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Getting started with basic electronics is easier than you might think. This Instructable will hopefully demystify the basics of electronics so that anyone with an interest in building circuits can hit the ground running. This is a quick overview into practical electronics and it is not my goal to delve deeply into the science of electrical engineering. If you are interested in learning more about the science of basic electronics, Wikipedia is a good place to start your search.

By the end of this Instructable, anyone with an interest to learn basic electronics should be able to read a schematic and build a circuit using standard electronic components.

Step 1: Electricity

There are two types of electrical  signals , those being alternating current (AC), and direct current (DC).

With alternating current, the direction electricity flows throughout the circuit is constantly reversing. You may even say that it is alternating direction. The rate of reversal is measured in Hertz, which is the number of reversals per second. So, when they say that the US power supply is 60 Hz, what they mean is that it is reversing 120 times per second (twice per cycle).

With Direct Current, electricity flows in one direction between power and ground. In this arrangement there is always a positive source of voltage and ground (0V) source of voltage. You can test this by reading a battery with a multimeter. For great instructions on how to do this, check out Ladyada's multimeter page (you will want to measure voltage in particular).

Speaking of voltage, electricity is typically defined as having a voltage and a current rating. Voltage is obviously rated in Volts and current is rated in Amps. For instance, a brand new 9V battery would have a voltage of 9V and a current of around 500mA (500 milliamps).

Electricity can also be defined in terms of resistance and watts. We will talk a little bit about resistance in the next step, but I am not going to be going over Watts in depth. As you delve deeper into electronics you will encounter components with Watt ratings. It is important to never exceed the Wattage rating of a component, but fortunately that Wattage of your DC power supply can easily be calculated by multiplying the voltage and current of your power source.

If you want a better understanding of these different measurements, what they mean, and how they relate, check out this informative video on Ohm's Law.

Most basic electronic circuits use DC electricity. As such, all further discussion of electricity will revolve around DC electricity.
<p><strong>nice site for beginners as well as professionals</strong>.</p>
<p>Michael U.</p><p>Thanks alot for this tutorial, it is so rich</p>
<p>Hi,<br><br>Thank you so much for this tutorial.<br><br>FYI , on step12 (ie LED) you mentioned that the flat notch indicator is on anode end , but its on cathode end of the LED. Please check it.<br><br>Thanks.</p>
<p>Thanks for this tutorial!<br><br>For all electronic fans, I made a site about basic stuctures used in analog electronic:<br><br><a href="http://shematronic.ddns.net" rel="nofollow">http://shematronic.ddns.net</a></p>
<p>I appreciate this tutorial. However, where can I go, not to find circuits, but more specifics on how circuits work. I can understand how the first circuit works , sort of understand how and why the second circuit works, and am more lost on the third one. I'd like more of an explanation on why resistors and capacitors are used in specific situations. Any suggestions?</p>
<p>For the &quot;Your second circuit&quot; section, is it 2N3906 PNP and 2N3904 NPN or should the PNP and NPN be switched? The parts list does not match the image of the circuit. </p><p>I'm a beginner, and I want to make sure I use the correct parts.</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>Thank you for describing two different Powers - AC and DC. <a href="http://sandsphoto.co.uk/" rel="nofollow">http://sandsphoto.co.uk/</a>&quot;</p>
thanks... good for start<br>
<p>Very well documented and detailed.</p>
<p>Thanks, this was exactly what I needed. A nice improvement would have been to explain why each element was on the circuit, instead this feels like you just follow instructions without knowing what you are doing. But once again, it's a perfect introduction to ultra beginners like me.</p>
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when you say ground do you mean negative<br>
You should tell that where to put transistor, capacitor and others. Whether it will be in series or parallel and why ? Effect of adding or removing a component on the circuit And how someone can build thier own circuit?
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<p>Wow! Thanks so much for this post. I am new to circuits and am taking automotive mechanics so this has really helped me understand the fundamentals of circuits in cars and in all other technology too. I look forward to putting it all together. Thanks again and keep up the good work.</p>
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Bio: My name is Randy and I founded the Instructables Design Studio. I'm also the author of the books 'Simple Bots,' and '62 Projects to ... More »
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