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My Introductory Post

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by gbowne1, Mar 21, 2007.

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  1. gbowne1

    gbowne1 Guest

    Hello all..

    I'm a newbie.. well sort of.. Now, don't flame me! LoL. I don't
    know a lot about electronics. A lot of stuff I have forgotten over
    the years about it. It seems I need to fill in the gaps in my
    information, as well as learn new things. Well, I'm almost 30 and
    it's been more than 10 years since I was in school. I live in the NW
    where a lot of very technical people live because we have a major
    internet and software company here, and a lot more.

    I'm in to Shortwave (SW) listening and DX. I'm also in to
    Mediumwave (MW commonly called AM) DX. I am also going to be getting
    into Amateur (Ham) Radio. Posts to a Amateur Radio forum online were
    unsuccessful, so I came here to Sci.Elec.Basics. They flamed me for
    being inexperienced, and not to come to them till I had a radio
    liscence, well at least thats how they came across to me.

    I know what certain electronics components look like, resistors,
    capacitors, chips, diodes, and the basic stuff, but knowing what they
    do and how they function in a circuit kind of elude me, or I have
    forgotten what I was taught by my dad, science teachers and

    I'm sort of autistic (a neuropsych is underway at present), and have
    a hard time with short term memory recall, which makes studies hard on
    me. Hopefully I will learn more about what exactly I have as far as
    condition goes will help me narrow down what techniques are best for
    learning such advanced stuff.

    I have the 1985 (Yes, I know it's old! 22 in fact) ARRL Handbook
    which has a lot of information, but it's over my head. I fear I'd
    need someone to lead me through what I should learn and what to skip.
    I figured not a lot of the theory behind this has changed a lot.

    Naturally I like putting things together. Well, About 8 months ago
    I purchased a Fluke 8050A Digital Multimeter (DMM) at a thrift store
    for about $10. Neat little one. I downloaded the manual from Fluke,
    and well, still not have found that I understand how to use it. My
    grandfather had a VTVM, an old Simpson from the 40's. Interesting
    too. I got to use it to check AA and the like batteries. Beyond that
    knowledge here is limited.

    I figured I would eventually build something out of the handbook,
    useful in my hobby, and also maybe some sort of test equipment for the
    bench. I don't want to do anything too complicated for a beginner yet
    something that would allow me to learn more along the way.

    I like the idea of homebrew.. not really kit building.. but rolling
    your own kind of thing. Always has fascinated me.

    Years ago, and I still do, because I managed to find a newer one
    used, I had a kind of Science Fair kit which allowed you to build
    electronics projects by inserting wires into springs on the top of the
    panel. I learned some things then.. somewhere around 1986.. but
    didn't manage to get a lot of the circuits I built in the book that
    came with it to work.

    Well anyhow there ya have it, yet I'm lost as where to go on to
    next. I'm just tired of being flamed by a newbie.

    Oh yeah, I've found recent interest in Software Defined Radio, a
    open-source project. Very neat.. Would love to try one some day..
    maybe even build one.
    Theres a link to something called HPSDR floating around. Google and
    look at it sometime, it's interesting. It's High Performance SDR.

  2. I read the thread in and I don't think they
    really "flamed" you. They sorta flamed each other, but that's the nature of
    USENET. You can't have thin skin around here. ;-) They were just
    cautioning you to not set your initial goals too high, or you might be
    disappointed. Start with simple things and move up as your skills increase.
    I have a 1976 Handbook and it's still quite valid. It has allot of
    information about tubes that I don't really need, and nothing about
    computers, but the radio/antenna theory is still good. My "new" one is from
    Perhaps you should get some parts and a bread board. Maybe a 555 timer, an
    LED and some resistors and caps to make it work. You can learn allot from
    something this simple. By setting the time period long (seconds or even
    minutes), you can watch the cap charge and discharge with your meter. You
    could use this to see Ohms law in action by plotting the voltage on the cap
    over time.

