



As to stuff not working, the basics, cool things, etc..

Is this a hobby or a career path?

If it is a hobby, stay the course.

If it is a career path, become a Good Tech FIRST.
After that go for the Double E.
One can just get a Double E and at times I still witness the Man wearing the Tie get LOST with a meter in front of him and a soldering station at hand.
1) You need to Master and understand the Fundamental Basics.  Why? From what you posted, even after 1 year you are having difficulties with getting most or all of your circuits working. ,, ??
There is NO Substitute for sitting in a class with an instructor and a chalkboard.  If you do not have the opportunity to attend an electronics class and are trying to Self-Teach, your journey is and will be more difficult, as you are talking about here.
The  Fundamental Basics?

A) Fully understand Voltage Drop~s, basic DC, AC, Series  and Parallel circuits and how Voltage and Current work in each.
B) Know and Understand Ohms LAW. Yup sounds stupid , pretty simple but there is a reason for it.

C) As a Primary DMM or DVOM use a good one with Good leads such as a Fluke or a good used    Fluke. Why? At times cheap Bargain meters will and Do give inaccurate measurement ~    readings and  will chase your tail because of it.

D) Absolutely know What “Ground”, or Zero Point you reference your voltage readings from. Sound stupid??
In electronics there are several types of grounds, Earth, Chassis, Signal, Digital, Analog, Float~ing, etc.  If you do not , you will follow the wrong path, Guaranteed!

Sound stupid? How about this,

Recently a company Electrician spent 7 hours sourcing and replacing several sets of 24vdc bulbs ~ lamps for a Sensor Circuit. The Electrician ended up getting 4 sets of bulbs and finally sought me out and expressed his frustrations concerning the sensor circuit not working. Understanding he had tried 4 sets of lamps was a RED Flag to start with and understanding the bulbs were rated at 24vdc, my question to him was, “ Ok, what's the voltage at the bulb socket~? “ 
His Answer, “48 vdc ~ 52 vdc ~ 68 vdc.”

WTF

Question to Electrician,  “OK, you are getting 40 something to short of 70 vdc at the sockets. With Reference to what?,,, What Ground?”
His answer, the machines frame, which is Earth Ground.

So at the machine in question, together we checked the socket voltage to it's System Ground and it was 24 vdc. So, the bulbs were not the problem and the sensor circuit was repaired , finally, and all was good,
except,,


He is still Honestly Ignorant of the different types of ground.

Sound ridiculous? It happened. 

Some Electronic Techs make the same mistakes.  Why? Because they get stuck in a rut and basically become part replacers, so if and when they need to T-Shoot something they are no longer proficient.


 
So you are still in High School?
Honestly, if you expect to start working for any company and be promoted from an assembler to a Tech Position I believe is Very or Overly  Ambitious. Take what you can get, do your work , do not rock the boat.
If you want to get some “Hands On “, look for “Ham Radio Clubs” and see if there are any Old Timers that still build their own equipment ~ Antennas ~ Etc.. If you find some , volunteer ~ find ways you can help and you can and will Learn from these types. You will learn so much, ( or try to ) ,  your Brain will Explode.

Good Luck
 

Offline KD0CAC John

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 615
  • Country: us
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #25 on: September 29, 2012, 03:54:39 pm »
At about 5 yrs old I tore apart my uncles watch , didn't get it back together .
Got in lots of trouble paying with my grandfathers tools , around same age .
Went through every kit that Radio Shack and others offered before 3rd grade .
So I was handed a HeathKit catalog shortly after .
So I was motivated early on .
Got sent to military boarding school , no ham radio types around , so forgot about ham radio until about 7 yrs ago .
About 6th grade [ about 1966 ] my 1st algebra class , as I look back I had arguments with teacher over answers , so quit paying any attention to that subject from then on .
Went into the Army in 1973 , did not like anything they wanted to offer me , signing up you could get a guarantee , I said I wanted something more interesting / technical , when the recruter went down a list and came to radio relay technician , I said that's it , signed up for my guarantee school .
At the end of boot-camp and testing they told me I was colar blind , mild enough that I never caught on because I could see colors , but had difficulty telling the difference between reds & greens , so was not allowed to take the radio class .
So there's the demotivation .
I do electrical work of residencial & commercial , had an auto repair buis , and was one of the better shops doing computer & emission diagnostics .
And now trying to learn radio repair again on my own .
Mostly searching the internet and matching others diagnostics and just doing the mechanical R&R and accumulating all kinds of test gear .
Now seems like there is very little access to learn from at my age , and not as time as I would like to catch up .       
If it is something you like keep working at it , you end up with other careers , but no reason to give up what you like .
From what I am gathering trying to learn enough for radio repair & building , I am told by others around my age that there just are not any schools teaching what is needed for radio repair & building , most industries are going to automation for both design & building , and repair is just swapping out boards .
With parts getting so small and other issues , it doesn't make sense that I still want to play :)
If you manage to get into the field at some level you like , then you are better off then most of the world !
It is a very few that work at what they love !!! 
 

