Really learning this stuff?

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ryangobie
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Really learning this stuff?

Post by ryangobie » Sat Jun 24, 2006 12:05 pm

I know there have been plenty of "good electronics books for beginners?" threads but hear me out. Ever since my first tube amp blew, I've wanted to know the innards of these amps and how they work. Naturally, I dove in and started reading and tinkering. I want more though. I want to really understand what's going on a possibly design some pieces in the future and become proficient at repairing my own gear. Is it really possible to gain this sort of knowledge on your own? I ask because I've had a few correspondences with some old timers. The paradigm I exist in at 22 seems so different than the one they grew up in. It seems as though they did learn all this stuff on their own through radio clubs, reading and hands on experience. Even my uncles for instance, they build cars. Frame off restorations of 70+ year old cars. They didn't go to school for this it's just something they learned to do when they were younger. It seems my generation lacks this initiative. We take things to be fixed whereas they said "Ohh this is broken? Let me learn how to fix it." But with technology advancing from tubes to transistors to integrated circuits and so on, is this type of learning and understanding available to an ambitious youth or is some form of formal education necessary?
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Post by philbo » Sat Jun 24, 2006 1:22 pm

A lot depends on the degree and extent of your ambition...

For many people doing self-study, Ohms Law and Watts Law and their interactions are all they are ready to tackle, and for most, it is enough.

Others move on to learn of capacitive and inductive reactance, impedance, susceptance and admittance, and associated vector calculations to deal with the way coils and capacitors store energy and return it to their circuits, which is the basis needed to get into AC circuitry to any depth. This is difficult for some people to grasp on their own, difficult for some people to grasp even with help. But fortunately it is not necessary to fully understand every aspect of it to use it in a practical fashion.

The information is out there, free for the reading/downloading, on the web.

Here is one place to start:
http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/bu ... hannel.htm
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Last edited by philbo on Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ryangobie
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Post by ryangobie » Sat Jun 24, 2006 1:37 pm

Philbo,
Thanks for the link. I'll check it out. I agree that a lot of the stuff I find hard to digest. I've read some old radio texts and find I don't really understand something unless I've read it a number of times or the concept is put into a practical application. Inductance and reactance are good examples of that. It's all very abstract until it's put into terms like "well because it does this, in an application that results in..."
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Re: Really learning this stuff?

Post by hammertime » Sat Jun 24, 2006 2:55 pm

In a way, though, we have it alot better than someone back in the day. Just 10 years ago, there was no Google. If you wanted to find some information, you went to the library, looked up index cards, blah blah. Now you get on the computer, and within seconds, I have almost anything I want. So if you want to build something, or find about it, or you want to buy parts, or find out if you're about to get ripped off, you can find that out, without going through the B.S. that you used to deal with.
ryangobie wrote:I know there have been plenty of "good electronics books for beginners?" threads but hear me out. Ever since my first tube amp blew, I've wanted to know the innards of these amps and how they work. Naturally, I dove in and started reading and tinkering. I want more though. I want to really understand what's going on a possibly design some pieces in the future and become proficient at repairing my own gear. Is it really possible to gain this sort of knowledge on your own? I ask because I've had a few correspondences with some old timers. The paradigm I exist in at 22 seems so different than the one they grew up in. It seems as though they did learn all this stuff on their own through radio clubs, reading and hands on experience. Even my uncles for instance, they build cars. Frame off restorations of 70+ year old cars. They didn't go to school for this it's just something they learned to do when they were younger. It seems my generation lacks this initiative. We take things to be fixed whereas they said "Ohh this is broken? Let me learn how to fix it." But with technology advancing from tubes to transistors to integrated circuits and so on, is this type of learning and understanding available to an ambitious youth or is some form of formal education necessary?

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Post by brianroth » Sun Jun 25, 2006 12:37 am

Electronic kits can be a useful learning tool. I learned a lot as a kid building Heath and Knight kits (unfortunately, no longer made) and later as a teenager in the late 1960's with Paia kits.