    You could then pick up a couple of logic ic's (say a binary counter and a
    BCD to 7 segment decoder) and an LED display and construct a counter
    circuit. You could then add more parts to expand upon that.

    I know this probably doesn't sound as exciting as building a radio, but this
    is how you get there. I think you will find it quite enjoyable making
    something like that work.
    That's a good idea. Small projects that work are way more satisfying than
    complicated ones that don't. Plus it's easier getting the smaller ones to
    work, when they don't initially. Now that is satisfying. :)
    Yes, I can certainly appreciate that.
    These are not a bad way to get started. Most of the circuits should have
    worked, perhaps you had one bad transistor or something.
    Like I said, you need some thick skin to hang around USENET. :) Perhaps
    try to find another "science fair" type setup.
  3. ehsjr

    ehsjr Guest

    Your first goal should be to learn to use your
    Fluke to make voltage, resistance and current
    measurements, then add the things that Anthony
    told you about - it is excellent advice.

  4. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Please ignore, filter, or killfile the jackasses. The rule here in
    s.e.basics is, there is no such thing as a dumb question. Every one of
    us started from square zero at one time or another, and the flamers and
    trolls are usually few and far between - eventually you'll learn which
    ones to ignore.

    Welcome to the loony bin! :)

  5. gbowne1

    gbowne1 Guest

    Hello again. Well! I want to say thanks to you all for 3 of the
    nicest responses (s0 far) I have gotten on ANY of the 10 different
    forums I belong to, on and off USNET. I have similar postings over on in their forums. Look for postings there by KB7NDF and also
    gbowne1. (I really got flamed on QRZ!) Plus the fact that I didn't
    at first realize you don't have to have a call to sign up for QRZ..
    Now they think I'm a fake, even after I apologized several times. I'm
    not the sort of person who would do the sort of things they suggested
    that I was like.

    I forgot to mention, since many of you might not have read my thread
    on, that I have had a book around here
    since 1997-1998 that was called "Build Your Own Intelligent Amateur
    Radio Transceiver" by Randy Lee Henderson. Interesting project, that
    I will some day tackle. McGraw Hill ISBN 0-07-028264-1 in paperback.
    It's based on an 80C31 and/or 8051 with a 27C64 EPROM. I did a bit of
    research on the web about the book and the author, and there were
    numerous threads, comments,etc. that said that the book had tons of
    errors in it, especially wrong part numbers. A person suggested I
    replace the chip with a 16F series chip.

    I also forgot to mention I now own a Yaesu Amateur Radio Transceiver
    FT-757GX. Somewhere else I also have a Heathkit 0-12 (??) scope and a
    huge old military surplus scope from an unknown era. I have forgotten
    about them since they've been in my storage area in the house for a

    I was also warned to stay away from sweep tube projects. IE 6DQ6. A
    friend cave me a 6m converted CB (26MHz) AMP with three sweep tubes
    eons ago.

    Anyone have any good tips on using the Fluke 8050A? I bought some new
    probes at RS.

    Oh yeah, and I was able to locate a Science Fair project kit from RS
    at a thrift store for $5. My original one may have been defective. I
    didn't get the project book with it.. but it may be still available

    A subject I found interesting was "Filter Design" and came up with
    something like Buttterworth High and Low Bandpass Filter, Chebychev,
    things like that.

    Oh yeah and I also own several different Texas Instruments graphing
    calcualtors too.. might prove useful sometimes.

    I have a Radio Shack DX-360 and DX-390 that I haven't figured out why
    they don't work. The 390 did till just recently. RF (maybe PLN)
    really bothered it. I printed copies of the parts list off their
    site. Although one could build a similar receiver perhaps from just
    looking at the original board along with a copy of the parts list. I
    got the 360 cause I wanted a smaller portable.. even though I have a
    Sangean ATS-808a which I use for my MW/AM DX.

    Well, anyhow, I'm not sure how many questions I'll have here but maybe
    and I hope I'll get answers.. oh yeah, and I don't want to get into
    being a RF engineer, well at least right away.. and I know there are a
    lot of building blocks there.

