Learning Electronics Concepts Step By Step


We realize that not everyone out there holds a degree in electrical engineering or has the ability to tell NPN transistors apart from PNP transistors by taste alone, so we occasionally like to mention things that appeal to the beginners in the crowd. While there is a clear division between Arduino supporters and detractors, it is hard to deny that the devices have their place, and can be quite useful when exploring certain electronics concepts.

For the supporters out there, [John Boxall] has put together a site jam-packed with Arduino tutorials covering a wide array of concepts and techniques. We have covered his work before in relation to specific topics, but we felt that his site deserved mention as a whole. His tutorials cover some of the most basic concepts such as lighting LEDs with the Arduino, and work their way to more advanced subjects, lesson by lesson.

He is not satisfied with simply introducing a concept and handing out a sketch that does the work. He takes the time to expand on the concepts, giving the reader enough detail to use their new-found knowledge in later projects. If you were to follow his tutorials from beginning to end, you would be exposed to LCD screen control, shift registers, real-time clocks, I2C bus communications, and more. These skills and concepts can be carried on to future projects as well as other micro controllers, making his tutorials a very valuable learning tool worth checking out.

38 thoughts on “Learning Electronics Concepts Step By Step

  1. Whilst not wishing to detract from this work, may I recommend ‘The Art of Electronics’ by Horowitz and Hill. It provides a substantive learning curve from the basics – knowing your NPN from your PNP and your MOSFET from your JFET, through analogue design (op-amps etc) and on to microprocessor based systems. It’s got me through many a tricky design and not once does it mention the Arduino…

  2. “and not once does it mention the Arduino…” Yeah, because the book predates arduino by some 20 years… But overall I recommend it too, very helpful for those analog bits and knowing your pnp’s from npn’s.

  3. ‘because the book predates arduino by some 20 years’. Yes of course. I didn’t mean to be negative about these very well done Arduino tutes – I’ll certainly bookmark them myself. I suppose a ‘top down’ learning curve is the modern norm, but I miss the days when everyone started with a single transistor and worked from there.

  4. An article titled “Learning electronics concepts step by step” should NOT have a giant picture of an Arduino on the front! I’m cool with the featured page being about teaching basic microcontroller concepts, but it is very far from learning “electronics concepts”. As rocketman1001 says, go read some Horowitz and Hill.

  5. Satia: it is about ardiuno tuts, and for me the arduino made it interesting enough to go try electronics in my free time. Sure the basics are important but they are much more fun to learn if you get to do cool (easy) stuff!

  6. Another vote for Horowitz/Hill “Art of Electronics.”

    There is also an accompanying student lab manual that I used for 3 semesters of electronics which I still find very useful.

    Another good online tutorial in basic electronics is:


    But, I do enjoy my Arduino and I will be going through Pok’s work.

  7. Thanks for posting this article guys. I read HAD every day, even though most of it goes way over my head. I love knowing what the hacking community is doing (and able to do) even though I lack the basic skills to replicate them (I was an English major). These educational articles are what keep my soldering iron fresh and keep me trying to extend my skills beyond their current capacitance (see what I did there?)
    Seriously, it’s great to see these kinds of things. I love it.

  8. +1 A of E

    Since when has dumbing down anything, that’s already as simple as is functional, been a good thing?

    If I use a purpose built application to “learn” eg:calculus, where all the “confusing” stuff is done by the application, have I learned calculus or only how to use “wonderous calculus app”. Would I understand any of the concepts beyond data entry? If I actually wanted to learn calculus is not “first principles” the right way to approach it?

    ‘Duinos are great if you DON’T want to learn anything or already know, learning is NOT what they are about, it’s probably the last thing they are.

    But hey, if all you want is the illusion you understand something, by all means….

  9. @anti fanboi: if they are NOT about learning, how come ive managed to learn so much by playing around with one? Sure its not as hardcore as making your own chip design and designing it on a piece of self made paper whiles planning to go shoveling for some extra graphite because your low on pencils, i guess we all start with some degree of pre made stuff…

  10. Many here are right, the website is not about learning electronics, it is about learning how to do stuff with Arduino.
    Learning electronics top down is a way to do it, but only if you are learning down-top at the same time: you build applications that surpass your current understanding but at the same time learning the basics. At a certain point your basic knowledge and advanced knowledge will form a good whole.
    As an example, when i learned how a transistor worked as a kid i didn’t do it by understanding equations or electrons. Later learning about this completed my understanding about how things are.

