A question from a beginner about all the codes

R

Jan 1, 1970
0
I am just starting to learn electronics, reading and experimenting, at
47, wife and kids, going to school for a hobby right now is not an
option.
1N4001s, 5555s, 8051s, on and on. In the reading I have done so far it
has mentioned a few IC's what I'm wondering is how do you know
which IC to use? Is there someplace on the web or in a book that breaks
these it groups. It seems SO overwhelming.

Thanks in advance to anyone for here help in this.

J

Jonathan Kirwan

Jan 1, 1970
0
I am just starting to learn electronics, reading and experimenting, at
47, wife and kids, going to school for a hobby right now is not an
option.
Understood.

1N4001s, 5555s, 8051s, on and on. In the reading I have done so far it
has mentioned a few IC's what I'm wondering is how do you know
which IC to use? Is there someplace on the web or in a book that breaks
these it groups. It seems SO overwhelming.

Things break down into various categories; like microcontrollers, memory, small
logic blocks, CPLDs and FPGAs, ADCs and DACs, opamps, voltage regulators,
voltage references, oscillators, etc.

When you consider a specific application, you take the important specifications
(which you may have a strong hand in deciding) and prioritize them and use your
design knowledge to develop some reasonable method to achieve a solution and
then break this down into the functional areas needed. Experience will guide
you, regarding what is available to help as a matter of standard parts (a
hobbyist does NOT often have the luxury of getting customized ICs made.)

Without experience as a guide, you may know what you want to try but not really
know what approach to take or what is available to help out. So one good way is
to talk here about what you want to try and as much of the specification as you
can reasonably describe. I'm sure you'll get some good guidance.

Regarding books, my own experience is rather modest and unique (I used some old
electronics books designed to teach WW II repair crews, various hobbyist books
from the '50's and '60's, read magazines and their articles when I could follow
them, and tried out a few things.) I'm not sure it would be the better path for
recommend some ideas.
Thanks in advance to anyone for here help in this.

It's probably better to start out with some small things you are personally
interested in, and then broadening out from there. For example, I was
that's what I built for myself. But to do so, I had to learn many other things.
And that's how learning often starts...

You might start by describing a little of what you've done or tried to do, what
has worked for you, what hasn't; what interests you generally have; what
immediate projects interest you, for now; what theory you believe you
understand; etc.

Also, you may want some tools to use. What kind of budget are you willing to
consider?

Finally, have you read through other similar threads on this subject in
sci.electronics.basics and sci.electronics.design, using google groups? This
kind of question is an oft-asked one and there are many good responses. Is
there something about those that misses the mark for you? If so, what?

In other words, help folks to understand who you are, what you know, where your
interests lie, and how much time and money you can consider investing.

Jon

T

tlbs

Jan 1, 1970
0
Purchase one of those "100-in-One" kits from RadioShack (in-store or
from radioshack.com). They come in different sizes, and the bigger
kits contain more components and allow for more experimentation and
learning. These kits all contain a book that explains what each
component does, how they work (at a basic level), and lead you through
making different circuits step-by-step. I have even seen them for sale
at hobby and craft stores.

The down side to these kits -- they do not cover microcontrollers and
microprocessors. But I would advise learning the basics before jumping
into a more advanced subject such as a microcontroller.

K

Kitchen Man

Jan 1, 1970
0
I am just starting to learn electronics, reading and experimenting, at
47, wife and kids, going to school for a hobby right now is not an
option.
1N4001s, 5555s, 8051s, on and on. In the reading I have done so far it
has mentioned a few IC's what I'm wondering is how do you know
which IC to use? Is there someplace on the web or in a book that breaks
these it groups. It seems SO overwhelming.

Thanks in advance to anyone for here help in this.

Go get a copy of the old Texas Instruments standard, "The TTL Data
Book." If you get into the field, you will use it the rest of your
life. In the meantime, you can sometimes find datasheets via a google
accompaniment to reading of basic digital circuits. The prefaces in the
"Data Book" are good to read, as they give some description of the
operation of the IC's listed inside. The first and most important gate
to learn: the NAND gate. Packs a lot of concept in one neat package.

