Beginners in Electronics

9th February
2010
written by Todd Harrison
This will be an ongoing growing list of links for beginners in electronics. Most links will be to video tutorials and reviews but I will include some blogs and books as well. There will always be a link to this posting in my side bar under “Tutorials” titled “Links for Beginners in electronics”.

 

Websites that will help you learn just about everything in electronics for FREE:

  1. http://electronics.wisc-online.com (super great! site)
  2. Nice launch site with clear categories back to wisc-online.com
  3. Electronics Demonstrations (java applet) VERY NICE!!!
  4. http://www.allaboutcircuits.com (has good points and bad but I like it)
  5. Other nice tutorials I like starting at Triacs and SCRs page.
  6. A few nice tutorials on semiconductor devices like diodes, BJTs, SCRs and Triacs.
  7. United States Navy Electricity & Electronics Training Series – NEETS
  8. UNSW School of Physics Sydney, Australia online (good video clips)

 

 Finding parts and datasheets:

  1. Find datasheets & vendors ( FindChips.com )
  2. Find datasheets & vendors ( OctoPart.com )
  3. Find datasheets & vendors ( DataSheets360.com )
  4. Find datasheets ( DatasheetCatalog.com )
  5. Find datasheets (AllDatasheet.com )
  6. Datasheets & application notes (DatasheetArchive.com)
  7. SMD code lookup – best (s-manuals.com)
  8. SMD code lookup tranistors (alltransistors.com)
  9. SMD code lookup – ok  (marsport.org.uk)
  10. Logo lookup (elnec.com)
  11. Search by part number or by marking codes (mccsemi.com)
  12. How to Read a Datasheet (Sparkfun.com)
  13. Identifying Electronic Components (uchobby.com)
  14. EIA capacitor code chart (EngineeringLab.com)
  15. Diode datasheet for 1N4001 to1 N4007
  16. DigiKey advanced search using this GreaseMonkey script add-on for Firefox or Chrome (COOL!!!)

TIP: Older capacitors starting with a decimal are in microfarads (.1Z = 104 = .1uF)

 

Great Electronics Parts, Kits and hardware Suppliers: (* = I have used)

  1. Sparkfun.com (Just about everything, best shopping site!) *
  2. Adafruit.com (Nice kits & instructions) *
  3. Ladyada parts finder wiki
  4. Newark.com also known as Element14 *
  5. CuriousInventor.com (Great kits, tools and parts)
  6. ModernDevice.com
  7. ArduinoFun.com
  8. StMicroelectronics.com (free sample order page) *
  9. Jameco.com *
  10. Techni-Tool.com *
  11. DigiKey.com *
  12. Mouser.com *
  13. Arrow.com *
  14. TestPath.com scope probes & replacement parts, patch cables, connectors *
  15. Maxim
  16. RadioShack.com (Get the above books here too) *
  17. CircuitSpecialists.com (I use this supplier a lot) *
  18. Electronix Express (Ugly site but better prices sometimes)
  19. FunGizmos.com *
  20. HobbyPartz.com *
  21. A list of the large electronics distributors (Ladyada.net)
  22. Purchase chips direct , avoiding the middle-man distributor (Ladyada.net)
  23. MPJA.com (Marlin P. Jones & Assoc, Inc.) REALLY COOL SELECTION!

 

Books you should get ASAP:
  1. Getting Started in Electronics by Forrest M. Mims III
  2. Timer, Op Amp, and Optoelectronic Circuits & Projects Vol. I by Forrest M. Mims III
  3. Science and Communication Circuits & Projects Vol. II by Forrest M. Mims III
  4. Electronic Sensor Circuits & Projects Vol. III by Forrest M. Mims III
  5. Electronic Formulas, Symbols & Circuits Vol. IV by Forrest M. Mims III
  6. The Art of Electronics 2nd edition by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill
  7. Download an entire collection of EE books in HTML or PDF for FREE!!

