25 Replies Latest reply on Oct 12, 2018 12:02 PM by dougw

    Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?


      Hey folks, Karen from the Learning Circuit here. If you follow the show, you'll know that I've been working my way through all the basic components and keeping things very simple.

      I will soon be moving out of our beloved Ben Heck Show shop and will thus be losing access to Ben's plentiful bins of parts, and it made me think.


      What components should a newbie have on hand for experimenting with simple circuits?


      You need the basics to build from:

      Breadboards, prototyping board, and wire for connecting things.

      Battery packs or a power supply to make things go.


      And then for parts, a good start is picking up the assortment kits you can find, like these:

      480 PIECE MISC RESISTOR KIT, 30ea/value

      Misc Diode Kit, Set of 120

      100pc Transistor Kit

      120pc Radial Capacitor Set 10-values

      224pc Ceramic Capacitor Kit 14-values


      But what else do you think is important to have on hand for prototyping on the fly?

      Switches and buttons, but which ones?

      Potentiometers, but what kind and what values?

      What other common parts are generally useful to have on hand?

      I'm talking about using components only. No Pis. No Arduino. No micro controllers of any kind. Just your basic components.


      What components are in YOUR supply?

        • Re: Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?

          While its always nice to have a range, I always find myself trying to shoehorn junkbox parts into the design. As long as it's reasonably functionally equivalent, it really doesn't matter what (e.g. switches). Range of pots is nice to have, esp in decadic values (1k, 10k, 100k, 1M), as often they're just used to get close-enough. Some MKT capacitors of values in-between ceramics and electrolytic would be useful too. Some logic level MOSFETS, relays, LEDs, LDRs and electret microphones might be useful.


          - Gough

          5 of 5 people found this helpful
          • Re: Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?

            Hi Karen,

            One of the things that I have found useful is to add bread board wires onto some of the useful bread board components. This is particularly useful when the components do no easily fit on a bread board itself.



            A good selection of LEDs is also nice to have. For my bread boarding projects I like to have a selection of LEDs with the current limiting resistor already attached so I do not have to further clutter the bread board. I have these in two styles. One with a limiting resistor for 3 to 8 volts and a set with resistors for 8 to 16 volts.




            8 of 8 people found this helpful
            • Re: Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?

              In addition to some of the other great suggestions, I would add a few voltage regulators (2.5V, 3.3V and 5V) and some general purpose op-amps.



              3 of 3 people found this helpful
                • Re: Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?

                  Opamps - yes. Definitely yes to that. But I'd suggest skipping the old LM741/358 stuff which so many textbooks still illustrate and using more modern rail-to-rail opamps which can run single ended to make things easier with simple adapted 5V supplies.


                  Maybe a cut-up USB leads or connecyors to make use of ad-hoc USB chargers/powerbanks (as long as they're isolated), a number of switching converter buck/boost modules to supplement the universal linear regulators might be good (venerable LM317T/LM78xx series are simple and useful for some things, producing heat in the process).


                  Maybe some 74 series CMOS is still worth having. NAND gates would always be welcome, counters and muxes would be quite handy. Bilateral switches would be very handy interfacing a number of signals to a single ADC for example.


                  - Gough

                  3 of 3 people found this helpful
                • Re: Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?

                  some small transformers would make for a good learning opportunity. as well as maybe some bridge rectifiers

                  2 of 2 people found this helpful
                  • Re: Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?
                    • passives:

                              - resistors        

                              - capacitors (ceramic & electrolytic)       

                              - potentiometers

                    • diodes

                              - Silicon for power supplies & rectifiers;

                              - Schottky       

                              - a couple of Germanium

                    • switches

                              - push button

                              - SPDT/DPDT

                    • transistors

                              - some BJTs & FETs for signals

                              - some higher power N/P channel MOSFETs

                    • ICs:

                              - opamps

                              -common voltage regulators (7805, AMS1117, LM317, 7809 and optionally, a boost converter).

                    • relays
                    • LEDs

                              - 7 segment

                              - A couple of LEDs with the correct resistance value attached for a given voltage as jw0752 has.

                    • small signal transformers/ variable inductors & capacitors might come in handy, as will buzzers & speakers.
                    7 of 7 people found this helpful
                    • Re: Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?

