Introduction: Top 7 Electronics Tips and Tricks, That a Maker Should Know

I've been into electronics from a long time and during this course of time, I have made a lot of projects. With every project that I made, I always learnt something new, which helped me in future. I feel electronics is just like mathematics. When in maths, solving a problem using usual method is harder, we use trick and shortcuts to resolve the problem. Electronics also works the same way.

When we can not find the desired component or we don't have the required tools to make a project, we use various tricks and techniques, to make a substitute and this is what makes makers, different from the rest of the world.

During my long journey with electronics, I learnt various tips and tricks by tinkering and hacking through circuits, and today, I will be sharing some of my best tips and tricks with you guys, that I can currently recall. These are those tricks, that I feel, would help a newbie who is trying to indulge in this vast sea of electronics and making things.

I have tried putting a Tinkercad stimulated circuit digram in every step, that will help you guys in understand things in a much better way. If you have any query regarding any tip or step, feel free to comment in the comment section below. I would be pleased to answer you questions :-)

I am also entering in Tips and Tricks contest that is current going on, on instructables. If you like my work, consider voting for me in the contest. Your efforts would be really appreciated. And also this is my first instructable, so consider supporting my account by subscribing. Thank you

Step 1: TIP 1: Charge 4V Lead Acid Batteries Without Balance Charger

Lead acid batteries are just amazing. They are cheap, sturdy, safe and can in be used in all those projects, where space and weight is not an issue. They can hold ample amount of charge and can be used again and again by recharging. But what if you don't own a balance charger to recharge your battery or coincidently, gave it to one of your friends for few days. No worries! You can make one yourself using very nominal parts and then charge your 4V batteries.

What you need is, a general purpose diode or a silicon diode and a 5V power supply. For instance, you can use a 1N4007 diode. Simple put it in series with the battery and connect it to your 5V power supply. Negative of the diode will be connected to positive of the battery. Silicon diodes have a breakdown voltage of 0.7V so they will reduce the 5 volts output of the power supply to 4.3V, which is exactly equal to the maximum voltage to which, a 4V lead acid battery should be charged.

Talking about the power supply, you can use a mobile phone charger or can use a 7805 voltage regulator along with a 9V or 12V power supply. A simple schematic of such and arrangement is given above in the pictures. I would refer you to use the "voltage regulator method", because lead acid battery do not start charging instantly but take some time and tends to increase the current intake slowly as their terminal voltage increase and some mobile phone charger these days, have auto cutoff feature which automatically cuts off the power if a wholesome amount of current is not being drawn from them in the initial charging phase.

Step 2: TIP 2: AC Short Circuit Protection System

When we start building circuits as a beginner, we tend to use a DC power source or a battery to power our circuits. But as we evolve with time, we all experiment with different types of power supply to chose the best suited source for our project. We try our hand on different kinds of batteries, solar cells, dynamos and AC power source.

When we move our focus to AC power source, complexity in the project begins. AC current is the same current, that runs in our wall socket. It is generally rated at 220V or in some cases 110V. Working with such a high voltage can be risky. And one of the most common problems that arise with AC current is short circuit. AC current being on such a high potential can be fatal, and if short circuited, it can very easily destroy your components and your circuitry and can also hinder with your house's wiring system.

To prevent it from short circuiting, we can use a fuse or a MCB. But still, if the current is not strong enough to trigger the MCB, it will not trip and your electronics components will be destroyed by the current.

A similar incident happened with me when I first tried my hands on a AC project. In that project, I was using a transformer to step down the voltage but I accidentally shorted the wires of transformer, resulting in burning of the transformer and the coil of transformer getting completely melted.

To prevent such mis-happening, you can use a very simple trick. Simply connect a 220V or 110V light bulb in series with your project. If your circuit is working perfectly fine, light bulb will not glow and nothing will happen but if somehow you short circuit the connections, supply from your project will be cut and the light bulb will start glowing. This trick can surely prevent damages and will help you in saving bucks.

Step 3: TIP 3: Easily Connect Li-ion Batteries to the Balance Charger

Lithium ion batteries have become a lot popular these days. They are widely being used in present day consumer devices like mobile phones and laptops. They are also very famous amongst electronics hobbyist and makers because of their cheap price, safe working nature, ease to obtain and recharged.

If you use lithium ions cells, then charging them can be problematic. They do not fit in standard AA battery moulds and tinning their electrodes using a soldering iron can damaged them and can be dangerous too.

Buying a special battery holder can do the job but their is a much simpler way by which you can connect the cells to your power supply. You only need two neodymium magnets. Stick the magnets at the two terminals and then connect the leads of your power supply. They can be very easily attached and removed to the battery and they also do not causes any harm to the battery. The magnets keeps the system enacted. Try to use new and good quality magnets to increase the charging current.