 

Start your EE Lab

  1. How To Set Up An Electronics Lab : (EEVBlog.com)
  2. How to equip your lab yourself : (Ladyada.net)
  3. : Build your own starter kit (Basic, Better, Best) (Ladyada.net)
  4. Starter kit-Basic : Jameco.com Electronics Toolkit ~$99 (jameco.com)
  5. Starter kit-Better : Ladyada’s Electronics Toolkit ~$100 (adafruit.com)
  6. If you can affort a better solder station ~$95 (adafruit.com)
  7. A reall nice desolder tool if you keep it clean ~$28 (elexp.com)
  8. Power Supply-Basic : 2 Amp Multi Fixed Outputs ~$17 (circuitspecialists.com)
  9. Power Supply-Better : 0-2A; 0-18VDC ~$49 (circuitspecialists.com)
  10. Power Supply-Best : 0-3A; 0-30V Large LCD ~$198 (circuitspecialists.com)
  11. Multimeter-Basic : Extech EX330 $59 (jameco.com)
  12. Multimeter-Better : Fluke 17B $100 out of China and not a true RMS meter. (dealextreme.com)
  13. Multimeter-Best : Fluke 87-V $326 (Martin’s Amazon Store) but (I got mine on eBay ~$190 new)
  14. Logic analyzer-Basic : USB type – Open Logic Sniffer $45 (dangerousprototypes.com)
  15. Logic analyzer-Better : USB type – Saleae Logic – 8-Channel $150 (adafruit.com)
  16. Logic analyzer-Best : USB type – Saleae Logic – 16-Channel $295 (adafruit.com)
  17. Function Generator-Basic : 3MHz Instek SFG-1003 DDS $170 (tequipment.net)
  18. Function Generator-Better : 5 MHz BK Precision 4011A $355 (jameco.com)
  19. Function Generator-Best : 20MHz BK Precision 4040DDS: $700 (elexp.com)
  20. Oscilloscope : Rigol DS1052E 50MHz which can be hacked to 100Mhz: ~$350 (tequipment.net)
    You can get the Rigol DS1052E 50MHz from USA distributer with free shipping, no tax for $345.
    You need to request for a reduced quote from “LIVE HELP” on the tequipment.net page.
    Tell them you could order it cheaper out of China for $345 with free shipping, no tax.
    You have to refer to this cheaper Dealextreme.com link which is shipped out of China. They should email you a quote number for a price match. They did for me!
  21. Isolation Transformer – Just the right size for electronics labs: Part# 16PISL288 $85 300W (elexp.com)
  22. Isolation Transformer – BIG: I ordered the hospital grade “Tripp Lite IS1000HG 1000W” Isolation Transformer. It was a bit spendy at $314 but my safety is worth it and I will be able to use my scope a lot easier being I can use the ground clip again and not two probes in (Ch1 – Ch2) mode which is a pain. NOTE: !!!You have to remove the grounding strap on the secondary coil before using these as tech bench isolation tranformers!!! Other models that are not hospital grade and/or low wattage that I considered were: Tripp Lite IS1000 1000W $264  Tripp Lite IS500 500W $171 Tripp Lite IS250 250W $110

 

General knowledge when getting started:

  1. Learn about Multimeters (Ladyada.net)
  2. Multimeter Counts, Accuracy, Resolution & Calibration (EEVBlog.com)
  3. Pick the right Multimeter for you . (EEVBlog.com)
  4. Johannes Bauer’s interactive multimeter graphing compare tool (FireFox only!).
  5. ………Bauer’s meter compare tool HELP PAGE.
  6. Soldering Tutorial Part 1 – Tools (EEVBlog.com)
  7. Soldering Tutorial Part 2 (EEVBlog.com)
  8. Soldering Tutorial Part 3 – SMD Surface mount devices (EEVBlog.com)
  9. Dead Bug Prototype Soldering (EEVBlog.com)
  10. How to Solder better and why nice video!!! (CuriousInventor.com)
  11. How to Surface Mount Solder (CuriousInventor.com)
  12. Learn to Solder better (Ladyada.net)
  13. All about batteries (Ladyada.net)
  14. Unregulated Power Supply Tutorial (Sparkfun.com)
  15. How transformer-based AC/DC converters work (Ladyada.net)
  16. How switching power supplies work (StephenHobley.com)
  17. All about LEDs (Ladyada.net)
  18. Saleae Logic8 and Logic16 Logic Analyzer Review (TheSignalPath.com)
  19. Crystals and Ring Oscillators (TheSignalPath.com)
  20. Op-Amps, PWM and Ignition Coils Tutorial (TheSignalPath.com)
  21. Characterize Programmable Power Supply Review  (TheSignalPath.com)
  22. Component Packages Totally Explained! (The Funkiester)
  23. SMD Packages Explained! (The Funkiester)

