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Building our geeky ideas has never before been so easy. Arduino What is Arduino: Everything You Need to Know (In Video) What is Arduino: Everything You Need to Know (In Video) What is an Arduino and why should you care? In this video, I attempt to answer that question, and more. Read More  and Raspberry Pi What Can You Do With The New Raspberry Pi A+? What Can You Do With The New Raspberry Pi A+? Curiously, this new Raspberry Pi doesn't feature any additional hardware. In fact, it has fewer ports. Just what are the Raspberry Pi Foundation up to? Read More and Raspberry alternatives Pi Overdose? Here's 5 Raspberry Pi Alternatives Pi Overdose? Here's 5 Raspberry Pi Alternatives You've mastered the Raspberry Pi - now what? Here's 5 of the best Pi alternatives to have a go with next. Read More  are more affordable than ever. Components are available in abundance. Online tutorials and courses abound. In short, now is the time to learn DIY electronics, and these are our top recommended resources for doing just that.

We’ve written in the past about how technical education is being neglected Cursive Writing Is Obsolete; Schools Should Teach Programming Instead [Opinion] Cursive Writing Is Obsolete; Schools Should Teach Programming Instead [Opinion] Cursive writing is an anachronism. Spending any classroom time on it is a waste because as a day-to-day skill, it is not at all practical in the modern, connected world. Read More in favour of subjects that are “less pragmatic”. We’ve also written plenty about how you can teach yourself programming How To Learn Programming Without All The Stress How To Learn Programming Without All The Stress Maybe you've decided to pursue programming, whether for a career or just as a hobby. Great! But maybe you're starting to feel overwhelmed. Not so great. Here's help to ease your journey. Read More . But when it comes to putting together your own geeky electronic ideas, there’s a whole new skill set to learn — DIY electronics.

Be a Tinkerer

Nikola Tesla

Once you have mastered the fundamental skills and tools of this trade Beginner's Electronics: 10 Skills You Need to Know Beginner's Electronics: 10 Skills You Need to Know Many of us have never even touched a soldering iron - but making things can incredibly rewarding. Here's ten of the most basic DIY electronics skills to help you get started. Read More , you’ll be on the road to a new obsession. An obsession of tinkering with microchips and soldering irons that’ll see you creating your own versions and hacks of projects such as:

Of course, if this is an entirely new area to you, it’s advisable to start from the very basics. Electrical safety, Transistors, LEDs, switches, etc. From there, you can progress to learning some basic programming and more complex circuit designs. As time goes on, you’ll soon be able to start working through some of the more challenging and exciting Arduino projects, and much more.

For the Beginner

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For the fundamentals of electronics, Amasci.com provides a fantastic, easy-to-grasp overview for the very beginner. By spending a few hours reading most of the articles on the site, you’ll have a pretty clear understanding of topics ranging from the relation between Watts, Ohms, Amps, and Volts to getting your head around capacitors, along with book recommendations and fun projects.

When you’re ready to move on from the “mere” theoretical, check out the basic electronics page on 101Science. This is an introductory ‘course’, you could work through over a weekend. From circuits and inductors, to data sheets and robotics; by the end of the course, you’ll be itching to get started. And if you’re so inclined, you can test yourself too.

In the site’s own words,

Most Internet courses are disorganised and it is hard to find particular information and follow their train of thought. There is a lot of good information on the Internet but finding it and organising it takes a lot of time, skill and effort. We have done all that for you.

Other Resources

For some more recommendations for learning the very basics, you should check out:

1. Learning to Solder Comic Book: Soldering will become a skill you have to become familiar with. Learn how to do this properly from day one, and you’ll give yourself a valuable advantage.

2. Basic Electronics Video Course: This YouTube course is a must watch for anyone who wants to seriously get into DIY electronics. Currently made up of 78 videos, you’ll learn a huge variety of knowledge in a short space of time.

3. Essential Electronic Skills Beginner's Electronics: 10 Skills You Need to Know Beginner's Electronics: 10 Skills You Need to Know Many of us have never even touched a soldering iron - but making things can incredibly rewarding. Here's ten of the most basic DIY electronics skills to help you get started. Read More : Watch these 10 introductory videos to 10 skills you’ll need to master in order to become proficient at DIY electronics, from breadboarding and glue-gunning to wire stripping and learning how to use a multimeter.

4. AllAboutCircuits: A great site for advancing your knowledge on  all things electrical, with learning resources including video tutorials, worksheets and a very active forum for any questions you may have. The content can get rather advanced, but there’s a ton of great beginner content too.

For the Intermediate Learner

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Unless you’re planning to dive into the deep-end of DIY electronics pretty quickly, you can likely skip over this section for now, or simply refer to these resources when needed.

As you start playing around with various projects, you’ll need more intermediate skills such as the following couple of examples. There are plenty of skills you can turn to, including 3d printing and laser cutting. But in todays hacker environment, a lot of the electronic projects tend toward using Arduino (or something similar), some basic programming skills, and designing circuits that do what you need.