Offline M0BSW

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 674
  • Country: 00
  • Left this site 2013, they will not delete it ????
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #26 on: September 29, 2012, 04:03:10 pm »
I use electronics to help me become a better Radio amateur , yes sure i've spoken to people all over the world, got so many QSL cards from far off places to decorate the wall, built antenna's of every kind, totally love it. Now I'm adding the technical side to it, I've built filters and related items for my hobby , this electronics side is opening a whole new and exciting world to me , and I'm like a hungry child can't get enough, yes I've have a bin with all types of non runners in it , but so what, I'm having a good time, as I'm sure everyone one else is and I'm sure you are really, to give it up what a loss, the experience you can give to me & others, I don't know enough to give advice, but let me tell you, good people in this hobby  like Dave , and all of the others including you is invaluable to people like me. so think on before you give it up.
I was so excited when the Octopus circuit  from W2AEW, that I built & it worked, I was like a dog with two tails, still am over it. so take a step back and stay.
Rant over
Paul
« Last Edit: September 29, 2012, 04:06:25 pm by M0BSW »
no one would or will tell me how to delete this account
 

Offline ptricks

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 670
  • Country: us
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #27 on: September 29, 2012, 04:18:29 pm »
Math , math and more math is the number one reason that people turn away from learning electronics. The way electronics is taught in a lot of places is responsible for turning away many people.  Math has its place in electronics but shouldn't be something that keeps you from the whole field. I was terrible in math, anything above algebra made me ill, I still continued with electronics, I guess because I kept doing experiments , and a lot of those failed more than they worked.  I prefer to use math for finding out why something didn't work vs doing the math first , getting turned off by the math, and not building anything.  Math is one of those things for me that I cannot learn by someone writing down some stuff and telling me about the formulas, I need application to understand it. If someone had told me how to convert AC to DC with a transformer and rectifiers , explaining all the peak voltage, RMS formulas, etc , I would have never pursued building my own power supply. When I couldn't figure out what size transformer to use, I went to learning how you figure that stuff out.  When I connected an electrolytic capacitor backwards and it popped I started looking for why it failed and how to correct the problem . I have been in electronics now for 20+ years and worked several jobs including designing power supplies for consumer electronics.

You have a huge advantage over me, I didn't have internet when I started, and the local library only had 1 book on electricity, I had to experiment to learn anything. I really annoyed the local tv repairman because anytime something didn't work and I was stuck I would go to him. I ruined my tv as a teenager because I wanted to add a headphone jack. I thought I could just attach the jack to the speaker wires, drill a whole in the tv casing, mount the jack and I would be done. What I didn't know is that tv had everything, including the speaker wires live to the mains. It was fairly common then to have everything inside the case live, it was allowed because there was no way for a consumer to contact anything without removing the cover. I connected the jack one day to my home stereo and that was the end of the tv.

I blame a lot of authors also for turning away people by the excessive use of math in electronics books. I picked up one on VHDL the other day and it literally was page after page of math, nothing interesting unless you really loved math.  If I had seen that as a kid I would never have considered electronics.

I guess what I am saying is experiment, ask for help on here and other places , and learn the math as you go along and need it. Don't try to cram a bunch of formulas in your head with the prospect that you might need it one day.
 

