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Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by TygerTyger, Oct 17, 2014.

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  1. TygerTyger

    TygerTyger

    11
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    Oct 17, 2014
    Hi everyone,
    I gave slight info on my exsisting knowledge on my intro post ( https://www.electronicspoint.com/threads/hi-all.270885/#post-1627420 ) but i thought i'd give a bit more detail on here and hopefully get some advide on where i should start and what routes I should take for learning.
    I have a very strong physics background, most of my school time and qualifacations are through a large area of physics and maths, studied up to foundation degree level, because of this i already have an understanding of electricity and how things work. But with only a slight bit of knowledge on components and circuits, mainly just from simple lab tests i feel this is the main thing i need to further. I also am fully interested in the subject, i'm not looking for an understanding of components and circuits just to sit and make things, although that will be a large part of it, i'd really like to dig into lots of the theory and maths behind it all as well and get a good all round grip on things. :)

    I understand things take time and study to understand and things will not happen over night from just watching a couple of videos. I'm prepared to put the time into learning as much as i can on electronics by whatever way i can, but with not knowing much on the subject i don't really have much of a place to start off, should it be books? videos? trial and error and finding out what works? Hopefully some of you and help set me in a good direction for learning. :)

    While money isn't a huge issue on getting resources for learning, i would like to keep costs down as much as possible until i understand enough to get fully commited into learning. Many other fourms i've found were filled with a lot of people that would just throw you at online courses and websites that will drain away your funds in an instant, i've always felt learning by yourself and in a good community is the best way as you can move at your own pace and leave nothing behind by rushing through, hopefully i'll find that here (and judging by other posts i've seen already, it seems like that is exactly what i will get)
    :)

    Thanks in advance for any help :)
     
  2. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

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    Jun 21, 2012
    Welcome to Electronics Point Forums, Matt. I think the best way to learn electronics is to do electronics. I started out by messin' 'round with old radios and TVs back in the day, but there is an easier way today. Perhaps @KrisBlueNZ can point you at some breadboarding prototyping kits. I don't know where you live, but mail-order works world-wide and you can receive stuff in just a few days, or a few weeks at the most, from reputable vendors. Here in the States we have Radio Shack, but their selection of components is rather limited. Radio Shack is good for starting out because you can purchase just a few basic components like resistors, capacitors, LEDs, diodes, transformers, and similar low-budget devices, and start putting them together from circuits you find at hobby sites online or here. At the very least though, I recommend purchasing TWO inexpensive digital multimeters. You often need to know BOTH the voltage and the current in a circuit while learning. Later, you will learn that either voltage or current can usually be calculated after just one measurement, so your second multimeter can serve as a spare. Have fun!
     
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  3. TygerTyger

    TygerTyger

    11
    1
    Oct 17, 2014
    @hevans1944 Thanks for the quick response, wasn't expecting answer so fast!
    I'll definitely look into it all and have a look about for some basic circuits so i can start to get an idea of how everything works, thanks for the help :)
     
  4. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    Heh. Let me throw you at an online course :)

    Look up the EDx/MITx 6.002x course (it's here). With a good physics and math background you should breeze through it and gain a very good basis of understanding of some of the fundamentals of circuits. The fact that you can do it free is a good thing :)

    I find the book "The Art of Electronics" to be very useful, but take a look at it to see if it suits you. The course I mentioned above covers the material in the first chapter of this book (which is the part of the book I found dry and generally uninspiring).

    When you start doing things practically (and I encourage you to start this immediately!), I would recommend the first thing you buy is a multimeter. Next things are a solderless breadboard, small wire cutters, and a soldering iron and solder (the last two may sit unused most of the time). Then components to build simple projects in an area that interests you. You might, for example decide to build some simple transistor circuits (be aware that you'll generally start with bipolar transistors, not the mosfets that the 6.002x course covers).

    You'll soon find that you'll need a very small pair of wire cutters, some assorted wire, some method of stripping wire (either a dedicated tool or a craft knife), and even with the solderless breadboard you might need a soldering iron to "tin" wires -- especially if you're trying to poke stranded wire into the holes.

