Getting Started with Building Electronic DIY Project – The Essentials or Prerequisites
Building a scalable electronic hardware business is complex, challenging and equally fun. It takes time, multiple iterations and a lot of patience to get it right. Including myself and lot many people I have met, who has this cool idea of building an awesome product but they don’t even realize and have totally ignored all the nuts and bolts of building a hardware product and scale it to a successful business.
Well, that’s okay. That should not really stop you from thinking and building a cool idea into a working prototype and once you get that right you can look for people and resources to turn that into a hardware product and business.
We at 8BitWork are here to help you, with your first step into electronic hardware development and prototype development from scratch. And you can discuss with us and finetune your ideas as much as you can before taking the next step into reality. We are always open to listen to you and help you as much as we can.
Before we jump into any of hardware development projects, I would strongly recommend you to go through the rest of this blog post and get all the essentials, the first thing. You might find few things which will seem like no use to you for now. But you have to believe us that you will need it sooner or later and we have spent enormous time in building this list of essentials so that you will not be blocked in the middle while we are building something cool. There will always be a separate BOM (Bill of Material) which will be specific to the project you are building but the essentials will remain the same for all projects.
We have also given a short explanation of why you need these things and how it will speed up the development process for you. So let’s get started –
DIY Development Board
Every project needs a development board and every development board primarily has 2 units – a CPU and a motherboard. CPU for processing and motherboard for peripherals. There are a plethora of development boards available in the market today for IoT development, some are generic and others are application specific. We will also use quite a few development boards as we build our DIY projects but most of the projects would be based on Arduino. Given the fact that it is a low cost, generic, globally available board which can be used to build any kind of DIY or even end product. It has got a tremendous community behind it and it is mass adopted. Arduino comes in many flavors, I would recommend using Uno Board.
Get your Arduino development board and make sure you get the one with USB cord and possibly with an adapter also. You can get a development kit as well because it usually contains most of the essentials we are listing down. Again it is up to you how you assemble your essentials and for your convenience, we have listed down amazon links.
Though it is not needed initially because you will be using your PC USB port for powering and programming the board but when you are building cellular or some other project where it requires more current supply PC USB has a limit of output current your board can draw so you need to supply that from an external power supply. So it is better to get one.
Breadboards are bread and butter of electronic prototype development. Breadboard gives you all flexibility of attaching and removing wires and components without the hassle of soldering and de-soldering. Add at least 2-3 sets of the breadboard in your inventory.
Jumper wires are needed to connect your electronic components on the breadboard. There are various types of jumper wire like male to male, male to female, female to female types. We suggest you get a bundle of jumper wire with all the types. It will help you connect your peripherals and sensors to your Arduino board while prototyping.
While jumper helps you connect your components to your Arduino board on the breadboard, headers also help you do the same but more. Sometimes when you get sensors and other electronic components in form of PCB board, they usually have holes for adding headers to it becomes easy to attach it to the Arduino board or breadboard. Headers also come in multiple types e.g. male headers, female headers etc. There is a special header type called stackable headers which are primarily used to build shields or attach a shield to your Arduino board.
Battery, Battery Holder/Cable
Batteries are always needed at places where you can not supply power to board and its peripherals through PC USB or Power Adapter. So it is always a good option to have them handy. When you move your prototype board to test, you will mostly need batteries. Batteries also come in various shapes, size, and types and it depends upon you which one you would like to use. But for most of the DIY projects, a 9V-12V low-cost re-chargeable battery pack would suffice. For the final product, you can choose between LiPo or Lion batteries. When you are buying batteries make sure you buy the connector as well.
Resistors are building blocks of an electronic circuit. While you build your DIY electronic project you will need various resistors for connecting your sensors or other external components with the Arduino board. I would suggest you go for a resistor kit which contains all oms resistors.
LEDs are my favorite. It is not only fun to use various colored LEDs but most of the time you would be using LEDs for status checking. Even in your final product, you will have LEDs for showing status. The recommendation would be again to go for a colored LED kit.
Switches and Buttons
Another essential piece of an electronic component which will be handy in many places during your project development. I would recommend going for tactical type push buttons.
Buzzers are mainly used as alarms and sometime in place of LEDs for status. They are pretty cool to have. I would recommend going for tiny buzzers.
Solder Iron Set
A good soldering iron kit is a must-have for every electronic enthusiast. Half of the time you will either be soldering or de-soldering electronic components and it is better to get the best soldering iron kit if you don’t want to struggle later. A good soldering iron kit must at least have an adjustable temperature soldering iron, a soldering stand, various size tips for multi-purpose, a good quality desoldering pump, a tweezer, and good quality flux and soldering wires.
Having a good wire cutter will save you lot of headache and work while nailing wires. Sometimes you get wire cutter along with soldering kit. If not get one for you separately.
After testing your project on breadboard when you are ready to move to next step and building a PCB board for your DIY project, Glue kit will come handy to fix your connection points and also to protect your wiring. I would recommend getting a good quality Glue gun and glue sticks.
Screws and Screw Driver Kit
Another must-have component for any electronic DIY project builder. You are going to use this extensively in all your projects and maybe for other household work. Buy a good screwdriver kit if you don’t already have one.
Getting good wire tape will help in making electronic components safe and avoid unnecessary issue while connecting multiple wires together. Get a black one for yourself.
Not needed initially but always good to have one in case you have planned to move your DIY project somewhere outside or at a remote location. When you are a finished project then there will be a huge role of enclosure box and it also defines how your product is going to look like to end customer. There is a lot to be discussed about enclosure and connector and finishing your end product. But let’s hold it for later. For now, if you have such requirement go for a generic rectangular ABS enclosure which can house your Arduino, battery and other components you will be using in your project. Make sure you get the right size one.
Last but not the least, get an account on thingspeak. As I have mentioned earlier, we are mostly going to build IoT projects and your device will be pushing data to some place for monitoring. Instead of building and running your own server, it is better to have a managed IoT platforms available for you to test your project first. ThingSpeak is the simples and easiest platform as per my experience so far. I would recommend getting an account on thingspeak. It’s free :).
There are multiple companies providing an Arduino getting started kit with some selected components. If you like, you can even get that as well considering it has most of the items listed above.
That is all for getting started with building your electronic DIY project. After you have procured all the listed essentials, you can head over to any DIY project, which you would like to start working on. And again as I said, we at 8BitWork are here to help you. We are always open to listen to you and help you as much as we can. So feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop your queries in the comment section below.