Setting Up a Hobby Electronics Workspace
Electronics is a great hobby because it offers hobbyists the opportunity to exercise creativity as they think of ways to design a circuit to do a given thing, because there are often very many different ways a thing can be done. But in addition to the creative aspect, there is also a strong analytical aspect. Though there are many ways to implement a given circuit, the circuit is of course constrained by the laws of physics. There is a great deal of satisfaction to be had by solving challenging problems.
And along with the pleasure of being creative and of also being focused and technical, there is often a practical reward. Once you successfully make a device, you can, and should, use it! If not for the utility, then for the pleasure of knowing that you are using something you made with your own mind and hands to do something interesting and/or useful. As you increase in knowledge, skill, and experience, you will most likely find yourself able to design and construct devices and tools of greater and greater complexity and utility.
In this Hub, we won't actually do any electronics, though. What we will do is set the stage on which to do great electronics later.
Find a place with some storage space for your tools and supplies and a nice flat workspace you can keep available, or at least be able to clear out when you want to work on a project. A desk with some drawers or a desk with some shelf space on which to store your tools and supplies is fine. If you have tools that could cause injury if handled carelessly, like a soldering iron, it is best if you can store them in a space with some kind of access protection. Shown below is a picture of my workspace. It's just a small desk. My electronics supplies are in the bottom drawer, which you can see has one of those child-safe locks keeping it from being easily opened by the little one. Of course it goes without saying that one should be extra careful with things like soldering irons and absolutely keep small children away while they are in use.
There are a few general items that most beginner electronics hobbyists will find very useful as they begin to learn and do some projects. I'll list just a few here:
- A Prototyping Board (also called a "breadboard")
- Assorted resistors
- A spool of wire (18 or 20 gauge solid core is good)
- A battery enclosure
- A basic multimeter
And shown below is an image of these items:
Basic Beginning Electronics Supplies
Where To Go From Here
You may already have a specific idea of what exactly you want to learn or make, in which case, you can directly start researching that. But if you think that you'd like to learn electronics but don't know exactly what to make first, I suggest finding books and tutorials with beginner level projects that help you to start actually doing electronics as soon as possible, of course while teaching you the theory as well. In the next Hub, we'll talk about Direct Current (DC) circuits and make and analyze a very simple circuit.