10 Skills Every Beginner Electronics Maker Needs to Know

Description

Today's Hardware Friday post has nothing to do with Microsoft and nothing to do with development.  But given the time of year and the number of hardware projects we've highlighted, I thought this post from Kannon Yamada one that you all might like and will come in handy...

Beginner’s Electronics: 10 Skills You Need to Know

Many of us have never even touched a soldering iron – but making things can feel incredibly rewarding. There are some key skills you need when tackling electronics projects – whether you plan on fixing broken devices or assembling Arduinos (our Arduino guide), the right skills make the difference between rage and elation. Here’s a quick run-down of ten of the most basic DIY electronics skills to help you get started:

Breadboarding

A breadboard allows the construction of a circuit, but without soldering. Why? Because you won’t want to assemble using solder if any individual part is defective or if you’ve misunderstood the diagram. It also can instruct beginning students of electronics and circuit pathways the various components that go into many devices. ...

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Soldering

Soldering irons run the gamut from expensive to cheap – I recommend this iron. Although you can prototype circuits on a breadboard, you will need some soldering skills to do much else....

Using a Multimeter

Multimeters perform a number of tasks. The most common use is to measure current, resistance, and voltage. They’re also relatively inexpensive: A cheap one costs around $6 – the better regarded models cost upwards of $20. Professional models cost hundreds of dollars. ...

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Drilling Holes in Project Boxes

You’ll find yourself needing to drill holes in project boxes at some point. A project box keeps all your wires in one spot – they offer convenience, ease of assembly and the ability to hold circuit boards....

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Using Hot Glue Guns

Hot glue guns don’t cost much. I found one for ~$6 on Amazon and it includes several glue sticks. While you can use any kind of non-conductive adhesive (insulator) to anchor the various components in place, hot glue guns offer a good mixture of convenience, low-cost and ease-of-use. ...

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Using Liquid Electrical Tape

Exposed wires and solder-points can create shorts. Applying electrical tape or heat shrink tape in tight enclosures sometimes won’t fit. Liquid electrical tape fixes both problems. While it costs more than regular electrical tape, it offers ease-of-use, plus some additional features, such as water-proofing, insulating and increasing the durability of soldered joints....

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Electronics Safety

There’s a lot of dangers to keep in mind when working with electronics. Capacitors can kill you (never disassemble a power supply as James Bruce has, bad James!), electrostatic discharge can ruin sensitive electronics and always power off your devices before working on them. ...

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Cleaning a Circuit Board or Solder Joint

Here’s a great way to clean up the organic residue from soldering or if you just want to clean a printed circuit board (PCB):

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Wire Stripping

I prefer thicker, unbraided wires for use with a wire stripper. I don’t recommend using the cheaper ones (adjustable strippers) that come with technician kits – they tend to cut right through braided wires. The best are the automatic wire strippers (or heated automatic wire strippers), but these tend to cost quite a bit. Gauged wire strippers offer the best midground between price and performance.

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