Step 4: TIP 4: How to Connect Solder Joints More Easily

If you prefer making your circuit on a perfboard, then you definitely know, how hard it can get, connecting two point on a perfboard together. The hot tin does not forms bridge between joints easily. It just takes a millennium to connect a single row together. But do you know, there is a much easier way to connect two solder joints.

You only need a thin strand of wire. Firstly put solder on each dot of the perfboard from the starting of the connection point to the end. Then take a thin and long strand of wire and connect it to each solder dot. Now start connecting the solder joints and you will find it more easy to connect two joints together.

This is because of the adhesive force, that is acting between the wire and the solder. Wire is providing a surface for the solder to stick on, just like iron rods, which are introduced inside concrete structures, to provide concrete a surface for sticking and hence improve its strength.

Step 5: TIP 5: Easily Test Your Electronic Components Using This Tool

Now you know know how to easily connect joint in perfboard and you are all set for making a new circuit. But did you check all your components?? NO!

By this time, you would be probably searching for your multimeter. Checking components using a multimeter can surely do the job but it would be a bit of hassle. Again and again connecting multimeter probes to the component leads could be tiresome and if you have a lot of components, it will surely leave you with a headache.

But you can very easily make a plug-in plug-out component checker which will definitely make your job easier. You only need following parts:

  • 9V battery
  • 2X 330 ohms, 2X 1K ohms
  • 2 leds
  • Male and Female headers

Use the circuit diagram given above in pictures and make the tester. This tester is capable of testing npn and pnp transistors and well as diodes and LED. A working circuit explanation gif is also attached.

Step 6: TIP 6: Click Better Photos With This Camera Shutter

These days, photography as a hobby has increased significantly. I am seeing a lot of new photographer coming to forefront and clicking some stunning photos. This is because of the technological advancements taking place. Camera in mobiles phones are becoming better and better these days and are thus encouraging people to go out and click some awesome looking photos.

But the problem with mobile photography is that, all modern day smartphones do not have a dedicated physical button for clicking photos and moving your thumb again and agin between focus and camera shutter can ruin the quality and look of the shot that you are aiming. But you can very easily fix this problem by making a DIY remote shutter.

You only need a push button, a 470 ohm resistor and a 4 pin audio jack. Connect a long piece of wire to the ground and mic connection of the audio jack. On the other end of wire, connect the push button with a 470 ohm resistor in between. Insulate the circuit with some tape and apply a small piece of double sided tape on the lower side of the circuit and your remote shutter is ready. Plug in the headphone jack, open the camera app and start clicking some stunning shots.

Beware, this trick only works with android devices. You can not use it with apple iPhones because new iPhones do not come with audio jack ;-) and also apple has a small IC fitted inside all their compatible wired audio devices, which helps in communication between the controller buttons and the mobile phone. Since we are striving for a simpler circuit, and introduction of an IC can make thing complex, I have not made a dedicated shutter button for iPhones.

You can clarify this fact by google or can try using apple earphone in an android device. You will notice, you can not control your android device through the control buttons on the earphones.

Step 7: TIP 7: Say No to Those Nasty Wired Earphones

After learning so many tips and doing so much of tinkering, one should probably take some rest to let the brain soak in all the knowledge you have just learnt. And one of the best ways to achieve calm state of mind is by listening to music.

I like listening songs a lot. I sometimes keep listening to EDM and soft music while I am working, with my phone kept in front of me, on my desk. But if you don't have a wireless earphone, things can get a bit messy here. Your desk is full of sharp and dangerous tools that can very easily tamper the wire of your headphones. Think what will happen to your headphones if they touched the blazing hot soldering iron.

You can very easily get rid of this problem by making a wireless bluetooth receiver for your headphones. You only need a bluetooth audio dongle along with a 3.7v li-ion battery and female USB port. Images of all the parts is given above.

Connections: Connect positive of your battery to pin one of the USB port and negative to pin 4. Now using some tape, insulate the USB port and the solder connections that you just made. Plug in the dongle and connect the headphones to the 3.5mm audio jack. Your wireless receiver is ready now. Simply go to bluetooth settings on your phone and connect to the audio device and start streaming music. No more hassle of wires.

Step 8: END

With this we come to an end. What is your secret tip or trick?? Share with use in the comment section below. I would love to learn it.

If you have any doubt, feel free to comment. Stay creative, keeping making and maintain peace!!


Electronics Tips & Tricks Challenge

Participated in the
Electronics Tips & Tricks Challenge