Learning electronics without becoming an apprentice
December 18, 2003 1:59 PM   Subscribe

I am interested in gaining a more fundamental understanding of AV electronics, things like TVs, cameras, microphones. I use a lot of this kind of stuff from the front end but would like a better understanding of how they operate from the inside. I want to know how to wire, maintain and repair them. But where to begin...

I have checked out some books on basic electronics, but welcome any suggestions. I've looked into technical training, but a lot of it seems to revolve around computers and networking these days. I am interested in learning simple things, like how to troubleshoot and eliminate audio and visual hum in the signals; to know the advantages and disadvantages of composite over S-video connections; and even seemingly simple stuff like how to solder wires properly. A lot of this will just require me to roll up my sleeves and play around to see how things work. But I would like to know why they work as well. Any thoughts on how to learn electronics without becoming an apprentice?
posted by piskycritter to Education (1 answer total)
Hmmm. How much do you really want to know?

As a person who spent much of his freshman year of college eating, drinking, and sleeping math and electromagnetism, I can say that I think you could probably get by better than I do by just playing with things and learning the basics about what each of the components are supposed to do. But... you'll probably want to learn some basic AC circuit theory and then how amps (the circuit components) work. How deeply is another story. You can probably learn to work an EQ just fine by understanding that corresponding to the 60hz hum you probably hear in your audio sometimes, there's a similar electrical signal running through wires, and you can move a slider to cut signal strength in that frequency band (and on some EQs, adjust the narrowness of that cut) -- without having to know the particular combination of capacitance and inductance and reactance that brings about that cut. The former part is the what. The latter is the why.

I wish I knew some good books. Most of my textbooks were pedestrian at best.

You may want to take some non-matriculated classes at a local college or university. Ask about classes in Electronics Engineering Tech. If they don't have one of those, look for a circuits class that's not designed for Engineering majors. See if you can find one with Math Pre-Reqs that fit your strengths (if you know basic calculus, you'll get farther, but they may even have some that only require trig).

ITT still offers EET training, by the way.
posted by weston at 5:55 PM on December 18, 2003

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