Let's Make Robots!

Learning Electronics-How "things" work

I'm asking if anyone has a resource (book or otherwise) they could suggest that instructs about electronics and designing and building electronic ciruitry?

Let me be more specific.  Over the years I've read a number of books on electronics in an effort to learn.  Most, if not all, describe what the characteristics are of the various components.  What a resistor does,a cap does... etc. I've also built circuits following established directions and what components to use.  What I'm more intersted in is finding a resource that describes how to get from start to finish, why one would use certain components, how to design the circuit and determine what components to use..... what each component provides and why you'd need it.  For instance, if I want to push a button, have a speech chip say something, 2 seconds later have a motor activate for 3 seconds and then have a LED flash on and off. How you get from start to finish, how to spec the components and figure out what you'd need in the design and building of the circuit.

 I know I can program all this using one of the chip platforms (arduino, picaxe, etc.).... but suppose I want to learn more specifically how to design and build a circuit that does a certain function.   I guess what I'm asking is for a resource to explain electronic theory in basic applications, explained in layman's language, how you get from A to Z, why certain components are used and how to determine the specifics of those components.  Something practical explaining why.

Thanks.

John

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thanks both for the suggestions.  I just quickly checked out the Falstad site.  Looks pretty cool.

I also remembered I have the Charles Platt book on electronics published by O'reilly that publishes

Make mag..... I realize that book is pretty much what I was looking for..... thanks again.

This java app (circuit simulator) in conjunction with an electronics text book is how I am learning. You can 'see' the electricity moving and really understand how things work more clearly. I really cant overstate how awesome this tool is.

http://www.falstad.com/circuit/

Oh you can download a zip archive of this too and run it on your machine locally. Free.