J

[email protected]

Jan 1, 1970
0
You could also try some solderless, re-usable breadboards. These have
arrays of holes connected together so that you can plug in parts like
ICs, small & medium transistors, resistors etc. Also buy some
insulated, solid core, tinned hookup wire, sidecutters and a craft
knife (for removing the insulation). You'll be able to build and
modify circuits quickly. For anyone starting out, I'd also recommend a
multimeter. A decent one to get you started costs £8 in UK
(Wilkinson's); Maplin, & probably Radio Shack (if you're in USA) have
better offers.

Enjoy!

R

Roger Johansson

Jan 1, 1970
0
You could also try some solderless, re-usable breadboards. These have
arrays of holes connected together so that you can plug in parts like
ICs, small & medium transistors, resistors etc.

I hope that the OP gets some benefit from your advice. And if he really
wants a prototype board he should get one, but maybe he would like to
consider this first:

I wanted such a prototype board when I was younger, and finally got hold
of one, a big 4 section model. I built a special box for it, with power
supplies inside and a front panel with instruments, pots and switches.

But I soon realized that I had to build everything twice, first on the
protoboard, and then I had to move the working circuit over to pcb
material.

My third or fourth project on that protoboard still occupies it, and it
hasn't been used in at least 25 years.

It was much easier to build and experiment directly on pcb, so I could
just put the pcb in a box and use it afterwards.

Get some pieces of pcb material, or copper laminate as we call it here.
When you start a new project you take a suitable piece of it, and clean
it. Rub it with an abrasive kitchen sponge, the green layer. That is the
quickest and easiest method I know of to get down to clean copper.
It is a lot easier to solder if the copper surface is clean.

Cut a number of straight grooves through the copper, with a sharp tool,
so you get a 4 times 5 pads board, or the number of pads you think
you will need. Solder the components between the copper pads.

Don't try to cram everything into a very small area. It will become a
mess when/if you have to change the circuit. Leave space for changes from
the beginning, so you can experiment and change the circuit as much as
you like.

If you want to know more about building circuits in a fast and lazy way,
look up these keywords on google:

and you will find 500 links to articles about fast construction methods
without etching and without first building prototypes. You build the
final circuit on a pcb directly. You can mix surface mount components
with through-hole ones with a little ingenuity. Bend the wires of old
components and mount them without making holes. (Making holes is a lot of
work and you need good machinery. By avoiding making holes we avoid a lot
of extra work.)

It doesn't matter if circuit boards are pretty or ugly. They will be
contained inside a box and the user will only see the controls and
connectors on the outside. That's where you should spend more time and
care to get a nice-looking device. Spray paint and rub-on letters and
symbols makes the outside more professional looking.

I often put small circuits in a tobacco tin, or any kind of metal box,
with V-formed slits in the sides for cables into and out from the
circuit, so the lid fixes the cables when shut.

By building circuits on small separate circuit boards you can use
circuits later which you have built maybe just as an experiment. Just
save all projects, whether they are completed or not. You can continue
later, or put together a few experiments to something useful. Or change
an old experiment a little to get a circuit you need. You cannot do that
with circuits you have built on a protoboard, because all circuits you
build there must be disassembled, destroyed, to make space for new
circuits.

A

Art

Jan 1, 1970
0
Roger said:
It was much easier to build and experiment directly on pcb, so I could
just put the pcb in a box and use it afterwards.

I second that. Proponents of those breadboards trumpet how handy it is
not to have to solder and desolder constantly everytime you want to
make a change or correct an error, but that's a fallacious argument:
after all (as mentioned), you wind up doing the same job twice anyway.
Besides, those little wires have an annoying tendancy to pop out at the
most inconvenient times, plus there's a greater potential for noise
problems with those friction connections. Besides, really, how much
trouble is it to desolder a few connections (I recommend solderwick vs.
suction devices...admittedly, it's been a few years since I used a
solder sucker, but when I did, I found the constant clogging annoying).
Use a good iron and you won't find it troublesome. There are a dizzying
number available, but I recommend a Weller WTCPT as a reliable
workhorse. A huge selection of tips are available (tip it comes with is
reasonable for many uses) and it's about $100; you can get by on less, but once you get into construction, you'll find cheaper irons aggravating to use (poor temp control, tip selection limited, etc.), although careful selection of one of Weller's economy irons can get you going for, say,$50.

