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Starting Electronics

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by [email protected], Oct 17, 2006.

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  1. Guest


    First of all, forgive me if this is the wrong place to post this, or if
    I'm posting a long-dead question. I've been interested in learning
    electronics for some time now, and finally borrowed several books on
    the subject. However, a friend recommended that I buy a starter kit
    over the bare components, since that will be more helpful in teaching
    me. I've done some searching, and the best deal seems to be the Elenco
    300 In 1 Project Lab MS-908, which has a low cost-to-project ratio.

    Has anybody else used this kit before? If so, what are you opinions on
    it? Any critique would be appreciated, as would recommendations for
    other starter projects.

  2. What interests you about it? Learning how things work? Certain
    projects in mind? What?

  3. Guest

    A little of everything, I guess. I'm generally interested in how things
    work, and like to apply my knowledge (I program as a hobby, for
    example.) I guess I'm planning on using the books to understand the
    fundamental knowledge and the starter kit to get a feel for how it
    works in practice. I hope to persue it further, although I don't have
    any particular projects in mind.
  4. Some of the projects are minor variations on others so don't get too hung up
    on that 300.

    Try for one with a digital section. BTW, try thrifts, eBay or or as other places to find
    these kits.
  5. ok. That's a good enough answer, I suppose. Some folks just want to
    go "build a guitar amplifier" or something specific in mind and figure
    they have to "walk through coals" to get there. If you need something
    electronic that is already available, you are probably better off
    buying it unless you really intend on getting a learning experience
    and not the end product. If it isn't available, of course, you have
    to do the learning. But then, most things you are likely to want are
    already available these days. That wasn't always the case and many
    were forced to learn to achieve those things.

    Since you do program as a hobby, you might also consider adding
    another facet to this. That is, embedded programming. So I'm going
    to talk about two directions, either of them is fine. Both are fine,

    (1) I like the idea of getting some kind of simplified project kit
    your friend recommended. Some of these have "compressed springs" that
    make it easy to slip in part legs and attach them quickly into a
    circuit. Some of these are blocks you can snap together. The only
    problem with the blocks is cost, really, and perhaps some wear that
    may trick you up sometimes later on when the connections don't quite
    make a solid tie-in. But they are easy to put away for later and easy
    to use. Having formulaic things to do is a nice way to go.

    (2) There are, today, so many really great and nifty embedded project
    boards for very little money (sometimes free.) I bought some (a
    dozen) USB prorgamming modules with two CPUs on them and some very
    sophisticated features for $9.90 each. I mean, you could just take
    one of those and start exploring right away, all the software comes
    with them to get started. Wasn't like that, years back.

    Either way, you need to put some thinking work into things. This
    means playing around with the concepts so that they deepen within you.
    Just keep that in mind.

  6. Hi Bill
    Your friend is right.
    I don't know about that kit in particular, but these project labs with
    the spring terminals are the ideal start to electronics in my opinion.
    I (and many others in the industry) started out with the
    Tandy/RadioShack 200-in-1 type kits which this is basically a copy of.
    I found the RadioShack manuals excellent bacuse they started out by
    getting you to build "idiot proof" stuff to gain your confidence, and
    then slowly branch you out into more difficult designs, and then
    encouraging you to experiment.

    This Elenco one in particular looks good because it has a real
    breadboard on it.

    Get yourself some test equipment like a multimeter and a cheap
    secondhand oscilloscope (from eBay), they are essential.

    The world of electronics has headed toward microcontrollers these days,
    but starting at the ground roots component level is essential.

    Also, you'll find you'll learn the most when your project actually
    *doesn't* work first go. When you follow instructions to build
    something and it works first go you haven't really learned much. But
    when you have to troubleshoot something and figure out *why* it doesn't
    work, that's where the real learning begins.

    With every project you build with this thing, start changing component
    values one by one and see what happens, you'll learn a heck of a lot.


    Dave :)
  7. Good advice. One of the best teaching books I ever saw on BASIC was
    Radio Shacks' for the TRS-80, Level 1. It would walk you through some
    programming steps that would NOT work. The author didn't warn you,
    but would then later tell you that it shouldn't work and talk about
    why it didn't. The author made you make mistakes so that you could
    see what happens when things didn't work right.

    One of those good ideas in teaching.

  8. Guest

    A few programming books I've used have done that, too. It's definitely
    a useful tool in learning.
  9. : Books : BASIC Computer Language: It's Easier Than
    You Think! Year: 1978 Author: Dr. David A Lien

    Another excellent book is Understanding Digital Computers Year: 1978 Author:
    Forest M Mims

    also published by Radio Shack which is the only clear explanation of CPU
    micro code I have seen.
  10. hdjim69

    hdjim69 Guest

    Hi, I'm also just starting out and I'm using a software program called
    Edison by Design Soft. I just started
    using it and so far it seems like a great learning tool for creating
    circuits and measuring values, etc. I have the student version, cost
    $39. I have no affiliation with this company, just wanted to let you
    know what's available to assist in your learning. You should check it

  11. LTSpice is free and with professional quality analysis. The problem
    for beginners will be the relative lack of common parts libraries
    (other than those parts Linear sells.)

    What it doesn't do, though, is blink the LEDs on the schematic.

  12. hdjim69

    hdjim69 Guest

    LTSpice is free and with professional quality analysis.

    cool, you got a link to this ??
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