How to Ask a Question in Instructables.




About: Retired technology teacher - 2 kids, I have an Hons deg in Design and Technology - 28 years as Computer systems engineer Trained as Electronics engineer in the Royal Air Force

In cooperation with several of the regular answers of questions here I have put together this short "how to get the best answer to my question" instructable.

Step 1: Search Instructables

Use the search box at the top right of the page - This will give back any similar subjects - Your question may well already be there.

There are some questions that get asked over and over (like "how do I talk to this girl/guy?") - if you have a search, you may not need to ask the question at all.

However don't ask the same question again, a couple of days later, just because you don't like the previous answers. Very rarely will the denizens of the answerers give a flippant or silly answer without provocation, so the answers you receive will in the main be the best we can manage with the information offered

Step 2: The Question

OK so you want to ask a question of the many users of this site. To tap into their extensive and worldly knowledge.

So what is the best way to:
a) get a suitable answer which will help you
b) Help the kind people who give their time and knowledge for free to help you.


Be clear in your mind what information you need.

Start your question at the beginning NOT in the middle.

Write your question in very clear terms outlining any/all issues or restrictions.

Be realistic.

Step 3: Extra Information

Tell us where you are (country will do).

What access you have to tools, materials, cash limits.

What your skills are - It's no good asking for information to resolve the energy crisis in the world if your unable to screw in screws or solder an electronic  joint together.

How much time and money will you want to spend on this project?

What have you done or found out so far.

Step 4: Some Things Just DON'T Work

Perpetual motion in any form

Free energy

Most things Ilegal

Most things that would in any sensible persons opinion be a danger to you and or your neighbours.

Anything very complicated for next to nothing.

Almost anything complicated that includes skills that are beyond your ability.

Step 5: Be Polite - We Do This for NOTHING

Be nice - it isn't just a matter of conforming to society - all the people answering you do it for nothing, most are going to be 30+ years old a little nice goes a LONG way.

Try to check the spelling - it isn't going to cost anything to down-load a spell checker and use it. Avoid text speak if only in the interest of clarity. Remember most of this site is in English, a very little of it is in Spanish, but none of it is in SMS. DON'T use leet speak, SMS speak or any shorthand that can't be read by any of our members for whom English is not their first language.

If you have a question, and it needs illustrating with a photo, PLEASE make the effort to make a decent, focussed picture of it.

RE-READ your question before posting, your talking to strangers so ask yourself:  Am I being totally clear - Is there any better way to get a quick answer (Google is usually the option - try it) - Am I asking too much - or is the time scale ridiculous (Urgent isn't going to work over a global internet system be patient) 

Step 6: Lastly

Just out of interest to us - (to keep us offering answers you know) - Come back and tell us what success you had. Publish an instructable and credit your knowledge suppliers. Say Thanks.



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    67 Discussions


    Question 8 weeks ago on Step 2

    Hi everyone, I am planning to make my own studio monitors.
    I have chosen the amplifier board, speakers, cabinet etc but have a question on the audio input section where im using a XLR-TRS combo jack connector to have XLR and TRS in the same slot as required. Help me sum up the input signals to be fed into the amplifier. To make it clear help me combine T-R-S and 1-2-3 of the XLR to be summed up as a single mono output to be fed into the mono amplifier TPA3118 which i am planning to use. BTW, i am making individual powered speakers. Attached the image of the XLR-TRS combo connector i am using.
    Thanks in advance.
    Please email me @ any schematic or wiring diagrams that would help me.
    Rajthilak K


    Question 2 months ago on Step 2

    Troubleshooting Altiove WS2811 Led Strip RGB 12V 5m 150 LED's. I have three strips I have daisy chained together. I have injected power into the end of the second strip and the beginning of the third strip with two separate 12V 3A power sources rated for 36W, which is the rating on each strip. The strips worked fine at first but then started to have different colors about 1/3 of the way into the second strip. I have tried swapping the second and third strip and the problem appears in the same spot. it is in a corner so I'm wondering if the data signal is getting broken due to the bend? Does anyone have any ideas on how I may fix it? I didn't want to get into soldering and more complicated wiring than I already have done. Thanks!


    Question 6 months ago on Introduction

    I have power to a light then to the switch, but I have a second light that I forgot to connect in series. How do I wire this without running a wire from one light to the other. As the drywall is up and painted.i am Ken by the way. If this is possible send pic please

    2 answers

    Answer 6 months ago


    1. This instructable is to show you HOW to ask questions (in the community area oft the forum)
    2. However Unless you have a very serious reason to run the bulbs in series don't, they will be half brightness and if 1 blows they both go out.

    Run the 2nd bulb in parallel the first. see diagram

    Disclaimer: I can't see what you have done and so am talking principles here not practical
    I am not a certified electrician
    I don't know where you are so you need to make sure your work is to local code.
    Anything you do you do at your own risk.

