My main goal is to be skilled enough to design printed circuit boards to build devices like a basic smart watch and other simple projects. How do I get started ?
How I personally got started, was by first buying a Raspberry Pi (and later arduino) and learn how to turn on and off an LED. I just copied the circuit from online to start, then when I got it to work, I tried to understand why the circuit is done the way it is (in this case why are we using a resistor between the Raspberry Pi and the LED). I continued doing LED projects like this getting more and more complicated every time. The Raspi is basically a mini computer that can help simplify your circuits when you are first starting out.
I then would start trying to build circuits without any sort of micro controller in them, using the same process I stated above. Once I felt comfortable building a few circuits I practiced soldering them on perfboard. Then finally I spent a few days learning how to use a PCB design software like kiCad and made a couple of my own PCB's.
The most important thing is to start small. A smart watch may seem small but it isn't going to end up being small. Be proud of every circuit you create no matter how simple, because each is a step closer to your goal.
A few resources
- Raspi Blink Best place to start
- Youtube Try searching for electronics basics, and you can find countless videos, these helped me a bunch
- kiCad DONT jump into this write away
Hope this helps!
In order to learn electronics, like other things, you have to learn the basics. If you plan on just doing hobby work, you should familiarize yourself with basic circuit theory and electronic semiconductors (diodes, BJT's, MOSFETS, etc). My best advise to you would be to find videos on YouTube that go over this since it's free and convent. When I was in school, a YouTuber named Micheal Van Bizen helped me understand basic circuit theory. So I recommend him in order to learn the basics. For semiconductor knowledge, I don't have a particular YouTuber I can recommend, but there are a variety of introduction videos on the subject.
The next thing I want to bring up is programming. Like mentioned in a previous comment, building a smartwatch would be a very complex project. You'll have to familiarize yourself with electronics, PCB fabrication, programming, wireless communication, etc. That said, something like this will require programming, so my suggestion would be to learn how to program using the Arduino in the language C. For basic electrical projects, like making an RGB flashlight, an Arduino fit's the bill. If you want to work on more complex projects that require some communication interface (HDMI for example), then you may need to learn Python for the Raspberry Pi. Like I said before, YouTube is your best friend with this as well.
Eventually, you will want to get to a point where you try out some mini experiments at home to better understand the concept. There is no better teacher than experience. When you fell like you are ready to build your first PCB, you should build it on a breadboard first and see how it works.
Finally, we have PCB design. I first learned how to design a PCB through one of GreatScott PCB tutorial. He uses EasyEDA (as do I), but you should be able to take what he says, and implement it in another PCB design software if you're not using EasyEDA. Just as a notice, he doesn't go very in depth into the rules, practices, and habits of PCB design, so I would encourage to do some more research to find out what those practices are.