                      I'm regularly prototyping on custom made PCBs and few times on breadboards, given that here is my list of components I have around for that:

                      • LEDs of course, tons of them -many colors and sizes.
                      • Resistors -generally 1/8 watt and I try to target having at least stock of E24 series,
                      • Other passives: capacitors (electrolytic and ceramic) and few potentiometers mostly on breakout boards -I hate them wiggling on my PCB, so I just make few PCBs to mount them with the voltage rails
                      • Transistors, Mosfets (a lot of them mostly logic-level N-channel), diodes (usually the popular ones I know of each type)
                      • Switches: mostly push buttons and few latching push-buttons, but I see myself using regularly limit switches (breadboard friendly) which may be a good replacement for both
                      • Jumper wires, Headers are so handy (mostly I use 2.54mm and JST PH, XH), male/female pins for these and crimp connectors (common combinations like 1x02, 1x04, etc). Wires AWG20 to AWG26, terminal blocks (with/without screws)
                      • Voltage regulators LM317, Traco and Recom (those little ones that fit on a breadboard mostly 3.3V and 5V output), and few others for other voltage outputs.
                      • Relays (those kits that are ready to use with microcontrollers), Optoisolators and IR sensors (most the ones with the IR led integrated)
                      • ADC - handy when I need to read analog with a Pi
                      • Logic level converters
                      • Motors: steppers, few brushed and some micro-metal-gear
                      • Rotary encoders (so much better than potentiometers when you can have that option)
                      • Heat-shrink tube
                      • And a good collection of breakout boards to breadboard with SMD components and components unfit for that like rotary encoders, thumb-stick joysticks, USB connectors, power-jacks.
                      4 of 4 people found this helpful
                      • Re: Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?

                        Hi Karen,


                        A bit expensive for a newbie, but necessary for your lab I think:

                        At least several colors of 30AWG Kynar wire plus this excellent wire stripperthis excellent wire stripper which fits that wire just right.

                        These are things I cannot live without, excellent for connecting lots of wires on a stripboard, etc.


                        Also, as Luis says, for resistors, E24 or E12 at a minimum is really useful, there is a E12 packE12 pack which is sub-$10, I have a couple of these and they are really handy, but the popular values get used up quickly. This larger E24 resistor setE24 resistor set could be good (I don't own it).

                        But surface-mount parts are useful even for normal through-hole construction (because they can fit across the tracks on the underside).

                        This blog post is quite old, but has some links to parts that maybe you could want (not all parts there will be relevant to your needs, e.g. you definitely don't want 0402 capacitors if you don't need them!):

                        Building an IoT Lab

                        3 of 3 people found this helpful
                        • Re: Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?

                          Hi Karen,


                          I find it helpful to look at tutorials to see what basic components they recommend.


                          This (still my old favourite) Oomlout tutorial, for example: ARDX – Arduino Expermentation Kit « .:oomlout:.


                          Some things from there that I think have not yet been mentioned are:

                          * Light sensor (LDR)

                          * Hobby motor

                          * Servo

                          * Shift registers


                          They also have a temperature sensor, but you might want to go for a DHT temp/humidity sensor instead. Or a DS18B20.


                          Not sure if those are too specific, but they are all quite inexpensive, and provide interesting additions or easy basic tests for prototypes. Light and temperature sensors give a controllable but generally slightly variable and verifiable stream of input that I've found useful for my IoT testing, for example.


                          ps, for breadboard power supply I recommend one with a micro-usb (Android-style) input. Many little dev boards use the same micro-usb power input too, so it's safe, interchangeable, and super convenient.




                          1 of 1 people found this helpful
                          • Re: Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?

                            Hi Karen,


                            In addition to the many thoughts above, SMD adapters are very useful.  More and more the new components and sensors are only available in SMD.  A good way to get started using them is with DIP adapter boards which make them easy to breadboard - I think these are particularly good value and would be good in a beginner's kit.  I also keep 20 and 28 pin adapters handy.  I actually prefer hand soldering 0805 and larger SMD parts to through hole.  And doing TSSOP packages isn't that much more difficult.  Maybe a good future Learning Circuit episode?

                            4 of 4 people found this helpful
                            • Re: Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?

                              I always like to have breadboard-compatible tac switches on hand Piezo buzzers maybe a small speaker driver can be good to have as well A small 5V motor with jumper leads soldered on might be nice A handful of MOSFETs(2N700 and BS250 are quite common and BJTs(I find that I use the  2N22222N2222 quite a lot


                              You'll probably want some common ICs like the 555, 7450, LM358, and CD4017.


                              7-segment displays, maybe a small LED matrix.


                              Basically, anything that you might find in an "Arduino starter kit" is a good place to start.

                              2 of 2 people found this helpful
                              • Re: Electronics Newbie Starter Kit: What should be in it?

                                Components with leads work great in breadboards, but when you want to solder them onto a prototyping card the neatest type is a StripBoardStripBoard. They provide all the connections and busses running in one direction. The leads of components on the component side of the card can span between the tracks, effectively creating the equivalent of a double sided PCB where the tracks on one side basically go east-west and the tracks on the other side go north-south. You end up with all the components and a few jumpers running North-South on the component side - no spaghetti wiring mess. You will also need a Track CutterTrack Cutter to isolate interconnection nodes (track sections).

                                3 of 3 people found this helpful