Is it too late to learn electronics?

Learn electronics from books yourself. How hopeless is that?

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  • Unfortunately, I have no technical training, but I find it very interesting what you can do with different microcontrollers and FPGAs, and I have often wondered how difficult it would be, if at all possible, to get the necessary knowledge from books and the Internet to teach. I am already aware that the whole idea is possibly quite naive, but I would like to hear your thoughts on it.

  • Honestly? You have to "select" the opinions on this. Instead of waiting for opinions that will take the decision from you ("leave it!") .... JUST DO IT.
    Nobody here knows you personally, that a judgment could be made as to whether you can "do it". In the end, you have to find out for yourself anyway, whether you have the strength to endure it to the end.
    But I'm sure other people have tips for you on how to best do it.
    Wouldn't a VHS course be something to start with? There is sure to be ...

  • I only did an apprenticeship as a power electronics technician and pure electronics was only part of the apprenticeship, but I'll answer anyway. I think as long as you don't work with mains voltage, you can teach yourself a lot. I have worked as a software developer and admin for most of my life and have also followed the path of being a self-taught person.

    Why shouldn't it work in the same way with electronics, today you have the Internet (what I would have been happy earlier ^^), books and what I think is really great are online lectures from universities. I find learning in a lecture the easiest, because you don't have to teach yourself everything here, but have someone who gives you a central theme and explains everything nicely. Of course, you have to work through and deepen the material yourself.

    My opinion is always that you can learn almost anything if you are really interested and have fun with it. There are also some famous autodidacts like: van Gogh, Goehte, Brothers Grimm or mathematicians like Fermat and physicist Faraday. You see, you can even make it to world fame without having completed an apprenticeship or a degree in that direction. But it also takes a lot of self-discipline, because not every topic is fun. Here's something I still know from my training, maybe you will have a look at training plans to see what areas are involved.

    - Metal processing (technical drawing, scribing, filing, sawing, drilling, bending, etc.)
    - Electrics (cross connection, changeover, etc.)
    - Contactor technology
    - Read data sheets
    - VDE
    - three-phase current
    - Electric motors (start-up circuits, etc.)
    - Control technology (PID controller, etc.)
    - Creation of documents (parts list, circuit diagram, technical drawings, function plan / description, measurement protocol, etc.)
    - power electronics
    - PLC (Siemens)
    - Measure (multimeter, clamp meter, Duspol, oscilloscope, etc.)
    - semiconductor physics
    - technical math
    - Electronics (resistors, transformers, coils, diodes, capacitors, transistors, thyristors, reflex couplers, operational amplifiers, ICs such as timers, etc.)
    - Digital technology (logic circuits such as AND, OR, EXOR, half adders, full adders etc)

    I can't think of more now, of course projects were carried out on each topic which deepen the respective topics such as 7-segment display once with a diode network and once with contactors (whoever realizes that with the fewest diodes / contactors), lifts were built where everything was done by yourself , Control via PLC, car and frame made of metal, electronics with small motors designed and built in-house.

    I hope I was able to help you a little, it was all loooong ago for me and I am also in the process of refreshing everything and learning new things.

  • So I started sooooooo small when, at the age of 8, I found an unfinished kit for a model building remote control in my uncle's basement. With that I first learned to solder and understood how to read a circuit diagram and assign components.
    However, I was still a long way from understanding.
    That was done by the judge's books. On the side of the road I cannibalized broken televisions and sent the components to my experiments because there was no money for high-end construction kits a la Kosmos.
    Over time, I understood a lot more, read Elektor, Elrad, ELO in the library, bought books, and put a lot of pocket money into components.
    Then in the early 1980s there was a wonderful series on school television about digital electronics. What have I learned there: shift registers, flip-flops, memories, inverters, Schmit triggers, etc. etc. - so to speak sucked up like a sponge.
    This was followed by the ZX81 as a kit, even more digital electronics, etc.

    With the in-depth basic knowledge, I then ventured into µC because I knew roughly what I was doing and what you can do with it.

    Although I never did an apprenticeship, I now deal with it professionally.

    Fait: Learning by doing - lots of practical experimentation to gain knowledge and always voluntary further training

  • It's like everything that you start late: you can get it to a certain level with diligence and commitment. But at some point there is a limit where you are pretty much in line and which you can then only cross with insane effort.

    So somehow the following applies: "What Hans doesn't learn, Hans never learns any more".

    Nevertheless, you can have fun at the amateur level. And luckily there are some professionals here in the forum who are very, very helpful!