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Post by peterc » Sun Jun 25, 2006 11:10 am

Good website for beginners here:

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepage ... index1.htm

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Post by ryangobie » Sun Jun 25, 2006 2:49 pm

I'll look into some kits. I always hear praise for the PAIA stuff. I think I bought this topic up after reading the thread about busted peavey. I've fixed a few amps with simple problems here or there but that made me realize how limited my scope is. Solid state is such a foreign concept to me. I've really limited my studies thus far to tube stuff. That's my interest yea, but limiting myself to that probably isn't doing me any good. Granted I probably know more about tube stuff than some people as all the texts I've read through have been from the late 40s-50s, I'm always reminded about how little I know. I guess that task seems so daunting at this point and given our society now, where you purchase instead of build and call tech support instead of doing some trouble shooting.
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Post by brianroth » Sun Jun 25, 2006 10:54 pm

Maybe I was lucky since I grew up in that era (1960's) when tubes and solid state stuff co-existed. In fact, my parent's first color TV set, a Zenith, was about half and half!

In High School electronics classes, we covered both technologies, and in college (1972-on) there was still some coursework dealing with tubes, but with a much greater emphasis on solid state.

Of course, in later times I had to learn opamp ICs, digital logic, etc.

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Post by covert » Mon Jun 26, 2006 7:05 am

It's simply gotten harder to get at much of this stuff. Most electronic stuff I open up these days has a single huge block of silicon, with a few extra parts hanging off. That's assuming I can open something without destroying it, in the first place. Cars went teh same way. I sort of understood carbuerators, but computer controlled fuel injection? and there's that block of resin that contains the controller.... Radio clubs and Heathkits are gone, Radio Shack doesn't have any of their basic kits any more, etc.
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Post by ryangobie » Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:12 am

covert wrote:Cars went teh same way. I sort of understood carbuerators, but computer controlled fuel injection?
that's exactly why i own an 85 oldsmobile. it's thirsty but the money i save on repairs is pretty ridiculous. i'd like to go even older, late 40's early 50s, if ethanol gets any more popular as i'd feel guilty driving a pre emissions car everyday.

anyway, i think i'll keep reading and tinkering, look into a few kits. maybe an associates in EE?
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Post by brianroth » Mon Jun 26, 2006 10:51 pm

Automobiles were servicable up into the early 1970's. My 1974 BMW 2002 (currently "in mothballs") is very easy to service.

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Post by covert » Tue Jun 27, 2006 5:08 am

Depends on the maker for the timeline. 73 or so Plymouths had significant chunks of the ignition cast into a block of plastic. No fix, just replace. About that time the extra pipes for the emission controls also started to multiply. At times I miss our 62 Valliant.

I used to be able to fix telephones, to some degree.
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ryangobie
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Post by ryangobie » Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:37 am

brianroth wrote:Automobiles were servicable up into the early 1970's. My 1974 BMW 2002 (currently "in mothballs") is very easy to service.

Bri
i can still work on mine quite easily. no EFI just a 2bbl carb ontop of a 307y motor. it has a computer but by that time most if not all GM cars had em but it's so rudimentary that a simple snap on device reads it assuming i get a check engine light. that being said parts are plentiful and cheap. hah this got off topic.
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Post by percussion boy » Sat Jul 01, 2006 11:10 am

Doubling back to the original question, I guess I'm curious why it matters if you learn it all on your own.

I found it a huge relief to take a couple of electronics classes at a community college, with a teacher I could question when something in the book didn't make sense. I still had to learn the concepts, do the math, and build the projects on my own.

Sounds like you know some tube stuff, a class would get you into the transistor-based and digital stuff.

Seems like no idea in electronics is that difficult, but there are a lot of ideas to learn -- especially if you want to get to where you can design audio gear, as you mentioned in yr first post.

FWIW.
"The world don't need no more songs." - Bob Dylan

"Why does the Creator send me such knuckleheads?" - Sun Ra
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ryangobie
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Post by ryangobie » Sat Jul 01, 2006 10:03 pm

ahh, the problem lies in that currently i'm a full time fine arts student concentrating in printmaking. so as of now this, along with the car stuff, is only really a weekend thing. i can dedicate all my time to it. i just feel like sometimes i'm getting no where and i think back to the 40's where these young guys were doing this as a hobby and now they're the techs round here. and yeah, i do know a lil bout tube stuff. i can look at a schematic and say "ok, theres three preamp stages followed by a cathode follower feeding the tone stack. that runs into a phase inverter into a class A cathode biased power amp." i understand what these look like and what their function is but take the cathode follower for example. i know that a cathode follower drops impedance. and i know this is good for driving a tone stack, but i don't know why a cathode follower drops impedance or what in a tone stack neccessitates a lower impedance.

what were your classes like? was that your major or just something you did on the side? pros and cons? what were the projects like and have you found any of the skills taught in a general electronics class applicable towards your interest in audio? sorry for the bombardment of questions.
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