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Some Guy

Circuits Circuits:)

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Well, I've always had an interest in those green and yellow cards called PCBs (printed circuit boards). It's interesting for me to study them, and to try to figure out what happens with them. The other day, my dad broke his phone. He took it apart to look at it, and it was all busted up inside, couldn't be repaired. I knew that, and I also knew there was no electricity going into the phone, so I took the phone and studied it myself. I've decided something from studying that phone, and the cards inside Nintendo gamepaks, and that calculator I broke years ago-- I want to learn how circuit boards work. I want to know the ins and outs of them. I want to study them, build them, and design them. They are an enormous interest to me. So, please, could someone with some experience in this field tell me where I should look, what books to read, and what websites to visit? I'd really appreciate it. Thanx. Edited by - Some Guy on December 17, 2001 3:06:43 PM

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well, the printed circuit boards themselves are nothing more than wires and a surface to solder the things to... all those thin strips of copper work like any other wire (except they stay in that nifty pattern attached to the plastic); the important stuff is the pieces attached to those "wires".
so, what you really want is something about basic electronics. i can''t give you any book titles or anything, sorry. but, if you like a "hands-on" approach, you can buy little 20-page booklets from like radio shack or something; they will teach you to read schematics (those diagrams used to design and then build circuitry thingies), and you can learn what the things do as you build the sample circuits in the booklets. they are basically tutorials on how to build, say, an FM reciever, or something basic like that (sounds silly, but that''s how i learned about it back in the day when i was into that). i would recommend reading up on it too, but that doesn''t help much unless you are actually putting the pieces together and seeing how it works (kinda like learning programming without actually coding).

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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Well, that was a bit of a vague question, do you know anything about electronics all ready? If not, I HIGHLY suggest the book "The Art Of Electronics" by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill.
That has a chapter on the basics if you don''t all ready know them, but then it''s only really simple stuff like Ohms law, Kirchoffs laws, and inducance/capacitance laws etc.

Here are the chapter headings in the book:

1: Foundations
2: Transistors
3: Field Effect Transistors
4: Feedback and Operational Amplifiers
5: Active Filters abd Oscillators
6: Voltage Regulators and Power Circuits
7: Precision Circuits and Low-Noise Techniques
8: Digital Electronics
9: Digital Meets Analog
10: Microcomputers
11: Microprocessors
12: Electronic Construction Techniques
13: High Frequency and High Speed Techniques
14: Low Power Design
15: Measurements and Signal Processing
+ loads of appendixes.

It''s a big book, 1125 pages, and well worth the money. If you ever want to/are into electronics, this book is great. Oh, get the teachers version.



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Yeah, Radio Shack has these Proto-Paks, which are each designed to cover a particular aspect of electronics, such as power, logic gates, counters, analog to digital converters, etc. Check out www.radioshack.com and do a search for Proto-Paks.

Eventually, when you start to learn the basics and decide you want to really get into Electronics, you''ll want to buy a good sized bread board (solderless circuit board) and build up your own collection of wires, resistors, logic circuits, analog converts, etc to play around with.

I would start small though, otherwise you might spend a lot of money and find you don''t like it. But the good news is that most parts are really pretty cheap and you can get started and continue to expand without breaking your wallet.

I''d definitely visit Radio Shack and grab one of their starter kits. Then I''d visit the local bookstore and look for a good book on circuit design or electronics. From there, you can get a good grasp of the topic and start to play around on your own.

I remember it being very fun, but you have to be very detailed. It can be frustrating to not have your circuit work, only to find out a wire was a little loose. =)

I think it''s a great project to learn and it''s another great career field.

On a neato note, there is at least one or two companies on the web that will take a Visio or Autocad drawing of a circuit board and produce as many as you want through their factory It''s not cheap, but if you get the point where you want to make your own electronic device (maybe plug it into the computer and write a driver for it) then you can get these guys to make it for you so you have a prototype or just a few to give to other geeky friends. =)

G''luck with it.

R.

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When I was in college (my degree is electrical engineering, though I''m a software engineer by profession), we had a very nice little program called P-Spice, which is basically the autocad of circuit design. It lets you set up circuit boards in a virtual environment and test them out before building one.

The student version was free, it''s probably still available (I don''t have time to look right now...). Professional version is really really expensive, but for the hobbyist the student version will probably do just fine, it has everything but limits your component count, basically.

If you''re starting from basically no knowledge of how electricity works, those little "120 projects in one" type electronics kits from Radio Shack are pretty nice for getting you going conceptually, I got one of those for Christmas when I was about 12, great educational toy. The way it''s set up you don''t have to worry about connections as much as you do on a real breadboard as the components are held down and there''s big spring connectors, you just have to wire it. Well, provided you''re doing what the kit booklet instructs you to, and not using the little fan thing and some wire from old speakers and an erector set to make a little car that leaves a huge divot in the hardwood dining room floor when it''s a little faster driving off the table than you really expected, which will get you grounded. *wince*

-fel

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Dang. Thank you! I will go to Radio Shack as soon as I can and pick up those kits you all talked about. I knew they sold little parts for electronics, but I never knew about those proto-paks. Thanks for the response, guys (keep it coming, if anyone left something out!).

A question-- in my home, the whole floor except the kitchen and the bathroom is carpetted. Should I be concerned with the carpet for static conduction or anything, and do my work somewhere else, like in the garage?

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Some Guy, you have the intuition and qualities of a computer engineer. I am a freshman undergrade majoring in computer engineering(well, because I LUV computer architechtures of course). I don't know where you are in your education, but if your in highschool, you might want to think about majoring in Computer Engineering in University. Is it hard? It's one of the hardest things you can do. Is it worth it? At current salaries, heck ya. At my university, there were last year students who made initial salaries of $120,000. Also, nothing good is EVER easy. That also goes for other Engineering discipline.

Edem Attiogbe

Edited by - KwamiMatrix on December 17, 2001 7:04:01 PM

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quote:
Original post by Some Guy
A question-- in my home, the whole floor except the kitchen and the bathroom is carpetted. Should I be concerned with the carpet for static conduction or anything, and do my work somewhere else, like in the garage?

nah (at least not right away). there are some chips and stuff that are sensitive to static (you might end up buying a little roach clip that attaches to your cuff to keep you from ruining the chip), but you most likey won''t be dealing with those for a while.

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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