I started out in electronics a long time ago, but I did not really understand much until recently. It was more
"paint by numbers" assembling kits and following other peoples designs. If they did not work I had no clue what to do.
This has been a hobby of mine on and off again, but this time the pieces are coming together.
There are some things I wish I knew when I was new in this world. What to fret about and what to be more relaxed about
for example. The internet is full of great learning material, and I will not attempt to write a complete guide here.
Feel free to redistribute this information, or just send people here.
This list assumes a few things - that you do not have any components, that you do have some money, and that your
main interest is building synthesizers and (to some extent) other audio related things (not HiFi). These suggestions
will form the basis of your inventory and will allow you to build a lot of things, sometimes substituting components.
I might add another list for a really bare bones setup later.
A small assortment of resistors, ranging from 470 Ohm to at least 1MOhm. The E12 series covers most things, buy
a small-ish kit (I started with one that had 25 of each value, more than enough. It's nice to have a few of everything.
You could do fine with 10). Then order more of the common ones: 1K, 4.7K, 10K, 47K, 100K, 1M are most inportant in my book.
The 2.2 multiples are nice to have but I would start small. You'll order more stuff later anyways.
Remember that you can combine resistors to get odd values (if really needed, most of the simpler stuff has big
tolerances) so if you're short on cash just get the common ones.
There are assortments of ceramic capacitors as well, usually ranging from something like 1 pF to 220 nF. Don't buy the really
cheap ones on ebay (very small and red-ish). The values are very hard to read. I prefer the standard brown ones. If you can't find
a good kit, just buy a lot of 100 nF, then some 220 nF, and fewer of something like 1, 10, 47 nF. Throw in a few 47 and 470 pF for
good measure. If you find 1 uF ceramics fairly cheap I'd say buy a fair amount.
Electrolytic capacitors also come in handy kits. I bought one ranging from 0.1 uF to 470 uF. In hindsight I could just
have gone for 1uF and up since the lower ones come in ceramic anyways (and those are bipolar which is good sometimes). I think
I have only had to restock on 1 uF, 10 uF, 47 uF, and 100 uF so get those and a few 470 uF or 1000 uF. You can combine caps as well,
two 100 uF capacitors in parallell will replace a 220 uF cap. Sometimes you need bipolar caps, but you can get away with connecting
two in series (BUT negative to negative). Two 10 uF will make a 5 uF bipolar. MFOS designs sometimes uses this.
A few standard NPN and PNP transistors. I'd say at least 10 of each (but they are usually dirt cheap in larger packs).
BC546/7/8 with BC556/7/8 or 2n3904 with 2n3906 are classic combos. 2n2222 is another cheap NPN. They are pretty
much interchangeable, just get the cheapest, one NPN and one PNP.
Standard diodes - 1N914 or 1N4148. Get at least 25 of them, but you'll probably find a use for 100 later..
They are usually super super cheap. I paid 1.5 € for 100 at a half-pricey place.
General op amps. There are tons out there but most beginner designs will work excellent with a TL071/2/4 (just single,
dual, quad variants. I like quad). They are more modern than LM741, LM748, LM358, LM324, and many other standard op amps
you'll see in schematics. The TL might be better in a mixer, amplifier, and stuff that needs high input impedance
(like sample and hold), in other beginner cases they should be similar. The LM324 is good for extra low voltage stuff.
The ancient LM741 will affect audio, which might be what you want. I'd say just settle for TL07x and get both dual (072)
and quad (074) packages if you have the cash, can be nice for space saving sometimes. 10 or more.
OTA:s like the LM13700 or LM13600 are essential in many synth circuits. They are very handy for building simple VCA:s
and VCF:s that sound great (and also for the more advanced circuits ofc), simple VCA/VCF:s without OTA:s are kind of rare and mostly
not too great. Can be a bit pricey but get at least 2 or 3 if you can.
Potentiometers. 100K linear works for just about anything, buy a pack of 50-100 or so if you find it cheap. It's
also good to have a few 1M linear, 1M log, and 100K log (log are sometimes called audio pots).
Jacks and connectors. 3,5 mm or 6,3 mm for audio and a bunch of 9 V battery connectors. I use two 9V batteries wired
in serial for +/- 9V for breadboarding (GND is where one batterys positive meets the other ones negative).
A decent breadboard. Doesn't have to be bigger than 840 points or so, but do not get the cheapest. They are crap
and you'll just cry and curse over loose connections and wierd faults.
Trim pots. This is almost optional, but it's good to have. Buy a small assortment or just grab a few 1K, 10K, and 100K.
Wire. I use solid core for breadboarding and most panel work. Get some stranded too. Get a few different colors. If you
want lots of (thin) solid core super cheap you can get solid CAT5/6 network cables and strip them.
A few push buttons and some switches. SPDT and DPDT works for most things, get a few of each.
LED:s, good for looking at. :) But also cleverly used in some designs as voltage regulators or clippers.
Get a small assortment or just grab at least 10 red and (preferably) 5 green/orange/yellow or blue since they will have
different characteristics when used for distortion and setting peak voltages for VCO:s for example, fun to try.
(Stripboard, soldering iron, solder, and a pair of pliers if you want to keep things.)
A simple speaker, or (even better) some kind of powered speakers since some circuits will be low in volume.
Avoid headphones unless you know what you are doing, watch your ears.
A multimeter is nice to have when things don't work. A cheap one works just fine. Just make sure it has continuity
testing (sometimes indicated by a diode symbol). If it can measure hFE and has a test signal, all the better. I recently bought
one of those super cheap oscilloscopes (DSO150), and that thing took me to a new level. Highly recommended if you find this hobby fun.
Hope I did not scare you off now. If you shop around this should be fairly cheap. If you have money left there
are some IC:s that are good extras:
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