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Basic Electronics » Any games for Learning Electronics?

September 19, 2011
by rdalton
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I've read through several text books but, I'll admit, it's hard to put the text to practice.

Does anyone know of any games to help learn electronics? I'm thinking of maybe something like Impossible Machines or Lego design. Even just a simulator with puzzles (get 5v to the other end of this circuit).

I've tried doing a search but when i put in "learn electronics game" I get all the games that are electronic. Not games about learning electronics.

Thanks. P.S. I'm also putting the same question in the programming section about Games that teach programming so if you know any of those, please feel free to respond there.

September 19, 2011
by mongo
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I never heard of any actual games to play that would teach electronics... I found that the little kits like the ones at hobby shops, (even Radio Shack) are more educational and you can make changes and experiment with the circuits pretty easily.

My first kit was a box that fit 25 little blocks with different components in them. It could make radios, amplifiers and all sorts of odd circuits but I had more fun changing component values to see what would happen.

That was waaaay back in 1970... I wonder what's out there today.

September 20, 2011
by Ralphxyz
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After thinking about this further I think rdalton has a great idea.

I was never good at games so I have not played a game in forty years but I can see how a learning electronics game might be fun and certainly educational.

This could be a Nerdkit community project, at least to work out the basics of it and then who knows.

At the moment I can picture it as a quiz as I have said my gaming experience is limited but others could expand.

It would be cool to actually build a circuit and to have a simulator program test your circuit and illustrate it.

I'd start with a LED circuit.

Now what questions could be asked about a LED circuit?

Of course we'd need a graphical pc program to illustrate, but you could select a LED by color, then you would have to identify the anode and cathode and maybe answer in a text box how you made the decision about what was what.

Then you could answer questions about current draw and voltage drop and use OHM's law to perform different calculations.

Next you could select a power supply and then a resistor to match a given current draw or brightness.

When everything is selected the program could light up the LED or blow it up.

So what else could we do? What questions could we ask about a capacitor or transistor used in a circuit, how about an op-amp?


September 20, 2011
by bretm
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Whoa! Hold on there. An LED circuit is awfully advanced, don't you think? Straight into semi-conductors right off the bat!

LED circuit questions:

What is ohm's law? 
Who's Ohm? 
What's a volt? 
Who's Volt? 
What's an amp? 
Who's Ampere? 
What is charge? 
What is an electric field? 
What is current? 
How does current do work? 
What is work? 
What is energy? 
What is potential energy? 
What is potential energy difference? 
What is power? 
What is a watt? 
Who is Watt? 
What is voltage? 
What are voltage drop, potential difference, emf?
What is the net voltage drop around a closed circuit? 
What is the net current entering and leaving a given node in a circuit? 
What is a diode? 
Why does it emit light? 
What's a dark emitting diode? 
Do all diodes emit light? 
What is a semiconductor?
How does a P-N junction work? 
Why do they use silicon? 
What is silicon? 
What is silicone? 
Can incoming light cause current in a diode? 
What is a resistor? 
What is resistance? 
What is heat? 
How does heat matter in this circuit? 
How does current cause heat? 
Why are LEDs rated for maximum current but resistors are rated for maximum power? 
What's the other obvious way that energy escapes this circuit?
What do those colors mean? 
What is a cathode? 
What is an anode? 
How can you remember which is which? 
How can you tell which is which by looking at a diode? 
Or at an LED? 
What is forward voltage?
What is forward current?
What is breakdown voltage?
Does the LED actually break down at the breakdown voltage?
What happens if the resistor is put in backward? 
What is the relationship between current and voltage in a diode? 
Does that mean ohm's law is wrong? 
What is a battery and how does it work? 
What is the capacity of a battery? 
Why does it die? 
How much current can it supply? 
Are there current sources, like there are voltage sources? 
What does DC mean? 
How does the battery know how much current to provide? 
In which direction does electricity flow in the circuit? 
What is conventional flow vs electron flow? 
Why aren't they the same?
What is electricity?

