When the concept of electromagnetic waves was first proposed around 1864, it was met with great skepticism. As a result, the idea languished for a long time. It took several decades for a handful of dedicated persons — infatuated with the mysteries of electricity and magnetism — to finally put the theory on a solid footing.
In this article, we’ll take a look back at this period that launched the serious study of radio waves. We’ll examine the contribution of James Clerk Maxwell, the man most responsible for the concept. Next, we’ll look at the work of several notable scientists who came after Maxwell, and see how they confirmed the existence of radio waves.
Electronics as a hobby is unique in that it touches upon just about every other technology or area of potential interest, from photography to cycling. Don’t feel you need to stick with pure electronics. Get out of your comfort zone and explore some of the many related technologies.
To master the art of electronics, it's important for you to learn the basics. I'm talking Ohms Law, serial and parallel discrete components, and simple signal sources. This might seem self-evident, but since the introduction of the increasingly popular microcontrollers and standard sensors and effectors, it's possible to create electronic devices without ever touching a capacitor or resistor.
As the Jedi Padawans demonstrate in Star Wars, acquiring the first 80% of knowledge and skills may take a few weeks or months, but getting a handle on the remaining 20% usually takes years of study and practice under the leadership of a master.
With a circuit simulator and a basic knowledge of components and circuit theory, it’s possible to simulate just about any electronic device that can be built. Trouble is that circuit simulators and the underlying models are inherently limiting. However, the great thing about simulation is that you can define your own universe in software. So, go ahead, define that flux capacitor.
Reverse engineering is one of the most challenging and rewarding endeavors in electronics. I’m talking about replicating the functionality of a device that you’ve seen or read about but that’s too expensive or otherwise unavailable. There are numerous issues involved in reverse engineering — from creating a schematic to locating parts. Moreover, you have to understand what’s going on.
Given the evolution of components to microcontrollers in the electronics field over the past few years, exactly how do you define electronics today? Does it have to include a soldering iron? Does programming DSP chips and other keyboard activity qualify? Where do you see electronics going in, say, 10 years?