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Topic: Best way to get a general electronics education. (Read 1 time) previous topic - next topic


Oh boy, here comes a really broad question.  How does a guy who is already through with college and has a CS degree get a broad education in general electronics?  There's a lot of stuff I don't understand well, like passives (beyond using resistors to limit current and capacitors to decouple ICs).  I can program (or is it "design on"?) a CPLD now and I don't know how to design an RLC circuit.  That can't be right, can it?  Do I just keep on doing this as a hobby and move Art of Electronics to the top of the reading list or try some community college courses?  Or what?  Join a maker's guild?  Here is what we have at Waubonsee Community College:

Introductory Electronics (ELT101) - This course introduces laboratory instruments, circuit components, basic measuring techniques and basic circuits used as building blocks in any electronic system.

DC-AC Circuit Analysis (ELT110) - This course provides students with the basics of Direct Current (DC) and Alternating Current (AC) circuits. This is knowledge fundamental to all other electronics courses and is used by those working in the electronics field.

Introduction to Solid State Devices (ELT120) - This course provides an introduction solid state devices. The topics covered are those most essential for modern technicians working in the electronics field.

Digital Fundamentals (ELT 130) - The course presents the fundamental principles of digital electronics that apply to integrated circuits. It prepares students to work on digital electronic devices, which constitute the most dynamic segment of the electronics industry.

Advanced Solid State Devices (ELT220) - This course is a continuation of Introduction to Solid State Devices. It looks into analog electronics in more depth, and uses more advanced methods of analysis. The class concentrates on the integrated electronics used in instrumentation and control, with emphasis on sensors and their applications.

Microprocessors (ELT235) - This course provides students with a practical working knowledge of microprocessors and microcontrollers. This in turn prepares students to work on a wide variety of electronics systems that range from electronic appliances to automobiles and sophisticated robotic systems.

Data Acquisition and Measurement (ELT250) - In this course students learn to use electronic test devices which include multimeters, oscilloscopes, function generators, spectrum analyzers, and more. This prepares students to perform electrical/electronic inspection, troubleshooting and repair functions in a variety of settings, many of which are in various segments of the manufacturing industry.

Introduction to Modern Telecommunication (ELT260) - In this course students learn the fundamental principles underlying modern telecommunication systems. The topics range from antenna systems to Ethernet computer networks and fiber optics.

Anyone know of any other education opportunities in Northern Illinois?  NIU seems out of the question.  Classes are generally day classes aimed at resident Engineering majors seeking four-year degrees.  I can't do day classes and they wouldn't want me anyway.  Some other colleges might be worth considering.  I have taken masters level classes at DePaul which caters to adult students and I would recommend DePaul, but they have no engineering / electronics technology program (three physics department classes concerning electronics!).  They have a HUGE comp-sci department but computers are just magically available as far as they are concerned.
I have only come here seeking knowledge. Things they would not teach me of in college.


It's very nice that you've listed all those courses, because it indicates that to get
a "thorough" education in electronics, it may take more than just one day, :-).

I'd say jump right in and start taking the 1xx courses, this coming term. They'll
be a breeze since you already know maths, having a CS degree.


Community college would be ideal.   If you are highly motivated, you might be able to get the textbooks and "teach yourself", but you wouldn't have access to the labs (or the instructor, or the other students, etc.).   The labs would be useful, because they would allow you to get your hands on an oscilloscope, and some other equipment that you probably don't have at home.  (You can buy a multimeter, and you should.)

There's enough information on the Internet to learn just about anything (if you know what to look for), but most of us learn better with the structure, guidance, and feedback we get from taking a class.

As you can see from the course sequencing, you generally learn all of the basics before getting into microprocessors.  But, there are plenty of people here playing around with Arduinos who have little or no electronics background, so it's not absolutely required.

Probably the most important things to learn are Ohm's Law, Kirchoffs Law, and the basics of how the basic components work (resistors, capacitors, inductors, diodes, transistors).  Once you have that background, you should be able to "pick up" the understanding of more complex circuits & integrated circuits.


Its possible MIT will re-run the online 6.002 course again next year, recommended: https://6002x.mitx.mit.edu/
[ I won't respond to messages, use the forum please ]


But, there are plenty of people here playing around with Arduinos who have little
or no electronics background, so it's not absolutely required.

I'm obviously more conservative than this. I don't think that's a very good rationalization,
especially for someone like Joe who sounds like he wants to actually gain some level of
competence. Maybe it should read "there are plenty of people here playing around with
Arduinos who have little or no idea what they're doing whatsoever". People see some smiley
guy on a Sparkfun video, and think electronics is trivial, then they come to this section,
and it's clear they don't even know Ohm's Law, or the difference between voltage and
current. So, please don't say things like "so it's not absolutely required".

This being said, someone of Joe's background could buy the textbooks, and work through
them on his own, and probably learn the material 5X faster than going to class.

There's actually a 60-YO medical doctor doing this at the local Barnes&Noble right now. He
sits there for 5-6 hours every day [literally], and is currently working his way through the
400 pages on electricity+magnetism in a Sears&Zemansky physics textbook. OTOH, as smart
as he is, he still gets into lots of quandaries because he hasn't quite grasped all the
fundamentals really well.

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