While the tools and components that make up electronics have changed radically since their inception, the fascination and passion for the hobby remains consistent. It started with the radio around 100 years ago, before moving on to audio equipment in the 50s and 60s, then computers in the 70s and 80s. Today, the focus is largely on micros.
Electronics hobbyists have always turned to publications to learn more about the topic, but now we have the internet and its many growing communities who enjoy discussing their passion. So, if you enjoy tinkering with tech, have a project in mind, or you simply want to learn more about electronics, here are some easy ways to get into it as a hobby.
Your best bet would be to pick up a kit of some sort. The many kits that are found among Raspberry Pi and Arduino devices are a good place to start looking. They typically require little to no equipment to put together, while still allowing you to create an endless variety of devices. Generally speaking, Arduino is more suitable for beginners than the Pi.
Tools and Supplies
Once you’ve stuck your toes in the water, you’ll want to pick up some basic tools and supplies that will help you create more substantial gadgets. Given that you’ll quickly amass a ridiculous amount of tiny bits and pieces, it’s always recommended that you start with a compartmental organizer.
To create anything that will last, you’ll need a soldering iron, solder and cleaner. Unless you enjoy yelling at wires, a Helping Hand (yes, that’s what they call it) is a must. Some other key tools include a multimeter, hot glue gun, mini-vise, breadboards, capacitors, jumper wires, resistors and printed circuit boards.
These are all pretty common items, and you shouldn’t have any problems finding them on Amazon or eBay. Just keep in mind that the latter option will likely have you waiting a few weeks for your shipments to arrive from China.
A good suite of software tools will help you accurately and efficiently design your electronics projects. Granted, you don’t have to go all-out with an advanced and expensive piece of CAD software from the get-go. Even something more basic that allows you to put together 3D models will be considerably better than using a pen and paper.
Perhaps the most important piece of software you’ll need is the one you’ll be using to design your printed circuit boards. You want something precise and capable. Start by taking a look at this useful circuit maker tutorial by Altium, which serves as an informative primer on software in this category.
Electronics fairs are the perfect place to get involved in the hobbyist community, make some friends, learn about new products, and discover new ideas. Maker Faire Austin is one of the most popular. Not only will you be exposed to a wide range of different projects and gadgets, you’ll also have the opportunity to show off your own creations.
Electronics is a great hobby to get into. It’s inexpensive, educational, creative and just plain fun.
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