Beginner Electronics

Where would you start to learn electronics? I'm kind of a beginner with some general knowledge about resistors and other components (Working in an electronics store helps).

I've already created some basic projects on the Arduino (Which I love) and would love to create more advanced projects, which will hopefully take me on the way to building robots. I have a raspberry pi and I am in the process of turning my raspberry pi into a handheld computer so I have somewhere I can program my Arduino wherever I am!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks :)

Hi arthlinginspace, welcome to the forum.

There are a vast number of books and internet resources that can help you learn. You tend to get more reliable help in books because they have been vetted and checked by more than one pair of eyes. There are often mistakes in internet resources either by oversites or ignorance.

I would recommend one of the many books by Simon Monk to get you going, do a search for him.
It is also good if you get a kit, one with a good accompanying text and projects, that will give you the feel of electronic parts.

On the Raspberry Pi I can recommend the free to download MagPi magazine, there is a print version you can buy in the shops also. The June issue ( out on Thursday ) will contain a few basic beginners electronics projects, ( I know because I wrote one )
The MagPi

A word of warning though, electronics can become addictive, you might be hooked for life, I was/am.

Do you know Ohm's Law? And when it does and does not apply?

Kirchoff's current and voltage laws?

Do you know first, second, and third approximations of diodes and transistors?

"Electronic Principles" by Malvino is a very good book for learning electronics. It is a textbook and so the latest versions are very expensive, but you don't need the latest one.

The 6th Edition is under $10 on Amazon.

"Basic Electronics" by Grob is also a good textbook with much cheaper older editions. Edition 8 is under $25 on Amazon:

Oh, and please, learn how to draw schematics. I'm kind of mad at Make Magazine for their terrible schematic diagrams. Look in my signature for several TinyURL links to pages about how to draw clear, easier to understand schematics.

A course of study at a college or community college would look something like this -

  • Basic DC circuits (Resistors, Ohm’s Law, Kirchhoff’s Laws)
  • Basic AC circuits (Capacitors & Inductors)
  • Basic active & semiconductor components & circuits (Diodes, Transistors, MOSFETs)
  • Basic digital logic & circuits (and-gates, or-gates, flip-flows, Boolean logic/binary math, etc.)
  • Analog circuits (op-amps, etc.)
  • Microprocessors/Microcontrollers & programming

— You’d also learn about radio frequency transmission and if you study Electronic Engineering you’d learn some applied math (Fourier analysis and Laplace transforms, after learning your “basic” calculus and differential equations.)

Of course, most hobbyists skip-ahead and just start playing around with the Arduino. But, it is helpful to understand the relationship between voltage, resistance, and current (Ohm’s Law). And, how current & voltage are summed & divided in series & parallel circuits (Kirchhoff’s Laws).

Ohm’s Law is fairly simple to learn, and it’s not too hard to memorize the “Ohm’s Law Triangle”. This is a generalization, but in most normally-operating real world circuits, voltage is fixed and known, so we’re usually calculating the resistance or the current.

Kirchhoff’s can seem mathematically complicated, so it’s easier to learn the concepts by learning about currents & voltages in series and parallel circuits.

Then it’s good to learn about how LEDs behave (concerning current & voltage) and how to use a transistor or MOSFET to control higher current & voltage than the microcontroller can directly supply.

Then, you only have to learn whatever you need to know for whatever project you’re working on.

Programming is actually a “different subject”, but the Arduino is a good-easy way to learn the basics of programming.* The 2 most important concepts (in any programming language) are conditional execution (if-statements, etc.) and loops (doing things over-and-over, usually until some condition is reached). Of course there’s a LOT more to programming than that, and C++ is a complex language, but once you understand those concepts you can understand how programs work and why programming is useful.

  • If you were to take a college/university microcontroller class, computer programming would be a prerequisite.

Thank you all so much for your replies! I have an idea of Ohms law but definitely need to look into that more. I'm studying physics and with that we delve into electronics slightly, but I'd love to learn more in depth stuff, so I'll definitely look into everything you have all suggested.

I already have the bug for electronics! I absolutely love playing round with the arduino. (only using a breadboard at the moment but its still fun!)

There is a lot of electronics I definitely need to cover, i'd love to get to a point where I am 100% on everything I'm doing without having to do a load of research first.