Offline Bored@Work

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3932
  • Country: 00
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #28 on: September 29, 2012, 04:59:54 pm »
Math , math and more math is the number one reason that people turn away from learning electronics.

And it is the number one reason why all your modern gadgets work. Math, math and more math applied right.
I delete PMs unread. If you have something to say, say it in public.
For all else: Profile->[Modify Profile]Buddies/Ignore List->Edit Ignore List
 

Offline free_electron

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 7403
  • Country: us
    • SiliconValleyGarage
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #29 on: September 29, 2012, 05:03:00 pm »
The problem with many beginners is they don't get past this point,& are still trying to learn by trial & error for years.
and even very salted designers are STILL in that phase... the chances of having a 'first-time-right' on a complex system are zero.
build - debug ,wash - rinse -retry...

Even silicon goes through multiple iterations before it meets all requirements.

math applied right.
with the focus on that last word... math is required , but it is NOT the end-all. It has its place and in 10% of the design work you can;t live without it. The rest ? wing it and see what happens.
if you need to drive a bipolar transistor from a chip output into saturation so that it can energise a relay .. do you really grab the calculator and do (VoHmin - Vbe)/(IoHmax * 2/3) and verify that is higher than IbsatMin ? or do you slap in a 1k resistor ?

Ask 1000 'designers' . 999 will slap in 1k. The 1000th one doesn't know what a soldering iron is, has never actually 'built' something and has never had to debug his own brainfarts and get them working. He's a 'paper designer' and producer of 'slideware'...
Now if you need to figure out how to bias a transistor in analog domain , then DO the math. But, how many designs still use loose transisotrs in analog domain ? just grab an opamp.


@KD0CAC John : That is sad. i was in the same situation. In belgium all kids at age 12 go through a medical / learning/ psychological exam and they deliver a guideline for what you can handle and not handle. electronics for me was a no-no since i am colorblind ( i don't see green ). i would fail in school because i would not be able to read the color code and make mistakes... Luckily i have an uncle that is also in electronics and his answer was : grab an ohmmeter. problem solved.

If i ever meet those 'clown' of the 'pdycho medical institute' i will put a couple of pcb's with big fat connectors (milligrid press-fits for those who know what that is  ;D ) where the sun doesn't shine. The'll be walking 'funny' for the rest of their life.

Makes you wonder how many people have been categorized as 'unfit' for a particular job because the examiners are retarded. Retarded as in 20 years behind the industry practices.. Good luck finding a color coded resistor in your tv , smartphone or computer these days. it's all 0603 and 0402... you don;t need no stinking colors. they're black and white with silvery ends.


« Last Edit: September 29, 2012, 05:17:40 pm by free_electron »
Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 

Offline AndyC_772

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3610
  • Country: gb
  • Professional design engineer
    • Cawte Engineering | Reliable Electronics
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #30 on: September 29, 2012, 06:01:11 pm »
And it is the number one reason why all your modern gadgets work. Math, math and more math applied right.
...by a tiny proportion of the people who were actually involved in designing that gadget and bringing it to market.

Offline IanB

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 9692
  • Country: us
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #31 on: September 29, 2012, 07:06:17 pm »
And it is the number one reason why all your modern gadgets work. Math, math and more math applied right.
...by a tiny proportion of the people who were actually involved in designing that gadget and bringing it to market.

And most importantly, the useful application of engineering mathematics is by feel, by having a deep understanding of why certain formulas and equations fall out the way they do, knowing the expected behavior of a system and what kind of result to expect before you calculate it. Numerical calculations are just the last step in the chain.

A huge number of calculations can be done on the back of an envelope once you know what assumptions you can make, what terms you can neglect, and what approximations you can apply. Oftentimes an exact answer for certain things won't help you much as real world components have tolerances and manufacturing variations, time and temperature drift, and other imperfections. You have to design for variation, error margins and parameter sensitivity rather than using complex mathematics to get an exact result.

