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I'm going to buy some things for back to the electronic world.

Starting with an Resistor Assorted Kit. Need to buy some kits containing the most common capacitors and transistors... what to buy???

[I want to buy to create a lot of things that there is schematic on the web without having to buy new components]


Inward merge from duplicate question, now closed; Summary for reference:

Electronics for everyday inventor

... capacitors, trimmers, resistors, pots, diodes, transisters, leds and laser diodes, timers (like the 555), inductors, ICs and common microchips, LOTS of sensors (temperature, gasses, radiation, light, sound, motion etc) and sensor like pieces (like selenium chips), and a bunch of other things ... for the chaotic inventor.

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2  
'grab bags' - look in the contents page for grab bags, or component cabinet kits. that will get you an assortment that should handle a few projects. –  JustJeff Oct 11 '10 at 3:06
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possible dupe electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/3744/… –  JustJeff Oct 11 '10 at 3:08
    
i need a specific list for transistors and capacitors =x –  Andrew Oct 11 '10 at 3:52
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If you want to "create a lot fo things that there is shematic on the web", then buy the things shown in those schematics. –  endolith Oct 11 '10 at 14:10
    
Since I have been asked a number of times for parts/tools recommendations I placed two lists on my site. For parts see wiblocks.luciani.org/FAQ/faq-parts-list.html For tools see wiblocks.luciani.org/FAQ/faq-tools.html –  jluciani May 18 '11 at 11:35

4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I'm still a beginner but here are some things I have bought and found useful:

Tools wise - most important are:

  • Multimeter
  • Storage Unit
  • Side Cutters
  • Long Nose Pliers
  • Solderless Breadboards

Less important are:

  • Good Lighting
  • Soldering Iron

Components wise, get kits wherever possible to ensure you have a good selection of components:

  • Capacitor Kit
  • Trimmer Kit
  • Resistor Kit
  • Zener Diode Kit
  • Diode Kit
  • Transistor Kit
  • 5mm LEDs
  • 555 Timers (get 2)
  • Logic ICs (These will let you perform logic on circuits - not so important but if you want to be prepared for the future get at least one of each AND, OR, NAND, NOR, XOR (2 input versions) and a 4069 inverter.)
  • Power and Power Clips (At the very least get a 9v PP3 battery and PP3 clip)

After that, get the rest of your stuff in bulk from eBay (works out nice and cheap).

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1  
If you're in the UK, I'd suggest looking at bitsbox.co.uk as they have components for a great price and stock all the kits I mentioned. –  Mr. Hedgehog Oct 11 '10 at 8:22
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I agree. A breadboard with a good jumper wire pack is essential. And a good wire stripper makes the life easier. If I were you I would buy this pack: cgi.ebay.com/200-Electronic-Component-Kit-1-LOT-FUN-1-Bargain-/… –  csadam Oct 11 '10 at 13:40

While there is no single kit to my limited knowledge, that meets all the needs described, here are some suggestions:

  • Get a basic beginner-level Electronic Design book (or two), even if it seems more basic than you would like.
    • Electrical Engineering 101, Darren Ashby: You can get the second edition as an eBook, for as little as $1, but I prefer paper books personally. The third edition isn't essential at this stage. This isn't necessarily the ultimate such book, but it's handy.
    • Practical Electronics for Inventors, Paul Scherz: Again, just $1 in eBook form, up to $17 new from Amazon. Nice book, focuses on the inventor mind-set rather than just being an Electronic Engineering purist effort.

  • Decide on a beginner-friendly microcontroller platform for your initial forays... You can change your mind later without writing off prior purchases.
    • There will be recommendations for several platforms, such as the Parallax BASIC Stamp (yes, coding is in BASIC), the PICkit (PIC microcontrollers), the Texas Instruments MSP430 Launchpad or (preferably) Stellaris Launchpad, and perhaps the most popular and best-supported by its community, the Arduino family (Atmel AVR microcontrollers)
    • My personal and admittedly biased suggestion would be the Arduino family, for a few reasons: Way better community support for both accessory hardware ("shields") and code, availability of very capable clone boards in the $10-$20 range, sometimes better than the official Arduinos, and massive, massive pop-culture recognition which in itself ensures ongoing peer support.
    • This bias is backed by the ease with which many non-Electronics people get up and running on microcontrollers after being introduced to an Arduino. Yes, purists will argue that 'duino ain't real electronics, but whatever...

