• Welcome to our site! Electro Tech is an online community (with over 170,000 members) who enjoy talking about and building electronic circuits, projects and gadgets. To participate you need to register. Registration is free. Click here to register now.

Is it necessary to learn EVERYTHING about electronics before learning Robotics?

Status
Not open for further replies.

Triple-H

New Member
Hi

I am a beginner in electronics and you -some people in this forum- helped me overcome the first obstacle I faced in learning electronics.

However, after much reading, I found out that some stuff in electronics are just too hard to understand and too complicated. They don't even seem relevant to Robotics. Some stuff really seem to be only for those who wanna make a radio or even a computer from scratch.

My primary aim of learning electronics is to be able to make some good robots. I want to be able to make some average-brained robots which can make some decisions [not anything close to the famous BeetleBot].

So my question is:
- Do I have to learn all about electronics before jumping into robotics?? Can't I just use my 'beginner knowledge' and jump into microcontrollers and related stuff and start building simple robots and then move on to harder stuff?

Note: I already assembled a 555 LED flasher circuit and willing to do two or three more electronics projects before making the jump, but I though it would be much better to get some experts' [or hobbyists] opinions on this.

Thanks for help!
 
Last edited:

Papabravo

Well-Known Member
You can learn and do in any order that is comfortable for you. When you encounter an obstacle, you take a short detour and fill in the gap. No big seal -- everybody learns differently.
 

dknguyen

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Some basic knowledge of driving motors and interfacing sensors to microcontrollers is all you need to start out. In my opinion it almost seems like it's better to skim over many different asepcts rather than learning them when you don't need them. That way you won't have the syndrome of "I need this to happen but I have no idea where to start". You'll have only the vaguest of what needs to be done but it will allow you to know what is possible and what is not and what to look for in order to pull it off.

For example when you ask how to reverse directions on a motor, you should at least be aware of what an H-bridge is beforehand.
 
Last edited:

pcbheaven.com

New Member
it would be nie to learn everything, but it is impossible.

Instead, learn what your daily needs are, choose from them the easiest for beginning ang you've got a start...

E.g. If you are atotal beginner, your daily needs would be how to turn on an LED, what are resistors, whata re LEDs....... choose what seems to be the easiest from them, like... what are resistors... You've got a start
 

Hero999

Banned
You'll never learn everything about electronics.

Nigel and audioguru are much older than me and know much more than me but still don't know everything about electronics.
 

birdman0_o

Active Member
To learn microcontrollers start with Nigel's famous tutorial, it's free and uses a modern PIC, the 16f628a. Hope you have a few dollars to spend.
Nigel's PIC Tutorial Page

P.S. It will be a long time before you feel comfortable with electronics, until then enjoy the ride, it's going to be bumpy :)
 

Triple-H

New Member
You can learn and do in any order that is comfortable for you. When you encounter an obstacle, you take a short detour and fill in the gap. No big seal -- everybody learns differently.
Sounds good,
Thanks for advice!

Some basic knowledge of driving motors and interfacing sensors to microcontrollers is all you need to start out. In my opinion it almost seems like it's better to skim over many different asepcts rather than learning them when you don't need them. That way you won't have the syndrome of "I need this to happen but I have no idea where to start". You'll have only the vaguest of what needs to be done but it will allow you to know what is possible and what is not and what to look for in order to pull it off.

For example when you ask how to reverse directions on a motor, you should at least be aware of what an H-bridge is beforehand.
Ok I will see about that,
thanks for help :)

it would be nie to learn everything, but it is impossible.

Instead, learn what your daily needs are, choose from them the easiest for beginning ang you've got a start...

E.g. If you are atotal beginner, your daily needs would be how to turn on an LED, what are resistors, whata re LEDs....... choose what seems to be the easiest from them, like... what are resistors... You've got a start
I already did all of this, but now I am lost, there are so many things and no specific path to follow :confused:

You'll never learn everything about electronics.

Nigel and audioguru are much older than me and know much more than me but still don't know everything about electronics.
Sounds a bit optimistic :p
I just wanna leran enough stuff to help me make a robot that can think by its own.
thanks,

To learn microcontrollers start with Nigel's famous tutorial, it's free and uses a modern PIC, the 16f628a. Hope you have a few dollars to spend.
Nigel's PIC Tutorial Page

P.S. It will be a long time before you feel comfortable with electronics, until then enjoy the ride, it's going to be bumpy :)
I will check the link, and thanks for help!

P.S.: It will be great if one of you recommended some book that teaches step by step using examples, from easy stuff to harder stuff, and please, dont say "The ART OF ELECTRONICS" or "ELECTRONICS FOR DUMMIES", because those who buy these books are really dummies and dumb enough to think that these books are great for ABSOLUTE beginners [like me] :D
 

MrAl

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Hi Triple,


I'd like to add to the fine posts posted here already...

