How do you know where to start?

Comment from E-mail

What I'm interested in is how you learned all you did about electronics and such. I've always been interested in electronics but for some reason I just can't seem to quite understand how I would go from reading a schematic and building a cuircit to drawing my own diagrams and creating a device that actually does something. Every time I'm reminded of how you built a whole computer from scratch in your garage, I just sort of sit in awe for a few seconds. Granted, you are probably the most popular of the garage hackers, but others have done so as well. Where do you start on something like that? How do you know where to start?


Although I'm not current on this stuff I have some suggestions.

You could look for electronics industry magazines. They aren't on popular magazine shelves but you can find them in companies and libraries. Try to subscribe to some. Start filing interesting electronic component ads and articles and notes. Order any chip manuals or the like that you can. Get current with what's going on there.

If you get a manual for a microprocessor it will have lots of schematics of how to construct a working device. You can buy some microprocessors with pre-programmed languages and I/O built in, ones with pins that you can attach to.

You might start with simple chips like counters and registers and shift registers and gates and try designing some simple projects like frequency generators or frequency counters. You'll probably need to use an oscilloscope for this. You'll learn so much even if you don't build this. Then you'll be ready to look for better chips for the same thing.

You can probably buy chips that output graphics and video from a microprocessor to your TV for the next step. These projects will cost a little and take some time but the learning will never be forgotten, and the techniques by which you achieve your goal will remain forever.

I used to think that when I came up with an approach to a certain circuit, I couldn't really assign what was in my head to a company that I worked for. All the little pieces of computer circuit learning, and coding too, that was in me was all I had to go on for my future.