Surface Mount Device solder tip: A good SMD solder tip is a “well” tip that holds solder via surface tension in a hole like “well” at the tip as you “drag solder” the tip over all the pins.  Use lots of flux and watch this video. You can get Hakko compatible tips in the US market for the Hakko 900M series and the new Hakko FX-888 solder stations from these links:
For a 3mm “well” get the HS-0530
For a 5mm “well” get the HS-0531

 

Working with micro-controllers:
  1. Dave’s opinion on Arduino plus he compares it to PICAXE (EEVBlog.com)
  2. Arduino vs. Basic Stamp (TodBot.com)
  3. AVR vs. PIC (Ladyada.net)
  4. Arduino Official Home Page (arduino.cc)
  5. Arduino Tutorial (Ladyada.net)
  6. Arduino Tutorial (Sparkfun.com)
  7. Using Sensors with Arduino (Ladyada.net)
  8. Interfacing 3.3V sensor to a 5V micro (Sparkfun.com)
  9. Arduino Hacks Tips, tricks, techniques (Ladyada.net)
  10. Step by step Getting Started with AVRs (Ladyada.net)
  11. Beginning Embedded Electronics (Sparkfun.com)
  12. Micro Annoyances (Ladyada.net)
  13. Breadboard your own Arduino using Atmega8: Part 1 , Part 2 , Part 3 (Protostack.com)
  14. Making a custom Arduino board (ToddFun.com)
  15. Breadboard Standalone Arduino ATMega328 (instructables.com)
  16. Using Character LCDs with Arduino (Ladyada.net)
  17. AVR programmer introduction 1 – 4 (HackaDay.co)

 

Robots and motor controls:
  1. Roomba dissection video and using its H-bridge motor control circuit.
  2. DC Motor Control Using an H-Bridg ( letsmakerobots.com )
  3. H-Bridges: Theory and Practice
  4. Stepper Motor Driver + Arduino: bildr.org

 

Make your own PCB – Printed Circuit Boards:
  1. Video on using Photo Resist Pre-Sensitized PCBs (Makezine.com)
  2. Photo-etching PCB using ink-jet printer . (YouTube.com)
  3. Printed Circuit Board links including DIY and order-out (Ladyada.net)
  4. Make your own PCB – Printed Circuit Boards (Getlofi.com)
  5. Order supplies to DIY PCBs (CircuitSpecialists.com)
  6. How to get free samples from Manufacturers (Ladyada.net)

 

Useful software downloads:

  1. Free PCB design software: EAGLE
  2. Free PCB design software: DesignSpark
  3. Free PCB design software: KiCAD
  4. Lockmaster Prototyping CAD for stripboard (abacom-online.de.com) (tronixstuff review)
  5. Circuit prototyping design tool – Fritzing
  6. Very nice circuit simulator at Falstad.  It uses Java but works great for DC and AC up to 400k Hz. Watch this tutorial video on how to use the simulator.
  7. Nice circuit simulator for logic circuits only at Atanus. Watch the flash tutorial.
  8. LT spice and other simulators at Linear Technology.
  9. Virtual Breadboard emulator at VBB.

