Electronic Components

Shane Hathaway shane at hathawaymix.org
Wed Oct 25 16:16:14 MDT 2006


Carl Youngblood wrote:
> Speaking of electronics, can anyone recommend a good way for a software
> programmer to get started learning how to build hardware electronics,
> such as circuit boards, home tinkering projects, robotics etc.?

I learned a lot as a kid from Radio Shack's 30-in-1 and 160-in-1
electronics kits.  Yeah, they're overpriced, but the value is immense
IMHO.  I'm sure they still have something similar.

The next step up from the electronics kits is to build digital circuits
on a breadboard.  This is where electronics tinkering gets really fun.
If you choose the right size breadboard, you can mount the breadboard on
a robot or put it inside a small enclosure.  Changing the circuit is a
breeze, especially if you use pre-cut solid wires, and if you ever
decide on a final design, you can solder the circuit on a pre-punched
board with the same layout as the breadboard.

One of the best things to put on a breadboard is a microcontroller.
These chips can cost as little as $1, yet they take the place of large,
complex digital circuits.  Best of all, you get to use your software
development skills.

Anyway, that's the basic path I've taken.  A little advice: memorize
Ohm's Law (you need it even for digital circuits), become familiar with
Kirchoff's Law, and avoid using high frequency, high current, or high
voltage until you know exactly what the risks are.

Shane




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