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What should I get for beginning electronics?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by Conor, Jan 11, 2018.

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  1. Conor


    Jan 11, 2018
    I'm planning on starting electronics, I'm going to get a soldering iron, some fluxe and solder, a breadboard and circuit boards etc, I was going to get some resistors and capacitors and a few other components but as I'm a beginner I don't know where to start.
    My plan is to learn how circuits work by building projects, I'm going to make an alarm clock, a dimmer light, a music speaker, projects like that, what should I buy? When I learn enough my plan is to do more advanced projects using a raspberry pi or an arduino.
    For now all I need is advice on what tools to get and components so I can practice and start some projects like I've mentioned. Thanks
  2. dorke


    Jun 20, 2015
    Welcome to EP.

    If you are serious about learning electronics,
    the place to start would be learning the theory of electronic circuits.
    There are good books for beginners,many on the web.
    Building things like "kits" isn't really learning and understanding how things work.

    After you have gained some " learning mileage "(solving drill problems, asking questions, making mistakes etc.) start with small simple projects.
    Buy parts as you go and only what you need for the project at hand.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 11, 2018
  3. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    Sep 5, 2009
    these days, well for the last 50 or so years, reels of solder comes with flux down the core of the solder
    no need for additional flux
  4. duke37


    Jan 9, 2011
    Building kits will teach you how to solder properly and how to follow instructions to the letter.
    A good way of learning about circuits is to repair faulty eqipment. Here you will have to understand the circuit and replace the cause of the trouble. Start with low voltage circuits for safety before going to high voltage.
    You will need to decide whether you are going to deal with circuit fundamentals or just connect one box to another.
    Beware, I am inundated with equipment to repair so I do not have time to develop my own projects.
    davenn likes this.
  5. Cannonball


    May 6, 2017
    There is no easy way to learn electronics.

    There is a fun way! Study and learn basic electronics. Build simple circuits on a good breadboard.

    Study and learn to read schematics.

    It is good to know that you are interested electronics. Don't get discouraged. The more that you learn the more fun you will have. Good luck and have lots of fun.
    Wayne Phillips and davenn like this.
  6. Wayne Phillips

    Wayne Phillips

    Jan 7, 2018
    Us oldies have been doing this so long and there is much to learn..even switch power supplys and let's not for get using test equipment such as air stations the list grows.

    Get the ohms law sorted and colour codes on those reistors now!
    Cannonball likes this.
  7. kellys_eye


    Jun 25, 2010
    Agree with @Wayne Phillips - electronics is always advancing, new concepts, new ideas etc and it's a constant state of catch-up for most in the field.

    If you have a particular fancy (audio, radio, test/measurement etc etc) you could FOCUS on that and specialise to some extent as being proficient in one area is sometimes more useful than being 'generalised' in many others. Depends on what you want from the subject.

    There are dozens of good tutorial books on basic electronics (try the 'Make' book on electronic components), many available free online. Equally there are dozens of websites dedicated to teaching first principles.
    Cannonball likes this.


    May 20, 2017
    Absolutely. Been doing this for 50 years and learn something new every time I start a new project. Fascinating innit.
    Best way to learn is to start with the basics. Ohms law is fundamental. Learn how and why the various types of transistors function etc etc.
  9. DiffAmp


    Jan 5, 2016
    I agree. The first thing to do is to learn Ohms and Kirchoff's laws. These very simple rules are absolutely fundamental.

    I was very fortunate to have an excellent electronics teacher in high school in the 70's (when they actually taught this stuff) that drilled these laws into my head. I then got an technician job right out of high school and for a few months was lost in the confusing and magical world of transistors and op-amps. Then one day it all clicked! I could suddenly understand how op-amp feedback worked and how to calculate gain in a transistor circuit, simply because I had a good grounding in these laws.

    It sounds like you're most interested in microcontrollers, so you may feel like you don't really need to know this stuff. Not true. Microcontrollers are my life, and I still use these laws every day.

    Thevenin's equivalent is another very simple yet essential rule once you learn ohms and kirchoff's.
    Jtkc and Cannonball like this.
  10. Nanren888


    Nov 8, 2015
    er, watch out for that dimmer one. Anything using high voltage, you maybe want to look at some things on safety first.
  11. TallPaul


    Oct 5, 2014
    learn how to solder correctly so you don't get any bad habits. you wanna try to avoid putting solder directly on the iron as much as possible for strong solder joints. get a multimeter to check every connection for continuity and solder bridges
  12. dave9


    Mar 5, 2017
    I respectfully disagree. Additional flux works much better. I've done it w/o flux for years then stopped being cheap about it and ultimately it's even cheaper to not waste so much solder just to get enough flux to make a joint flow well. ~ 90% of the time people use too much solder on a joint just because they didn't have enough flux.
  13. duke37