    Click on diagram to open


    Reply 6 months ago

    Thanks Rick. I just fished a wire and ran them parallel. I am in Calgary. The problem was. I forgot to connect the two lights, and ran the power to one of the lights, then the switch. I was trying to avoid to have to try and fish a wire in finished drywall, but it worked. Thanks again


    Question 8 months ago on Introduction

    Hi, I'm new here and need help.I've been in to solar energy for a while now.But only recently started my home automation project.Been talking with a z-wave devices supplier.I have 2 Stelpro z-wave thermostats and a Vera Plus control hub.
    I found out that most of the non 110 volt devices run on 24 volts.I want to use a temp sensor connected to a z-wave module in a solar hot air collector.So I can control the speed of a 12 volt pc fan.Also be able to monitor the temps and amount of heat being put out by the collector. I thinking I'll need to use 24 volt PV panel and charge controller.I figure on using 2 12 volt batteries connected in series.Bringing then to 24 volts.Oh and the collector will be 8x8 feet.
    What I need to know is.How do I connect the 24 volt module and 12 volt pc fan to the batteries?Should I use a voltage step down transformer?Or split my collector into 2 panels and use 2 12 volt fans?If the latter,How do I do this?I've recently read a post about uneven battery drain.That is if I were to connect the 12 volt fan to only 1 of the batteries.Also I realize the fan won't be running all the time as well.Only when the temperature is high enough in the hot air collector to need it.Any and all help will be greatly appreciated.

    3 answers

    Answer 8 months ago

    1. Welcome to Instructables the biggest show and tell site there is.
    2. I am pleased you read through my intro to how to ask a question.
    3. So that more experts will see your question I suggest though that you go to The Intro page (the first one you see when you enter Instructables, Select COMMUNITY, Select New Topic and cut and paste your question in there - You will get more views and potentially more answers that way. Only i as the author get notifications from this instructable.
    4. Obviously I am not at your house so Only have a vague understanding of what you trying to do - thanks though for the explanation, - if your using 2 x 12 volt battery you can tap off 12 volts from one battery and the 24 volts from both batteries

    In my diagram the RH battery feeds the 12 v fan and BOTH batteries feed the 24 v controller. I am assuming you have some kind of charge controller between the solar array and the battery set.

    See diagram (Click on the images to see full size.)

    intro page.JPGTopice 2.JPGsolar.jpg

    Reply 8 months ago

    I found out how to do that.With jumping off of 1 12v battery.But several were saying that's a bad thing to do.It gives the batteries an uneven drain.Which I think I read can cause eventual battery failure.I thought by using a voltage reducer 24 down to 12 volts before the fan.I could eliminate the uneven discharge or draw.BTW I was going to use a 12/24 volt mppt charge controller between my PV panel/panels and the batteries.
    I'm new to this online posting thing.So a step by step instructions on how to put it in the community area is needed for me.I was in the community area.When I started on her.But was confused in how to post.I didn't actually see a button or place to click to start a new post.I went to new topics, but again didn't see a way to ask a new question.Your help would be greatly appreciated on this.


    Reply 8 months ago

    1 start at the opening page. (This is the page you start at ie the log in page (see my image)
    2. Click Community
    3. Click New Topic
    4. Enter your question
    5. Hope for a helpful answer.

    There isn't any reason not to use a 24 to 12 volt converter, make sure it can handle the current. However I assume your using lead Acid batteries (car type batteries) - I doubt personally you will deplete the charge on 1 to the stage they wont charge properly.
    In principle it is possible to get an unbalanced system, SLA's are very robust. HOWEVER if your battery bank is Lipo based then things are different.


    Question 10 months ago on Introduction

    I saw a video of this on the internet and then my brothers and I decided to recreate it. You put a rubber hose on a speaker which vibrates at 24 hertz. Then you record with a camera at 24 fps. Next time I want to find a way to make the hose spin in a circle so it makes a spiral. How could I do this?

    1 answer

    Answer 10 months ago

    Use two speakers mounted at 90' to each other and out of phase by the same...


    Question 1 year ago on Step 2

    Your spacial management of your shop's woodworking & welding/metal areas?

    I know many members here have multi-purpose shops where you work with wood, metal, and possibly other materials. I'm interested to learn how you've integrated and managed these functions, not only for practicality but for fire safety, etc. (Actual likelihood is probably both integration & separation. But ???)
    Please explain how you've done it. And Pics or Video would be great, if you're into it!

    2 answers

    Answer 1 year ago

    I am not too sure if this is a question for me - However I have an odd workshop where I mainly do small woodwork and jewellery projects with the occasional electronics project or repair and model aircraft build thrown in. It is in my double garage and I set it up as a mezzanine so i could still get 2 cars in the garage.

    It doesnt have seperate areas as the space is compact so I clear the bench for each project I do.


    Answer 1 year ago

    Isn't it fun to dream:-)

    Start anywhere in your work space, as you get more equipment then you push around and rearrange. It helps if you start as an electrician, because that helps you handle power outlets..


    3 years ago

    I am not sure this is where I am meant to be putting this question but here goes. I have taken on a project to brighten up my tired paint work on my car and I have sanded. primer coated. and started to apply the base colour coat when two drops of paint landed on the hood I want to fix these dark spots before I go any further I have never painted a car before and don't want to spend the earth to fix it pls someone help what should I do

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Please ask in the main question area of the forum.


    3 years ago

    i fitted two 1n5402 diodes 200v in series in a 12v system is it safe

    if not it will do a lot of damage any help would be great

    rgds tommie

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Please ask in the main question area of the forum.


    Reply 3 years ago

    1. I have no idea where or how you have fitted these diodes. i need a diagram and a photograph of what you have done.
    2. put this into a separate question by selecting the explore, then Answers buttons from the home page. then select ask a question.
    You will get a wider response.


    3 years ago

    Really any questions? Okay well can't hurt to try I gues. I am making a laser game/tag system and I would like an IR detector/sensor that can tell the difference between a direct hit and a near hit fly by so that the "bullets"can still cause sounds on a near hit. The sensor should be as invisible as possible but should have a very clear and acurate detection.