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Old 12-03-2018, 05:59 PM   #1
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Default Any advice for someone wanting to venture into electronics?

I’ve been an electrician for 12 years. Mostly industrial and a little commercial here and there. I just recently dipped my toes into maintenance and absolute love it. For one, I am someone who is never satisfied. I go and go and go until I just can’t go anymore, I guess it was how I was raised. I absolutely love electricity and being able to control mechanical motion with an invisible force. Therefore I love to learn.

I work for a company with a fairly big name in the forging industry. We have to heat billets of steel with induction heaters and hammer them into shackles, hooks, logging pikes, come-a-longs, etc. my interest in electronics comes from these heaters. The logic and controls are mostly controlled through a solid state 12x12 piece of PCB. We have stacks of these boards that are supposedly bad that are awaiting a service trip to the designer of the board for around $600 - $1000. We have around 16 of these heaters, albeit different kW ratings and models altogether.

Does anyone have any suggestions on where I should start? I’ve been googling and searching the inter webs but everything says the same thing. Caps store a charge. But for what purpose? What are some instances where a capacitor would be used? I understand an RC circuit but caps are so versatile. They can be used for anything. Do they pulse the charge once it reaches capacity? I know some of these questions are elementary but I’m just trying to convey my thought processes into words as best as I can. Thanks!
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Old 12-03-2018, 06:31 PM   #2
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http://www.fcctests.com/neets/Neets.htm
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Old 12-04-2018, 01:15 AM   #3
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No easy way out
learn learn learn
first start by getting your basics right
volts,amps,watts and ohms
And how they all work together
When you know this then move on to
electronic theory.
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Old 12-04-2018, 05:43 AM   #4
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The Navy site seems to be exactly what I need, thorough enough to understand fully without all the fat. Ive been though school and have taken DC theory, but that was close to 11 years ago and we just didnt use it much in the field. Ill have to find my school books and dust everything off. I'm not looking to transition entirely and I'm not really doing this to help my company. Something just lit a fire under my ass and I just feel this absolute need to understand how this works. I think because I dont understand alot of it; its urging me forward even more. Like integrated circuits. Mini PLC's minus the P. Its amazing how small these things can be and still accomplish huge amounts of switching.
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Old 12-04-2018, 06:26 AM   #5
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Arduino may be a good way to learn some of the basics. A starter kit, small draw storage bins and $50 of components of ebay will give you enough to start building on a bench and learning how things work. The arduino forum has a lot of geeks that can help with electronics.
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Old 12-04-2018, 06:40 AM   #6
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The Navy site seems to be exactly what I need, thorough enough to understand fully without all the fat. Ive been though school and have taken DC theory, but that was close to 11 years ago and we just didnt use it much in the field. Ill have to find my school books and dust everything off. I'm not looking to transition entirely and I'm not really doing this to help my company. Something just lit a fire under my ass and I just feel this absolute need to understand how this works. I think because I dont understand alot of it; its urging me forward even more. Like integrated circuits. Mini PLC's minus the P. Its amazing how small these things can be and still accomplish huge amounts of switching.
Not really. Take away the weight and inertia is less so mechanically everything shrinks. Take away the heat and it stays cooler so again, everything shrinks. They've already had to put extra "grounds" which are really just copper traces designed to act as internal heat sinks to suck up excess heat in CPUs.

Lots of tricks going on too. Doping of silicon adds very tiny amounts of contamination to otherwise absolutely pure silicon to add or remove excess electrons. This is what makes diodes, transistors, etc., but it also slows down electrons and makes the otherwise very fast movement of electrons through pure silicon slow, which means friction, which means heat. So now they add higher levels of doping to the nearby regions of silicon next to a pure channel in some parts. The doping sort of "spills over" creating doped, pure silicon. The current next step is going from silicon to silicon carbide (SiC). By itself not much speed improvement but this isn't for processors. SiC is much more thermally conductive so keeping power electronics cool is easier, and resistance is lower so heating is lower, and it can tolerate much higher operating temperatures. The effect is a 15-25% boost in thermal efficiency. Power electronics with this new generation is just starting to come out now. One of the issues with it is that with silicon designs when you remove power from the gate, the device shuts off. But SiC devices are more like pinch valves...putting power to the gate shuts it off. Power loss turns it on! Safe designs or mixed Si/SiC is the answer but you can't just take an Si design and use the new SiC chips so new product development will be initially slower.


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Old 12-04-2018, 06:55 AM   #7
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Our maintenance manager wanted to put Arduino's on some of the equipment we have. Hes a mechanical engineer. He says the cost savings would be huge. While this is true to some respect, the environment we work in is harsh enough for the PLC's. Arduino's arn't built for durability. Large levels of vibration from the hammers in close proximity to the control cabinets would destroy an Arduino in no time. I have been wanting to fabricate a wood splitter and use an arduino as a controller tho. So I have thought about it.

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Old 12-04-2018, 06:58 AM   #8
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Not really. Take away the weight and inertia is less so mechanically everything shrinks. Take away the heat and it stays cooler so again, everything shrinks. They've already had to put extra "grounds" which are really just copper traces designed to act as internal heat sinks to suck up excess heat in CPUs.

