If you really want to know how your electronic devices work, the best thing to do is to try your hand at some basic circuit builds. Knowing the principles behind the objects you rely upon so much can help you reconnect to a material world that all too often feels beyond our comprehension. As well as being useful to know, circuit building can also be extremely fun.
The following circuits are simple and use readily available parts. For those people who already know how circuitry works, it might be a better idea to try something a little more complex, like building a guitar pedal or trying your hand at robotics.
Here are three simple circuits you can build at home with relatively basic tools and materials. If you want to make your circuit stay together for any amount of time, you are going to need a soldering iron and some solder. Otherwise, you’ll do just fine using crocodile clips or a breadboard.
Simple Light Circuit
This is the simplest circuit of all and is a good place to start if you are a complete newcomer to electronics. All you need is a switch, a 9-volt battery, and a small bulb. Start by connecting the + terminal of the battery to the + terminal of the bulb and do the same with the negative terminals. The bulb will light up as the circuit is completed. Next, add the switch into the circuit. The switch is essentially a circuit breaker, allowing you to remove power from the bulb. There are a huge variety of switches that vary upon this theme: allowing for all sorts of control methods. Every good electronic parts supplier carries a wide range of switches.
Transistor Based Blinking LED Circuit
This circuit will introduce you to the role that transistors play in modern circuitry. Transistors were essential to the miniaturization of electronics when they were first popularized in the middle of the 20th Century.
It uses two transistors, four resistors, and two capacitors. Two LED lights blink in turn because the two transistors feedback against one another as they switch the current. This is called astable multi-vibration and is a key circuit to tinker with if you ever want to make a device that uses an oscillator. You can find a full guide to the workings of this circuit right here.
Metal Detector Circuit
Now for something with a little bit more immediate real-world functionality. This metal detector works by sensing the magnetic wave anomalies surrounding metal objects. They do this by sending out an electromagnetic field. If there is metal within this field, that metal will be minutely energized and reflect a magnetic field of its own back at the detector. You’ll need a BC548 transistor for this gadget. This is a bit more of a challenging build than our last two examples but is a step towards making useful and fun tools using relatively simple electronic components. Also, you might find some treasure!
Cover image from Pixabay