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electronics beginner - advice


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Hi, I'm helluvawreck,
I'm a part owner of a manufacturing plant and do all of the engineering and maintenance on our machinery. I also have a machine shop in the plant and build some special machines. I have taught myself electrical controls over the years and maintain the elctrical controls of our machinery as well as build some control boxes to replace worn out controls on older machines or to control a machine that I built. I have some experience with plc's and am involved trying to learn these inside out. I am currently building a fairly complicated simulator to help me learn that is complete with inverters, motors, sensors, encoders, and electro pneumatics.
When it comes to electronics, I do not know it but I have a keen sense and desire to learn it. I have purchased the art of electronics, the student manual for it, and Gibilisco's Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics. I also have a complete set of old Heathkit electronics courses. I have a deep desire to learn electronics because I have some machines that I want to build and I want to know how to "really" control them with computers and electronics. I hope that I can learn from this community and also contribute eventually. I may ask some stupid questions and I don't want to be a burden so please bear with me as I learn the ropes.
If somebody really wants to learn and use electronics where do you start. I want to build some circuits. I have started with these books. I bought a trainer from radio shack a couple of weeks back and have been playing with it some. I need to build a good power supply and I want to get an occiloscope. I might can buy one of these for around $400 but I'm afraid it might be a mistake. Should I hold out until I can afford one for about $800 or should I start with the $400 just so I can get some experience? What about frequency counters and signal genrators? How important are they for learning? Where do i start with on the equipment? What are some good beginner projects to build? I'm really fired up with this and I don't want to loose it. I'm 56 so if I don't do this now I'll probably never do it.



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Hi helluvawreck! (No offence) ;D

Welcome to our forum!

You seem to have your hands in almost everything and even wants some more! I know the feeling; it’s nice to be in control of everything if possible or at least try to find out how everything works and interconnects.

I would buy used test equipment to keep the prize at a reasonable level and maybe get a few extra accessories in the deal too.

Do you have any special requests for projects or just anything to start with? Have you checked out our projects here on E-Lab? ;)

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Hello helluvawreck
  I have questions about occiloscopes too. I see scopes that range in prices from 150 to 10,000 bucks, what a range huh. I don't know what I need  I guess I just want something to learn with. So maybe  someone could give us some good advice  in what to look for, waht is needed, and what ranges are needed  and what  price we can expect to pay.
                            I know big order but anything would help.
                              thank you for anyreply
                                have fun

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Ante and anyone, Do you think the books i've selected along with the old heathkit courses are good enough to follow along with to get started learning? I've also heard the arrl handbook would be good to get. Where is a good trustworthy place to buy used intruments? What would be some good projects to start with if you're a newbie like me? I might as well build some test intruments I guess. Maybe the power supply that you have featured on your home page. At least I could follow along the discussion that's been going on on that. I might need to build a few simple circuits just to brush up on my soldering techniques. What would some good learning circuits be? Or should I just jump right into something like the power supply? Thanks


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gogo, I know what you mean. I once used an oscilloscope way back yonder in my physics classes when I was studying mechanical engineering. What would be nice if we get some advice about the bare minimum specifications that we should choose in a scope. I'd rather spend a little more and get something that can cut the mustard instead of one that's just not going to fill the build every time you turn around. I just don't know much about where to start with a scope or what to look for. I have an old heathkit course on scopes but it goes back to the early 80's and may be out of date. Perhaps someone can recommend an excellent book on scopes for us newbies.
Thanks for replying,


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I don’t know anything about the content of the Heath books you’ve got. However the few Heath-kits I have built myself many years ago had some very pedagogical documentation.

If you are going for test equipment projects I can recommend this one: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~antoon/circ/latching.html
Very useful in many cases yet simple to assemble!

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