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components for newbie workshop
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components for newbie workshop

by marzetti on Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:46 am

I'm just getting started with Arduino and electronics. My primary interest is motor control so I will be experimenting with various motor driver chips. Could someone suggest a good assortment of basic components (resistors, capacitors, etc.) to stock up on so I won't have to be running to Radio Shack to get something I need.

Thanks,
Greg

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Re: components for newbie workshop

by zener on Fri Nov 05, 2010 1:47 pm

That's a tough one. You can get 1000 parts and not have the one you need. I work in a small factory and we don't have what we need half the time. But whatever you need, I probably have it...

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Re: components for newbie workshop

by uoip on Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:05 pm

If Radio Shack stock a cheap assortment of them, you should at least think about stocking them too. Following that guideline, it's good to have a bunch of resistors, a few capacitors, some diodes, PNP and NPN transistors, and LEDs. You'll figure out what's most useful for your own situation.

As for me, I feel like connectors are a key. I always want more stackable banana plugs. I'm always cutting cables in half and soldering stackable banana plugs to the wires in the cable, so I can reconnect things in nefarious ways. I've bought a few universal battery eliminators on sale just because they came with a nice cable that had a few dozen different connectors on the end (barrel connectors, audio connectors, just about anything that's commonly used for low voltage DC). I cut the cable off the adapter and soldered stackable banana plugs to it, giving me access to a whole bunch of jacks. Micro grabbers, test leads, aligator clips, serial cables, ribbon connectors, terminal strips, Anderson Power Poles for 12VDC (google them), breakout boards, these are what I can't live without.
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Re: components for newbie workshop

by chatham on Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:50 am

I don't know if this is decent advice or not, but one thing that I kinda wish I had known when I was younger is that electronics is a lot more like cooking than baking. I.e., precise values aren't necessarily hugely important every time. Certainly, they're important for a lot of things, but depending on what you do, a wide array of components, at least at the start, may wind up actually being somewhat confusing, especially with the way electronic components are labeled. So it may be more convenient to just get a few different sizes of resistors and capacitors rather than a big assortment - that way you can quickly learn the differences between your 3 values of resistor, so when you see one on your proto board, it's easy to know what it is. Again, it depends a lot on what you're doing - if you're using a lot of microcontroller stuff, you can get away with fairly few components, but if you're going to be doing timing stuff with R/C circuits, you'll be needing specific values.

Right now, I've got more or less the following in my shop in terms of resistors and capacitors -
10K ohm
1.8K ohm
68 ohm
.01 uF
.1 uF
These values just happen to be the ones I use in my projects, so it's kinda the catch-22 of I use them, so I order them, so I design for them, so I use them, but it tends to work out like, 10K's for pullup/pulldown resistors, 1.8Ks for limiting currents through LEDs, and 68's for more LED work and some signal filtering. The capacitors are all just for decoupling caps.

Other stuff that will come in handy:
Lots of LEDs (for debugging - also something like this is a good way to keep your boards looking cleaner)
Male and female connector wires like Adafruit's (these are worth their weight in gold)
Lots of header pins
And a few potentiometers, linear and audio taper.
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Re: components for newbie workshop

by marzetti on Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:47 pm

Thanks Alan. That's the sort of advice I needed. I figure it would be nice to have parts at hand to get things going and then adjust values to tweak things as needed.

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Re: components for newbie workshop

by chatham on Tue Nov 09, 2010 4:14 am

You're welcome - glad to be of service! Of course, depending on what you do, said advice may only get you to like the second project you want to do, but especially if you're going to be experimenting with existing chips talking to each other, you're likely going to more often need to have just "a pull-up resistor" or "a decoupling cap" rather than a precise value - so when the datasheet shows a 20k or 47k pulling up a line, you can always see if you can get away with just a 10k (although I won't make any guarantees!). And of course, you can always put resistors and capacitors in series and parallel to change their values, so while it's not the cleanest approach, it does mean that you can always slap something ugly together with some math, and then just go to RadioShack once afterward when you want to make a board that you can look at and actually make sense of it.

One thing I forgot (which won't be a problem if you get a pre-made pack of wires, like the adafruit ones), get a number of different colors of wires. This way, once your board starts getting crowded, you'll kinda know what goes where - a GREAT habit to have from the get-go. It's totally one of those little things that's easy to not think about, but will make your life so much nicer!
OpenChord.org - Open Source kits to let you play Guitar Hero with a real guitar, or build your own Wii/PS3/USB controllers.

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Re: components for newbie workshop

by Entropy on Tue Nov 09, 2010 1:16 pm

The way I usually do it is:
If I need a component I order it from Mouser, but unless it's really expensive or I am 100% positive I will NEVER need that particular component again, I order whatever the quantity is to get Mouser's first price break.

Unless it's something like a resistor or capacitor, then you want to go for the 3rd or 4th level price breaks. As in, order 2000 resistors when you only need 5. The way the price breaks worked for one project, I think 2000 resistors cost me only around twice as much as the 20 I needed...
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Re: components for newbie workshop

by stinkbutt on Tue Nov 09, 2010 1:24 pm

I usually use 330 ohm resistors as current limiters. I don't really have any strong feelings about the matter one way or the other, however. So long as the LED actually lights up you'll probably be happy.

Oh, and I'd invest in three breadboards that you can tie together and probably two boxes of those breadboard jumpers. Makes the wiring easier to understand. That isn't to say I don't like the flexible jumpers, but after a while they end up looking like a jungle and I can't tell what goes where, so most of the boilerplate wiring, like tying together all the VCC and ground planes on the breadboards, and the VCC and GND pins on the micros I handle with the preformed stuff.

You might want to pick up a half-dozen 2N3904's and 2N3906's. 9 times out of 10 if you need a transistor one of those two will do in a pinch.
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