Whether or not this is too advanced is really a game design question. What level of "learn electronics" are we talking about? The OP suggested a game "get 5V to the other end of this circuit" which suggests that they may not know what "5V" actually means (Sorry, no offense if you do!).

But for purposes of this game, do we care? There's the Arduino model of "I don't care too much about the details, I just want the circuit to work, stat" versus the Nerdkits model "I want to know what's going on in this circuit" versus whatever model would make you ask "what is electricity".

September 20, 2011
by rdalton
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No offense taken. I'm not sure what I mean by 5V either.

I'd like to know what's going on in the circuit but I'd like to learn in some other way than through textbook definitions.

Something like puzzles that make you think rather than just 'right'/'wrong'. Here are some scenarios I'm making up that may not make sense but may work as examples. I don't know enough to give examples that make sense yet.

1) Given a power supply, 4 pieces of wire, 2 resistors, 1 switch, 1 relay, 3 capacitor and 1 motor, how can you get the motor to run at the fastest speed for 1/2 a second? (I'm assuming somehow you can use the capacitors to build up a bigger charge to run the motor faster somehow)

2) You are locked in a dark room with a handful of resistors. You can feel a break in the wire and know where the power switch is but if you don't put enough resistance in the line, you'll blow up the bulb. Given 5 resistors, how many trials would it take you to find the proper one? (I'm hoping by running them in series you can gather some information about them rather than just risking trying them one at a time)

3) you have a 2 wheeled robot (1 motor on each wheel) on a small platform and need to get it to turn around. How can you do this so he won't fall off the platform? (I'm thinking something like using a transistor to switch power back and forth between each wheel in similar amounts or splitting the current evenly or something. This would need more detail)

I've actually made it through the NerdKit starting manual once. It's just that while I followed the instructions, I didn't understand much of what I was doing. I'm running through it again but was hoping to find something to learn with besides looking up line by line what the code means in a text book.

I can play a game with a single-mindedness and determination to win that I can't find with a text book.

September 20, 2011
by bretm
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  • I didn't understand much of what I was doing

  • looking up line by line what the code means

Does that mean the programming part was harder than the electronics part? Or are both aspects of the guide confusing?

September 20, 2011
by rajabalu21
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Take a look at this.

And also this.

-Raja Balu

September 20, 2011
by bretm
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That's a nice resource. Thanks for sharing the links.

But be careful. In the first three worksheets I looked at, all three had some factual errors. So use multiple sources.

September 20, 2011
by Ralphxyz
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Now how do we turn this into a game? Dan and hariharan do you have an insight?

So far all we have is a quiz, I want to play a game.


September 21, 2011
by BobaMosfet
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A game already does exist---

It's called "Breadboard, Components, and PowerSupply". It's a game of skill, chance, education, and risk! If your tactics are sound, you too can conquer your foe Watt O'Mighty with a working electronic Gizmo! Or, if you are defeated, a burnt out bunch of parts- You choose, you decide! Many paths and possibilities exist- you can even add or remove parts from the game as you see fit- many vendors exist for these accessories! But be warned, advanced players rely on secret tomes of power, found in bookstores and local libraries- even perhaps online! Not for the faint of heart, or anyone under the age of 8.

Let your imagination, intellectual quotient, tolerance threshold and budget determine your fate. This is not a journey for everyone.


September 21, 2011
by mrobbins
(NerdKits Staff)

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BM: That sure sounds like beautiful poetry to me! Thanks.


September 21, 2011
by sask55
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BM: Very well put. From my stand point the entire learning process that is involved with my electronics hobby has always been a sort of reality gaming experience. I have found no need for any virtual reality circuits or problems. Playing with the real thing seems much more appealing, rewarding and productive to me. Many gratifying moments of; I think this is actually working as I hoped, as well as the enviable what am I doing wrong now how am I going to correct this, with the occasional oops that cost me a few bucks.


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