[time-nuts] Newbie questions

Jim Harman j99harman at gmail.com
Wed Jan 27 14:42:13 UTC 2016

On Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 7:04 PM, <timenut at metachaos.net> wrote:

> I am trying to learn more about electronics and start doing
> hardware projects. I have never been into model building or anything
> similar,
> so my construction skills are lacking. I understand a lot of things in
> theory,
> but practice still eludes me.

To get a better background in electronics, I would highly recommend "The
Art of Electronics" by Horowitz and Hill. The long awaited and fully
updated 3rd edition came out just last year and it is well worth the $80.00
price. As a person who has worked with electronics on and off since 1960, I
can say it teaches electronics the way I wish I had been taught. It has a
strong emphasis on practical applications and assumes only high school math.

Some here may pooh-poo it, but to get started building useful electronic
systems I would recommend the Arduino platform. Fully assembled processor
boards are about $25.00 from reputable suppliers and have plenty of I/O
pins to get you started. On some versions of the processor you can expand
the I/O by adding "shields" which mate to headers on the processor board.

All you need to do to is to plug the board into a USB port on your PC or
Mac and download the free IDE. Both the hardware and software are open
source so you can see exactly how they work under the covers if you want. A
wide variety of libraries is also available (all free) and there is a
lively user community. The programming language is a stripped-down version
of C++ with a bunch of simple extensions to support analog and digital
I/O.  Once your code is working you can either continue to power the system
through the USB port or run it stand-alone with a 9V battery or wall wart.

I have built a GPSDO based on the design posted here by Lars Walenius a
couple of years ago. It uses the Arduino Micro processor, which is nice
because it has a second serial port. This lets it get serial data from the
GPS and talk to the PC at the same time. I would be happy to post the
schematics and code if you are interested.


--Jim Harman

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