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How to learn electronics?
Old 14th January 2007
  #1
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absrec's Avatar
 

How to learn electronics?

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to go about learning electronics?

I'm 32 years old and I've always been interested in learning how to diagnose, repair, replicate, modify & possibly design gear. I'm talking about preamps, compressor/limiters & eqs. I have EXTREMELY basic knowledge of current flow, resistance but that's were it stops. I try to read books on the subject, but I get so lost and confused by all of the math and theory and find myself wondering how much of what I'm reading applies to what I would want to do.

I've heard technicians say "just do it". I don't understand what they mean. Is a college course the way to go? Are there better books I could be reading? Should I go ahead and buy a seventh circle kit and try to learn that way?

All replies are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

-Aaron
Old 14th January 2007
  #2
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JohnRoberts's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by absrec View Post
Does anyone have any suggestions on how to go about learning electronics?

I'm 32 years old and I've always been interested in learning how to diagnose, repair, replicate, modify & possibly design gear. I'm talking about preamps, compressor/limiters & eqs. I have EXTREMELY basic knowledge of current flow, resistance but that's were it stops. I try to read books on the subject, but I get so lost and confused by all of the math and theory and find myself wondering how much of what I'm reading applies to what I would want to do.

I've heard technicians say "just do it". I don't understand what they mean. Is a college course the way to go? Are there better books I could be reading? Should I go ahead and buy a seventh circle kit and try to learn that way?

All replies are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

-Aaron
While 99.9% of circuit design involves little more than simple algebra it is useful to understand logarithms for dB log domain math used in compressors for controlling VCAs and understanding how VCAs work. Even things as simple as a long tail differential pair will have a logarithmic current output from linear voltage input. Likewise the exponential function allows you to precisely describe the voltage across a capacitor vs. time (e^-t/RC) in a simple RC driven by a step function. Ohms Law, Kirkoff, et all are useful tools to help understand what is going on in circuits.

I used to voraciously devour every schematic I could get my hands on and strove to understand why the designers made every decision. Of course it helps to start with good classic designs as not every design decision ever made is worthy of inspection.

If possible try to find a mentor with the patience to explain circuit details as you develop your own electronic vocabulary. At some point you will accumulate enough tools to figure out even the most complex looking designs yourself.

Some of the old IC app notes have good circuit details and National semi had an audio applications handbook with lots of interesting circuits with explanations.

Have fun...

JR

PS: There are websites like Prodigy.com that are oriented toward circuit design and analysis. While not quite entry level you could check it out and see if helpful.
Old 15th January 2007
  #3
Lives for gear
 

IMO... alot of the basic theory can not be overemphasized espcially if you want to do more than buy kits to build.... try the local jr college for basic electronics classes
Old 15th January 2007
  #4
Gear Addict
 
Minion's Avatar
 

There are a Lot of Good books out there for learning electronics but no matter how much you read you will never learn anything usefull unless you "Just do it"...

That just means get some Verto/Perf/Breadboard and some components and read some Datasheets and some schematics and just try building something simple and see what happens....
You will never learn anything usefull from books unless you can somehow apply what you read in the real world....
You actually don"t have to read very much but you do have to build some circuits and understand what components do in a circuit and understand why something works or doesn"t work.....

Less than a Year ago I knew absolutly nothing about electronics but I did have the desire to learn and tinker and it is the Tinkering that tought me the most about electronics......

I started off reading a bit and building a couple simple mic preamps and microphones learning about opamps and feedback and computing Gain ect and once I understood the basics I was able to actually design and build my own mic Preamps and just recently designed and built my First Guitar amp and it sounds AWESOME and this is what has given me the Incentive to keep going and to learn and build more...
There is nothing like the Feeling of spending your Time and useing what you have learned on building a piece of equipment and finally being able to use it yourself and have it sound just as good or better than what you can buy at a store.....

There are a LOT of great circuits on the net that will help you get started in understanding DIY electronics...I suggest maybe start off by building a simple Stompbox or a simple IC based Mic preamp and go from there......Once you have built something you can actually use in your studio you will have the incentive to learn and build more and pretty soon you will become edicted to it, Or at least I did.....
I am in no way a Electronics expert (not after 10 months I"m not) but I do have a basic understanding of audio electronics and can use my Limited knowlege to build Lots of very usefull stuff.....

Good luck
Old 15th January 2007
  #5
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absrec's Avatar
 

Thanks for all of your replies!

I saw a thing in Radio Shack one day that was a "Learn Electronics" kit and thought about getting it. It had a bunch of components as well as a powered breadboard type thing that you could build all sorts of little projects on. Would something like that be worth the money?

-Aaron
Old 15th January 2007
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Many years ago, I used to TA a course called, "Electronics for non-Electronics Majors," or something like that. The class required solid math skills, (as will any kind of real design work), but was not hardcore. I think the text book was very good and easy to follow, if you can find one:

http://www.amazon.com/Electronic-Cir.../dp/0894647814.

Very much has changed over the last couple of decades, but much of the change has been in digital. If you want to design analog comps and preamps, this book will get you going. The only thing that really is missing is modern-day simulation techniques: p-spice, etc. If you can get yourself through this book, and eat up all the schematics you can find, open up gear and learn to use a scope to trace the signal... you are on the way. The only other thing I can suggest is to build things, break things and fix things. Find a mentor, too. You aren't going to learn to be a decent designer, or even a repair tech, by surfing.

I don't think a Rat-Shack kit is going to be of any use. These things are designed to make kids feel smart, not be smart. Their biggest goal is not to be returned to the store by an unhappy parent.

-k


kkantor.spaces.live.com
Old 15th January 2007
  #7
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Tibbon's Avatar
I picked up a handful of books that seemed to help some. Let me see if i can find that list.
Old 15th January 2007
  #8
Gear Maniac
 

"The Art Of Electronics"

google it. the author's beginners electronics course at Harvard. and its readable by amatuers.
Old 15th January 2007
  #9
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absrec's Avatar
 

Cool. I'll have to look into some of those options.

Thanks!
-Aaron
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