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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.

For a more comprehensive and hands-on overview of electronics, check out my Electronics Class.

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.

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<p>Is there a place where you would recommend getting a job lot of equpiment on the reasonably cheap?</p>
<p>What sort?</p>
<p>When you say ike, make this ciruit, but i dont have that many components to do any of it with. Where do you rekon that i can get a job lot from.(Young student so dont have much funds)</p>
<p>What <strong>types</strong> of components?</p>
<p>Thank you :)</p>
<p>For any soon-to-be electronic enthusiasts, &quot;Arduino&quot; is something for you to look into.</p>
<p>Nice kit, but I would recommend the new <a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01EKO6FZU" rel="nofollow">Make: Electronics Component Kit 2nd Edition</a> for a beginner in the field as it will teach them all of the circuits and electronic theories they need to know before getting into Arduinos. This kit has all the components for the beginning of the new Make: Electronics 2nd ed book which is the best book for newcomers looking to learn electronics and build circuits.</p>
<p>Thank you so much! I will buy that one first. If something is explained from scratch, I can grasp it, but with missing steps I get confused and discouraged. That's why I am liking this website too. If I had gotten arduinos first, I would have probably gotten confused. I am planning to get arduinos, but after I get the kit you recommended. </p>
<p>No problem at all! I am happy to be helpful where I can, and that book and component kit make learning electronics easy and fun! Enjoy.</p>
<p><strong>Why to reduce flow of current in circuit??</strong></p>
<p>When current flows through the circuit it carries some amount of heat that depends on its strength (i.e. amps.) Large current carries large amount of heat. Every component in the circuit carries designated limit of current that it can pass through, so that it should not burn due to excess heat causes due to current. Therefore, it is important to limit the current flowing in the circuit.</p>
<p><strong>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</strong></p><p><strong>How can calculate the number of reversing per second based on frequency, could you please explain it?? </strong></p>
I made the circuit but it's not giving me a high and low sound just a straight toned ring. What am I doing wrong?
<p>Nothing. You have done it right. It is the relationships between high 5V and low 0V that creates the ringing tone. The high and low voltages are not related to sound, but the shape of the electrical wave being created (on, off, on, off, etc ---__---__---__--- )<br><br> A tone is then created at the frequency of the square wave (the speed at which the signal is being turned on and off). You can increase and decrease the frequency of the tone, but you will still only have a single tone because you have only created one uniform square wave. </p>
<p>what do you mean by 'Ground'?</p>
<p>Ground is another name for the - (the opposite side of the +)</p>
<p>supr</p>
I'm starting out in electronics and on a schematic when a wire seems to split off two ways on a right angle that just means it is connected to both of those components correct?
<p>Hi !</p><p>I am vinay and I want to enlighten a 12 LED by the battery of my bajaj caliber 115 motorcycle, I want to know how can I use CD 7812 voltage regulator to get a constant 12 V DC while the bike is running ( when it will produce around 14.5 V).</p>
when you say ground do you mean negative<br>
Expertman, In early Electronics, ask about anything that you feel uncertain about. Its a &quot;grey&quot; area, an important question. In response, &quot;Ground&quot; and &quot;Negative&quot; are used with the same intent.They refer to the &quot;polarity&quot; of the power supply(Battery in this case) and where the 'pin' of a component's intended destination is(These components are usually labeled with this, if necessary) if unsure, find it online-(Not in a 'Blog', use 'DIGIKEY') Great prices, too!<br>. Good luck, hope this helped!
<p>i guess in both images,, wires are connected in parallel...</p>
i've been looking for this all over the endless fields of the internet. so, just tanks a lot
<p>apt site for beginners</p>
<p>This was very educational and informative for me thanks</p>
<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>

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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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