    Seattle, WA
  6. Feel free to ignore or filter anyone who flames you.
    Welcome. This is the place for electronics beginners to get

    Thanks for this bit of information. It may help us provide
    information in a way that is more useful to you. Teaching
    involves more than knowing the material to be taught. It
    involves imagining the mental state being changed in the
    student. We may get to know more about your present mental
    state and learning strengths and weaknesses through further
    Still a good reference. Another good one to browse through
    is "The Art of Electronics" by Paul Horowitz and Winfield
    Hill, and the more basic "Electronic Principles" by Malvino.

    Here is a good site to look for low cost used books:
    We won't produce a program of study for you, but are here to
    answer specific questions when you get stuck on technical
    Those kits are a good way to generate questions. It is a
    shame you didn't have anyone to answer them as they came to
    The key word you need to add to any Google search is
    [tutorial]. It will find articles designed to explain how
    things work. There are lots of good electronics beginner
    tutorials on the net. You can pick other key words from
    [basic electronics transistor amplifier DC AC circuits].
  7. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Guest

    If you research this suggestion, you'll find the 16F series is a
    series named PIC. These chips are of a more modern design than the
    80C31 / 8051 series.

    Certainly, the PIC chips could be used to make any device more intelligent
    as could the 80 series but your example programs would require a total
    to suit the architectural demands of the new chip.

    I think it would be silly to introduce another learning curve into the
    especially in light of the errors you mentioned in his original design.
  8. gbowne1

    gbowne1 Guest

    Well, the original code was built in assembly language. I happen to
    have a copy of Microsoft Visual Studio Express Edition. Circa 2005.
    About as far as I got into programming was BASIC. I lost track of that
    when QBasic came out near the intro to Windows 95. The program is
    numbered 1 through 2008 and aparently would fit onto the 27C64. I'd
    have to do a bit of catching up so to speak.

    Someday, not right now, I'd like to learn how to use a NEC such as is
    like EZ-NEC or MultiNEC and MathCAD.

    Oh yeah, I correct myself, the laboratory oscilloscope I have is the
    Heathkit 0-10.

    The other one I have was made for the U.S. Navy. I got it from my
    high school horticulture teacher for $25 back in 1995. It was made by
    Lavoie Labrotories in Morganville, NJ. It's model LA-239A. A lot of
    interesting controls and connectors on it. some look like N
    connectors, maybe a type of BNC, others look like SO-239's, and
    others. I'd have to have a custom made AC power cord and probes. I
    also was unable to locate a manual. Seral # 154 with a USN Anchor

    I've been to a few hamfests in the past 3 years, and well I've seen a
    lot of HP Equipment.. among others.
  9. Welcome to the newsgroup. You should feel free to ask any questions you
    like, without being harshly criticized. The SED NG is more for advanced
    discussions, although it often degenerates to political and personal

    A pretty good on-line source of information, and quite readable, is:

    If you want to get involved with PICs, I suggest Microchip's PICKit-1 as a
    starting point. At about $30 it's hard to go wrong.

    I would also suggest that you download the free and quite excellent LTspice
    or SwitcherCad program from You can create some simple
    circuits and apply various AC, DC, and pulse sources to see how they work.
    The ASCII files are small and easy to share with others on the newsgroup
    for evaluation and help.

    Of course, what I find most fun is actually building and testing a circuit
    with real power sources and components. Just be sure you follow safe
    practices, such as wearing safety glasses (to protect against hot solder
    splashes and pieces of exploding capacitors), and caution when dangerous
    voltages may be present.

    A good working oscilloscope is essential. I have a Hitachi digital storage
    scope that has served me well for 15 years. I also like HP. I have an HP
    130A scope that I repaired and used when I was in college in the late 60's.

    Hamfests are great places to find parts for projects, and to discuss your
    ideas with others. I am looking forward to the one here in Timonium March

    Good luck with your projects.

  10. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Guest

    If you're only used to BASIC, assembly language will be a real kick
    in the behind!

    The PIC is not a Von Neumann architecture so data and program
    memory is not the same.

