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New to electrical engineering (begginer), need some pointers please! :p

  1. Aug 8, 2012 #1
    Anyways, I will first start off by saying my name is Aaron Orszak and I live in Montreal, Quebec. Lately i've been really in to things like computer programming (python and ruby mainly) but I sadly gave up on it because it just didnt fill the void. Right now Im really in to electronics and want to do thing such as making my own drone (UAV, it wold be a miniature version, I am also in to r/c planes as well). So that's that.

    Since I don't want to bombard you fine men with questions daily (it wouldst be an efficient solution of learning anyway). Can you guys please recommend me some beginner books please? BUT, I want a book that teaches me the basics but at the same time one I learn them I could easily build on and adapt to it. I also hope for it to include little projects that are related to the subjects I am doing. Im also in my teens so I do want it to be adequately comprehensible. I hope that helps you guys and thanks alot.

    Just one question: What is the standard programming language to program ICs and circuits these days at our level and an industrial one?


    Sincerely, Orza :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2012 #2


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    Ummmm, you are putting the cart before the horse I suspect. Circuits are not really 'programmed'. I have a feeling you have some expectations which don't apply. There are programming languages that are used in electronics more than others. You shouldn't worry about them yet. Get to know basic electronics before worrying about what programming language to learn. After that you will probably understand what I mean. You will find that there are devices out there that are programmable but not by sitting down and coding up a couple of dozen lines of C for instance. One method that they are 'programmed' is by writing serial data out to them. In order for you to understand what that means you need to start at the bottom. I've never read it but a book entitled "The Art of Electronics" comes highly recommended on this forum.
    Edit: We don't mind questions daily if it shows that you learn from our answers.
  4. Aug 9, 2012 #3
    That's true for analog circuits, but digital circuits are certainly programmed. More and more every day. In industry most digital design is done using VHDL or Verilog (Verilog is more popular in the USA, VHDL in Europe). These are hardware description languages meaning they are for synthesizing circuits, and run in parallel so they take some different thinking from iterative languages like C. These are the languages used to program an FPGA which is a programmable chip that you will most certainly want in a UAV.

    There are a million and one websites to learn Verilog and VHDL. There are also free simulators, but I don't know much about that. A good place to start is www.asic-world.com

    I agree that the Art of Electronics is a good book. However, in my experience, it is a bit dangerous because i have come across more than a few physicists who have read that book and now think they understand Electronics.
  5. Aug 9, 2012 #4


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    carlgrace, I can see what you are saying, but I would lean more towards devices are programmed. While a device (integrated circuit) is by definition (it's name) a circuit, I suspect that the OP may be thinking something else. Just a hunch. There are alot of digital circuits that are not really programmable. Of course that depends on how you define a program. You could have a handful of gates wired together that outputs a 1 based on the state of 5 inputs. Are any of those 5 inputs considered part of a program? 2 of those inputs could go to toggle switches that can be set and or 'reprogrammed' to change the conditions on the inputs to get an output. Those 2 bits can technically be considered the program but I don't think most people think of it that way, myself included. This is why I thought it was a good idea for the OP to start with the basics.
    BTW, if you want to get this technical it seems that analog circuits are 'programmable' as well. Consider a comparator with an adjustable reference.
  6. Aug 9, 2012 #5
    Well I wouldn't consider either of those things programmable in the sense the OP meant, I meant programmable with code. Although, you're quite right, what you described for a comparator with adjustable reference would be labeled "programmable" in industry.

    My point was maybe the OP would be more interested in going in a more "digital systems" path than in circuits, since as you know, circuits have a brutal learning curve. If the OP learned something like the Arduino or FPGA eval programming he could do a lot of really interesting things with a lot less study than if he were trying to put gates on a breadboard, of heaven forbid he were trying to get something analog done.

    I think we pretty much agree here.
  7. Aug 9, 2012 #6
    SO the art of electronics it is! Tanks guys, my only worry is that most people in the reviews (in which let me add were all optimistic five star quality) are saying the you require basic knowledge on electronics but honestly I legit forgot everything! I don't know what a capacitor really does and how its useful and when to use it, same for a transistor. I really do not know this stuff or rally understand tho concept on it. Is there any brief introductory books that I could quickly go through that will enable me to use the art of electronics book so it will be more comprehensible for me so when I do read it I will literaly be soaking up all of the knowledge very well
    and I wont have as much trouble understanding, like for say a "...For Dummies" book? Thanks!
  8. Aug 10, 2012 #7
    A book that is lot easier for the beginner than The Art of Electronics is "Practical Electronics for Inventors" by Scherz. It contains many very good and easy to understand explanations. However, a serious problem with the book is the huge number of typos, you may want to keep this errata sheet http://www.eg.bucknell.edu/physics/ph235/errata.pdf near the book, especially when working through the formulas.
  9. Aug 10, 2012 #8
    To really learn any subject matter in life you have to work through levels of abstraction. Abstraction is a way for hiding or covering unwanted details. Like you may know how to drive a car but not know what really goes on in the engine. For example, if you are building a computer there are different "levels" of building you can do. The highest is simply buying a CPU and a monitor. The next "level" down is connecting individual parts of the CPU and building it. And all the way at the bottom of the abstraction layer is building each individual part of the CPU from metal scraps. So what I am trying to say is, what level of abstraction are you comfortable with? If you want to be at the most bottom fundamental level you have to learn physics to understand electronics and build circuits. Or you can settle at a different abstraction level and learn how different types of circuit components work together and based on that knowledge build circuits. So it all depends on how much your "how does this work?" kick in.
    If you want an abstraction chain for electronics in general I believe it would look something like this:

    chemistry -> general physics -> circuit design/digital processing -> circuit analysis -> computer design -> general electronics ...
  10. Aug 10, 2012 #9


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    Orza, Welcome to Physcics Forums. You are already getting some good suggestions here. My comment is this: please do not exclude highly educated and skilled females from your vision. Certainly men do not have a total monopoly on these technologies!

    I also agree with the idea of making sure your "basics" are well-formed: chemistry, physics, and electronics. If you have a complete and correct understanding of these, you may always apply them to more complex systems in future.

    “This tutorial is a brief introduction to the concepts of charge, voltage, and current. This tutorial is not as long and tedious as a college textbook, yet it contains more information than students are likely to find in an elementary schoolbook.”

    I first learned electronics in Navy schools, so I am a little biased. So, if anyone is serious about learning electricity and electronics, this free downloadable book is the best choice possible!

    “Here is the "Electricity - Basic Navy Training Courses" (NAVPERS 10622) in its entirety (or will be eventually). It should provide one of the Internet's best resources for people seeking a basic electricity course - complete with examples worked out (links to quizzes at end of chapters).
    Electricity - Basic Navy Training Courses
    NAVPERS 10622
    This book is intended as a basic reference for all enlisted men of the Navy whose duties require them to have a knowledge of the fundamentals of electricity.”
    http://www.rfcafe.com/references/electrical/Electricity%20-%20Basic%20Navy%20Training%20Courses/electricity%20-%20basic%20navy%20training%20courses.htm [Broken]

    I wish you good luck along your path to more knowledge.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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