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Getting Educated for a Noob

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WasSoGrump

New Member
Long story short, I'm new to electronics beyond building computers and I'm really interested in repair of old things and modifying them.
I've done some tinkering but nothing beyond changing out parts.

I'm 35, I have dyscalculia and ADHD and a high IQ, which basically means I never passed 9th grade algebra but I made it to 12th grade English when I dropped out and got my GED.

I'm looking for some new direction and this has always had my interest.

So I can use online resources to learn, or take an online course or actually go back to school at a community college. I'm sure none of those would be a waste, and obviously school would be the most thorough

But here's my question... Comparing those 3 avenues, are any of them just a terrible way to go? Is school just a lot of flair when an online course would teach me what I need?
And really, if I wanted a career in this field does it even exist? Is there work to be had and if so what kind of certification actually helps?

This is pretty serious move for me, so I'm trying to be as informed as I can be.

Thanks for reading
 

Triode

Active Member
I would suggest following some online tutorials and actually building some circuits. That's the cheapest first move and if it works well you can always pursue the more expensive options. If you want to get into microcontrollers there are lots of tutorials on them, I like PSoC because it's a real microcontroller programmed in C, it has a CPLD and the tutorials are good, plus its 0nly $10 for the CY8KIT-059, and that has a programmer built on so it's as easy as an arduino to set up. If you want to do analog follow a simple headphone amplifier circuit example on a breadboard. If you want to do digital start with maybe a 555 timer blinky LED example.

You can do that stuff without paying for college courses, and it should give you a better idea how you want to proceed.
 

dknguyen

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Well, you might want to decide whether you're more interested in analog or digital. Digital would be things like microcontrollers and programming, while analog would be things like amplifiers, oscillators, sensors, and radio. Not saying you can't do both, but without really knowing you're going to get pulled in multiple directions before you know what's going on.
 

Pommie

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I would suggest getting a basic understanding of analogue and concentrating on digital. Everything, even analogue, is going digital. The only place where analogue is holding on by the skin of it's teeth is audio but even that is heading down the digital path. I know - instrumentation is still digital but only until they get a good enough signal to digitize.

You don't say what you like doing. If you're a puzzle solving person then programming may suit you. Maybe you like building things - if so mechatronics (robotics and electronics) may be your thing.

I also agree with the previous posters. Find out what you want to do before throwing money at institutions. Especially online courses - some of the ones I've seen aren't worth the paper they're written on.

Mike.
 

dknguyen

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I would suggest getting a basic understanding of analogue and concentrating on digital. Everything, even analogue, is going digital. The only place where analogue is holding on by the skin of it's teeth is audio but even that is heading down the digital path. I know - instrumentation is still digital but only until they get a good enough signal to digitize.

You don't say what you like doing. If you're a puzzle solving person then programming may suit you. Maybe you like building things - if so mechatronics (robotics and electronics) may be your thing.

I also agree with the previous posters. Find out what you want to do before throwing money at institutions. Especially online courses - some of the ones I've seen aren't worth the paper they're written on.

Mike.
And if you're a "by the seat of your pants person, gut-feel" person, maybe the black-art of analog? lol
 

drkidd22

Member
You can certainly learn a lot from online resources and become an expert, but if you are looking to follow on a career most jobs on the field require a certification or a degree to get into the doors of a company and get a job. Finding a job on the field depends on your location.
 

WasSoGrump

New Member
I'd definitely say analogue, especially now that I know the distinction exists. I used to be a web designer until it got more program heavy, cuz I just sort of hate programming and really want to work with my hands more.
I'm okay with doing what digital and programming I must but if a career is impossible without it then maybe an analogue focus isn't really an option.

It's beginning to seem like anything working with ones hands is becoming dead art.

As for job availability where I live, I'm not tied down and would move anywhere a job would be likely. Right now, my sights are set on Austin TX or Los Angeles due to other opportunities.

