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View Full Version : Where did you learn electronics?



AlexBanich
03-04-2009, 01:38 AM
I've been curious about electronics and PIC design and programing and everything else that is circuitry related. I'm basically looking for avenues to look at to learn it myself. Sooooo...... where did you learn what you were doing with electronics?

Thanks in advance!

irving2008
03-04-2009, 04:03 PM
I've been curious about electronics and PIC design and programing and everything else that is circuitry related. I'm basically looking for avenues to look at to learn it myself. Sooooo...... where did you learn what you were doing with electronics?

Thanks in advance!
Hi Alex, well I build my first radio at the age of 7 so maybe thats a little unfair :D

My advice to you is either look for an evening course at the local tech college (do you have such things in the US?) (but from your profile pic, will you have the time ;) )

There's oodles of stuff on the net and of course forums like this or others dedicated to the subject matter. I'd suggest getting a couple of good tutorial books and do a lot of reading.

Get a good grounding in the basics.. decide where you want to focus - is it programming (PICs etc?) or designing/building electronic circuits.

Trouble is, you dont know what you dont know... the PIC tutorial here (http://www.mstracey.btinternet.co.uk/pictutorial/picmain.htm) for example makes assumptions in the first page that you even know the meaning of words such as input, output and breadboard (not saying you don't, but I have no knowledge of your knowledge if you see what i mean)

If its electronics you want to learn, start with understanding the basic physics around basic components - resistors, capacitors and the like... and how to analyse circuits designed by others. Very soon you'll be designing them yourself...
By all means ask questions..

Robin Hewitt
03-04-2009, 08:51 PM
You don't need to learn electronics on here, we've got an Irving :beer:

BillTodd
03-04-2009, 10:05 PM
Go to the library and borrow a copy of Horwitz and Hill 'The art of electronics'. It'll take you through the basics to microprocessors in an easy to read, logical manner.

As to learning programming. If you're young, start learning C, C++.

If you just want to play with simple microcontrollers like PICs etc. then, assuming you are PC/Windows literate, buy a cheap PIC starter kit (http://www.microchip.com/stellent/idcplg?IdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&nodeId=1406&dDocName=en023805)(Keep an eye out for special offers; I bought a PICKit2 with demo board for less than a tenner delivered, not so long ago) or an AVR butterfly demo board (http://www.rapidonline.com/Electronic-Components/Integrated-Circuits/Atmel-Microcontrollers/AVR-Butterfly-LCD-demo-kit/77825/kw/avr) and start playing :)

AlexBanich
04-04-2009, 03:01 AM
Well like Irving hinted I don't have the time for a class considering I got a 1yr old and a wickedly messed up work schedule. Oh and did I forget that I live in middle of nowhere hickville USA where they don't really offer those kinds of things. I like the PICkits but is there maybe some simulation software that I could get my hands on? As far as my knowledge base I'm pretty good with computers as I took courses in college and have stripped and rebuilt a few. As far as my main interest I'm the type who gets interested in something and just wants to know all about it. I've been interested in programing and electronics for some time. I've read a number of electrical engineering books but I'd like to start getting my hands dirty, but don't want to be buying pieces and just randomly putting stuff together.

When I started working with CNC equipment I got Nanjing-Swansoft CNC Simulator and played with it. It was a little difficult since i had to make/find programs to load for different things. I had to go and get CAD CAMS so I ended up with Solidworks/Solidcam, MasterCAM, Rhino and AutoCAD/AutoDesk. I like computer sims because they're easily managed. Don't have to worry about it getting broke and the like.

So I'm basically just randomly exploring my curiousity :D

irving2008
04-04-2009, 08:26 PM
... I like computer sims because they're easily managed. Don't have to worry about it getting broke and the like.

So I'm basically just randomly exploring my curiousity :D
If you like simulations go look for and download the free student edition of 5Spice... try www.5Spice.com (http://www.5Spice.com) and/or www.winspice.com (http://www.winspice.com). Its an electronics simulation package that will allow you to build and test many electronic circuits 'virtually'. There are 100's of Spice tutorials on the web as well...

BillTodd
04-04-2009, 10:14 PM
I like the PICkits but is there maybe some simulation software that I could get my hands on?

Microchip's Free MPLab (http://www.microchip.com/stellent/idcplg?IdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&nodeId=1406&dDocName=en019469&part=SW007002) Integrated Development Environment software is a reasonably friendly front-end for coding (assembler or C) it has simulation and/or incircuit debugging function.

graffian
04-04-2009, 11:55 PM
Try a program called Mcap, or Microcap. I think it's available[£free ]as a student limitied edition.