    Sorry to cut it short but I need to get to airport now...
  11. Puckdropper

    Puckdropper Guest

    You mean "transporter room" don't you, Lord Garth? It would work out
    much better if you were to pose as a visiting doctor or something, rather
    than Kirk or Spock. That way, you can get away without knowing the
    response to the chess move.

    I probably should have kept my big fingers quiet. If Lord Garth finds
    me, he's going to put me in that chair!

  12. gbowne1

    gbowne1 Guest

    I heard of something called PSpice.. I think it's a MicroSim product.
    It was ages ago I heard about it. Though I'd be happy to look at
    those programs.

    Yeah, I'd have to throw in a whole new learning curve here if I went
    that route.

    Anything I should have in my "junk box" regularly?

    Someone a while back suggested I build a superhetrodyne receiver.
    Interesting idea.

    But you know, I'm in need of a power supply. :) Particularly one for
    my amateur radio transceiver, which normally runs off of 13.8v DC. On
    recieve it only consumes 2A, on transmit for 100W output, it consumes
    19A. It says the connector accepts 12 to 15vDC at 19A. Another page
    of the manual says it requires 13.5vDC up to 20A. It's protected by a
    20A fuse. The output is through #12 wire. I'm gonna need a stable
    one that doesn't produce an output of a 60Hz (cycle) hum through the
    transmit. I had an old 12v CB Power brick supply which used to
    produce a AC hum when I transmitted.

    I'm still interested in filters too. :)

  13. ISTR some articles in about reconfiguring
    computer power supplies.
  14. jasen

    jasen Guest

    there's a bunch of free versions out there if you want to play, a popular
    one is LT-Spice/SwitcherCadIII (download from linear technology's website)
    Possibly a computer powersupply could be modified to lift the 12V rail by a
    few volts it'd have to be a fairly recent one though.

  15. gbowne1

    gbowne1 Guest

    Cool, I'll look into that. Still reading my for now. Am downloading
    LTSpice and the CAD program and gonna look at them. thank you all
    graciously for your help so far.

  16. gbowne1

    gbowne1 Guest

    Well, Let's see.. I tried the link and it wasn't
    loading.. so, I did a search for the article. Turns out it's although there seems to be a wiki page on

    I downloaded those programs from Linear and am gonna look at them this

    Anyone have any idea what probes I should get for my oscilloscope?

  17. BobG

    BobG Guest

    Hi gbowne1. I think you should go to your local bookstore and invest
    in "Art of Electronics". Well worth the price. Many hours of
    interesting browsing and reading.
  18. John Fields

    John Fields Guest

    Congratulations, and welcome aboard. :)

    In the huge morass of USENET, you may have found the right group for
    you. Mostly, on this newsgroup, none of us considers any questions
    as being stupid and we (me, anyway) don't generally flame anyone
    except for attitude.

    If you have questions about Ohm's law, this is probably the right
    place for you.

    But, it seems, you're pushing HPDSR...

    Just another SPAMmer?
  19. gbowne1

    gbowne1 Guest

    I have on download via eMule, a copy of "The Art of Electronics", and
    a few others that I noted. Are there any others I should look for?

    Quote: "Just another SPAMmer?"

    Not in the least bit.

    Not sure I have a question about ohms law but while were on that
    subject are there any key formulae I should keep in my head or

    I heard about those books by Forest Mims (sp?) too.. and the green
    book put out by Radio Shack. I had one at one time and probably still
    do however it's been misplaced.

    I won't be doing much with HPSDR till I get to that place in
    electronics. Reading about it's been pretty nice though.

  20. BobG

    BobG Guest

    Winfield Hill often appears in these newsgroups. How does he get his
    royalty when you get a book from emule? Maybe he has a paypal site and
    you can send him his fee for writing the book and helping bootstrap
    you up into the ranks of electronics experimenters and thieves,
    evidently. How many mega does a 1000 page book take? I like flipping
    thru my paper copy while sitting on the couch. Never read a 1000 page
    book on a crt.
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