  • I recommend the standard work to anyone who speaks English
    "The Art Of Electronics" by Horowitz / Hill

  • Hello Bjavor,

    If you are able to get along well with "one-on-one" studies (by reading, trying out, trail and error, etc.) it is definitely possible to get to a semi-professional level, it just takes a lot of time, patience and discipline !
    In the age of the Internet, the whole thing is also very much simplified for you, as you already have the (teaching) documents for practically all specialist topics at home!
    On the subject of "microcontrollers" I can highly recommend the site, as a concrete introduction to Atmel AVR microcontrollers, this tutorial here:

    In addition, this forum is not "only" about microcontrollers, but also about many other key topics in electronics.

    And as in any "good" forum: First try to find the answer yourself by using the search function (s) and if this cannot be found, open a new topic and answer your question as precisely as possible, formulate.
    In this forum, too, there are all categories of users, from the absolute beginner to the graduate engineer. with over 30 years of professional experience and that for almost every topic!

    And still very important: Do not be discouraged if you keep getting the impression that you are currently not making any progress or that a test setup simply does not work!
    It's not only like this for you, but also for the professionals, because the more you already know, the more complicated you think sometimes and therefore you won't find the "simplest" mistakes (anymore)!

    I speak about this from personal, private and professional experience!

    Have fun...


    PS: I am happy to help too, just take courage!

    PS: 230 volts can be damn deadly but only once per person ...

  • Your personal attitude is very important. If you already write "How hopeless is that?", Then you already have the attitude that it won't work, then it probably is. But if you are motivated, "how do I do it best?", Or "what do I have to do with it ...?". Then you will also achieve a lot, but learning is not only done through theory, much more important is the practice, in your case it means teaching kits, only books are not enough.

    If you get dizzy while counting bits, you have too much of it.

    Getting old is nice, aging is not.

  • Thank you for the encouraging answers! I am also very grateful for the link and book recommendation!

    Originally I wanted to start right away by asking for book recommendations (and whoever has any I would still be very grateful), but then I had a little difficulty in expressing what I actually want. (I rarely speak / write in German, which doesn't really help either ...) But when I thought about it, it seemed to me more and more that most of them would probably think that I set myself unrealistic goals anyway. Of course, I don't suppose that you could just replace university education in the department with books, but at university you study a lot from books, and so I thought that under certain circumstances you could work your way up to a useful hobby level .. .

    Here are some things that I would be very interested in:

    - To diagnose and repair C64 problems.
    - To understand what every component in a C64 is used for and how exactly they work.
    - How and by what means you can replace certain components if you want
    - How the individual chips, bus systems, etc. (i.e. the entire architecture) work
    - How you could build interesting things (expansions, replicas, etc.) yourself with the help of FPGAs and microcontrollers.

    Some (all?) Of the above-mentioned things are of course purposefully complicated if you want to start from scratch and would take a lot of time (I assume) to get there ... That's why I started with the question of whether it is realistic at all is feasible. Although you have to note that I am 39 years old and have a job as a software developer "on the side" and only want to do this as a hobby ...

    But assuming that it works, then I would like to focus on the following areas:

    - Basics in digital electronics and low voltage (or whatever it is in German ) I would never touch high voltage!
    - Computer architecture theory (how the individual parts communicate with each other, bus systems, etc.)
    - FPGA, VHDL, AVR etc.

    So if you still don't think I'm crazy, could you please show me some books and / or pages in these areas?

  • Here are two other websites where you can find lots of experiments, information and book lists.

    Greetings Dirk

    sent via Robotron perforated tape technology with A 5120

  • Oh - high voltage in a reasonable framework is also quite funny. But if at some point 50 cm lightning shoots through the room, you should possibly stop. (So ​​that you don't lower the carpet like me )

  • So if you really want to get used to it, you should next to the theoretical ones
    also deal with the practical "things" (you can finally see that
    what, that's what makes it fun!).

    Theory: I used to have a simple introduction when I was at school:
    Introduction to analog and digital technology (Mechelke)
    (Is there e.g. used at Amazon from 10Euro)

    I know from forums that the author himself is a teacher at a technical school. And in
    I have also heard in various forums that he should be very good as a teacher, I can
    Recommend the book anyway, check it out yourself from time to time.
    There are also several I-pages (electronics compendium from above, etc.).
    In any case, Ohm's law, control of simple components such as
    Diodes, transistors, etc., seem boring to many, but it is an absolute one
    GOT TO!

    Practical: Buy an adjustable power supply unit, a breadboard, if necessary
    cheap starter set with resistors / capacitors / diodes etc. (<= 10Euro)
    and a pair of simple logic modules (74LSxyz) and try to control them.

    You quickly spent a few months with that, then you can see further:
    E.g. in microcontrollers (AVR, MSP430 etc.), but it will be until FPGAs
    last. But it will take years to analyze C64 boards.

    Have fun