Getting Started – Part 2

Have you ever found yourself avoiding an idea more and more after an initial resistance, only to discover later on that it was well worth your time?

Years ago when I started dabbling in electronics I was fiddling with discrete components: transistors, resistors, etc and working through a book of projects, constructing them by attaching the leads of each individual component into a baseboard using screws. Very tedious! And to make the next circuit, you had to tear down the previous one.

I made a few circuits using 7400 Logic chips too, soldered onto prototype board. Then I learned about breadboards. It was great, you just had to plug the components in. Anything plugged into the same row of holes was magically connected! Well, that’s what it seemed like. Then one day I was looking at one of my dad’s books that I used to borrow often – Engineer’s Notebook II – Integrated circuit applications – and I realized that it had a picture of a few circuits built on breadboards right on the cover. It was there the whole time and I ignored it, not knowing what it was! Oops.

A few years later I was experimenting with Microchip PIC controllers. I liked the PICs because I could easily pull it out of my breadboard circuit and put in the socket on a programmer to program it. I had heard about Atmel chips but didn’t use them because they required a different controller and I often heard about them in the context of in-circuit programming, which put me off at the time.

Then I heard about Arduino. I looked into it briefly, and decided that it was just an Atmel chip on an expensive board, boring! But about 2 years ago I started doing more electronics after a break. And Arduino was everywhere! So I got a Nano and put it on a breadboard. I was impressed with how it easy it was to get started, and the number of libraries and examples available.

How do you determine whether something new is worth your time exploring?

Author: Paul

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