  11. well, arduinos are good for learning coding concepts, switching and control systems, and some audio video things, as well as many other things. You wont get anything involving basic power systems, radio systems, or alot of digital systems. You can use the simplified arduino language, but if you use C, as many other micros use, with slight modifications between companies and chips, the arduino will recognize it as well. I would suggest trying to use more C and figure out how to use the micro BY ITSELF. Hell, you can use the board itself to program other micros once you get the basic idea of which pins do what. (my wee ardueno rant)

  12. @K!P, don’t take it personally as it doesn’t change the facts.

    For example: mathematical division. We all pretty much understand it because we were all taught the concept from first principles. If you were taught it was just a matter of pressing the “dotted minus” calculator key, what would you actually understand of the concept and how would that permiate through to your ability to understand other concepts or indeed create new ones?

    If your still not with me and still taking it personally then consider: why is it that the strongest advocates for the ‘Duino ONLY “know” the ‘Duino? why is it that those who do actually understand many uC platforms generally see the ‘Duino as “just another basic stamp/picaxe”?
    hint: when you really start understanding uCs you realise “for simple tasks I can write a comprehensive header and a utility library to take most of the fiddly stuff out, cool” and most importantly, how/what/when/why to do it. Whether you actually get around to it or not is usually based on available time :)

    Peace, love and mungbeans.

  13. @anti fanboi: point taken indeed :), sorry about the rash rant reply previously, dint had my morning coffee yet. I felt the urge to defend the arduino because there are some pretty strong haters out there ;)

    arduino works for me, it lets me recreate and adapt well explained examples on a shoestring budget. and spoark my interest now i will look into ‘The Art of Electronics’ by Horowitz and Hill. (thanks to the arduino :))

    *sorry for any grammatical errors, the internal dutch to English brain wires are a bit crossed.

  14. Tsss…. im learning plenty on electronics because

    of the arduino. It goes like this:

    1- Think of idea
    2- Make circuit
    3- Code
    4- Test
    5- WHY DOESNT THIS WORK!!!!!!!!
    6- ah I didnt think about ripple voltage on the
    power line….Read on subject
    7- GOTO 2 Fix it and restart

  15. “why is it that the strongest advocates for the ‘Duino ONLY “know” the ‘Duino?”

    I know many platforms yet I will strongly advocate the Arduino to any beginner or even a expert who just wants something done quickly.

    I see the Arduino as a better alternative to just using avr-libc.

  16. I agree, once you learn a few things and know what you’re doing, programming and embedding a PIC is ridiculously easy. As I’m sure it is with an Arduino.


    I look at Arduino like a modern Basic Stamp. As with all micros like this, if you want more than one project to run at the same time, you need to buy multiple units. A new PIC costs $2 to $5 for the most commonly used devices, whereas the Arduino costs a lot more. A naked Duemilanove (the cheapest one I can find) costs $25 by my price check, and you’ll probably still need to buy shields to make it useful in your project.

    If you want to spend $50+, for the micro and daughterboards alone, for every project you build, be my guest. For someone like me who builds dozens of projects a year, this would be ludicrous.

  17. @Dosbomber You have not quite gotten the gist of the Arduino. It’s an experimental prototyping board. Once you have created a working prototype of some design, you can buy the inexpensive parts to replicate copies for production. Web sites like Fritzing help Arduino experimenters to this.


  18. @Dosbomber How much extra cost is needed to make your $5 pic as functional, + cost of programmer + power supply, + bread board or soldering station

    If you have a fully stocked workshop, you probably have all the extras on hand. But to do the basic blinky with an arduino all you need to add is a usb cable, a resistor and a led.

  19. @PB I dint knew Arduino can melt solder, does it generate its own power and oxygen for breathing also ? why dont we include cost of multimeter, work table, chair and air-conditioner and coffee.

    for example pickit2 cost little more than arduino and it able to program/debug, clones go as low as 20$

  20. The ardiuno doesn’t need solder that’s one of the pluses if you are learning, you can just plug the component into the socket.

    The pickit2 description doesn’t indicate if it can provide power or if it includes a pic.

    I’m assuming that if you use a pic you’d sit in the same seat and breath the same air as the lowly arduino user.

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