This is your main starting point in basic electronics tutorials. You start with electron theory and atoms then move along to the basic units and topics of current, resistance, ohms law, voltage, reactance and resonance. After that you move to the more difficult topics.

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STARTING OUT IN BASIC ELECTRONICS


 

Authored by Ian C. Purdie VK2TIP

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Where do I start in basic electronics?

I have provided a whole section devoted to basic electronics covering every topic I can imagine with more being added a time goes by. However I kept getting email asking "where do I start in basic electronics?". This page is the result of those enquiries.

Be careful going through these. Often students will want to roll through the tutorials as fast as possible. Most of the time that leads to what I have written becoming confused in your mind. Your brain needs time to digest all of this. If I might make a suggestion, don't do more than two tutorials a day. Therefore if you haven't already done so.......

Long teaching experience has taught me that students say they have read an entire chapter of a book on basic electronics, yet cannot remember what they have read.

That's because getting to the end was the goal, not getting the most out of the reading.

Speed kills. Give your brain time. Here's an example. You have read all of this, right? Well, without looking up the page... tell me what was the common email question.

You rolled before you crawled, before you walked, before you ran. Give your brain time to roll around these easy tutorials. Above all be systematic in your approach. I certainly recommend you read each electronics tutorial and then print it out for future reference.

This is your main starting point in basic electronics tutorials. You start with electron theory and atoms then move along to the basic units and topics of current, resistance, ohms law, voltage, reactance and resonance. After that you move to the more difficult topics.

As with the basics of anything you must master them before proceeding any further. Indeed you will find a need to return and refresh both your mind and understanding. Remember without mastering the basics you can't dribble a basketball, throw a curve in baseball, bowl a cricket ball or flick pass the ball in football. Every human endeavour requires you to master the basics. If you hadn't mastered the basics of the alphabet as a child you couldn't read this page.

To help you even further I've compiled a list of recommended books you can choose from. Why?.

Firstly, I can really personally recommend these books with absolute confidence, most are written by highly respected authors personally known to me.

Secondly, The modest revenues earned here helps maintain and, more importantly, expand this FREE educational site. Go and have a look for yourself at my book shop right now.

If you seriously want to learn about electronics then the first thing I sincerely recommend you do is buy yourself this excellent reference book through my Amazon affiliate program. This will continue to prove a good initial investment in your ongoing education. Don't be fooled by the word "amateur" in the title.

The ARRL Handbook for Radio Amateurs 2010 - ARRL

This is the latest edition of "THE standard reference book for hobbyists, students, electronics technicians, radio amateurs and professional engineers".

Over 1200 pages translate theory into practice through the large variety of hands-on-projects packed into THE ARRL HANDBOOK. From Antennas to Zener diodes, Transceivers to Switching Power Supplies, HF and VHF Propagation to Power Amplifiers—it’s covered in this edition. Among the newest material is a chapter on digital signal processing, a remote-controlled automatic antenna switch and computer hardware.

Why do I personally highly recommend this book? This is the latest edition of THE standard reference book for radio amateurs, electronics technicians and professional engineers - believe me, even if you are not especially interested in radio frequency design you will learn a lot of basic principles which are universal in electronics. I have a number of editions as far back as 1943, everyone seriously interested in electronics should have a copy - over 1,200 pages + CD! And you will write to me later and thank me for doing us both a favour.

 This image is copyright © by Ian C. Purdie VK2TIP - The ARRL Handbook for Radio Amateurs   ORDER - from Amazon U.S.A. - The ARRL Handbook for Radio Amateurs 2009 - ARRL - a book I can highly recommended to everyone with absolute confidence.

This image is copyright © by Ian C. Purdie VK2TIP - Canadian Flag   Amazon - canada   This image is copyright © by Ian C. Purdie VK2TIP - UK Flag    Amazon.co.uk   This image is copyright © by Ian C. Purdie VK2TIP - Flag of France     Amazon.fr   This image is copyright © by Ian C. Purdie VK2TIP - Flag of Germany     Amazon.de

Electron theory and atoms

All matter is comprised of molecules, which in turn are comprised of atoms, which are again comprised of protons, neutrons and electrons. A molecule is the smallest part of matter which can exist by itself and contains one or more atoms.

Electron theory and atoms

Resistance

In the topic current we learnt that certain materials such as copper have many free electrons. Other materials have fewer free electrons and substances such as glass have practically no free electron movement therefore making good insulators. Between the extremes of good conductors such as silver, copper and good insulators such as glass and rubber lay other conductors of reduced conducting ability, they "resist" the flow of electrons hence the term resistance..