Thanks again guys, I'm sure this won't be my only question on this forum!

I would also recommend the book "Practical Electronics for Inventors" (Amazon and others carry it very reasonably priced). Here is the link to Amazon:

earthlinginspace: Thank you all so much for your replies! I have an idea of Ohms law but definitely need to look into that more. I'm studying physics and with that we delve into electronics slightly, but I'd love to learn more in depth stuff, so I'll definitely look into everything you have all suggested.

I already have the bug for electronics! I absolutely love playing round with the arduino. (only using a breadboard at the moment but its still fun!)

There is a lot of electronics I definitely need to cover, i'd love to get to a point where I am 100% on everything I'm doing without having to do a load of research first.

Thanks again guys, I'm sure this won't be my only question on this forum!

Most physics courses cover Ohm's law and Kirchoff's law in the second semester. It's a good basis, but the instruction doesn't go much further than that. I second DVDoug's suggestion of looking into community college electronics courses. At my school, the intro engineering course includes an Arduino project, and we have a couple science clubs (the space club and the robot club) that build interesting electronic projects, with knowledgable advisors.

As a bonus, they usually do not cost an arm or a leg (unless said limbs are robotic ...)

Stay away from Raschemmel.... ;D

raschemmel: Stay away from Raschemmel.... ;D


@OP.. this is for your OWN good! ;)

Stay away from Raschemmel....

That's some pretty awesome advice right there.

Stay away from Raschemmel.... ;D

Looks harmless. |500x500

Looks harmless.

Or maybe not :astonished:

Equipment, parts , reference materials , a Weller WP35, a roll of Kester 44 60/40 rosen core solder, an assortment of small rolls of 22 guage SOLID , insulated hookup wire in a variety of colors, solder paste, , liquid flux, and a good DMM and some general purpose proto boards and you’ll be good to go…

Buy some coin envelopes at the stationary store for catalogging resistors and capacitor and other components:


That’s some pretty awesome advice right there.

@OP… this is for your OWN good!

And my sanity. Besides, I’m busy looking for bottles…

As you can see, my competition is trying to scare you away because it’s the only way they can get any karma points…LOL ;D

LarryD is solid. He can help you with anything while I’m looking for bottles…

Then you need some appropriate (can't specify exact links at this moment but DX isn't bad) assortment packs of resistors and capacitors and non-assorted packs of transistors and LEDs.

Of course if you have absolutely made up your mind you want to learn electronics you could just go nuts and order this:

Whats wrong with raschemmel?

I've looked online and found a course that MIT did back in 2012.

Here's the link:

I might follow that and learn something along the way!

Whats wrong with raschemmel?

Only you can answer that question for yourself. Everyone has their own opinion. It is up to you to find the truth by reading a member's posts.

The forum provides a way for you to do that:

Click on the member's name just above their Avatar. You will see the following Links:

Send PM Show Posts Show Stats

Click on "Show Posts" You will be taken to a page that shows a numbered list of that member's posts. At the top of the screen you will see a message in small print that says this:

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

On the left side of the screen you will see a small label that says "Page [1]" , indicating you are on page 1 of a reverse numbered list ("1 being latest (newest) page and the last number being OLDEST page". The post numbers on the left are also in a chronollogically reverse list with "1" being latest (newest) post and the last number being the oldest post. When reading a member's post you must follow certain judging rules established by order of priority since there is more there (in the post) than meets the eye. On the face of it , you see a comment , but if you read the content of the comment and think about it, you will see that some comments are addressing the OP's (Original Poster's) behavior and methods, rather than the OP's actions. For example: an OP posts for help with an LED. (no schematic is given, no code is posted)

As you read the replies of the members responding to the posts, it becomes evident that the OP is ignoring many replies and not responding to each one in turn. He/she is picking and choosing which replies to respond to. Keep in mind that the member's replying to the post , whether they admit it or not , are competing for the OP's karma clicks .(occasionally it becomes necessary to actual TELL the OP HOW to thank responding members by explaining the karma click mechanism, because some members (one was from Russia) think that the karma click mechanism is a NEGATIVE tool used to indicate you DO NOT LIKE that particular member ("Traditionally, karma is negative" was the explaination for that misunderstanding by the Russian member). The karma click mechanism is a forum tool to THANK a member for being helpful, by clicking on the "Add" button just to the right of that member's karma count. A member's karma count indicates how members have thanked that member for being helpful. Some members (usually ones who don't have a lot of karma), try to play it down as insignificant or irrelevant.

