I’ve had my Arduino for the best part of a couple of weeks now and have been creating Sparkfun’s circuits and programs as they came in the kit. Whilst it is loads of fun, I’m lacking a good understanding of why certain things work the way they do.
I’ve been reading online as well as offline, trying to understand how this electronics world hangs together. I’ve spoken to a reasonably young electrician and an older electrical engineer to check my reading and comprehension. They’ve surprised me though. In one exchange with them I was explaining that to my surprise I’d read that the flow of electrons is actually the opposite of what I’d always thought (negative to positive, not positive to negative). I was told I was wrong, that it was indeed positive to negative (!). So which way and who is right, the text books, or the practitioners? It might not matter in the grand scheme of things, but I want to know. To me, it feels like I’m missing major fundamental knowledge to be able to break out on my own, beyond the Sparkfun tutorials.
So, what don’t I know? Let me count a few of the things (but trust me, the list is a lot longer as you’ve probably gathered by now):
- Does electricity flow from an Arduino Input/Output port, the voltage port or the ground port?
- Why do you sometimes need to run a 5 volt line to the breadboard, when the circuit seems to work fine without it?
- Why do you seem to need to attach resistors late in the example circuits on what seems to be the return run to ground? Shouldn’t they be on the voltage line into the circuit?
- What is ground anyway?
- How is a breadboard plumbed?
I need to know these things. At this point it’s just not making sense to me, and I don’t like feeling as frustrated as Sylvester watching Tweety in a cage.
So, how to tackle this dilemma? I think I need to do a few things:
- Get some tools, especially a multimeter
- Get some electronics fundamentals under my belt
- Redo the Sparkfun sample circuits probing and measuring them as I go
For the fundamentals, some light reading is in order, Dummies Guide to Electronics, for instance. I’ll blog what I learn under the “Electronics 101″ tag. For the Sparkfun sample circuits, I’ll blog that under the “Arduino 101″ tag.
First things first, I’m off to learn about multimeters.