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newbie looking for advice

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by DRamazo, May 22, 2013.

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  1. DRamazo

    DRamazo

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    May 22, 2013
    Hello everyone,

    I'm new to the entire field of electronics, as far as building things from scratch. I like to tinker, and I recently have found myself with a little extra time so I figured I'd try my hand at building electronic gadgets. I have an old Droid Bionic phone that I don't use anymore, and I was thinking I'd try taking it apart and harvesting the components. So I was wondering if anybody could help get me started.

    First of all, I could use a rundown on whatever you guys might think of as "the basics." Like I said, I'd like to toy with this old cell phone so when I say basics, I'm referring to that field. Also, just any basic info that you think I should know.

    If anyone knows of a tutorial about removing components from a Droid Bionic I'd appreciate a link.

    I'm also completely open to suggestions for good newbie projects that will help build the skills I will need.

    I have lots and lots of questions, but I won't ask them all right away. I look forward to hearing from everyone.
     
  2. BobK

    BobK

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    I hate to tell you this, but you are unlikely to find things that you, as a beginnger, can use in your old phone. These use very small surface mount components that are difficult to deal with and cannot be used at all without a PC board.

    You would be much better off to buy older style "through hole" parts, the kind that have wire leads, and get a solderless breadboard to build circuits on.

    Bob

    PS. Welcome to the forum.
     
  3. Raven Luni

    Raven Luni

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    Nothing wrong with harvesting and keeping for the time when you can use them :p
     
  4. sirch

    sirch

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    The phone is more use in working order, you could possibly use it in a project in future (or learn Android programming, write an app).

    As BobK says you are better off buying a few components and a breadboard off EBay and making something like an LED light chaser, a door chime or a simple radio or whatever takes your interest.
     
  5. DRamazo

    DRamazo

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    May 22, 2013
    I hear you on the small mount components; I definitely don't have the skills to work with those yet. But like Raven Luni said, there's nothing wrong with saving them for later. I guess what I am really trying to ask, in regards to the phone, is that if I do take it apart, are the individual components worth saving and can I use them in later projects.

    On a different note, I went around town and scavenged a bunch of old computer parts; old motherboards, a few floppy drives, 4 or 5 DVD readers and a couple of power supplies, 3 I think. And a non functioning HP laptop.
    So with the components is get from these things, is there anything I could do with them just to tinker around? There are some drive motors in the DVD readers, and laser diodes too. I know lasers are dangerous, but my roommate used to build laser pointers so maybe he could do something with them? I'm not sure what class the diodes are, but I belief class 1 if they're just readers, and what are you going to do with that? I heard burners have class 3 once you take them out.

    I was thinking I could make a little rc car or something with the motors. Think that would make a good first project?

    Thanks for welcoming me into the community.
     
  6. davenn

    davenn Moderator

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    I wouldnt even take them off the board. they are likely to get lost, or even more easily static damaged when on their own

    just keep the board as is and throw out the housing that isnt any use. I still find that the best way to store all my recyclable SMD components
    and I have been at this game for 40 years!!!
    it also makes them a heck of a lot easier to sort through being able to just glance across a board

    till you are well experienced working with surface mount .... no not much you could use them for
    you are not likely to be producing/etching PCBs that are suited for SMD stuff any time in the near future ;)

    start playing with legged components, solderless breadboards and solder veroboard first and for a while
    and when you are trying to fault find in your project it will be a lot easier to diagnose

    Dave
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2013
  7. davenn

    davenn Moderator

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    most laser diodes in DVD/CD players are all Infra Red so you are not going to see a beam anyway

    Dave
     
  8. DRamazo

    DRamazo

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    May 22, 2013
    But you can still use those diodes with a photo receptor to create some kind of motion sensitive switch, right?

    I'm being completely honest here, I am definitely a noob in this field, so I do appreciate the suggestions as far as breadboards and legged components. But I would still like a pet project. It gives me a goal, ya know, like something to help hone my skills. If I know what I am going to do with the skills I'm learning, it helps me to learn them.
    Like when I was in culinary school; my instructor can tell me all day how to dice an onion, but until I actually get in and do it I won't know comprehend the skills.

    Or if anybody knows of some posts or stickies out there that have lots of information for people who are just getting started like me. Appreciate everything guys.
     
  9. donkey

    donkey

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    Feb 26, 2011
    the parts you are getting are not going to be good for tinkering. the motors in those drives have next to no torque, the lasers aren't visible by the human eye and the components are well beyond a novice(I still use through hole myself).
    to find something to tinker with the best thing is find something simple with the through hole parts. A radio is a good example. try to diagnose the issue and fix it.
    get a working understanding of what is happening. then get in and fix it to get a working ability to solder.
    9 out of 10 jobs I do usually need some problem solving from finding a bad solder, burnt part etc etc etc. get to finding things that are broken and have parts you can solder easily and try to fix them.
    get a few tools too multimeter is good just $5 one will do to start.
    basic LED's and resistors are an easy beginner course too. these can be found in so many toys its not funny.
    I am in no way discouraging you from collecting items for later use, but you have to get to that later use so lets start with getting you a hands on knowledge first
     
  10. DRamazo

    DRamazo

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    May 22, 2013
    Awesome Donkey, I'm all on board with a radio. That sounds exactly like what I'm looking for.

    Bummer about the motors and diodes, but whatever. Free parts are free parts, and I still like taking things apart.