Arduino

Arduino is a tool for making computers that can sense and control more of the physical world than your desktop computer. It’s an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board
(Arduino.cc)

In short, by linking your newfound skills in DIY electronics with an Arduino, your options for experimentation are pretty much limitless.  To get you started, we have our own MakeUseOf Introduction to Arduino Getting Started With Arduino: A Beginner's Guide Getting Started With Arduino: A Beginner's Guide Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. Read More . Arduino has it’s own tutorials and examples for you to work through.Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 18.46.34

The Arduino Software allows you to look over various Arduino samples, modify them, and verify your modifications to make sure you’re getting things right. And if you can’t figure out the code yourself, you’re welcome to use some of the publicly available code too.

This start should be enough to get your toes wet, but study the following two resources, and you’ll hit the ground running. If you’re looking for something a litle more physical, Arduino For Dummies (book) comes highly recommended:

1. Introduction to Arduino Video Course: Jeremy Blum’s introductory course takes you through everything you need to get started with Arduino, including buttons and functions, analog inputs, motors, transistors, GPS tracking and wireless integration.

2. Realising What’s Possible: Take a look at what’s actually possible with an Arduino on this page, from flame-throwing jack-o’-lanterns, to more complex greenhouse climate control mechanisms and secret-knock-detecting door knobs.

Python

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The consensus of DIY-ers seems to be that Python is the best general use language to learn at this stage of your electronics adventure. Not only does it work well with both Arduino and Raspberry Pi (Not sure what that is? What You Need to Know About Getting Started with Raspberry Pi What You Need to Know About Getting Started with Raspberry Pi The Raspberry Pi computer is the latest in a line of compact, multi-function devices, shipped as a barebones package so that end users can use the hardware for virtually any computing project that comes to... Read More ) for more basic projects, but it’s also a relatively easy language to get to grips with, offering a huge number of resources to help you along.

1. LearnPython.org: this free interactive, browser-based tutorial will take you through the basics with relative ease. Simply read a short introduction to each topic, then complete the exercise to try out what you’ve learned.

2. Learn How to Use Python With Arduino: These text-based lessons will show you some projects that have been created with an Arduino using Python, along with how to get started yourself. If you want to move on to more complex Arduino projects, you’d be advised to learn the C programming language, though Python is a simpler place to start.

3. Python Libraries: if there’s something you want to accomplish with Python, someone has likely done it before you, so why not borrow their code to save a bit of time? This page links to 20 Python libraries where you can search for the code you need.

Finding Ideas and Tutorials

RadioShack

When you learn a new skill  in electronics, try it out with a new project to figure out what you can actually do with that new knowledge. After all, finding a project with easy to follow instructions and kit lists, which you’re excited by, is the best way to learn the practical side of DIY electronics.

Head over to the following sites, all of which contain a huge number of project guides. Meander through the pages, and create a shortlist of projects that you can do within your budget. Then, enjoy!

What Will You Make First?

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As we move toward a more connected world 5 Ways That High Tech Personal Wearables Will Change Your Life 5 Ways That High Tech Personal Wearables Will Change Your Life Will the internet dissapear? High-tech personal wearables may drive the internet into the background of our lives. Here's how. Read More , we can expect to see small electronic projects become big business. Our light switches, front doors, and ovens will be connected to our phones and our watches. Our plants will be watered automatically. Our shoes will record our every more. The ambience in our bathroom will be set by the mood of our tweets.

This isn’t the future. These are projects we can put into practice now. With a little knowhow, creativity, fun and imagination, you too can realise the most crazy of ideas so long as you’re willing to put a little effort into learning the basics, along with making a few mistakes.

For the beginners — which idea would you love to work on first? For the proficient — which other resources and skills would you recommend people to learn?

Image Credits: Mediamatic Hybrid Toy Workshop by jeanbaptisteparis (Flickr), Soldering Time Fun by Morgan (via Flickr), Electronics pcb by Philnik (Flickr), Rainbow Cube Seeedstudio Case by Riley Porter (Flickr), Serbian Currency (Shutterstock), RadioShack store (Uploaded by Coolcaesar)

  1. kt
    April 3, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    I made a pc liquid cooler for an old pc with an AMD fx-60 dual core out of an aquarium pump, a cpu heat sink, tubing, a toggle switch and a pickle jar full of ice! It would melt the ice and be hot enough to cook noodles after an hour of gaming and video watching on a dual screen set up! Tinkering is fun!

    • Rob
      April 5, 2015 at 3:58 pm

      Love it! The things you can do with a pickle jar full of ice! ;)

  2. Christopher
    April 1, 2015 at 1:38 am

    If you're a relative beginner to electronics and thinking about trying the Arduino platform, it may be a good idea to get a kit that includes a printed project book and all the parts you'll need to complete those projects. It made things a lot easier for me, anyway.

    • Rob
      April 5, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Thanks Christopher! Do you have any recommendations for specific kits?

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