    An alternative is to purchase kits, although this generally builds construction skills more than circuit understanding. And to go this route you need a soldering iron, and other small tools.

    One of the perceived weaknesses of many books covering electronics is that they spend far too much time on mathematics and very little on the practical. This is certainly true for people without a strong mathematical background, but may be less of an issue (or even a benefit) for you.

    To some extent you've got to figure out your own roadmap. There's no point pursuing a track that takes you through things that have no interest for you (unless their benefit is very quickly apparent), or worse that are pointless.

    Perhaps if you consider an area of electronics that interests you right now, and we may be able to assist in suggesting how to progress in that direction.
     
    hevans1944 and KrisBlueNZ like this.
  5. TygerTyger

    TygerTyger

    11
    1
    Oct 17, 2014
    @(*steve*) Big chunk of info there, thanks for all of that :)

    I'll make sure i check out that course in the morning sometime, the main problem i had with other courses people had sent me to was the cost of them, but there's never any harm in trying something that's free :) I'll also have a look out for "The art of electronics" book on the internet somewhere.
    Ah yes.. seems a multimeter is essential to this and i'd completely blanked the thought of buying anything like that honestly, now that people mention it, it probably should've been one of the first things i considered when wanting to get into this :)

    As for the area that interests me, nothing to specific right now, i'm hoping to figure that out as i find out more about everything. But i'd say a big influence that made me want to persue learning was control systems, I know that's probably quite a broad term since it can branch down into smaller areas, such as robotics, but that's really all i can say for a specific area right now.
     
    KrisBlueNZ likes this.
  6. hevans1944

    hevans1944 Hop - AC8NS

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    Jun 21, 2012
    Control systems is what I got hooked on while serving in the US Air Force. The defensive fire control system on B52-H heavy bombers that I was trained to maintain had hundreds of servos in it, ranging from tiny motors driving stacked potentiometers to compute the ballistic equation, to big swash-plate hydraulic motors to spin the M61A1Gatling gun barrels and slew its two-axis turret gun mount to aim at attacking aircraft in the rear.

    I didn't realize, until exposed to this system, that it was even possible to move anything that heavy, that fast, with supreme accuracy and stability. It took another ten years after my enlistment ended in 1967 to learn enough to actually design servo systems like that. But, once you get your hands on some really powerful servomechanisms, it is very hard to go back to just plain old electronics.:D

    Today such technology is used with the aid of GPS and computers to control, position, and guide huge earth-moving machinery, steer giant dump trucks used in mining, operate self-guided fork-lifts in automated warehouses, and (probably the most visible to the general public) manipulate stuff in outer space with the Canadarm robotic arm used on the Space Shuttle, probably the most famous mission being the Hubble Space Telescope repair during mission STS-61.

    At your young age you have a huge range of career choices. I hope electronics and servomechanisms will be part of your direction, but applied physics is also rewarding, especially if you have electrical engineering and/or computer science training to back it up. I once had an assistant who had a degree in physics and computer science, with lab work that gave him practical experience in both fields before graduation. He was a real pleasure to work with.
     
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  7. TygerTyger

    TygerTyger

    11
    1
    Oct 17, 2014
    @hevans1944 I've never really considered the huge stuff, so far a lot of the things i've looked at are just small servos and some RC cars/planes, I suppose i should really start in that kind of area and not jump staight for the big stuff, hopefully I can start and get some stuff together soon and start getting some help from everyone around here :D
     
  8. TygerTyger

    TygerTyger

    11
    1
    Oct 17, 2014
    Just on an extra point, would anyone be able to recommend some books about control systems that could help me learn? i tend to learn a lot quicker from books than videos (just personal preferance)
    And also, should i be looking into microcontrollers or anything similar or should i get a good grasp on other things first?

    Thanks
     
  9. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    25,389
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    Jan 21, 2010
    I think you probably want a basic grasp of electronics first, then maybe move on to microcontrollers.

    You probably also want to be able to understand comparators and other devices commonly used in control electronics.

    The broader your base of understanding, the deeper you will be able to understand any field (it's a kind of "with breadth comes depth" argument)
     
    TygerTyger likes this.
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