    Jan 9, 2011
    You do not need much solder or flux if the surfaces are clean. Old components such as I often use need the leads rubbing to get off the oxide even if they look clean. A high temperature and short time is much better than a low temperature and fiddling around.
    davenn likes this.
  14. Irv


    Jun 7, 2017
    An inexpensive volt/ohm meter! It will:
    a) help you find out why things aren't working
    b) save money by keeping you from applying the wrong voltage to stuff, thereby letting out the magic smoke
    c) continue to be handy around the house, even if you don't make electronics a hobby.''
    d) many cheap (but usable) kits now come with resistors with un-readable color codes. Will need that meter!
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
  15. Nanren888


    Nov 8, 2015
    Ok, maybe not a diversion into solder technique here.
  16. Nanren888


    Nov 8, 2015
    It's a good question: How best to start in electronics.
    For some electronics is soldering resistors together into little shapes that resemble people. It seems for some of these people the rougher the better. All knobbly is arty. :) I could never do that. No artistic talent. They can obviously start with a soldering iron & a few resistors.
    Some seem to accentuate the "hacking", derived I guess form the likes of people who use a chainsaw to make a table. While sometimes "hacking" means adaptation, re-purposing, oftentimes it seems to mean taking a random unknown circuit & seeing if it will work with another random unknown circuit, without mind to whether they share any specifications, like power supply voltage, polarity or signalling. This oftentimes leads to things that sometimes work, sometimes die quickly sometimes run well & provide vindication to the approach,
    For me, sure, I experimented, enough to know nothing worked as I wanted until I understood more. I read the books as soon as I could find them. For me, understand the specs, do it once, do it right. Fit for purpose.
    Fit for your purpose.
    Learn - do courses. online or otherwise. Get the getting started books in the topics that interest. Make the projects. Read the explanation about how it works.
    Read the components specs. Read the pages about how to read the specs.
    Accumulate a junk box of raw material.
    Always have circuits to take apart for salvage, adaptation, hacking if you like or must.
    Personally at the very beginning, I lacked resources. Those kitsets that are based on prototyping boards, those plug in & go ones were a godsend. If you start off with poor soldering & poor knowledge & poor assembly technique, difficult to know why it failed.
    Prototyping boards, the plastic ones with lots of holes.
    A few components.
    Learn a little about electricity for electronics. (For me, many of those ones about materials & atomic structure left me a little cold. You get those at school.)
    Find some info you like on voltages, currents, resistances.
    Learn what the basic components do.
    Look at sample simple circuits & see how they work.
    Physics convention: batteries go left to right, often multiple batteries. Never understood what motivated that. Current flows any which way - Seen so many of those circuits that just never looked right to me.
    Engineering convention: batteries go vertical, power at the top, ground lower. Things flow down. - Always seemed to make more sense. Those circuits always seemed easier to follow, for me,
    Test equipment, a ,multimeter.
    then kitsets & soldering.
    then books/courses
    Understand what you've already done to move ahead.
    DiffAmp, above - mentioned - a mentor. Someone you can ask. A good concept. Maybe can be replaced with a forum, now. Not sure.
    Learn to tell what's a guess & what sounds right. Some will not say so clearly.
    Just my view.
    Jtkc likes this.
  17. davenn

    davenn Moderator

    Sep 5, 2009
    I respectably totally and utterly disagree ... at total waste of time, money and just makes a huge additional mess
    Sounds like you need to learn to solder properly if you are having to use additional solder and flux

    completely agree :)
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
    Terry01 likes this.
  18. Liran


    Dec 9, 2017
    take this online free course:

    this guy is great - there are 40 lessons of ~1 hour each
    Jtkc likes this.
  19. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    Jan 21, 2010
    The first lesson is that every rule you learn is a simplification of some deeper or more complex explanation.

    The second lesson is that the simple version almost always works well enough.

    The third lesson is recognising those instances where it isn't.

    You will repeat these three lessons over and over, feeling a little silly each time you're caught. Relax, it happens to most of us.
  20. metalcore


    Dec 20, 2017
    Learning what is difficult when one has enthusiasm is actually rather positive and exciting. you certainly remember and value what costs you more. If a person is "enthusiastic" about something- again anything - you'll discover they'll talk your head off about it, and are always learning more.
    In order to create and program Arduino projects, I'd have to learn how the hardware components work. Also, I think it's cool and practical to learn how everyday electrical components such as resistors and wiring work. Many people take those things for granted, yet they make up the electronics that everyone is so obsessed with.
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