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Hello,

I my name is Zach and I am a high school senior planning to study computer engineering in college. I want to learn more about electronics and was wondering if anybody had any good suggestions. I have a basic understanding of electricity from the advanced physics classes (AP physics I) Ive taken and have a fair knowledge of programming because my school has an agreement where I can take some college classes in Computer Science because they don't offer them. I have asked my counseller and they don't offer the same program for electronics or physics. Anybody have any suggestions, self study or other!

Thanks in Advance,
Zach
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You probably won't like my answer but I'd recommend getting the textbook your college uses for their introductory Circuits class and starting to work through it. No, it's not exciting and you won't be blinking any lights or moving any robots, but you're going to get a headstart on getting a solid foundation in electronics. The fancy stuff can come later. If you're going to go the engineering route I'd suggest staying away from the "Teach Yourself Electronics in 30 Days" route. Students who think they know electronics (or have learned bad habits or unsound concepts) often have to unlearn material once they get to college, or they think they're electronics whizzes and don't have to pay attention in Circuits class then end up failing it.

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A good start might be to get an Arduino kit and do the things they teach you. That gives you the chance to learn both electronics and programming, since the kits require both.

I bought the Earthshine Arduino starter kit, and liked it. But it looks like they are out of stock now. You might find some others.  

Then you might want to try some robotics. There is a $50 robot tutorial on societyofrobots.com that would teach you a lot.

Circuit textbooks can teach you a lot too. But the problem there is it requires a lot of motivation. I've never seen any student that could get anywhere with self-study (including myself) with a textbook.

Besides, you will have to take circuits in college. Why do it now, too?
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Quote
Besides, you will have to take circuits in college. Why do it now, too?

By working ahead, once he gets to college Zach will be able to have more free time for girls.

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"The Art of Electronics" by Horowitz and Hill is probably the best "textbook" ever written on practical electronics - it might not be ideal beginner material though.
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Thanks!
I saw this in the posts "The Art of Electronics" by Horowitz and Hill any other recommendations? I e-mailed the electrical engineering professor I met at my college (University Wisconsin Platteville) to find what they use.

@Daanii I have two arduino Duemilanoves and love them! I just feel that if I had a stronger understanding of electronics I could go to new heights with them.

@Rugged I like your thinking!
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I just searched it up and saw that "The Art of Electronics" by Horowitz and Hill has a complementary text called "Student Manual for The Art of Electronics" by Thomas C. Hayes and Paul Horowitz any thoughts?

As mentioned here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Art_of_Electronics
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"The Art of Electronics" by Horowitz and Hill is probably the best "textbook" ever written on practical electronics - it might not be ideal beginner material though.

Yes good book but not for beginners. It's the Art not the Science of electronics. I find it lacking explanation at times and having too much practical stuff (terms data plots etc) to be illuminating to beginners. I keep it on my shelf while I use Bobrow's Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering for a 300-level course for physics students. Not the best either but surveys everything I need to teach.

If I were the OP, I would read some syllabus and info on 100-level classes or email the professors to find out the textbook. I think the hardest part of 100-level circuit might be the Nodal analysis and understanding system of equations. There's not a lot of fun even in labs but once in college you should keep your Arduino in your drawers so your professor won't blame you for "cheating" with the easy ways instead of learning assembly codes and doing registers. Engineering is about details. If you like details (I did but then I grew older and studied physics:) you'll be better off. Not everyone is pro-arduino since arduino hides lots of details. On the other hand, if you don't have some fun with arduino, where does your motivation come from for the difficult stuff like MCU architecture? I learned most of my programming and computer hardware teaching myself. If I had Arduino 15 years ago I would be motivated to learn more.
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I always recommend Grob's "Basic Electronics" to beginners (http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072988215/information_center_view0/) - note that this is a textbook for college level "Electronics 101" type courses, as such, a new edition will not be cheap (so shop used). That, and a set of Forrest M. Mims III's "Engineer's Mini-Notebooks" (http://www.forrestmims.org/publications.html).
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I always recommend Grob's "Basic Electronics" to beginners (http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072988215/information_center_view0/) - note that this is a textbook for college level "Electronics 101" type courses, as such, a new edition will not be cheap (so shop used). That, and a set of Forrest M. Mims III's "Engineer's Mini-Notebooks" (http://www.forrestmims.org/publications.html).

A past edition may be cheaply purchased. I hate all publishers. They send their minions (reps) on campus with treats and try to swing every department to adopt their books. All they do with new editions is minimal, sometimes just reshuffle end of chapter problems. Their reps have tablet pcs just to pretend to take a few notes from us and I can't even get a laptop for teaching after I tried smiley-cry
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@Daanii I have two arduino Duemilanoves and love them! I just feel that if I had a stronger understanding of electronics I could go to new heights with them.


Just my own two cents, but I think you would learn more experimenting with your Arduinos than by hitting the textbooks.

For example, have you learned to read datasheets and tried out a variety of devices? For a project I'm working on, I had to work with a digital potentiometer or digital-analog converter. Experimenting with them, I learned a lot about SPI serial communication, resistance, and voltage. I also learned about how temperature affects resistance, and how to filter the 5 Volt power to limit noise.

If you want to learn more about things like motors, you could build a robot. The digital side would still be interesting. But you can also learn about power transistors, H-bridges, and batteries. All important, useful stuff.

But maybe you've done all of that already.

Problem is, compared to practical experimenting, circuit theory is boring and largely useless. Kirchhoff's laws. Thevinin equivalents. Nodal analysis. Your mind will boggle. You have to learn it to go on to more advanced electronics, but it's not practical stuff. It's not going to help you do anything new with your Arduinos. Not even close.

That said, one thing you may want to do is look at the MIT OpenCourseWare lectures, and do the homework. ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/6-002-circuits-and-electronics-spring-2007/  One problem is that there are no answers to the homework. Plus you need the textbook (which I did not have) to get the most out of it. But the videos offer a good, free survey of basic electronics and circuits.

One textbook I came across and thought was pretty good was Introductory Circuits, by Robert Spence. My advice with any textbook is to do the homework. Don't try to read the chapters and learn from that. Flip to the problems, start working on them, and refer to the text only as needed to do the problems.

Whatever you do, good luck!
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@Nekomancer, you'll have many valuable opinions from us here, but in the end you need to figure out what works for you. 

Whatever keeps you spending time Doing and Learning how Invisible Electricity and Invisible Code can be made understandable and be made to create new things... that's what works for you.

Every really good job starts out with you (or me) saying, "I don't know how to do this".  There are jobs that you can be totally ready for each morning. Cashier at Walmart. Oil changer at JiffyLube.  You don't want those jobs.

You want jobs you don't know how to do. Then figure it out. 

Eventually you'll get used to it, so you hardly think about it.

You will need to find your own work style. Do you work best with and need other people and teams? Or are you at your most comfortable and productive when you are head-down on a problem and have total concentration? The world needs both kinds of Engineers and Scientists.  Over time you can stretch yourself across multiple roles.  I have built a commercial broadcast station single-handedly and I've lead a team of 25 people developing hardware and software for an IBM semiconductor test system.  Those were both uncomfortable for me in different ways, but I learned a lot.  Don't just go for the most comfortable roles.

OK. Did It Again. What my kids call "Dad's Lectureous Mode"!

PS: Email me and I'll point you to some material that may help.
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Regards, Terry King  ..On the Red Sea at KAUST.edu.sa
terry@yourduino.com  LEARN! DO! (Arduino Boards, Sensors, Parts @ http://yourduino.com

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