How to Get Started with DIY Electronics: A Beginner's Radio Station from Wires Up
What does it take to build your own electronics? An interesting question, considering that we are surrounded by them. Can you DIY the most common electronics like a cell phone or a computer? There are other electronics to consider, such as the large and very complex electronics of a subway system or simpler things like a little LED light seen dangling from a keychain. Electronics have become a part of our ecosystem and, for those interested, building DIY electronic devices at home has never been easier: especially with all the electronics kits available. With a little work, you can also build your own army of robots to do your bidding! However, you have to start learning first.
Some things can be intimidating, like learning a new language or asking someone out on a date. Learning about electronics is no exception. With images of complex technical drawings, sparking circuit boards and robot dogs opening doors seen on TV and in films, it is no surprise that some people get scared off. The reality isn’t so scary, though. With a little time and passion, anyone can create their own DIY electronics. One strategy to get over this intimidation is to take little steps. Luckily, there are plenty of resources out there to help you get started.
Having a goal helps many people stay motivated while learning a new task. With that in mind, here is a challenge: make your own audio experience, complete with speakers, instrument, FM broadcasting and receiving as well as a few special extras. This equipment will come in handy if you find yourself leading a rebellion against the new robot overlords.
This is where a lot of people freak out. You aren’t going to do that, though, because you are going to lead the rebellion.
A soldering iron is a necessary component of DIY electronics. It is used to create electrically conductive connections between electrical components. Simply stated: it gets hot and it melts some metal. It really is that simple. If you want to learn more about soldering irons then take a look at this guy, Big Clive, or simply search for a video about how to solder, there are many guides out there.
Important note for buying a soldering iron online: keep in mind the type of voltage used in your area and buy the appropriate soldering iron for that voltage.
To effectively solder something, you need... solder. Knowing what to use can be intimidating but it is quite simple. Solder is like conductive glue which is created after heating the metal outside with the flux inside. Together it creates an alloy.
Once again, you can search for a video about it or just watch the Big Clive video. The link we’ve provided is for some lead-free solder but you can also find leaded versions. The upside of the slightly toxic lead solder is that x-ray vision can’t see through it.
This kit will get you started. It is simple with only a few parts but there are no instructions. Honestly, you don’t need instructions. The board is labeled where each component goes and this will help you to identify what the components are. Soon you will be broadcasting to all the local radios that are within 30 meters or a little less if there are walls. Be sure to get some AA batteries to power this broadcast tower.
If you find you need help here is a link to instructions.
Now you can broadcast, but you will need something to receive it on. Chances are that you have an FM radio already, but where is the adventure in that? This is comparable to the last project but with instructions! Soon you will be able to broadcast to a captive audience: yourself!
If you are the type that needs a little extra power to your sound then this kit is perfect. This Hi-Fi headphone amp will boost audio signals for louder and fuller sound. Also, with the clear case, you can show off your new electronic know-how. This will also help if you find your new FM receiver to be a little underpowered.
Maybe headphones aren’t your thing. Why not use a Tesla coil that also shoots out (harmless) bolts of electricity while outputting your audio? You can even touch the sparks! As you continue your mastery of all things electric, you can surround yourself with a tiny sparking tower of power!
And if tiny sparking towers aren’t your thing, here are some speakers. The clear casing will also match your amplifier. It even has LEDs that light up with the audio. When building this one, take a note of the electronic schematic and compare it to the circuit board. This will aid in understanding how schematics differ from the board. Simple schematics are a great way to learn what is happening with the circuits and the symbols that represent components.
This is a complimentary kit that goes along with the speaker kit. Once it's been built, you can attach it to the speakers and it will display the audio through LEDs. Perfect for those mini-raves that you can start throwing.
If you have completed all the kits up to this point then you have a broadcaster, receiver, amplifier, tiny sparking tower, speakers and a light show. Now you need to express your creativity through the electronic organ. Finally, you can jam out and play all the songs that soldering things has inspired in you.
Some of these projects have to have a little more current than a couple of AA batteries so you will need to buy at least one AC/DC adapter. As you continue down your electro-path, you’ll find adapters like this quite useful. There are a variety of plugs that can be fitted too so you won’t have to worry about having the exact right one. The voltage is also adjustable so you can use it for a variety of projects.