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Learning about electronics

I am 40. I am an architect by profession. I am very interested in learning electronics.

I don't have time to go to college for an electronics degree.

What should I do to learn electronics at home?

Or is it possible at all?

What minimum instruments do I need to buy?


This question helped me a lot.


4 Answers 4


I would suggest perusing YouTube for projects that might hold your interest (this is key). Once you find one you can begin researching it to determine how complex it might be, chose an initial one that might be completed in a few days. For now, I would suggest staying away from items that need programming (connections to a PC or a micro controller) because debugging software is a bit of a distraction.

Most of the YouTube posters are quite willing to discuss their creations so you can ask them if they think their projects would be suitable for a novice.

For almost guaranteed success, you might want to purchase a kit that comes with all the components and instructions. What could missing from these is the critical experience of blowing something up (aka letting the magic smoke out) and then figuring out what exactly happened.

Useful things to buy at the onset: a breadboard or two, a small power supply, solid core connecting wire, and some wire cutters.

I would also recommend this: http://www.amazon.com/Art-Electronics-Paul-Horowitz/dp/0521370957

  • \$\begingroup\$ After >20 years designing and building audio, power and rf circuits I still use this book as a reference. +1 \$\endgroup\$
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Mar 19, 2012 at 20:47

In my opinion, you would better start with Tony Kuphaldt's "Lessons in Electric Circuits". There are six volumes that take you by hand from the very, very basic. It doesn't assume you know anything about electricity and electronics. Each volume talks about a topic (DC, AC, Semiconductors, etc)...


What you can do is to join a forum, or multiple fora. Here are examples:


Not bein able to post more than two hyperlinks, two other fora are (look them up on Google):

-allaboutcircuits -edaboard

These are some of the very best you'll ever find. They've been there for a long time, so your questions have probably been answered multiple times, and you can look up the archive.

I'll recommend a website that is simply great, it offers mainly reviews and answers to questions. (Which book is better suited for beginners, why, which forum to chose, which forum is specialized in what, how can I learn.. All these questions which seem daunting and you wish to have answers too..

Look "wisewarthog" on Google. It's the first result.

Take the time to navigate through it, it's deeper than it looks.. You can find infos on books and they took a lot of time to write reviews.

It's better to start by knowing how things work first, instead of just soldering stuff together à la "cargo cult", and simply downloading a schematic/layout, etching it, drilling and then having it run work like "magic" not even knowing what each part does. So documentation before projects, in my opinion.

Also, "The Art of Electronics" is great, although I wouldn't recommend it as a first read. (But it's an absolutely great read, I agree with the poster above).

All my best,


What should I do to learn electronics at home?

take on a electronics project, find a friend who knows more about electronics than you, start learning from online sources,

What minimum instruments do I need to buy?

this is the bare minimum that could be useful for starting out.

Tools: voltmeter, diagonal cutters, pliers and breadboard/jumper wire kit

Parts: that will depend on what project you take on,


If you want a book as reference, you can look here (AoE is pointed, too). So the theory part should be covered.

If you want to try some of the circuits you have seen, I would suggest Falstad's very intuitive simulator, where you have some demo circuits to simulate, and you can create your own.

If you want some general advice, try to type learning in the research bar, there are a lot of questions about general learning, or more specific topics, like Arduino or analog design. Arduino (and many similar boards, since it's open source) is used a lot by artists too, because it allows to create a controller circuit with very high level programming and a basic knowledge about the analog stuff. It may be too simple if you want to get your hands dirty with analog electronics, though.

An advice that I would give you, even if you don't want to spend too much time on theory, is: learn how to read datasheets, because they are the most importante source of information when designing.

And start with LEDs: they are the simplest way to get a feeling that your circuit is working :)

About instruments: depending on what you want to use, you always need a power supply, and a multimiter is always handy; the oscilloscope is a wonderful tool, but it's expensive and you can wait before buying one.