Thanks for the feedback, I'm still interested in any elaboration anyone might have on these points.
 

dr pepper

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Welcome.
If you dont want to do any algebra then electronics design is going to be an issue, basic ohms law is critical for any design and involves algebra, however if you can manage just a little then thats different.
You can use design software to do some maths work for you, I hate maths too however I can manage to design a few circuits.
Electronics repair on the other hand can be done with virtually no math, however that is becoming obsolete, that said industrial control gear repair houses are doing very well at the moment so chase that avenue if this is for you.
Might be worth you looking at arduino if you do fancy digital, its a very easy and very popular microprocessor platform, I have written html/java/css to run on wifi enabled modules.
Also for analogue have a look at Ltspice, its a free circuit simulator, its pretty good I learned a few ideas using it.
 

dknguyen

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
I'd definitely say analogue, especially now that I know the distinction exists. I used to be a web designer until it got more program heavy, cuz I just sort of hate programming and really want to work with my hands more.
I'm okay with doing what digital and programming I must but if a career is impossible without it then maybe an analogue focus isn't really an option.

It's beginning to seem like anything working with ones hands is becoming dead art.

As for job availability where I live, I'm not tied down and would move anywhere a job would be likely. Right now, my sights are set on Austin TX or Los Angeles due to other opportunities.

Thanks for the feedback, I'm still interested in any elaboration anyone might have on these points.
Analog engineers are rare partly because digital is taking over everything because it's more versatile (easier to modify and re-purpose) and easier to work with (less variables and factors to muck up designs). My understanding is that there's not widespread demand for them but they are irreplaceable where required. That's the kind of market it is, I believe.

It seems like a post-graduate education is required for an analog engineer (seeing as how there will be simulations and simulation work is pretty much all post-grad). The simulations are there because there's so many variables and unpredictable things that can go wrong with analog circuits that simulations really cut down on the number of physical test circuits you are going to have to build anyways.

I find it crazy in some application notes where the author writes down a bunch of calculations using the datasheets for all the components in a wonky amplifier circuit to predict the noise, builds the circuit and takes a test measurement and it's practically spot-on.
 
Last edited:

WasSoGrump

New Member
Welcome.
If you dont want to do any algebra then electronics design is going to be an issue, basic ohms law is critical for any design and involves algebra, however if you can manage just a little then thats different.
You can use design software to do some maths work for you, I hate maths too however I can manage to design a few circuits.
Electronics repair on the other hand can be done with virtually no math, however that is becoming obsolete, that said industrial control gear repair houses are doing very well at the moment so chase that avenue if this is for you.
Might be worth you looking at arduino if you do fancy digital, its a very easy and very popular microprocessor platform, I have written html/java/css to run on wifi enabled modules.
Also for analogue have a look at Ltspice, its a free circuit simulator, its pretty good I learned a few ideas using it.
I am okay with some math. I learned a lot of my algebra after I dropped, just out of necessity. If I can involve a calculator, the road clears up quite a lot, as with my condition I basically have to do numbers at half speed. I'm gonna definitely look into whatever industrial control gear repair is, and that Arduino thing you mentioned.
Thanks!
 

dr pepper

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
If you can drive a calculator you can understand an arduino at least the basics.
 

cowboybob

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
You might consider Amateur Radio (Ham radio) as a non-professional activity. It involves both analogue and digital concepts and equipment and would augment/expand your general electronics training with some hands-on experience.
 

Triode

Active Member
Once you're atleast semi sure you want to pursue this hobby I suggest investing in an atleast decent oscilloscope. You learn a lot more and can get far more done if you can see what's going on in your circuit. Even if it's digital, you can monitor signals with an arduino, but when the signal doesn't get through you can be at a loss for why not.

I got a Rigol 1054Z. On sale they're about $350. It's 50 MHz, 4 channel. You might be able to go a bit cheaper than that. Those Chinese board ones that sample at about 24 kHz won't get you very far.
 
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