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Questions from a beginner in electronics/DIY. Answered

Hey all!

I am trying to get started in electronics and don't know how to begin. I have done some basic soldering and junk and made really basic stuff but i want to actually learn about electronics. I want to learn how a transistor amplifies current and how to design a circuit to do a task on my own. I want to do projects as a move along but the Make book on beginning electronics isn't what i am looking for, for one it is really expensive to get the pieces with it and second i also want the theory behind it not just the how to build. I hear The Art of Electronics is good but it is over 1000 pages and most of it is extremely bland! I just want a good couple hundred page book that will teach me all the basics of electronics as well as show me some neat projects to do. (also what should i buy after i master the basics?)

I also want to know how you guys got your workshops up and running. I see so many posts about people just casually saying that they took their dremmel to a sheet of plexiglass. I don't own any plexiglass and i sure as hell don't own a dremmel. I feel like there are SO many cool projects that i simply will never be able to build because it reuires a custom made wodden box, or this or that, what have you. How do most people on here think of that? Do you guys all have workshops will all these tools? How does a beginner go about not getting overwhelmed when a neat project calls for some custom made piece and thinks "well there goes that project! I will NEVER be able to make one of those! I dont have the machining experience or the tools!"?

My third question is what tools i will need to get into electronics. I have a soldering iron but i don't know what else i should get. The obvious tools are multimeter, wire cutters, wire strippers, etc. What are the best brands and where do i get these?

What do i do about components? Do you guys just have a place where you have all your components that you might need on hand and only order specific ones? For instance, should i order a bunch of transistors, capacitors, potentiometers, etc and just organize them so i have them to pull out when a project calls for it? Or should i do things on a project-by-project basis? Also how do you organize all your components? What are some good commercial organization bins and what techniques do you guys use? (preferably i want a drawer-type organization, not a bag type).

Also should i purchase and arduino? I am not new to programming (i know C, and Python) but is it the right time to purchase one as a beginner? I see all this talk about using a specific "shield" for a project and i get uncomfortable thinking that i can't do anything with just and arduino. Also i dont want to have to dismantle a project if it relies on a microcontroller but I really dont want to have to buy an arduino for each project i do! How do you reconcile this?

Sorry for so many questions but i am excited to get started


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8 years ago

For books, take advantage of your local library. You can borrow them, learn and return them when you're done, so you save money right there.

For organizing, get yourself a few storage cases with divider/compartments and a package of small labels. My son gets all this for his electronic parts at dollar stores, and they work very well for all the small pieces.

What you buy (and need) will be determined by what you make, so going project-by-project will make more sense from the start. You'll find like most people, that you can get a better deal say buying 20 LED's or resistors or whatever than just buying the one of 2 that you need, and so you develop more of an inventory of parts as you go along in making things.

Just take things slow from the start so that you fully understand what you are doing and how it works, before you get too overwhelmed. The nice part is that you can repost to this topic at a later date if you find you need more help.


8 years ago

If you're at all serious about electronics, beg, borrow or steal an oscilloscope. It is a vital piece of test gear for all but the most trivial projects.

The Art of Electronics is the bible of electronics for many of us, and is a valuable source of information and reference even still.