Hello, World.


I have an engineering degree, but I’m not using it. I’m really good at mathing, problem solving, designing, and testing; but I’ve never had much hands on training. I’d like to get that through MakeICT.

I’d like to use the space, equipment, and community expertise to build some electronic devices (because they’re fun and to populate my resume). I’ve done some PC board tracing and routing, and I’ve played with a breadboard, but I’d like to gain the know-how’s I need to regain my career and make a contribution to my community along the way.

I’ve paid my first dues. I have the next orientation on the 23rd in my calendar. I just need someone to help me get started, and if possible, give me some direction of study. I have a couple books on electronics projects. And a friend recommended I get a Raspberry Pi and play with it (because I would get experience with actual Unix programming rather than the unique language of Arduino). If anyone has any input on these things, I would love it! I will say, the first devices that sparked my interest were RC cars and analog radios.

Looking forward to geeking out with you!

Chris Wells


Welcome! I will see you at orientation!

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Microcontroller boards like the various Arduinos or single board computers like the Pi are useful if you need software controlled functionality, or when it’s easier/cheaper to accomplish it in software rather than in hardware. There’s no reason you can’t have both in your tool kit, or a variety of literally hundreds of different boards with different chips to choose from as they all have their strength and weaknesses, and thus the choice tends to be dictated by familiarity and/or choosing the right tool for the job.

For relatively simple gadgets that don’t require significant processing or more advanced connectivity (i.e. ethernet, wifi, USB host, video out), I would opt for a microcontroller board like an Arduino. They’re cheap, and have some IO benefits lacking in the Pi from my understanding. There’s also nothing particularly special about programming them - C/C++ by default, and likely a huge variety of other languages by now, spread across different IDEs. In the case of Arduinos, there’s also a massive userbase, which i’d estimate to be at least several times larger than that of the Pi, so there’s plenty of resources and knowledgeable people out there who can help.

If you want to learn to write software that runs atop an OS, the easiest way is to just do it on your PC. No Pi needed. You can even attach external circuits pretty much just as well.


Thank you for your welcome and response, Mark. This is just the information I’ve been looking for! Not just the technical details of these technologies, but the scope of their utility. The furthest in depth my education ever went was what value of resistor to use to obtain a certain op-amp gain. I’ve been forming the conclusion lately that different circuits must have different advantages and disadvantages depending on the application, as you say. I would love to gain proficiency in both hardware and software, so I can use the right tool for the right task. I just need some practical projects to give me the hands-on knowledge to do this. So I am very open to playing with out of the box microcontrollers, building analog circuits on a bread-board, or even changing bios settings. If you have any specific curricula, texts, or list of projects to get me started, I’d love your direction. Or possibly, I could offer to assist and learn with any current projects you or others are working on.

I appreciate the feedback on Arduinos. I think the important skill I want to gain is programming logic in general, so that, whether I’m proficient in C/C++ or something else, I can jump into a different environment or language without much mucking about.


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There are many Arduino projects and tutorials on the web. While I’m personally not a big fan of rehashing stuff people have already done, there’s value in getting a glimpse of the code that makes it all tick. Same could be said from the electronics side if you’re not too comfortable it. I would highly suggest thinking up a little gadget/device you want to create and slowly learn all the bits and pieces that are needed to bring it together along the way. It’ll be educational, and also hopefully keep you focused. Do you have anything at all in mind?

While I can’t personally vouch for them, I believe there are occasional Arduino classes at MakeICT. Maybe ask around there to see what people think?

Also, full disclosure: I’m merely hobbyist-level. I don’t have a degree in anything, whereas some of our other members are computer science/engineering majors. So don’t take my word as some master’s advice.


I suppose if there was interest I could put together a 5 person arduino class

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Well, I’ve always been curious about how our household devices work, an AM/FM radio, guitar amplifier, RC car. I know the circuits are fairly simple, but I’ve never had the means to try to build them.

And I’ll take all the help I can get. Besides, a hobbyist may have valuable perspectives a professional may not.

Or, to think bigger, Mark, a self-driving car model would be exciting. It’s a project in process, so it’s not rehashing.

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So those are little questions with big answers.

Modulation theory is a very complex subject.

AM radio is not so bad

Signal ramafication predictions of overdrive germanium transistor pairs is a very complex subject

Jimi Hendrix fuzz face isn’t so bad

Audio transcoding and pattern recognition is a very complex subject

Mycroft home assistant isn’t so bad

I’d start with blink or hello world, simple transistor light, print a pencil case, do a woodblock print, build a footstool, make a shopping bag, bottle opener, pinch pot…

No matter what area there is a start. But it’s like heroine…

No I meant heroine… its strong, beautiful, and there to help.

Hey that sounds fun…
Beginners luck - a series of classes where you get all your certifications, and do basic projects in each area!

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I’d argue that some of these topics are complex that have been simplified as far as the engineer is concerned due to miniaturization of consumer goods. For example, I recall opening up RC toys as a kid, and they had circuit boards jam packed with discrete transistors, caps, trim pots, resistors, inductors, etc. Then not that long ago I was looking at the circuits of some RC toys we had sitting on the hackables shelf. What had changed? Well, there was almost nothing left on the board except for an integrated circuit, a crystal oscillator and few passive support components. And so it goes. More and more can be done by finding an appropriate IC for the task, and designing the supporting circuit as closely to the reference design in the part’s datasheet.

I suggest coming to MakeICT frequently (I know it’s a bit difficult and maybe awkward at first) and waltzing around the electronics lab. Maybe take a look at some of the books we got in there on subjects that might be of interest. Take apart some of the stuff we got on the hackables shelf on the right hand side when you walk in. Find some circuits you’d like to try out, grab a breadboard and some components and slap it together.

I’m usually there most of the weekend, but I’ve been sort of busy as of late.

There is definitely something to say about the ubiquitization of ICs, Mark. I tore into an old phonograph/radio amplifier last year, and I was mesmerized by the station selector dial. Where today a simple encoder would do the trick, the dial pulled a pulley that adjusted the turns on the inductor in the resonance circuit of the receiver. I appreciate --and want to appreciate more – the circuitry behind ICs, but these mechanical-electrical cooperative circuits have an elegant ingenuity to them. I was an espresso machine technician for two years, and these days service professionals simply troubleshoot to the IC and replace it rather than replacing components. I’ve heard similar stories from other appliances industries such as TVs.

Your suggestion fits my learning style, Mark. I like reverse-engineering things, and building things other people tell me to. Taking apart toys and replicating them would make me feel like a kid again. I’d come by tomorrow, but I’m under the impression I need to attend an orientation first.

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My logophilia dials are swinging wildly! Mayday! Mayday! lol. While I love the complex and abstract, little projects like that are just what I need to get started. Thanks for the suggestions and the encouragement. Here’s to heroine! Superwoman, not Mary Jane.

A post was split to a new topic: Getting into programming, Raspberry Pi, single board computers, etc