Getting Started with Electronics for Beginners

Whether you are just starting university or are taking ELEN30013 this semester, you may be intimidated to begin your journey into the world of hobby electronics. Lucky for you, there is an enormous amount of help available and this blog post will hopefully point you in the right direction.

A Hexapod Robot, from https://hackaday.io/project/770-stubby-the-teaching-hexapod

The first thing you should always do before starting a hobby is to get excited and inspired. Start researching projects that people have already completed. You could try YouTube, a website like hackaday.com, or maybe talk to someone you know. Are you into robots? Music? Automation? Try tailoring your searches towards specific things, rather than just everything. This will get you more excited and inspired and might even give you a project goal to work towards. Once you start to see the amazing projects people have created, the next step is to get started yourself!

Like starting any hobby, you have to remember that it will take some time before you are able to create that remote control quadcopter you saw online. However, the best place to start is definitely going to be the Arduino Uno. If you have no clue about electronics, the Arduino Uno is one of the most popular electronic device for beginners. It basically allows you to control many things at once and pretty much do anything you can think of. The reason why the Arduino is so popular is because of the amount of resources available online. Try looking up projects people have made with this device so that you can start learning more and getting more inspired!

An Arduino Uno connected to an LCD display through a breadboard

Just a heads up before we get into purchasing one - if you have never programmed before, the Arduino might be a little confusing to wrap your head around. Basically we give the device functionality by programming it in the Arduino Software, using a programming language almost identical to C/C++. Hopefully, you would have already had some experience with a programming language (C, Python, Java, it doesn't really matter) but don't worry if you haven't, it just means you will have to spend a little more time learning. You will find that the code is very self explanatory and simple to understand!

An example Arduino kit, featuring many fun components like motors and LEDs

The next step will be to actually get started. There are many places you can go to purchase an Arduino. Most people start off by buying a kit, which will include some common and fun components, as well as the Arduino itself all in one kit. Jaycar and eBay are good choices or even Adafruit which have more expensive options but additional support and guides. You could even support the company and buy it from Arduino themselves. Make sure you take the time to research a good starting kit which has some components you might be interested in working with. Spend time now, so you don't waste money later.

As mentioned before, there are plenty of resources available online. To start learning, the best option might be to use a service like YouTube or reading the guides provided by your Arduino Kit. The best way to learn is to try doing as much as you can by yourself and always trying to think about how you can make your design better.

Our club hosts Arduino workshops every semester since they are so popular. In fact, we have one going on today (don't worry if you missed it, there is a repeat of this event on Friday - click the link for more info). These workshops are a great way to learn, as you will find working with others is much faster than doing everything on your own. Arduino bundles are also sold at all our Arduino workshops too, in case you forgot to purchase one. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for the next Arduino related event.

Overall, the world of hobby electronics may seem intimidating at first, but with proper research and motivation you will soon be an expert. It is always useful to ask experts for advice if you are ever confused or need guidance. Many of our club's committee members are very experienced with electronics, so always feel free to send us a message on our Facebook page or ask us at one of our events.

Good luck!

 

Written by Jacob Mathew (academic.events@mueec.com)

Melbourne University Electrical Engineering Club

2017

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