Lots of tricks going on too. Doping of silicon adds very tiny amounts of contamination to otherwise absolutely pure silicon to add or remove excess electrons. This is what makes diodes, transistors, etc., but it also slows down electrons and makes the otherwise very fast movement of electrons through pure silicon slow, which means friction, which means heat. So now they add higher levels of doping to the nearby regions of silicon next to a pure channel in some parts. The doping sort of "spills over" creating doped, pure silicon. The current next step is going from silicon to silicon carbide (SiC). By itself not much speed improvement but this isn't for processors. SiC is much more thermally conductive so keeping power electronics cool is easier, and resistance is lower so heating is lower, and it can tolerate much higher operating temperatures. The effect is a 15-25% boost in thermal efficiency. Power electronics with this new generation is just starting to come out now. One of the issues with it is that with silicon designs when you remove power from the gate, the device shuts off. But SiC devices are more like pinch valves...putting power to the gate shuts it off. Power loss turns it on! Safe designs or mixed Si/SiC is the answer but you can't just take an Si design and use the new SiC chips so new product development will be initially slower.


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This befuddles me. I have several tv's and old computers Ive been reluctant to throw away. Im going to start stripping boards and any useful components and just try to start building circuits. With two kids, I dont have time to go back to school. I figure, if I taught myself the basics in how to program PLC's then I should be able to teach myself electronics. I know its a kids toy but I wonder if those snap circuit boards would be a good place to start and build a foundation?
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Old 12-04-2018, 08:32 AM   #9
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Our maintenance manager wanted to put Arduino's on some of the equipment we have. Hes a mechanical engineer. He says the cost savings would be huge. While this is true to some respect, the environment we work in is harsh enough for the PLC's. Arduino's arn't built for durability. Large levels of vibration from the hammers in close proximity to the control cabinets would destroy an Arduino in no time. I have been wanting to fabricate a wood splitter and use an arduino as a controller tho. So I have thought about it.
Not to be an ass, but when ever somebody recommends Arduino or Raspberry Pi for real world automation, I figure I don't need to take this person seriously because they haven't really worked this through end to end.
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Old 12-04-2018, 11:39 AM   #10
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Not to be an ass, but when ever somebody recommends Arduino or Raspberry Pi for real world automation, I figure I don't need to take this person seriously because they haven't really worked this through end to end.
Good point. Jumping from DIYer to pro is a dream like when we get DIYers posting electrical questions here. Keep it a hobby. OPs maintenance manager needs to check with suppliers & leaders in the field for ideas. No new innovation may be economically possible. Your supplier already has highly qualified bench techs checking the boards & I doubt you can do close as good.
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Old 12-04-2018, 11:47 AM   #11
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Focus on the useful. Unless it is for JUST your own use, I would use my time to learn integration. The how does this connect to this, not how does this work inside. The old black box way, don't worry how it does it.


E-net Click PLC from automation direct for under $100 free software and away you go.
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Old 12-04-2018, 11:52 AM   #12
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Welcome to the forum Dude.
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Old 12-04-2018, 12:07 PM   #13
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Welcome to the forum Dude.
Thanks. Ive been here in spirit browsing since I got in the trade in 2007. Alot of very knowledgeable people, you can learn alot from books but most of everything Ive learned is from experienced people that have been doing it along time.

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Old 12-04-2018, 12:12 PM   #14
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Focus on the useful. Unless it is for JUST your own use, I would use my time to learn integration. The how does this connect to this, not how does this work inside. The old black box way, don't worry how it does it.


E-net Click PLC from automation direct for under $100 free software and away you go.
I built a PLC trainer at home, I used a refurb Micrologix 1200 off ebay with an analog card and RsLogix500 starter edition ($149). After 6 months on the road and lugging that thing from hotel to hotel I finally got to where I am comfortable writing small programs. Nothing extravagant. Small presses and forging hammers so far. I guess instead of mastering one thing I am more of a jack of all trades. Hence why I am wanting to dive into electronics. Plus the more I learn about one thing the more I learn how it integrates into everything Ive learned up to that point. I would love to go back to school to formally learn how to program but with two kids my time to them is more valuable.
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Old 12-04-2018, 12:14 PM   #15
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Good point. Jumping from DIYer to pro is a dream like when we get DIYers posting electrical questions here. Keep it a hobby. OPs maintenance manager needs to check with suppliers & leaders in the field for ideas. No new innovation may be economically possible. Your supplier already has highly qualified bench techs checking the boards & I doubt you can do close as good.
Thing is he is all about upgrading and improving the plant. He seems to be on the front lines and in contact with the big suppliers in the area. However when we had a trade show recently and Rockwell was there he wasnt interested in me going.

Theyre on this huge kick for predictive maintenance. I suggested in passing about vibration monitors and networking the equipment via DeviceNet or something similar. They didnt even consider it which I found suprising considering how plugged in the entire industrial enviroment is.

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Old 12-04-2018, 12:26 PM   #16
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Thing is he is all about upgrading and improving the plant. He seems to be on the front lines and in contact with the big suppliers in the area. However when we had a trade show recently and Rockwell was there he wasnt interested in me going.

Theyre on this huge kick for predictive maintenance. I suggested in passing about vibration monitors and networking the equipment via DeviceNet or something similar. They didnt even consider it which I found suprising considering how plugged in the entire industrial enviroment is.

I just did a small cheap SCADA system using the Click PLC and wireless network. It pops up information on PM's and greasing and brush checks for the motors. It used to be Point of view from automation direct now it is indusoft. Demo software is free, get one and play then show them real world how it will help them.
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Old 12-04-2018, 12:32 PM   #17
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Thing is he is all about upgrading and improving the plant. He seems to be on the front lines and in contact with the big suppliers in the area. However when we had a trade show recently and Rockwell was there he wasnt interested in me going.

Theyre on this huge kick for predictive maintenance. I suggested in passing about vibration monitors and networking the equipment via DeviceNet or something similar. They didnt even consider it which I found suprising considering how plugged in the entire industrial enviroment is.
How plugged in are the owners?
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Old 12-04-2018, 12:41 PM   #18
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How plugged in are the owners?
NIL. Obviously. Hopefully I will change that in the near future. The building I am sitting is is over 100 years old. