MITx electronics course. Looks useful - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-20-2012, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
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MITx electronics course. Looks useful

I came across this the other day.
It looks like it will fill a gaping hole in my education, so I've signed up for it.
It's MIT's prototype online course and it's being run for FREE.
That's a great price in my book!
I hope it will help me understand some of the more esoteric points of LED drivers and tank controllers. (ie. all of it!)

Anyone else up for doing the course?

https://6002x.mitx.mit.edu/

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-20-2012, 01:05 PM
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Requirements

In order to succeed in this course, you must have taken an AP level physics course in electricity and magnetism. You must know basic calculus and linear algebra and have some background in differential equations. Since more advanced mathematics will not show up until the second half of the course, the first half of the course will include an optional remedial differential equations component for those who need it.

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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-20-2012, 03:06 PM
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As someone with a degree in Electrical Engineering, I don't know that this course would be all that useful to you as a hobbyist.

Let me explain by use of analogy. A car mechanic is not a mechanical engineer. A mechanical engineer wouldn't automatically make a good car mechanic.
A car mechanic knows how to remove the engine from your 2005 Chevy Impala and replace your valve springs.
A mechanical engineer knows how to calculate the efficiency of the combustion in a piston engine. He could also determine the maximum energy before the piston rods were deformed and determine the maximum output of an engine design.

The difference is that a mechanics body of knowledge consists of "how to work on cars", while the mechanical engineer's body of knowledge consists of "how cars work". It might be helpful to know both, but not necessary.

This class won't teach you anything about how to program a microcontroller(Arduino). This class won't teach you how to solder. This class won't teach you how to choose a heatsink.

This class will teach you how to calculate the electron drift inside of a semiconductor(an LED is a semiconductor). This class will teach you how to properly bias a transistor. This class will teach you how to construct an Op Amp from transistors.

If you want to learn more about LEDs and such, I would imagine that wikipedia might be a better place for the average hobbyist to learn. Also, as GraphicGr8s pointed out, the math is rather intense. Unless you can remember what a homogeneous equation is and how to solve it...this might be a bit over the average person's head.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-20-2012, 05:13 PM
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I think this would be a great course to take, but, requiring a college level physics course as a prerequisite moves it out of bounds for casual learners. I would take it, but I'm just not interested in working that hard right now.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-20-2012, 05:19 PM
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We need a hobby level electronics course (the basics).


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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-20-2012, 05:20 PM
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I have a fantastic book called, "Teach Yourself Electricity and Electronics". This might be a useful alternative for those who aren't interested in the time and knowledge investment above.


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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-20-2012, 05:21 PM
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Oh, there are a few arduino how-tos books out there. There pretty good basic level robotics/electronics books.


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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-20-2012, 05:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pucksr View Post
As someone with a degree in Electrical Engineering, I don't know that this course would be all that useful to you as a hobbyist.

Let me explain by use of analogy. A car mechanic is not a mechanical engineer. A mechanical engineer wouldn't automatically make a good car mechanic.
A car mechanic knows how to remove the engine from your 2005 Chevy Impala and replace your valve springs.
A mechanical engineer knows how to calculate the efficiency of the combustion in a piston engine. He could also determine the maximum energy before the piston rods were deformed and determine the maximum output of an engine design.

The difference is that a mechanics body of knowledge consists of "how to work on cars", while the mechanical engineer's body of knowledge consists of "how cars work". It might be helpful to know both, but not necessary.

This class won't teach you anything about how to program a microcontroller(Arduino). This class won't teach you how to solder. This class won't teach you how to choose a heatsink.

This class will teach you how to calculate the electron drift inside of a semiconductor(an LED is a semiconductor). This class will teach you how to properly bias a transistor. This class will teach you how to construct an Op Amp from transistors.

If you want to learn more about LEDs and such, I would imagine that wikipedia might be a better place for the average hobbyist to learn. Also, as GraphicGr8s pointed out, the math is rather intense. Unless you can remember what a homogeneous equation is and how to solve it...this might be a bit over the average person's head.
+1.

This class isn't going to be useful at all in the context of fish tanks.


If you want to learn stuff that would be useful, pick up a multimeter and a couple of the DIY electronics kit (IE, the "build a weatherstation" type kits. They'll be much more applicable)
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-20-2012, 09:50 PM Thread Starter
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This class isn't going to be useful at all in the context of fish tanks.
Ok. I'll rephrase it. 'I will find this course useful to me.'

Mainly, I just want a better understanding of electronics and circuits.
This course is pitched at a level I can understand and work with. I will really enjoy revising the mathematics. It's nicely timed too, as my kids are just starting to look into the foundation work for calculus...

I understand it is not specifically useful for the type of 'paint by numbers' led+driver+powersource+heatsink DIY build that I've already done.
Nor, indeed, for the arduino controller that I will be doing in the near future. That is all very simple, if a little daunting to do for the first time.

Perhaps though, it will be useful for gaining a little insight into what is going on within the LED drivers, and I will be able to work towards understanding, designing and refining a driver/controller to fit my specific needs.

After all, to steal an analogy, you go to a mechanical engineer to design your car.

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-21-2012, 02:52 AM
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But you aren't designing a car. You are putting one together.

I am all for autodidactic efforts, but I think the math might be more than you are expecting. I plan on taking this as a fun refresher.

If you want to understand our LED drivers, a feedback class might be more useful.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-23-2012, 03:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pucksr View Post
But you aren't designing a car. You are putting one together.

I am all for autodidactic efforts, but I think the math might be more than you are expecting. I plan on taking this as a fun refresher.

If you want to understand our LED drivers, a feedback class might be more useful.

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Fun refresher? The last time I even thought about differential equations and calc was in college. In the early 80's. (One decent thing was the professor teaching physics happened to have retired as head of Huntsville and he helped design the shuttle engines. Now that was cool.) And I'm not 100% sure I really thought about it then.

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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-23-2012, 06:49 PM
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I have a some smarts

Well, I have a BS in Mathematics and a degree in Electrical Engineering...plus I only graduated a few years ago....
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-23-2012, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GraphicGr8s View Post
Fun refresher? The last time I even thought about differential equations and calc was in college. In the early 80's. (One decent thing was the professor teaching physics happened to have retired as head of Huntsville and he helped design the shuttle engines. Now that was cool.) And I'm not 100% sure I really thought about it then.
I graduated from college in 1959 and one of my physics professors helped design the atomic bomb (Manhattan Project)!

Now, we will hear that one of the older folks here had Albert Einstein as their physics professor.

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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 02-24-2012, 01:39 AM
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I graduated from college in 1959 and one of my physics professors helped design the atomic bomb (Manhattan Project)!

Now, we will hear that one of the older folks here had Albert Einstein as their physics professor.
1959 was a great year. I remember it, well.

Just imagine how cool it would be to actually have been able to talk to those guys. People like Fermi, Oppenheimer, Edison, and my two "heroes" Tesla and Einstein. To be able to sit with them and discuss things.

I want a Tesla coil but the wife says no. Have to settle for a Jacobs ladder. Just not the same. Although the Tampa Bay Lightning have to in the St. Pete Times Forum. It's almost worth sitting through a game to see them fire.

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