  • Pick up either a learner's kit, or one of the cheaper (clone) development boards with some add-ons. Here, I'll restrict my suggestions to the Arduino space, others can chime in for the other platforms.
    • InduinoX Learner's Kit, my personal favorite for both board construction quality and the thoughtfulness of the extras they added to the Arduino stock product. Also, the actual microcontroller is a socketed DIP, so if you blow one up, replacement is easy.
      InduinoX Learner's Kit
    • Alternatively, a Meduino Nano Enhanced - An inexpensive (under $12 shipped from eBay) fully functional Arduino Nano clone in a tiny form-factor which fits onto a mini-breadboard. It can be switched between 3.3 Volt and 5 Volt operation, a great advantage when experimenting with 3.3 Volt sensors and devices.
      Meduino Nano Enhanced
    • Finally, for a bigger budget, Sparkfun's Inventor's Kit for Arduino:
      SparkFun Inventor's Kit
      Again an excellent kit, albeit a bit pricey at nearly $95, the kit includes a bunch of different sensors, LEDs, resistors, buttons and other parts to get started. As the parts get used up (or blown up), SparkFun's Parts Refill Pack comes in handy:
      Inventor's Kit Refill Pack
    • The SparkFun ProtoSnap Pro Mini (under $30), a really neat idea wherein you snap off individual sensors / mini-boards and interconnect them as needed, to get an Arduino Pro Mini, a USB interface device, and a few other peripherals.
      Protosnap - Pro Mini

  • If you selected a developer board above, rather than a full kit, then there are some excellent sensor collections designed for Arduino and other embedded development platforms, that are worth considering:

  • Finally, get yourself at the very least, the following tools / components to get you started:
    • A digital multimeter - anything from the cheapest $5 multimeter from Harbor Freight Tools, to as expensive as you can afford.
      Harbor Freight low-cost multimeter
    • A soldering iron - I don't have a specific recommendation, as I am still looking for the perfect iron that I can actually afford.
    • A bunch of mini solderless breadboards: A pack of 10 for under $12 shipped is a very worthwhile expense.
      Mini-breadboards
    • A regular-sized solderless breadboard, such as the MB102 boards sold for as little as $3 on eBay.
      MB-102 Solderless Breadboard
    • A breadboard power supply, 3.3 and 5 Volt simultaneous outputs from wall-wart, USB or 9 Volt battery, they are typically just over $2 shipped from eBay:
      Breadboard Power Supply
    • A set of assorted resistors, all standard values, from whichever vendor works out cheapest for your geography. I'm in India, this one works for me.
    • A set of capacitors like the resistors above if available, or at least a bunch of 0.1 uF ceramic type, and 1 and 10 uF electrolytic type capacitors, for decoupling and miscellaneous uses.

While it is impossible to make an exhaustive list of all you could possibly need, the above, or whatever subset of it makes sense to you and to your pocket, should serve as a starting point.

For every one of the items above, it would be useful to search the web for alternatives, and for better price deals. Do not take these suggestions as the best for you, they simply worked out the best for me.

Further, no matter how comprehensive a kit you start with, pretty soon you will need something not thought of before, so be prepared to regularly scan eBay.com, DealExtreme and other such sites, with "free shipping" checked, for every new need.

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+1. Thanks for the great list. I didn't realize some of those tools could be had for so little money. –  Jason R Mar 19 '13 at 12:22
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Oh hell that little breadboard PSU is awesome. –  insta Mar 20 '13 at 18:49

SparkFun has a Beginner Parts Kit for $25 which contains the following:

  • 1 - Parts Box
  • 10 - 0.1uF cap
  • 5 - 100uF cap
  • 5 - 10uF cap
  • 5 - 1uF cap
  • 5 - 10nF cap
  • 5 - 1nF cap
  • 5 - 100pF cap
  • 5 - 10pF cap
  • 5 - 1N4148 Diode
  • 5 - 1N4001 Diode
  • 5 - 2N3906 PNP Transistor
  • 5 - 2N3904 NPN Transistor
  • 3 - 20 pin female header
  • 3 - 20 pin male header
  • 3 - Mini power switch
  • 2 - Push buttons
  • 2 - 10k trimpot
  • 2 - LM358 OpAmp
  • 2 - 3.3V regulator
  • 2 - 5V regulator
  • 1 - 555 Timer
  • 1 - Green LED
  • 1 - Yellow LED
  • 1 - Red LED
  • 1 - 7 segment Red LED
  • 1 - mini Photocell

It is intended for those starting out in embedded electronics but looks like a pretty good general selection. Unfortunately it is out of stock right now, but it is a pretty good list to go by.

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4  
That's pretty cruel giving a beginner so few LEDS! :) –  tronixstuff Oct 11 '10 at 8:14
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Haha the first thing I did was burn out about 5 LEDs :) –  Mr. Hedgehog Oct 11 '10 at 8:23
    
You could augment that with a grab-bag of LEDs :) –  XTL Oct 11 '10 at 14:17
    
it's impossible to start with electronics without leds!!! hahaha –  Andrew Oct 11 '10 at 20:52
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@Andrew LOL only thing I've done slightly dangerous with electronics(oh I've burned my fair share of LEDs though) is I wired a transistor wrong when connected to a 9V battery. Ended up it shorted through the transistor with an unrestricted 9V. I went to pick up the transistor off the breadboard and burned my thumb and index finger pretty bad lol –  Earlz Mar 20 '11 at 16:33

For a general mad inventor type I'd suggest that, after arming yourself with basic tools, you just go on the scrounge for scrap equipment - old printers, TV's, computers, etc. you will turn up all sorts of buttons, lights, sensors, motors, displays, etc. and often the associated hardware to drive them. And for our favourite price too ;)

Have a read of Tim Hunkin's website for inspiration.

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