Which is another way of saying there is no substitute for real world experience of other people's designs and actual components.
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Offline Pentium100

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 258
  • Country: lt
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #32 on: September 29, 2012, 07:40:44 pm »
if you need to drive a bipolar transistor from a chip output into saturation so that it can energise a relay .. do you really grab the calculator and do (VoHmin - Vbe)/(IoHmax * 2/3) and verify that is higher than IbsatMin ? or do you slap in a 1k resistor ?
Nah, I'll probably just use a transistor with the 1k (or 10k) resistor built in. Used a bunch of them in the latest device I built, saved some soldering (and a little bit of space, not that space was an issue there).
Quote
Luckily i have an uncle that is also in electronics and his answer was : grab an ohmmeter. problem solved.
Yep. Color coding is useful when trying to determine what the value is while the resistor is still in the device. Also, using an ohmmeter, I can see the real value and select a matched pair if I need to.
Quote
Good luck finding a color coded resistor in your tv , smartphone or computer these days. it's all 0603 and 0402... you don;t need no stinking colors. they're black and white with silvery ends.
The power supply has them. For "some" reason the tiny resistors do not really like when you put 230V across them. Also, my amps and TVs (all CRTs) have quite a few TH resistors, some of them are even relatively high power.
 

Offline Fet

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 8
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #33 on: September 29, 2012, 08:54:14 pm »
TO Math, ? Or Not to Math???

IMHO,

I believe some of (Young ? ) Mint's frustrations have come into play because, it appears , he or she jumped on the Electronics Wagon way past the beginning or started at the beginning , got engrossed in / with advanced projects too soon and , has not mastered the fundamentals.

Also, while the internet is alive with all kinds of electrical / electronic content,  without an experienced tech or engineer physically available or attending a real electronics class  it is very easy for a beginner to get LOST ~ become confused ~ and go ( or try to ) to the next level without fully understanding the previous building block.


Sorta like learning to “Tell time with a Digital Watch “ instead of an analog watch first.



For the math part? 
Math really does scare people away from any technical profession , electronics included.

I would dare to say individuals are scared away from electronics more so because,
1) the perceived ~ misconceived math  involved and
2) electronics for most is just a damn difficult trade ~ profession , ( at any level ), to understand and grasp. As most know electronics has a High Drop Out Rate to begin with, without the math. 

Water seeks its own level, so depending what level tech anyone is or wants to become, let alone a Double E, some basic Math seems to go with at least “Mastering Basic Fundamentals.”
The basic math, as most know, simple Ohm's Law, that's it.

http://www.hamuniverse.com/ohmslaw.html

Ohm's Law will get one down the road, no problem and one can pick up and learn more as needed.

http://www.blue-room.org.uk/wiki/File:ElectricalEquations.jpg

Also as we all know, modern society and refined consumer ~ industrial products , continuing developments in and with computers have made positions in many professions obsolete and have  naturally  Cannibalized the Electronics Profession.

Many electronic tech positions , repair or support, are no longer needed because a fair amount of goods ~ items produced are CHEAP.

Double Es are not immune either, I know of a few personally that have not even touched or been involved with any circuits ~ circuit boards , etc for many years because a “Computer “ does their old job~s now and have for years.  Most Double Es I am aware of , if they stayed in close to their profession, have been turned into full time programmers and not for electronic design work.



So , ( Young ? ), Mint, Fall back , regroup and review the “ Basic Fundamentals of Electronics” Ohm's Law included and where you need reinforcement in , learn it.  As time goes on and you advance to understanding   more complex electronics and the “Advanced Math” , it will come to you easier.

Good Luck


 

Offline KD0CAC John

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 615
  • Country: us
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #34 on: September 29, 2012, 09:26:37 pm »
electron ,
With parts getting smaller and eyes get worse , I have found an interesting work-around , with magnification I can see the colors with ease .
 

Offline Mint.

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 523
  • Country: au
  • Account is inactive now. Thanks everybody!
    • Personal Blog, Mint Electronics.
Re: Convince me not to give up on electronics.
« Reply #35 on: September 30, 2012, 01:16:41 am »
Everybody,

Thank you very much for your replies. I appreciate your honest opinion. I guess from now on I am not going to expect electronics to become as my job, just as a mere side hobby. I find that even though I do not like it as much as before, I am still passionate about it when I read your opinions. I guess I'll just have to wait to see what the future has in store for me.

- Cheers!
Personal Blog (Not Active Anymore), Mint Electronics:
http://mintelectronics.wordpress.com/
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf