Teach me about electronic circuitry (Is that what it's called?)

Capacitators, Multimeters, soldering, all interesting but I know nothing about it and I want to learn.

What are the basics about electronic construction (maybe that’s what its called…) I understand that I am not about to take five minutes, read a website and build a television internally but I’d like a start.

I’ve looked at schematics… how do I read them? What do the symbols mean?

Finally, how long did it take YOU to feel comfortable enough in understanding circuitry?

Radio Shack used to have some beginning books. They weren’t that great IMHO but they were ok. You can probably find some similar books at your local library. You can also google “electronics tutorial”. As with all things on the net, some are better than others, but there are definately quite a few out there.

Once you get a little more advanced, you’ll want to get a copy of “The Art of Electronics” by Horowitz and Hill. This is by far the best single book I’ve seen on electronics, but it’s a bit over the head of a complete beginner.

It doesn’t take very long before you can follow someone else’s schematic and build something. You could probably be building something by the end of the week as long as you follow someone else’s schematic. If you want to design your own things this of course takes a lot longer.

The main trick to soldering is that you heat the part, not the solder. Heat the connection up and let the solder flow onto it, otherwise you can end up with a “cold solder joint” which isn’t a very good connection and will likely fail. One way to get some practice is buy a cheap piece of electronics at a yard sale and rip it apart. Un-solder parts and solder them back in, until you get to the point where you feel comfortable. If you paid $2 for the thing you won’t feel bad if it doesn’t work when you are done.

If you get stuck or don’t understand something or just want some advice, drop me an e-mail. Or, just post on here. There are a lot of us EE’s on the dope.

The main passive components are resistors, capacitors, and inductors (aka coils). The next level of complexity is basic semiconductor components: diodes and simple bias junction transistors (BJTs). From there, things can get pretty tricky to include op-amps, FETs, and other ICs. This isn’t even considereing the vast world of digital components like the range of logic gates (AND, OR, NOR, etc) and digital ICs. Most modern circuits are a combination of analog and digital circuits and often have microcontrollers or PICs acting as a sort of brain.

You have to start with the basics, though. I like the route I took: Take the introductory electronics course at your local community college. I did, then took the next course, then the next and basically launched my electrical engineering career.

Otherwise, you could perhaps find a textbook for an introductory class and get yourself a breadboard, some resistors, and a meter and start learning. There’s a few basic equations and formulas that are pretty easy and go from there.

What are you intending to build? I used to fool around with analog circuits at one point, but truth to tell, it’s not a very fulfilling hobby nowadays. Pretty much anything you can build, you can buy cheaper at Walmart. Or buy an integrated circuit at Radio Shack that does pretty much the same thing.

Probably the best place to start is your local library – get a few books on basic circuitry and read up. Then choose a simple introductory project, stock up on parts, and breadboard or solder it together.

  1. Get the following books:

a. The Engineer’s Mini Notebook Series by Forest M. Mims. They’re available at Radio Shack.

b. Getting Started in Electronics by Forrest M. Mims. Available at Radio Shack.

c. Basic Electronics Theory by Delton T. Horn.

d. 101 Solderless Breadboarding Projects by Delton T. Horn.

  1. Get a solderless breadboard (RS 276-169), jumper wire kit (RS 276-173), and power supply (+5 VDC, ±12 VDC). The latter can be purchased from a discount electronic supplier such as All Electronics or Jameco.

  2. Buy a handful of electronic components from Radio shack, All Electronics, or Jameco (resistors, capacitors, inductors, pots, transistors, diodes, LEDs, TTL logic chips, op-amps, etc.)

  3. Buy a cheap digital handheld multimeter. Check out Circuit Specialists.

  4. Subscribe to Popular Electronics and/or Nuts & Volts.

In my junior year of EE, I took a required techical writing class, which included a group writing project. My group did something about high temperature super conductors or something, but there was a guy in another group who wanted to explain how to build circuits to non-engineering hobbists. Before starting school, like chefIL11, he had wanted to build things, but didn’t know how to design circuits. Their group made a valiant attempt to condense a year’s worth of classes into a 15 minuite presentation, but you could see the confusion on the faces of the students from the other engineering disciplines. It just can’t be taught in that short of time. However, crcuits are not that difficult, just that there is a fair amount of information to learn. Either take classes as jnglmassiv suggests, or get books as others have recommended. Good luck.

try http://sound.westhost.com/beginners.htm for a (overcomplicated) introduction
this is probably better http://www.electronics-lab.com/articles/basics/theory/index.html

There’s a physics site somewhere that has a branched diagram covering pretty much the whole of known physics, that you can drill down into - it contains a very informative section about how electronic components work, how they are represented and how they behave in a circuit. I can’t seem to find the site though…

Might that be this one? Seems pretty comprehensive.


That’s the one! Thanks.