Electronics Tutorial for Robotics
This tutorial will take you through the basic elements of circuit design, with the goal of preparing you to design and build robotic sensors and control systems. The experience of designing and builidng is at least as important as gaining conceptual understanding. Therefore, this is a hands-on tutorial. Each concept is followed by a number of circuits to design and build, so that your confidence and understanding will have a solid foundation in actual skills.
The circuits and designs are all inexpensive, and may be built on a solderless breadboard with battery power, or with any 6-15V DC power supply. If you’ve never used a breadboard before, click here to get acquainted. There is more information on powering your circuits here. All parts and supplies are readily availble from any mainstream electronics supplier, including Digikey, and (for most, but not all parts) your local Radio Shack.
An oscilloscope is an invaluable tool for learning circuit design — it provides a way of seeing what is actually happening to your signals and waveforms. Unfortuantely, oscilloscopes are somewhat expensive. If you don’t have access to a ‘scope, it is possible to use the data-logging features of the Lego RCX in its place. For more on using the RCX as an oscilloscope, check here.
Finally, all of the concepts presented here are laid out in full detail in The Art of Electronics, by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill. This text is remarkably readable and remains the classic reference for anyone exploring circuit design. We will often refer to chapters in this book for further study — it’s highly recommended that you acquire a copy as you work through this tutorial.