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Where to start learning more about and start building interest in EE?

  1. Jan 22, 2012 #1
    I've always found electrical engineering interesting and I am considering pursuing in a career in this in the future. I'm a junior in high school and I want to be positive that this is what I want to study for in college. So I want to start learning more about this and playing around with this, like making electronics and etc. I tried looking around the web for material but I just wanted to ask on a forum for people's advice. Is EE one of those things you learn more from experience or from reading? I hope to tinker and make a lot of stuff over this upcoming summer. I also know a lot about computer hardware if that helps at all in giving advice. Could you just maybe recommend where I should start in this? Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 22, 2012 #2
    Well, as junior hobbyist myself I might give you some advises.

    First where are you located?

    If you are in US, I believe they have something called "Radio Shack" and I think they have some starter kits.

    If you are in Europe, Conrad is the way to go.

    My first set was 25 electronic experiments with LEDs and transistors.

    Of course, at that time all I know that LEDs glow and transistors are very complicated :D

    You will need some basic equipment no doubt, but the most important one for a beginner is breadboard.

    There are TONS of sites with projects. Now your job is to find something that interests you.

    You do know I suppose how a resistor works.

    Learn basics, how diodes work and then progress to more complicated stuff. If you do not understand it, don't worry. People at college don't understand it :D

    From what I found out, EE is combined of a lot of things. You will of course, have a lot to learn. Its a rigid combination of math and physics. And if you are into physics its quite fun!

    Knowing about computer hardware is defiantly a plus. You can make a lot of cool electronic projects which are computer controlled.

    Well thats all I can say.
  4. Jan 22, 2012 #3
    Do you think I can get to the point where I wont need to follow guides to build stuff? Because anyone can follow instructions. If so, how long do you think it will take considering I do my homework?
  5. Jan 22, 2012 #4
    Could anyone also tell me some concepts I should get familiarized with? He ^ mentioned diodes and I'm sure there is more stuff to learn as well.
  6. Jan 22, 2012 #5
    what about looking into arduino programming? it's a good way to start, because you can copy lots of projects verbatim, and you can also create your own projects
  7. Jan 23, 2012 #6
    Arduinos are not that good to start with in my opinion. They use concepts of programming and in general I feel that is more advanced.

    Will you get to the point where you won't need to follow the instructions? Sure. But EE isn't something you learn over high school. Unless you ask for it, buy some books, spend a lot of time self-teaching, you will only go so far. Why? Calculus. You need to have at least basic knowledge of calculus.

    But about those concepts: resistors, diodes, capacitors and most important of all: transistors. With these you can do the magic.
  8. Jan 23, 2012 #7

    jim hardy

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    you'll be way ahead of the crowd if you come out of high school with these basic concepts firmly planted:

    does you high school physics cover power, energy and work? learn those well.
    i know high school chemistry teaches what are electrons and concept of opposite charges attract.
    well they're the same ones as in EE.

    so study what is charge (coulombs), how is it different from current (amps)

    then what is a volt energy per coulomb, or work done moving a coulomb from one place to another (sorta like force X distance)

    then what's an ohm .

    when you can explain them to somebody in simple terms you have established a good advantage. the equations you encounter in early EE classes will seem natural.

    that'll give you a big head start.
    plenty of tutorials on web.

    go to hobby sites and start building kits that interest you

    amateur radio is a wonderful hobby for ee's.

    go to junkyard and get an old car alternator and a washing machine motor.
    you can make youself a thirty amp battery charger for under ten bucks.
    and you'll learn about three phase synchronous machine .
  9. Jan 23, 2012 #8


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    Go for the Radio shack and play with all the stuff over the summer and have fun.

    On the flip side, I didn't decide to be a EE till I was 30 years years old. Everything I had wired before that I had started on fire.

    How did I get started? I signed up for Calculus I...and went from there.

    But your way sounds way more fun. Either way, you are going to learn how to be a bad azz spark-aholic.
  10. Jan 23, 2012 #9
    Well you have heard the seniors, little fellow. Having interest and already deciding what you will be is a major plus.

    There is nothing interest cannot accomplish. Come to this forum, ask questions, get basics done. When you get to college, you will be ready for advanced stuff.
  11. Jan 23, 2012 #10
    Thank you all for your replies. I actually went to my local library but all they seemed to have were books focusing mainly for electricians. The best I could get was this book, Audel Electrical Course for Apprentices & Journeymen (4t edition)/Paul Rosenberg. Do you think this book works and are there any books in particular I should look into? And I'm in AP Chemistry II so that helps with the electrons :P I'll have to consider whether or not to take physics. I get straight A's and I can try to tackle some of the more harder concepts, but I'm not expecting to learn all these concepts from my High School.
  12. Jan 23, 2012 #11
  13. Jan 23, 2012 #12
    In California, we have Fry's Electronics that have a lot of starter kids.

    On top, study more math. Trigonometry and pre-cal or even Calculus. These are necessary evil.
  14. Jan 24, 2012 #13

    jim hardy

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    ""I'll have to consider whether or not to take physics.""

    take physics !!!!

    and the Audel's books i have seen are VERY practical and stuffed with handy information you dont get in college textbooks. like color code for motor wiring, nema outlet configurations, electrical code basics, how to wire a three way switch - - in short, how to solve those pesky problems you run into at home instead of on the job...

    you'll learn 10x more by doing what you read about. i encourage building things.

    check out this thread and see if it interests you, it's a college student who built his own stereo. got excellent quality sound for surprisingly little money.
  15. Jan 24, 2012 #14
    Calculus is a good start, it is not as fun, but you'll appreciate it later. Also Physics like Jim Hardy said.

    If you are interested, this is the book that I used to start my career. I never went to school and I used and still use materials in this book for design:


    You did not say whether you are going to school, if not, then this is an easy book to learn.
  16. Jan 24, 2012 #15


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    Electronics are certainly great and all that jazz....but don't forget about the power side of things. Your house is wired for all power....which means everyone's house wired for power....in other words...there is a high demand for it. Learn how the single phase and three phase breaker panels work and why. Learn the basics of wiring a house. Look at a receptacle and think about what is going on....or when you turn your electric dryer on....what's going on there? Why do all the 240V devices have those big disconnects? Look at everything electrical in your house and ponder what's going on. Think about why most things get 120V and why some things get 240V (USA). Ponder how the different voltages are achieved.

    Find an ad in the paper for an electricians helper. You will be amazed how much you learn, not to mention extra money and that oh so valuable.....exercise!!! When you wire your first three way switch all by yourself and you turn on the switch for the first time....and wow....it actually works!

    Being well rounded will serve you well in the long run.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012
  17. Jan 24, 2012 #16

    jim hardy

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    IMHO a good EE should learn early how to replace brushes in an alternator and how to tie an underwriter's knot. Former teaches to design for maintenance, and latter imprints concept of engineered safety.
  18. Jan 24, 2012 #17
    Alright, I'll go ahead and read this audel book. And I do plan on going to college. I know University of Kentucky has this plan that you get your major in computer engineering and EE in 5 years I believe. Or I might go to Louisville.
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