Electronics is just like Lego

Jake Dean
October 15, 2020
Have you ever tried to make a project with arduino or a similar board? And you couldn’t figure out how to make it work? Have you thought about how to make this accessible? Send a message of what you’re project is and let's figure out how to make it work :).

I remember it like it was yesterday, spending entire weekends building lego. 

My Brother, step Brother and I would take command of the lounge room for the weekend. Building towns, houses, spaceships and anything else we can think of, nobody was allowed to touch anything Saturday night. Making little army soldiers live in these houses and pretending to live their life. We would always race for the best lego pieces. My brother always got the best :/

Go forward to now and I still get the same feeling with electronics. I remember before I started designing things, I wouldn’t get frightened with the little knowledge I have, scared to touch anything because I feared it would break (and I have electrocuted myself before). But I’ve come to realise that lego and electronics are the same thing in a way. Electronics just have different connections and more blocks that fit together. 

Generally the process starts by looking around on digikey (they sell electronics), and finding integrated circuits that I like or want to use. Temperature sensors, gyroscopes, motor controllers, you name it.

(Explainer: integrated circuits are like a black box. They have a way to power it, and a way to communicate with it. Imagine it like your hand or leg or something. It doesn’t do anything unless it’s powered by the heart (battery in electronics), and sent signals from the mind (the microcontroller in electronics)).

After we find the sensors or combination of sensors that we want to use, we read through a few long AF datasheet and find what connections are needed to talk to this sensor and how much power it needs. For the communication, you find out what boards can make this kind of communication (TidBit: Everything is standardised to a few types of communication. So you get to know these very quickly), then you have to make sure that it get’s enough power, so you pick a battery big enough to supply this power, plug it in and code it. Viola, you have your robot or electronic thing that does something.

I guess the biggest thing I like about electronics, is if you make all the connections correct, or place the lego blocks together in the right way. It looks good and works. Just like lego though, sometimes you have to jam it together and figure out why things don’t fit.

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