Information on learning electronics?
I'm fairly new to the forum (and extremely so to electronics in general). I used the search function and tried to wade through the results to the best of my ability, but didn't seem to find anything quite like what I was looking for and you folks look really knowledgeable so I thought I would inquire here.
I am looking to get into designing and building my own on-board preamp for a DIY bass I'm going to be building at some point in the near future. Shucks, I would even like to get to the point where I could do pickups, effects pedals, and amplifiers but that's getting ahead of myself.
While I am aware that this may not sound like such a hard thing to accomplish for some of you, I know next to nothing about circuit design or function, which is the point where I come to my question.
Could anyone here recommend some or refer me to any literature to learn more about how to do this? I would prefer something a little more linear like a book, but am sure there are good websites that I don't know of. I am extremely interested in anything comprehensive for absolute beginners to learn the ropes (how to read schematics, basics of circuit board layouts, examples of circuits, how to do the math for them, etc.) and even stuff more complex than that when the time is right.
I have attempted to pursue this myself by perusing various websites, but most of it appears to be much to abstractly nebulous and a little over my head, so any help is definitely appreciated!
(Mods, if this thread is in an inappropriate forum, I do apologize in advance and hope you can help me place it where it belongs.)
I'm not sure how much I can help since I don't know your personal situation, location, age, education etc (I'm 58 and a professional electrical engineer). What follows is strictly my opinion.:)
If you're looking for a good hobby site, try http://buildyourownclone.com/ - they specialize in electronics for guitar and bass and have good starter kits, a user forum and excellent customer service; their pedal kits are very good by all reports and the one one I built (OD2) works well.
To learn electronics: as always start with the basics - Ohm's law, resistance, capacitance, inductance, impedance. Pay particular attention to simple voltage divider circuits - then go to operational amplifiers ("op-amps"). Start with analogue (linear) then digital if you're interested. Math skills help - a lot (sorry, but it's true) - trig functions, logarithms, exponentials to start with. You'll know how far you want to take it after that. There are lots of good Internet sites - try 101science.com/Radio.htm. For a book , try http://www.arrl.org/shop/Understandi...ic-Electronics.
Oh ya, learn to solder - get good at it;).
I hope this helps a little...
Well I guess I could have been a little more specific about my personal situation, but long story short I have been hit pretty hard with a situation which has left me disabled and out of work for a long stretch of time (I am almost 22 and was kind of a workaholic before this, so it has been a little depressing :D), so I thought I would just dive into something to help fill the time and keep my head on straight until I go back to college (I wanted to go for engineering, actually so we're not too far off base!).
As far as BYOC's website goes, I was aware of their existence and was considering doing one of their kits, if only for the hands on experience in circuit board populating, soldering, and troubleshooting skills so good call there. I've also poked around freestompboxes', diystompboxes', and other forums like them but most of the terminology and theory runs right over my head (so I guess I'd like to get to a point where I can even ask questions and join in discussions over there).
But while that would definitely help me with killing time and having a finished product to show for it (which is my ultimate goal, as far as I'm concerned) it wouldn't satisfy my burning curiosity in knowing the why's and how's of electrical design. What I mean is, it would be nice for me to have a general idea of how something might function or even sound before it's built without just tinkering blindly.
As for your other suggestions, they look very promising and I will absolutely have to check those out. While I don't claim to be the best at the higher forms of math, I am all about learning something new (I just really like furthering my education on either a formal or informal basis).
Note that instrument electronics is an ART as will as a science. Leo's classic circuits did not come because he was some math genius, but because he was an artist and used his EARS and tried lots of things developing things that worked and pitching out things that didn't (just like all art). So yea at times it can get boring and things you try don't seem to work and it can get discouraging, but THEN you try something totally different and BINGO you are on to something.
So yeah this sort of thing should be great not only to "keep your hands" busy, but beyond that actually allow you to create things that have value rather than just "fill the time".
As always, it's a LOT better to just find things that interest you and build and study those, and then move on to the next thing that interests you, rather than to try to cram on some abstract electronic theory. After you've build a number of things that you found interesting and have understood them, you'll discover that in doing that you've picked up massive amounts of knowledge that you weren't even aware of!
I'm not even sure where to direct someone these days. When I started learning the basics Radio Shack actually used to sell parts to build things and they had a whole series of little mini handbooks called "Engineer's Mini Notebook"'s written by Forrest Mims.
Each "notebook" covered the basics of several topics. There were basics like ohms law and such, and other ones covering op-amp ic circuits, digital logic circuits, etc. those were a big help.
I also grabbed a copy of the RCA receiving tube manual, and an old HAM book that covered a lot of ground like filter networks, shielding, tuned antennas, etc.
Also, my grandfather was a HAM operator, so I jumped in real, real early.
IMO, I'd still suggest seeking out these resources. They were VERY helpful.
There also used to be two magazines that I subscribed to; "Electronics Now" and "Popular Electronics". Every issue had simple projects, tech explanations and other kinds of info.
...thus began the path to EE. :)
Jump in, have fun, experiment, and make mistakes!!!
Also, I applaud your plans to build a Pre for your bass!
There was a book published in the early 90's (if memory is correct) called Electronic Projects For Musicians and one of the included project was a (very) rudimentary on board Pre. Components have changed since then, op amp package sizes have gotten smaller and quality has improved, but these are good starting grounds.
You'll also find that winding your own pickup is incredibly easy! (Winding your own pickups to sound good, be consistent, and have your desired characteristics however, is a definite art.)
My goodness, it seems my cup runneth over with excellent advice! Thanks to everyone who replied for both the good information and (invaluable) encouragement.
I suppose I always suspected musical instrument electronics to be equal parts art and science, just like most other trades of skill. My view on it has always been similar to that of music itself, which is to say, it can be correct according to theory all day but that doesn't mean it SOUNDS good. I will have to make sure and temper the two together!
So with that in mind I think I'll take it slow and try some projects, make some enlightening mistakes, do some more reading (wonderful material, by the way), keep on trucking while I learn the basics, and see you good folks on the other side. Then maybe one day I can answer some of these questions for other people.
Once again, thank you all very much and I hope you have a pleasant day.
The best beginner book I know: http://www.amazon.com/Getting-Starte.../dp/0945053282
Fresh out in an English translation. Has a lot of guitar and bass electronics.
Ignore the tacky title, it is a good book.
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