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Electronics Newbie

myork

Dec 16, 2021
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Dec 16, 2021
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Hi All, I'm completely new to electronics. I've got kids that seem interested in the subject and it's made me want to understand more and get a better understanding of how things actually work.

Although I have a decent understanding of software, the idea of making something from scratch seems really exciting and terrifying in equal measure. I've watched lots of youtube videos, but usually end up confused so I figured forums would be a good place to see what other people were asking and talking about.

I seem addicted to videos about PWM and 555 timer circuits, but I've yet to make anything actually work :)

Nice to meet you all, any hints on where to start would be much appreciated!

- Matt
 

Martaine2005

May 12, 2015
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May 12, 2015
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4,360
Hi Matt, welcome to EP.
Starting small and simple is not terrifying and is fun.
Spend a little, say £20 or £30 and buy a breadboard starter pack. Plus some 555’s, CD4017’s, assorted capacitors and assorted resistor packs. Some diodes like 1N4148 can be useful too. Obviously LEDs in various colours are required for ‘viewing’ your first circuits.
Now, if you want to program, the Arduino is a popular favourite. Plenty of libraries with working programs called sketches.
Get what you require and ask any questions when you’re ready.
Oh, a multimeter or two is a must for any hobbyist or enthusiast. Soldering irons can come later when and IF you want to transfer the breadboard circuit to a permanent PCB.

Martin
 

Harald Kapp

Moderator
Moderator
Nov 17, 2011
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Welcome to EP, Matt.
Nice to meet you all, any hints on where to start would be much appreciated!
If you want to start with breadboarding, here's a comparison of a few starter kits.
Here's another site that offers complete kits to be soldered plus literature and test equipment to get you started.
Using such kits has imho the advantage that these come with (more or less) proven instructions and satisfying results are easy to achieve. In my experience many of the Videos on there are to be taken with a grain of salt. The documentation of what is going on and how the circuits works is often sketchy at best, often not present at all. Also we've seen quite a few visitors here that asked for help with circuits the built following such online videos only to find that the circuits were badly designed and wouldn't work. This is not to say that all these videos are bad, but it will be hard for you to judge the quality (of the content, not the technical quality of the video ;)) without you having a solid fundamental understanding of electronics.

Going the Arduino way as suggested by @Martaine2005 is an easy way to connect your programming experience with some hardware tinkering. You can buy starter kits (e.g. this original Arduino one, but you'll find less expensive no name kits, too). Its is fun to have LEDs light up in patterns, make noise using speakers or buzzers, have the hardware react to sensor input etc. Using these kits mainly means connecting modules by wires, this is not very near to tinkering with the actual hardware - but delivers fast results.

I second Martin's recommendation about the multimeter. It doesn't have to be an expensive one. For starters something in the $ 10 - 20 range is sufficient. If you're going to measure at mains level. Make sure your meter is rated CAT II or higher.
CAT I meters are not suitable for measuring on mains level.
 
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