 

Nice circuit examples and other tutorial videos:
  1. NerdKits.com makes some very good tutorials .
  2. Protostack.com makes some very good tutorials .
  3. Seven segment display explained
  4. ITP Physical Computing tutorial list
  5. Spartfun tutorial list

 

EEVBlog

 

First off I’m going to link to the main EEV Blog page because all videos by David Jones are great, but some videos are NOT for beginners so be warned. Here are a few that are nice for beginners:
General knowledge:
  1. Oscilloscope: Testing an Analog Oscilloscope (MUST SEE!)
  2. Oscilloscope: Bench based Digital Storage Oscilloscope Tutorial
  3. Oscilloscope: PC based Digital Storage Oscilloscope Comparison
  4. Capacitor Tutorial part 1 (Electrolytic, Tantalum, and Plastic Film)
  5. Capacitor Tutorial part 2 (Ceramics and impedance)
  6. Capacitor Tutorial part 3 (Exploding Capacitors)
  7. Logic Analyzer Tutorial part 1
  8. Logic Analyzer Tutorial part 2
  9. Decibels (dB’s) for Engineers – A Tutorial
  10. Anti Static Bag Myth and general knowledge on anti static issues.
  11. Linear and LDO regulators and switch mode power supply tutorial – A Tutorial
  12. Build a DC-DC switch mode power supply converter – A Tutorial
  13. Oscilloscope Trigger Holdoff – A Tutorial
  14. Battery Capacity – A Tutorial
  15. AA alkaline battery capacity measurement – A Tutorial
  16. Lithium Ion/Polymer Battery Charging Tutorial – A Tutorial

 

Product reviews (good to watch if you’re looking to buy some equipment):
  1. Oscilloscope: Rigol DS1052E <$500 US
  2. Oscilloscope: Agilent 2000x Infiniivision ~$1200 US starting model
  3. Oscilloscope: Agilent 3000x Infiniivision ~$3000 US starting model
  4. Function Generator: Instek 3mhz GFG-8219A ~$300 US (starts at 2:45 minutes)
  5. Power Supply: Jaycar powertech mp3086 ~$150 US
  6. Power Supply: BK Precision 1697 (Programmable) ~$350 US
  7. Power Supply: HP E3610A bench power supply ~$100 – $200 US on ebay
  8. MCU programmer: Microchip PICkit2 (starts at 6:50 minutes)
  9. MCU programmer: Microchip PICkit3
  10. Multimeter: Cheap Chinese multimeters and why they suck ~$20 to ~$90 US
  11. Multimeter: Pocket variety ~$30 US (starts at 7:20 minutes)
  12. Multimeter: Reviews under $55 and PDF chart
  13. Multimeter: Reviews under $100 part1 & part2 (EEVBlog.com)
  14. Multimeter: Meterman 37XR ~$140 US
  15. Multimeter: Fluke 117 ~$170 US
  16. Multimeter: Fluke 233 ~$300 US
  17. Multimeter: Fluke 87-V part 1 ~$380 US (starts at 7:50 minutes)
  18. Multimeter: Fluke 87-V part 2
  19. Multimeter: Fluke 28 Series II part 1 ~$430 US
  20. Multimeter: Fluke 28 Series II part 2
  21. Multimeter: Fluke 189/289 part 1 ~$450 US
  22. Multimeter: Fluke 189/289 part 2
  23. Multimeter: Agilent U1272A ~$370 US
  24. Multimeter: Agilent U1253A OLED ~$450 US
  25. Multimeter: Gossen Metrawatt Xtra ~$500 US You can buy the Metrawatt Xtra in the USA { here }.
  26. LCR meter: Extech 380193 ~$210 US
  27. LCR meter: BK Precision 879B ~$300 US
  28. Hot Air Rework: Atten 858D ~$82 US

 

<<Fast Forward, Acme School and Half Handy >>
Here are some great old school Canadian TV videos hosted by David Stringer:
  1. Electricity and how to create and use it (very good)
  2. What is a watt and how to calculate electrical usage and costs (Watts = volts * amps)
  3. Alternating current and how and why its used in your home
  4. Magnetism and its use and durability for recorded media.
  5. All about Batteries (fuzzy, hard to watch, but very good information)
  6. Binary counting in digital electronics
  7. Vacuum tubes to transistors to micro processors
  8. Older video on vacuum tubes to transistors.
  9. Explain house wires (ground, black and white)
  10. Canada power company load balancing and delivery

 

Electrical Engineering Courses Online
  1. http://EngineeringDegrees101.com (Good site on starting a career in Engineering)
  2. http://www.OnlineEngineeringDegree.com (You can look into an online Engineering Degree)

 

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