Finally, a book you gotta have (it's not just a good idea, it's the
law!): "The Art of Electronics" by Horowitz and Hill. Older editions
are cheaper and still usable, newer editions have stuff you may not be
getting into for a while, if ever; also consider an ARRL handbook
(older editons also usable, newer ones available in CD, hardcover, and
paperback), and, for that matter, ARRLs other publications (they lean
away from hardcore theory and toward the practical).

Art

R

[email protected]

Jan 1, 1970
0
I am just starting to learn electronics, reading and experimenting, at
47, wife and kids, going to school for a hobby right now is not an
option.
1N4001s, 5555s, 8051s, on and on. In the reading I have done so far it
has mentioned a few IC's what I'm wondering is how do you know
which IC to use? Is there someplace on the web or in a book that breaks
these it groups. It seems SO overwhelming.

Thanks in advance to anyone for here help in this.

There is a book called "The Art of Electronics" (one of the authors
posts regularly on sci.electronics.design) that you should buy.

Cheers
Robin Pain

R

Robert Monsen

Jan 1, 1970
0
Roger said:
I hope that the OP gets some benefit from your advice. And if he really
wants a prototype board he should get one, but maybe he would like to
consider this first:

I wanted such a prototype board when I was younger, and finally got hold
of one, a big 4 section model. I built a special box for it, with power
supplies inside and a front panel with instruments, pots and switches.

But I soon realized that I had to build everything twice, first on the
protoboard, and then I had to move the working circuit over to pcb
material.

My third or fourth project on that protoboard still occupies it, and it
hasn't been used in at least 25 years.

Well, there are other reasons not to use solderless breadboards. The
National Semiconductor electronics guru Bob Pease doesn't like them
because of the capacitance between different rows, which causes all
sorts of problems, slowing down signals, interfering with measured
capacitance values, causing oscillation, etc. They also tend to corrode
with time, and thus the contact of parts to the little rows of metal get
more resistive over time. Finally, the little springs inside that clamp
on the wires wear out with use.

That being said, it's also about 100 times as fast to build and rip
apart a project on one of these. You don't have to do too much planning,
because the boards are set up so you just jumper wires around to make
connections. Using these is made easier with 3M preformed wire jumpers,
which come in various lengths.

The better ones I've seen have conductive backing plates, which, when
connected to ground, allow a groundplane of sorts. I'm not sure if this
is good or not. I have seen no problem building microcontroller circuits
that switch signals at 20MHz on these. Any DC circuit, or audio
circuits, are probably going to be OK as well, unless you end up with

Regarding the problem of moving the project to it's final soldered form,
there are premade PCBs that can be obtained that have the same layout as

http://www.futurlec.com/ProtoBoards.shtml

You can also get them at radioshack. By using these, you can just
directly move the circuit over after prototyping, and have some
assurance that at least the connections are in the right place.
It was much easier to build and experiment directly on pcb, so I could
just put the pcb in a box and use it afterwards.

Get some pieces of pcb material, or copper laminate as we call it here.
When you start a new project you take a suitable piece of it, and clean
it. Rub it with an abrasive kitchen sponge, the green layer. That is the
quickest and easiest method I know of to get down to clean copper.
It is a lot easier to solder if the copper surface is clean.

Cut a number of straight grooves through the copper, with a sharp tool,
so you get a 4 times 5 pads board, or the number of pads you think
you will need. Solder the components between the copper pads.

You are talking about stripboard, also called veroboard. You can get
this premade from the guys above (same link), with holes drilled in it.
There is also a program floating around called "stripboard magic" that
will plan the layout for you, given a schematic. It's fairly primitive,
but works ok.

However, I haven't had good results with stripboard. I prefer just using
the fiberglass board with predrilled holes but no solder pads. I find
that the solder pads just get in the way, cause bridges when you don't
want them, and fail to do so when you do. Perhaps it's pilot error.
Don't try to cram everything into a very small area. It will become a
mess when/if you have to change the circuit. Leave space for changes from
the beginning, so you can experiment and change the circuit as much as
you like.

If you want to know more about building circuits in a fast and lazy way,
look up these keywords on google:

and you will find 500 links to articles about fast construction methods
without etching and without first building prototypes. You build the
final circuit on a pcb directly. You can mix surface mount components
with through-hole ones with a little ingenuity. Bend the wires of old
components and mount them without making holes. (Making holes is a lot of
work and you need good machinery. By avoiding making holes we avoid a lot
of extra work.)

