Let's Make Robots!

not a question ... well not really

Well I have being reading all about circuits and resistors ,Transistors, diodes  to get a understanding of how things work ..... its amazing how much you take for granted in life eg stick a few batteries into your Childs toy and it works .... you don’t need to know why . But after a week of reading on the internet I feel amazed at how little I knew about anything electrical as I never thought about it before.

For example a motor ....  didn’t know you can also use a motor to make power eg turn the spindle really quick and if its connected to  a bulb the bulb  would light always thought you needed a dynamo .

As for resistors transistors and diodes they were just parts on a circuit board only part I needed to know about was a fuse eg if socket in the house didn’t work id check the fuse box and replace if needed .

Now I have a basic to good understanding of some of these ....  even the transistor Im confident I can use this without too much problem .... will probably make a led light up using a transistor and a photocell sensor to trigger it  when I start trying things out rather than just reading about them ....  hopefully in another few weeks  as I hope to get some tools eg  multimeter  solder iron bread board some diodes resistors transistors and such.

Still some simple things are confusing..... eg batteries  ..... Never gave a second thought to putting 4 batteries in a toy .... now I find out that the 4 are probably connected together in a serial pattern  to total there volts eg 4 1.5v = 6v and even more than that there rating eg 800mah stays the same ..... or else connected in a parallel pattern  but the volt stays the same but there 800mah becomes 3200mah .... so kind of confused as to which is most important the volts or the mah.

Also understand how capacitors operate eg they store up the current and can then release it just haven’t seen a good example of how this works on a circuit board eg seen a lot of them on the digital radio I pulled apart but don’t know how they do what they are designed to do eg why do they store up the current and why do they release it.

But have to say really enjoying learning all about this stuff and looking forward to putting it to practical use.

Oh ye circuit board diagrams are still confusing to read he he he ...

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It takes some experience playing around with things but onced you do you start to get a better idea on how things work and why they are designed a certain way. A few books that really helped me in the beginning are Getting Started in Electronics by Forest Mims. I think Radio Shack reissued this one and you can get it there. Another that I still use as a reference is Electronic Circuts for the Evil Genius by Dave Cutcher. Good luck in your learning and if you ever need any help feel free to ask.

Batteries are kind of like a water tower.  The voltage is the potential energy stored in the water--- it is how the tower is. Water can't flow up hill, so if you want water to flow the tower has to be higher then the houses it serves. So, for example if you have an LED that requires 2.5v to light (house is 2.5meters high), battery must be more than 2.5v (taller than the house).  The mAh is the amount of water that is in the tower.   Rather than measured in volume  it is measured relative to a flow rate. An 800mAh battery can deliver 800mA for 1 hour (more or less, usually less :), or 400mA of 2hr if the flow is more restricted.  The mAh rating is important if you want to know how long the batteries will last in your robot. So, they are both important, but usually, you will putting batteries in series to get enough voltage to run your motors and leds.

Capacitors are a more complicated topic.  They can be thought of as springs and shock absobers,  they smooth out the bumps in the road. In electronics, bumps are called noise and caps are often used to filter out noise.  You will see that people use filter caps on the supply (power) to microcontollers to filter out noise that might make it behave unreliably.  Caps have losts of other uses too, but filtering is the one you will see most in digital electronics.

I hope this helps


Thanks guys .... will look into those books ... local library said they might be able to get them in which would be good ... the link to the make videos was great easy to understand. As for link to all about circuts being using that site its very good


I cannot stress this enough... Start with basic electronics before you jump into a Microcontroller! Do some analog experiments, Digital Logic, etc.

KL has a good point and along those lines I would recommend things like Opamps and schmitt triggers. These would work great for simple lighting projects but with opamps you also learn quite a bit of filtering techniques to get the data you want...High pass, low pass, etc. Add a simple mic and you can have a lot of fun...