How do I learn circuit building and electronics on my Mac?
If you want to learn about basic electronic components and how to build simple circuits, using your Mac as a learning resource, then you've come to the right place.
Along with coding and web development, electronics and circuit building is one of the best skills you can learn. With electronics and circuit building skills you can connect hardware and software together. These skills can be used to build robots, internet of things projects, drones and other cool (and worthy) projects.
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Learn electronics and circuit building on your Mac
There are plenty of sites offering help to learn electronics. Here are the first three you should bookmark.
- Instructables offers a huge array of user-built tutorials and projects. Its Basic Electronics course has lots of great projects to help you get started.
- Sparkfun is a company that produces electronics kits and sells components. It combines these with some great tutorials for beginners.
- Electronics Tutorials. This web page is a little more advanced, but has a great range of projects that can boost your understandings of electronics.
How to learn electronics and circuit building on your Mac: Hardware to help you learn electronics
One of the key parts of learning electronics is experimenting with components. These can be used to create test circuits, and to control your circuit.
- Breadboard and components. A breadboard is a square piece of plastic filled with holes. You place circuit parts in the holes, and use wires to connect components together. This enables you to test out a circuit.
- Arduino is a prototyping platform you can use alongside circuits. You can use them to read input, and send output.
- Raspberry Pi is a small microcomputer that you can set up and use alongside your Mac. (We explain how to set up and use a Raspberry Pi with a Mac elsewhere.) It has 40 pins (known as GPIO - General Purpose Input / Output). These pins enable you to connect the Raspberry Pi to hardware and control it.
How to learn electronics and circuit building on your Mac: Mac electronics and circuit software
As well as building real-life circuits you can also use circuit simulation software on your Mac. This enables you to test out parts and components in a safe environment.
Here are some programs to investigate.
- iCircuit is available for iPad and iPhone and is the most beginner friendly of all the programs here. It's a realtime editor and you can add parts using a visual interface, but it's continously simulating what happens when the circuit runs.
- MacSpice simulates and analyses electronic circuits that can range in complexity from a single resistor to an integrated circuit comprising tens of thousands of devices.
- Fritzing is a Computer Aided Design program for circuits. It's open source and has a huge range of components and parts. While it doesn't simulate the circuits itself, you can order PCB designs from the program and get circuits delivered.