The problem with this is trying to decipher what the HELL you did 6
months later, when a component gives it up, or you want to make a small
change. It's generally used for things like RF, where you are afraid of
stray capacitance. However, the inductance of the leads seems like it
would be worse. Whatever, I don't know enough to judge.

--
Regards,
Robert Monsen

"Your Highness, I have no need of this hypothesis."
- Pierre Laplace (1749-1827), to Napoleon,
on why his works on celestial mechanics make no mention of God.

R

Robert Monsen

Jan 1, 1970
0
There is a book called "The Art of Electronics" (one of the authors
posts regularly on sci.electronics.design) that you should buy.

Cheers
Robin Pain

I like that book, but I don't think it's a beginner's book. It's stated
goal is to enable the design of scientific instruments by non-electrical
engineers. It was written to be used as a course textbook at MIT.

I actually prefer "Practical Electronics for Inventors" by Sherz. It's
more up to date, has much of the same information, and it's a bit
cheaper. On the other hand, AoE goes into far more depth on subjects
like precision design and high speed circuits. I have both, and I
recommend the former for an introduction, the second for when you have a
bit more experience.

There is also the Forrest Mims Circuit Scrapbook series, which is
designed as a hands on approach to learning circuits.

Your library branch probably has all of these, and a few others.

--
Regards,
Robert Monsen

"Your Highness, I have no need of this hypothesis."
- Pierre Laplace (1749-1827), to Napoleon,
on why his works on celestial mechanics make no mention of God.

R

Roger Johansson

Jan 1, 1970
0
You are talking about stripboard, also called veroboard.

No, they are so expensive and are not suitable for smd components.

I'm talking about copper laminated fiberglass, which is what is
available nowadays, single or doublesided. But the older type of laminate
is actually easier to work with, easier to cut into pieces. The
fiberglass is a nasty material, but very strong and straight. The older
pcb materials, usually brown or yellow, were often slightly bent, but a
lot easier to cut. Buy a life supply of the older type at a surplus store
for a few dollars if you get the chance.
It's generally used for things like RF, where you are afraid of
stray capacitance. However, the inductance of the leads seems like it
would be worse. Whatever, I don't know enough to judge.

If I want a ground plane I use doublesided laminate and use the other
side as ground plane. Or build up the circuit with manhattan and dead bug
methods, and use the single copper layer, undivided, as ground plane. I
use the ground plane for all ground connections. All circuits are above
the laminate then, on small platforms of small pieces of pcb material,
glued to the laminate under it (manhattan style). Or use meg-ohm
resistors to connect components to the ground plane mechanically, but not
electrically. Turn the IC chips upside down, so they look like dead
bugs lying on their backs with the legs in the air. (the dead bug style)

10 years ago I bought a collection of smd components from another guy,
for 110 dollars. It was an amazing experience to hold thousands of
transistors in my hand, it looked like black and silver volcanic sand.

Since then I am using mainly smd components but I often need to use a few
old type components too. They can usually be fitted somehow without
drilling holes.

K

Kitchen Man

Jan 1, 1970
0
Well, there are other reasons not to use solderless breadboards. The
National Semiconductor electronics guru Bob Pease doesn't like them
because of the capacitance between different rows, which causes all
sorts of problems, slowing down signals, interfering with measured
capacitance values, causing oscillation, etc. They also tend to corrode
with time, and thus the contact of parts to the little rows of metal get
more resistive over time. Finally, the little springs inside that clamp
on the wires wear out with use.

That being said, it's also about 100 times as fast to build and rip
apart a project on one of these. You don't have to do too much planning,
because the boards are set up so you just jumper wires around to make
connections. Using these is made easier with 3M preformed wire jumpers,
which come in various lengths.

Breadboards are very useful in a training environment, where small
projects are built and discarded on a regular basis. I haven't used a
breadboard since college. For Senior Projects, I used copper solder
prototype boards, similar to what you describe below:

==
Regarding the problem of moving the project to it's final soldered form,
there are premade PCBs that can be obtained that have the same layout as

http://www.futurlec.com/ProtoBoards.shtml

You can also get them at radioshack. By using these, you can just
directly move the circuit over after prototyping, and have some
assurance that at least the connections are in the right place.
==

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