How To Get Started in Electronics


Hi! I’m Brian Jenkins, electrical engineer; entrepreneur
and electronics enthusiast. Feel free to follow me on twitter for news,
tips, and resources for electronics hobbyists and enthusiasts. My Twitter handle is @Circuit_Crush. If you
want to get started in electronics, the first thing you should ask yourself is how deep
is your interest in electronics: is it just a hobby that you want to do on the side or
would you like to make a career out of it? If you’re interested in working in the electronics
field, you will likely need college, (especially if you want to be an electrical engineer like
I am) or at least some technical school. Taking up electronics as a hobby is a great
way to figure this out if you’re not sure yet and it will also get you acclimated to
electronics and all that’s involved in the discipline. BASIC THINGS YOU’LL NEED TO GET STARTED
Believe it or not you don’t have to run out and buy a $1,000 oscilloscope or a bunch of
fancy equipment to get started here. In fact, I’d recommend that you not dump a
ton of money into this kind of stuff until you know for sure if you like the hobby. A GOOD WORK SPACE
This is perhaps the most important thing you’ll need: a workspace and a workbench or desk. You can go out and buy a new bench/desk, or
if you want to save some money, shop garage sales in your area or hop on Craigslist to
see if there’s anything out there. A DESKTOP OR LAPTOP PC
I know they aren’t as hip as they used to be thanks to phones and tablets, but you may
want to dust off you’re the PC and use it for things like simulations, writing code,
programming microcontrollers, researching on the Internet and more. Traditional PCs are way more powerful and
easier to use with their keyboards and mice than any phone and most tablets. BONUS: You probably already have one lying
around! A DIGITAL MULTIMETER
These allow you to measure things like resistance, voltage, current and more depending on the
model. You don’t need a top-of-the-line meter to
get started. eBay or Amazon are good places to shop for
all kinds of equipment if you’re budget conscious. Here is what I recommend as far as the meter’s
built in functions: METER RECOMMENDATIONS
• You want at a minimum one that measures resistance, voltage, current; both AC and
DC. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem, because
most meters do all these things. • Having one that also measures capacitance
can be helpful. • Having one that measures transistor hFE
or beta is also helpful. • Measuring frequency in Hertz can also
come in handy. • The Elenco M-1700 does all these things
that can be found for less that $50 on eBay especially if you’re shopping for it used. • Here’s a picture of the Elenco M-1700. This is the meter I use. I’ve had it for like 16 years, it lasts, it
works, I’m not getting any kickbacks from the company for recommending it, it’s just
the one I’m familiar with and it has a lot of functions. YOU’LL ALSO NEED A SMALL VARIETY OF HAND TOOLS
• A Phillips and flat blade screw driver (magnetic tips are awesome)
• You’ll want to have a set of jeweler’s screwdrivers; those are the tiny smaller versions
of above for working with small screws • A driver with interchangeable bits for
torx, square and other odd shapes can come in handy, too
• You’ll want wire cutters • Needle nose pliers
• Wire strippers • And a tool like ”helping hands” or some
sort of small bench vise can come in handy • Optional: an antistatic wrist strap for
working with circuits that are sensitive to static discharge, inside computers and other
static sensitive devices and equipment SOLDERING IRON
Soldering takes some practice, but it’s not that hard. Learn by buying a couple of small kits that
require assembly and soldering and that way you can get some practice. I recommend the Weller WES51 soldering station. It’s inexpensive, yet versatile. This is the one I use, it’s a good station
— I’ve had it for about seven years and I’m not getting any kind of kick back or
commission from the maker, but it is a good soldering iron to start with. BREADBOARDING
Use it to assemble and test circuits before soldering them together. Here’s a picture of a typical breadboard — these
are not that expensive. Here is a picture of a circuit that’s been
breadboarded, so you kind of get the idea of what it’s for. SUPPLYING POWER
There are few ways to supply power to your projects. Most likely all your projects will need a
DC voltage at some point in the design even if you’re working on something that you intend
to plug into your wall. Here’s a cheap, easy way to do it: get some
batteries and a battery holder and wire it up to your breadboard that way. The Cons are: it’s harder to get the exact
voltage and the batteries die; you’ll have to change them; you’ll go through batteries. A better way to do it: buy a DC power supply
with a digital readout. You can get one for under $100 like the Mastech
HY3005D or similar. This is not the power supply I use, mine is
a Mastech but it has more outputs, it’s more expensive, it’s like more than $200. I don’t recommend spending that much money,
at least in the beginning, on one of these, but you can see that this is easy to adjust
and easy to read so that’s why I’m recommending it. Or, for a fun first project you could build
your own DC power supply. There’s tons of designs in books and on
the Internet. This is a great way to get acclimated to electronics,
again, learning to solder and learning some basic theory. You can also take the power supply from an
old desktop PC and use it. This can give you +/-5V, +/-12 V and 3.3V
depending on the one you use. WHAT ABOUT OSCILLOSCOPES, WAVEFORM GENERATORS
AND OTHER FANCY EQUIPMENT? First, make sure you enjoy electronics and
plan on continuing like we talked about in the beginning of this. eBay is a great place to buy used equipment,
just make sure you read the description. And there’s a lot of other surplus stores
and websites out there where you can probably find the stuff used at a decent price. That wraps it up for now. Subscribe to my YouTube channel below, I’ll
be making more of these electronics related videos. There’s my Twitter handle there, again follow
me for news, tips and other resources related to electronics and thank you very much.

2 comments on “How To Get Started in Electronics”

  1. Scott Lay says:

    Thanks for the video for a extreme novice who only fixes things but wonders why and how they work a new subscriber will tell my friends about your chanell

  2. David LeDoux says:

    Nice video! Thanks for the information. Sub'd. As a budding electronics enthusiast, I would like to see a video on seting up your first workstation.

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