How to learn electronics…

by Stephen Hobley on September 14, 2009

I got this email from CJ Mitz via youtube:

Hey!

I am thinking about doing this for a job, electrical engineering!

I see you are very good at it and have a similar interest (laser harp, instruments, synths, midim JMJ 🙂

I was just wondering if you could give me some pointers and where you learned what you know – I saw that a lot of your knowledge is self taught.

Thanks!

I get this question quite a lot so I thought it would be useful to post my reply here.

If you want to get a job in the EE field then you will need a college degree of some sort, but this is only so that you present a credible “risk” when you apply for a job.

If you have a desire to build electronic devices then you only need a couple of things; a device you (passionately) want to build, and patience. I wanted to build a laser harp since I was 16 – it’s taken me more than 20 years to do it.

I do have a computer programming background (I got a degree in Software Engineering in 1992) but I have no electronics background – I am completely self taught.

It took about 2 years to go from complete novice to where I am now. Most of the time I do not know how to achieve something, but (like programming) I break the task down into smaller and smaller chunks until I can solve each of the smaller problems. Most the time you are just converting an electrical signal from one format to another. Any control logic is provided by a microcontroller.

I used to post questions to the newsgroups (sci.electronics.basics) but that has become overrun with spam. There are other forums out there – trossenrobotics.com , dutchforce .com and ladyada.net are all good.

An example of the kind of question I would post – ” How can I convert a signal from 0-5v to -5v to +5v ?” Someone would post a schematic sooner or later and I would try to implement it.

Along the way I learned how to solder – I am now pretty good at it.

An oscilloscope is also a great learning tool – it lets you see inside circuits and experiment with different component values.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John September 27, 2010 at 1:52 am

Hello!
Thanks for posting this – Interesting site all round!

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