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Old 26th January 2004, 02:17 AM   #1
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Default Advice for a newbie

I have recently become interested in assembling my own amplifier. I have been on the vairous sites offering schematics, guidance and the like, but I have a gaping hole in my knowledge when it comes to basic electrcity. In fact, I have no relatively no knowledge of basic electricity at all.

I initially thought that I might assemble an amplifier from a kit, but I would really like to be able to understand the concept and, eventually, build an amplifier from a schematic, but I have a lot of reading to do before I can get there. The good news is that I am gaining a fair understanding of the subject matter so far.

I'm asking for any advice that any of you would be willing to offer a newbie. I am currently going through a tutorial on basic electrcity and I have ordered "The Beginner's Guide to Tube Audio Design", but I'd like some help on the following:

Can anyone recommend other resources for a newbie such as myself?

Is is unreasonable to think that I can learn all of this by myself or should I take a class?

Can anyone recommend some reasonably simple circuits I can wire as I learn to practice my soldering (preferrably, something that won't cause fibrilation)?

Sorry for all the open-ended questions, but I'm just looking for a place to start and a push in the right direction.

Thanks!
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Old 26th January 2004, 12:31 PM   #2
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Hi, as far as somewhere good to start for solid state, and electronics in general I would have to sujest (as would many people here I expect) a great book called 'the art of electronics' by Horwitz and Hill. This covers a huge range of priactical electronics principles and covers everything from teh basics up to fairly involved topics without going into hideous amounts of maths.

As for as taking a class goes, it all depends on how much you want to learn in terms of weather you want to be able to build and kind of understand the circuits, or if you want to know enough to start designing your own. For now, I would say to see how you get on by yourself, and you can always ask here for help when you need it.

also, somwhere good to learn to solder and start making simple projects are the hobby kits from the the likes of veleman which you could probably pick up in your local radio shack for a few dollers. A lot of these can simply be run from batteries too, wich should make you a little safer to start off with.
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Old 26th January 2004, 02:00 PM   #3
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Here is a gret place to start some learning:

http://www.ibiblio.org/obp/electricCircuits/

(start at "Volume 1 - DC")

I would suggest starting with a kit that used a PCB (printed circuit board) as chances of success are much higher. There are several sites that have small kits (note - you dont have to start with audio amps) that will get you used to soldering and handling these small parts - and what each part looks like and does.

I would also say to get a catalog from both (for tools and parts):

www.digikey.com

and www.mouser.com

They are very reputable and have good prices.

and I just came across this place:

http://www.electronics123.com/
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Old 26th January 2004, 11:53 PM   #4
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Thanks a lot!

I had been thinking about picking up one of the Velleman kits, so maybe I'll grab one off the web. I have a question or two about the PCBs, though.

Since the PCBs eliminate the hassle of "point to point" wiring, I'm assuming this means that its kind of a round peg / round hole situation. That is, you place the resisitor in the "resisitor hole" and solder it to the back of the circuit board. If the PCB is doing what its supposed to do, the connections internal to the PCB (novice talk here) will make the appropriate connections.

Is this correct?

Sorry for all the questions but I have become really intrigued by the process. I also want to make sure I have all of the information necessary so I don't blow my stupid brains out when its time to start working with this stuff.

I am constantly looking at the Pass Audio DIY site, both at the schematics and the information pertinaing to the built amplifiers. I think, however, it will be a while before I'm ready to try one of these, even with a PCB.

Thanks again and any additional guidance would be much appreciated.
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Old 27th January 2004, 06:53 AM   #5
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The PCB has a circuit printed on it that makes the correct connections with all the components soldered in the correct places. Most PCB kits you buy will have a silk screen on the PCB which shows you where (and in what direction) each component goes. It's a simple matter of soldering everything in it's place without bridging any tracks with excess solder.

I strongly recommend that you steer well clear of mains wiring (power supplies, mostly) for your first few projects. A mistake with mains can kill (not so much in the States, though) while a mistake with an low voltage circuit just costs a couple of wasted components.

The Horowitz and Hill book that bigparsnip recommended is excellent - you should pick up a copy. Some of it's info on opamp part numbers is a little out of date but generally it is top-class.
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Old 27th January 2004, 07:03 AM   #6
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That's pretty much the idea with those kits, put teh right component in the the right place (and in the right way round) and everything shuld work just fine.
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Old 27th January 2004, 07:39 AM   #7
newbie1 is offline newbie1  United States
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For getting a handle on Electronics in general, I recommend reading - Grob Basic Electronics. It's used as a textbook in many electronics programs and close to 1000 pages but it will give you a good foundation in electronics in general. Plus review and test questions at the end of the chapters...something I find useful.

Once you get through that, pick up the High Power Audio Amplifier Construction Manual by G. Randy Slone. But this book assumes the reader has a fairly decent understanding of electronics so read Grob first.
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Old 27th January 2004, 11:54 PM   #8
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Thanks to all for all the input. I have a lot of studying to do and the site recommended by crown3000 seems to be just what I need.

I will most definitely pick up "Art of Electronics" (I found it for $50 used).

One more question though, if you dare answer it:

I have seen a lot of threads on the forum concerning first-time amplifier projects, but and it looks like SE amplifiers may be the least complicated to build.

Any recommendations for a first SE (or other) amplifier to build? I am really interested in tubes (I know that this is on the solid state forum), but after studying and creating some simple circuits, I would really like to dig in to a cheap / easy DIY amplifier project. I don't need the golden tone here, just something to get my feet wet, preferrably using some parts that I can recycle into another amp project after I gain knowledge and confidecnce.

Thanks again for all the advice!
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Old 28th January 2004, 04:13 AM   #9
newbie1 is offline newbie1  United States
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I would start with a gainclone, use either LM3875 or LM3886. They are less complex, cheap to build and sound terrific.
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Old 28th January 2004, 05:57 AM   #10
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An opamp based design is very simple and by all accounts sounds good if you choose the right chip. You will hear folks around here calling them Gainclones after the infamous 47 labs Gaincard.

I like discrete designs - not for any claims to better sound quality, but beacuse I can figure out exactly what they do and modify their design more easily.
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