Some member's when challenged by another member will cite their karma count and compare it to the karma count of someone criticizing them with the comment " "Judging from your karma count , you have been busier criticizing other members than helping other members " or some such comment. The member's responding to a post are competing for karma counts whether they like it or not because in the end, if the OP's issue is resolved by the comments of one particular member, they will click on that member's karma button to "give them karma". This being the case, some member's will be obsequious and flattering to try to win a karma click by being nice. Other , more experienced and older members, will tell the OP whatever they think , whether it is complementary or not , knowing that the OP is best served by knowing the truth. This will be obvious by comments like "You need to stop fumbling around and start being systematic and take notes" or "research your topic on Google before posting" or "You need to be more organized and methodical instead of just poking around and relying on trial and error for everything" or "if you spent more time researching your topic you wouldn't be in the situation you're in now" . All of these comments are critical and can be interpreted by the OP as negative or may actually offend or even anger the OP (prompting the OP to "stiff" them by withholding a karma point ). The older more experienced members don't care whether they get the karma click or not because they believe their mission is to help members, not collect karma clicks. I am one of the oldest (if not THE oldest member on the forum) and I fall into that category. There is one member who I believe is older but I will not say who that is.

Often what the OP needs, is not instructions for how to get a LED working but guidance on how to be more efficient and systematic in their approach. Often the "problem" is NOT that the led doesn't work. That is only a symptom. The problem is often the OP is just plain lazy or careless, and won't take the time to read a datasheet or Google their topic , or read every reply posted on their thread. When you see an OP NOT responding to reples that contain technical detail or instructions, it is often because the OP has no clue what that member just said and is too embarrassed to say so. Sometimes it is necessary to tell the OP that they screwed up or that they are careless or lazy etc because ultimately only then can they change their behavior. Otherwise, the led that doesn't work will only be the first of a long list of posts for things that don't work.

Sometimes it is necessary to ignore the led and focus on the OP who are their own worst enemy. Telling them the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth always comes with the risk of offending the OP. Some members only care about getting the karma click and won't tell the OP what they really need to hear . (I am not one of those. I tell the OP what I think based on what they posted, and how they deal with it is their problem , not mine).As long as what I am telling them is the truth, that's all that matters. I'm not running for office.

I will be the first to admit that I tend to be blunt and occasionally people are offended because they don't like being told they are lazy or careless. (ie: "if you took 5 seconds to Google "[etc], you would not need to post with this question")

At this point I should mention that 90% of the complaints by "Newbies" about Google not being helpful is due to the fact they have included the word "arduino" at the beginning of their keyword search string. Google sorts all links about arduino related topics together so if you fail to include the word "arduino" at the beginning of their search string, you will get ALL the links related to the topic and you will have to sift through them to find the arduino related links.

You will notice when reading other members posts that some are always one liners and some are long and detailed. Obviously,the one liners still count as posts and increment their post count so members who typically post one liners will always have a higher post count. Members who post mostly long and detailed posts will tend to have lower post counts. Members with high post counts and high karma counts have either been around a long time or have been very busy and helpful.

You be the judge.

Last but not least, if you want to evaluate another member quickly without spending a lot of time reading their posts, you can click on their name, look at the date they registered, devide their post count by the years elapsed since they registered to obtain their Posts /per year count. Then divide their karma count by the years elapsed since registration to obtain their karma /per year count. You can also divide their karma count by their post count to get their karma per post count (with 1:1 ratio being the highest possible ), which you can then multiply by 100.

[u]xl97: Registered Aug 2009[/u] Posts: 1611 Karma: 89 Years Member: 7 Posts/Year: 230 Karma/Year: 12 Karma/Post *100: 5

[u]pwillard: Register Nov, 2008[/u] Posts: 1999 Karma: 69 Years Member: 8 Posts/Year: 249 Karma/Year: 8.5 Karma/Post *100: 3.45

Note: I added something to Reply#13



that's the best I can do...