I dont know where you stand academically, so it's hard for me to say exactly
what is best. I can tell you one thing though, that algebra will get you pretty
far along any of the roads you choose from here. Unfortunately like i said
i dont know how much math you have already had, but math is the underpinning
of much of electronics and mechanical engineering too.
Also, learning electronics alone is not like learning other things in a way, because
what you learn in electronics (resistors, capacitors, inductors) can be immediately
applied to mechanics (as robotics). For example, you can model many mechanical
systems using electrical networks, so if you know something about electrical
networks you are a short jump to knowing something about mechanical systems!
Pretty neat huh? There is just a simple translation of notions of how capacitance
converts to mass, and stuff like that. You can model a spring, mass, damper
system with an electrical network of a resistor, capacitor, and inductor! Both
systems behave the same except for what the electrical quantities represent.

So to start with, learn algebra if you dont already know that, and then as much
as you can about the theory of electrical networks.

If i had to say only one thing though, i would definitely say ALGEBRA !!

Of course have some fun in the process :)
 
Last edited:

jimmythefool

New Member
Ohm's Law is a must.
My way to try something new, is to read a couple of articles on say transistors for example. Spend a bit of time on theory. Design a circuit on paper with your new-found knowledge, making a note of what I expect the circuit to do, voltages at key points etc. Then apply it to a breadboard, get my DVM/scope out and see if my theory was right. This is good for Kinesthetic ( learn by doing) learners too.

Jim
 

Triple-H

New Member
Hi Triple,


I'd like to add to the fine posts posted here already...

I dont know where you stand academically, so it's hard for me to say exactly
what is best. I can tell you one thing though, that algebra will get you pretty
far along any of the roads you choose from here. Unfortunately like i said
i dont know how much math you have already had, but math is the underpinning
of much of electronics and mechanical engineering too.
Also, learning electronics alone is not like learning other things in a way, because
what you learn in electronics (resistors, capacitors, inductors) can be immediately
applied to mechanics (as robotics). For example, you can model many mechanical
systems using electrical networks, so if you know something about electrical
networks you are a short jump to knowing something about mechanical systems!
Pretty neat huh? There is just a simple translation of notions of how capacitance
converts to mass, and stuff like that. You can model a spring, mass, damper
system with an electrical network of a resistor, capacitor, and inductor! Both
systems behave the same except for what the electrical quantities represent.

So to start with, learn algebra if you dont already know that, and then as much
as you can about the theory of electrical networks.

If i had to say only one thing though, i would definitely say ALGEBRA !!

Of course have some fun in the process :)
Thanks for help,
Regarding my Algebra level, I am a high school student with pretty decent grades in maths, so Algebra is not problem at all for me.

My problem lies in the behavior of electric current and components and how to make robots :D

Ohm's Law is a must.
My way to try something new, is to read a couple of articles on say transistors for example. Spend a bit of time on theory. Design a circuit on paper with your new-found knowledge, making a note of what I expect the circuit to do, voltages at key points etc. Then apply it to a breadboard, get my DVM/scope out and see if my theory was right. This is good for Kinesthetic ( learn by doing) learners too.

Jim
Thanks for help
I know OHM's law and the other basic stuff, but testing in reality wont give me any predicted results, this is because the voltage drop differs depending on the load you have [correct me if this is wrong], so i measure current without an LED, then with LED everything differs, but I dont have a problem with that. My REAL problem is that nothing is precise and everything gets so UNPREDICTABLE and so damn different from calculations when i have so many components and ICs, I discovered this when i tried to analyze my 555 led flasher, I couldnt predict anything or figure out what is REALLY going on, because the IC itself has so many stuff inside, each affecting voltage and current and resistance, and some other stuff outside, which affect it even more, so I couldnt predict anything!

That's why I wonder what will happen to me if i tried to make a schematic for a robot from scratch! I just tried to make the flashing led in series with a piezo buzzer to make them blink and buzz at same time, but it didnt work and i have no idea why did that happen!

I know what each component does, i know the basic laws, read so much stuff' but i still cant predict what will happen in reality!

so if you can recommend some VERY basic book for electronics other than the ones i mentioned above, that will be greatly appreciated :)

Thanks for reading so far ;)
 

jimmythefool

New Member
Yep, youre right, the Vdrop will differ depending on load, but you can learn a lot by calculating it first, then measuring it.
I think the key word is Building Blocks. Break your project into smaller chunks, ie power supply.. sensors...logic...output drivers etc. Get each part working, then put it altogether. If you design a ground up system in one hit, it is 99.99% sure to fail
Look on Amazon for books, or your school library. Google
Get an experimenters kit.
 

MrAl

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Hi,

You've had algebra, that's great. You can do a lot in electronics with algebra.
You're already half way there!

How about complex numbers?

You can learn electronics really fast if you already know algebra and are
efficient with algebraic equations.

Have simultaneous equations yet? Matrices?

If you already know V=I*R then you already know how resistors work.
Dont let 'loaded' and 'unloaded' make things seem more complicated then they
really are. 'loaded' is a different circuit than 'unloaded', so you simply need to
analyze the same circuit twice to get both answers...which simply means
we apply the very same rules twice instead of once.
 
Last edited:

Triple-H

New Member
Hi,

You've had algebra, that's great. You can do a lot in electronics with algebra.
You're already half way there!