    Davenn, thanks for the breadboard, etc. ideas.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2013
  11. donkey

    donkey

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    Feb 26, 2011
    dramazo just a quick addition. If you do seek advice when fixing these items make sure to have a good camera close by.
    pics are usually good to see what we need to. also try to describe the fault as simply as possible. Don't go of on a tangent just tell us little things like "light comes on but no noise" this will help us help you so much better
     
  12. DRamazo

    DRamazo

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    May 22, 2013
    Right on Donkey, thanks for the headsup.
    I went onto instructables.com and found a huge range of projects, from LED cubes to am transmitters. I'm really excited to try the light theramin, but I doubt I'm ready to tackle something like that.
    I went out and got some more parts yesterday, including 2 DVD burners. Pulled the diodes out of those (class 3b), but we ended up frying them :(
     
  13. donkey

    donkey

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    Feb 26, 2011
    the thing to think about as you go is always "why?"
    why did those diodes blow?
    then think "how?"
    how to not blow them next time.
    and try to remember what the component is designed for. so a diode is a 1way device. the why usually gets figured out from the what but sometimes you have to go into more detail and you may find that you had it hooked up the right way but it wasn't made for the voltages you were applying.
    oh and also as a beginner I highly recommend going to projects about 12volts. nothing over. and certainly not mains powered.
     
  14. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Odd!?!? I wonder what could have gone wrong?

    Ahhh... That explains what went wrong.

    As a rule of thumb, assume anything on instructables.com is wrong and will break or damage stuff.
     
  15. KrisBlueNZ

    KrisBlueNZ Sadly passed away in 2015

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    I second Steve's opinion. Every electronic project I've seen so far on instructables.com is poorly designed and borderline unworkable. Many web sites have build-it-yourself projects and these range from poor to good, with the occasional excellent site.

    I emailed someone at instructables.com and he didn't seem too concerned that their projects are largely a waste of time. He rejected my offer to check and advise on submitted electronics projects. So I don't know what to do. I'm inclined to leave them to it, but I hate to see innocent people being led up the garden path by folks who just don't know what they're doing.

    If you find a project you like, post a link to it here and someone will check it out and give you an opinion.
     
  16. DRamazo

    DRamazo

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    May 22, 2013
    Well the lasers had nothing to do with instructables.com
    What ended up happening, as I understand it, was that we hooked the diodes up to a power source to check if 1) they were functioning, and 2) if they were visible (which they were).
    However, we didn't use any resistors, and being as fragile as they are the diodes got fried.
    Oh well though, they were free and I still have some infrared diodes to play with, so I'm not writing this off as loss, merely an unfortunate learning experience.

    As far as instructables.com goes, I've never had any problems with them. Granted I've never looked there for electronics projects. But I can see where you guys are coming from, being as it is an open source community and I don't think they have an editing staff.
    But that's part of the fun...er, well, not fun, but the experience itself. Finding projects, trying them out, and realising that the person who made the instructable had no idea what they were talking about. And then you want to make the project work regardless, so now you go on your own quest to figure out how to get to the final working product. I mean, where would we be today if it weren't for those who tried and failed only to have successors follow in their footsteps, learning from their mistakes. Just saying.

    But I do appreciate the heads up about that site, and I will def check in here before trying any of their projects.

    These were the first two projects I wanted to try:
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Self-Contained-7x7x7-LED-Cube/?ALLSTEPS
    http://www.instructables.com/id/Short-rage-wireless-music-transmitter/?ALLSTEPS

    The music transmitter might be a bit out of my league at this time, but it seemed to have a pretty minimal list of parts and can be done on PCB or breadboard.
    The LED light cube project makes use of an Arduino Mega, and my programming skills are even rustier than my soldering. But, I think I can omit that portion of the project and either use a 555 timer or just not even program anything and have a cool nightlight.
     
  17. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    25,496
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    Jan 21, 2010
    This might be a good thing to read for a bit of bacground as to why those LEDs failed and how to prevent it in the future.

    I've had a look at the first of those two projects. Firstly, it looks very professional. That's a good sign. Personally, I would have used PNP transistors in some places (high side drivers) but that's a relatively small point. If you can follow all of his instructions, you should be in safe hands.

    The second one looks far less professional. The blurry photos are a worry. Nevertheless, it's not dangerous. I would question the placement of the antenna though. You also might note that you can get a small FM transmitter that will outclass this for a couple of bucks from eBay. But maybe you want to build this for experience...

    Edit: the second one is by far the easiest one to start with.
     
  18. KrisBlueNZ

    KrisBlueNZ Sadly passed away in 2015

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    Nov 28, 2011
    That's not an experience I would recommend to a beginner. Reputable sites and DIY magazines take care to make sure the projects they offer are clearly explained, properly documented, and workable, so that beginners who try them will be encouraged, rather than discouraged, by their first experience in a new field.
    Building on previous discoveries is the essence of science. But I would "just say" that that's VERY different from a beginner seeing a completed project presented as being ready to build (as a set of instructions to be followed, which is what "instructables" imples), and then discovering that it simply won't work as promised and that he has to learn a lot of stuff that is already known, and can be found through Wikipedia etc, just to get it to do what was promised in the first place. This is not a way to make progress; it is a way to waste people's time.
    I agree Steve. The design may not be optimal (I would have used MOSFETs instead of transistors, to reduce the number of resistors needed - although perhaps he used BJTs to avoid problems with static damage during handling), it definitely works, and the standard of documentation for that project is very high. That is what I would expect for a project that is presented as an "instructable" for others to follow.
    As Steve says, this project is a lot simpler for a beginner. The instructable isn't very helpful though. It looks like he has just taken the design from somewhere else (without crediting his source) and added a USB plug as an afterthought to distinguish it from other identical projects. He didn't even redraw the circuit diagram to include the USB plug, nor did he correct the parts list. There is no explanation of the circuit, and there are no step-by-step instructions. These are all indications that the project is probably better described elsewhere. BTW, don't build it up on a breadboard. They have too much capacitance to be suitable for RF circuitry.
     
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