Resistance

Ohms Law

Ohms law, named after Mr. Ohm, defines the relationship between power, voltage, current and resistance. These are the very basic electrical units we work with. The principles apply to a.c., d.c. or r.f. (radio frequency).

Ohms Law

Current

A flow of electrons forced into motion by voltage is known as current. The atoms in good conductors such as copper wire have one or more free electrons of the outer ring constantly flying off. Electrons from other nearby atoms fill in the holes. There are billions of electrons moving aimlessly in all directions, all the time in conductors.

Current

Voltage

Voltage should be more correctly called "potential difference". Voltage is actually the electron moving force in electricity (emf) and the potential difference is responsible for the pushing and pulling of electrons or electric current through a circuit.

Voltage

Capacitance

In the topic current we learnt of the unit of measuring electrical quantity or charge was a coulomb. Now a capacitor (formerly condenser) has the ability to hold a charge of electrons. The number of electrons it can hold under a given electrical pressure (voltage) is called its capacitance or capacity. Two metallic plates separated by a non-conducting substance between them make a simple capacitor. Here is the symbol of a capacitor in a pretty basic circuit charged by a battery.

Capacitance

Inductance

The property of inductance might be described as "when any piece of wire is wound into a coil form it forms an inductance which is the property of opposing any change in current". Alternatively it could be said "inductance is the property of a circuit by which energy is stored in the form of an electromagnetic field.

Inductance

Reactance

Reactance is the property of resisting or impeding the flow of ac current or ac voltage in inductors and capacitors. Note particularly we speak of alternating current only ac, which expression includes audio af and radio frequencies rf. NOT direct current dc.This leads to inductive reactance and capacitive reactance.

Reactance

Resonance

Resonance occurs when the reactance of an inductor balances the reactance of a capacitor at some given frequency. In such a resonant circuit where it is in series resonance, the current will be maximum and offering minimum impedance. In parallel resonant circuits the opposite is true.

Resonance

Impedance

Impedance is one of the most confusing aspects of electronics - I will de-mystify impedance by taking an extremely casual approach. I have known electronic enthusiasts who still couldn't even mentally visualise the concept of impedance even after 25 years.

Impedance

Diodes

Diodes are semiconductor devices which might be described as passing current in one direction only. The latter part of that statement applies equally to vacuum tube diodes. Diodes however are far more versatile devices than that. They are extremely versatile in fact.

Diodes

Transistors

Generally transistors fall into the category of bipolar transistor, either the more common NPN transistors or the less common PNP transistor types. There is a further type known as a FET transistor which is an inherently high input impedance transistor with behaviour somewhat comparable to valves. Modern FET's include some very rugged transistor devices.

Transistors

Transformers

The name transformers is derived from the fact that when two coils are placed in close inductive proximity to one another the lines of force from one cut across the the turns of the other inducing an ac current, energy is transformed from one winding to another and this is called transformer action.

Transformers

Radio Terminology

start in the fascinating and wonderful world of electronics by learning the primary basics - radio terminology. You need a clear understanding of all radio and electronics terms.

Radio-Terminology A-L

Radio-Terminology M-Z

Soldering

Among the foremost of reasons an electronic project frequently fails to work properly is due to "poor" soldering practices. This is usually caused by "dry joints" when soldering. Here I discuss the correct procedures for soldering electronic projects.

Soldering

Electronic project tools

The absolute minimum of electronics projects tools to successfully undertake any electronic project you need needle nose pliers, diagonal cutters, a quality soldering iron and a digital multimeter. The pliers are used to bend resistor leads etc, the soldering iron for soldering components together and the diagonal cutters for removing excess component leads. To test your electronic project you need a digital multimeter to test for circuit continuity, measure circuit resistances and voltages.

Constructing electronic projects

Power Supplies

Everybody needs to understand the basics of Power Supplies. Several tutorials including switched mode power supplies

SOME OTHER BASIC ELECTRONICS TOPICS

In alphabetical order:

Attenuators

Chokes

Coil Forms

Decibels

Digital Basics

Power Supplies

"Q"

"S" Meters

switched mode power supplies

Soldering

Toroids

Wide Band RF Transformers

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the author Ian C. Purdie, VK2TIP of www.electronics-tutorials.com asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this web site and all contents herein. Copyright © 2000, all rights reserved. See copying and links. These electronic tutorials are provided for individual private use and the author assumes no liability whatsoever for the application, use, misuse, of any of these projects or electronics tutorials that may result in the direct or indirect damage or loss that comes from these projects or tutorials. All materials are provided for free private and public use.
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Updated 15th January, 2001

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