How about complex numbers?

You can learn electronics really fast if you already know algebra and are
efficient with algebraic equations.

Have simultaneous equations yet? Matrices?

If you already know V=I*R then you already know how resistors work.
Dont let 'loaded' and 'unloaded' make things seem more complicated then they
really are. 'loaded' is a different circuit than 'unloaded', so you simply need to
analyze the same circuit twice to get both answers...which simply means
we apply the very same rules twice instead of once.
I know plenty of stuff about complex numbers, few stuff about matrices, and i know how to solve simultaneous equations.

thanks for advice
 

Pommie

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
If you are mainly interested in robotics them most analogue electronics is not required. You can almost forget digital as well. These days you can just glue chips together and get a basic robot. Have a look at Bills blueroomelectronics Mongoose kit - a nicely put together starter platform. And, the nice thing about all of Bill's creations, he supplies the schematic - see the assembly pdf.

Mike.
 

solis365

New Member
I would agree with Pommie. For robot building the most important aspect is computer algorithms! Your robot's brain all lies in the code that you program it with. So I definitely WOULD start with a Microcontroller tutorial (someone suggested Nigel's above, good place to start).

If you need to drive a motor, you need to know enough to get the right type based on your requirements. Then you need to know enough to select a decent H-bridge chip for your application. So you probably know that if a motor is specified to draw some amount of current, your H-bridge will need to be rated above that.

A microcontroller is going to give you a bunch of pins, and depending on what your code does, the pins can be either low or high (0V or 5V). It will also have input pins. So you need to learn how to interface a sensor to your input pins, and then your code will make the output pins high or low according to that input. A microcontroller will have some input specification. So it might need a signal thats 5V on that pin. So if your sensor doesnt have a 5V output, youll need to learn how to buffer and amplify it.

Microcontrollers cant source very much current, so thats why you need the H-bridge to drive motors.


Robots do not require a super-advanced knowledge of electronics design to construct. The required chips (like, as I have mentioned above, H-bridge drivers) have already been designed. If you want to try designing them yourself, then youll have to take a break from robotics for a while. ;)

you just need to learn enough to know how to interface your input (sensors) with your CPU and your CPU with your outputs (motors, lights, etc) properly. Theres lots of great articles online that will show you how to take a microcontroller output level signal and drive a motor with it and not blow up the microcontroller. There are other articles that will show how to use a microcontroller to read from various sensors.

Its really easy for me to say google for things, but finding the google terms that will get you decent results is the harder part.

a good website for small projects is instructables.com (the tech section). theres some complex projects, but most of it is basic and a decent place if youre just starting out. keep in mind its a community and some of the projects are better and more well documented than others ;)Theres a lot of microcontroller stuff there. A lot of them are really basic. And maybe if you look at a bunch of them you can find pieces that apply to your robots, and you can see how people accomplish those tasks by picking apart their projects.

Definitely start with microcontroller tutorials. once you do some of those youll really be able to see how it applies directly to robotics.
 

crutschow

Well-Known Member
Most Helpful Member
Programming is arguably the most important aspect of robot building, but to help understand the circuits which interface the processor to the rest of the robot, simulation with a SPICE simulator is very helpful. LTSpice is a good program for this and it's free. You can start with some simple circuits, try to predict how they will work, and then verify that with simulation. With a simulator it's easy to monitor waveforms, voltage and current anywhere in the circuit and you don't need a meter or oscilloscope..

Start with something simple (like a power supply, diode, and resistor). It will give you much insight into how circuits work. (How does diode voltage vary with current?) Later on it will be very useful to verify the operation of circuits you may design. I never build a circuit of any complexity that I don't first simulate. I catch a lot of errors that way before I build the circuit.
 
Last edited:

Triple-H

New Member
Wow that's alot of information!

Thank you for these advices

After reading all of this, I think I will do some calculations on very simple circuits and do some observations and then jump directly into microcontrollers

I am currently downloading LTSpice and I will check Instructables for some basic stuff.

Thanks Again :)
 

solis365

New Member
you might start with an Arduino, which is an AVR microcontroller on a convenient board useful for prototyping... for a nice tutorial on the arduino you might try:

Arduino Tutorial - Learn electronics and microcontrollers using Arduino!

arduino is pretty popular so theres tons of content all over the net about it. good place to start beginning robotics.

the PIC microcontroller is also very popular, with many tutorials. (if I am not mistaken Nigel's tutorial is for PICs...)


you might also pick up a Schaum's Outline for circuit analysis. That will give a good place to start. I remember you asking above about LEDs, so perhaps google around for an LED tutorial, which will tell you why the current in a resistor is different from that in a 1k resistor + LED. (its because the LED always drops a certain amount of voltage across itself, say about 2V, leaving only 3V out of a 5Vsupply across the resistor. without the LED, the resistor has the full 5V across it)
 
Last edited:

Triple-H

New Member
thanks for advice,

but I dont think i can find an Adruino in the store i go to

so I will start with PIC as soon as i feel ready

thanks,
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

EE World Online Articles

Loading
Top