My first electonics thingie was a pulse unit for my tig, all done by trial and 'art of electronics' in microcap. It worked perfectly in the simulator but I think it needs added capacitors as it wasn't stable. I assembled it on one of them boards with loads'a'holes and was completly amazed when it worked. I still haven't actually built it.

templecorran
28-07-2009, 12:02 PM
If you have time to read books, I suggest you have a look at Sidney J. Katzen's range of microprocessor texts. Sid has just retired from teaching micro's and is one of the best at explaining the complexities of the inner workings of microprocessors and PICs in an easy to understand manner.

A PIC is a microprocessor with peripheral devices and memory. Learn C and assembler. C++ is not really used much with PIC devices.

Did I mention I was Sid's technician in the 70's? :whistling: Sorry i should say 80s

HankMcSpank
28-07-2009, 12:15 PM
I 'learnt' electronics in the Air Force (way back in 1980) ...I say 'learn't - there's no substitute for getting your hands dirty & fixing stuff (& specializing in radar - there's no substitute for having -500V DC travel across your heart for learing the ropes towards respecting electricity yet not being too afraid!)

The continued 'pursuit' of knowledge came out of necessity (eg a young man, not much money & a broken TV in his room!)...then part professionally (I used to fix all the musical electronic kit in my fathers electronic organ business) ...I then drifted into IT.

I still 'keep my hand' in though...presently building a guitar sustainer - in fact, I just produced this last night...

http://img169.imageshack.us/img169/9101/30107683.th.jpg (http://img169.imageshack.us/i/30107683.jpg/)

a joyous joining of, 'electronics' & 'CNCs worlds'!

Re PICs...funnily enough I needed to learn them from scratch for the cricuit that drives the above coil (I wanted to use digital AGC) - I'm not a programmer, but nevertheless I didn't find programming PICs too onerous. I bought a PICkit2 (priceless at getting you up & running quick) & then started hanging out on the associated PIC forums - for my modest needs there's not a lot of depth of PIC programming knowledge needed. I'd say in the infancy, forget 'assembly' & go with a higher level language more suited to PICs ...ie PICBAsic.

templecorran
28-07-2009, 12:23 PM
I bought a PICkit2 (priceless at getting you up & running quick) & then started hanging out on the associated PIC forums - for my needs there's not a lot of depth of knowledge needed. I'd say forget 'assembly' & go with a higher language more suited to PICs ...PICBAsic.

I agree in part, PIC2kit is a very good way to go, plus you get loads of useful utilities and a programmer to boot.
Regarding assembler .. Yes you can exist without it, I do, but you'll need it to debug the code, cos that's all you get to see when you look inside there.

hth
John

ptjw7uk
28-07-2009, 01:20 PM
Best thing I learnt with valve electronics was to keep one hand in your pocket!

Supposed to stop you getting killed!

Modern electronics with low voltage DC is relatively simple that is excepting flash gun capacitors, lost many the end of a screwdriver on them!

Peter

HankMcSpank
28-07-2009, 01:39 PM
Best thing I learnt with valve electronics was to keep one hand in your pocket!

Supposed to stop you getting killed!

Peter

That's what they taught me in the Air Force...one hand in the pocket & stay on the rubber mat.

But then they put you in a darkened radar screen room & expect you to fix an in situ module below a screen thats fairly inaccessible - as a cocky/lazy 19yrs old, when you're on bended knees, you lean in to get a place to attach the scope, you place your hand to steady yourself (normally on the chassis), your hand slips when probing the circuit test point, finger goes onto a cap with neg 500V DC on it (with vasts amounts of current delivery capability!) ouch! It...happened a lot!

AlexBanich
29-07-2009, 04:22 PM
Thanks guys I appreciate the information. I have since the start of this thread started drifting off in to computers. Really working with just hardware and simple programming. I am looking in to communications now. I got an older set of books called Audel's Guide to Electricity. I have somewhat become focused on doing motor rewirings and stuff similar and integrating it in to my circuit board interests. I have started disassembling and reassembling things and making sure they work. Kind of a trying my hand at seeing if I can solder correctly. I'm tinkering, but learning vast amounts of everything.

PS If you have any spare laptops you want to get rid of let me know. I'm building a mountain of legacy laptops. =)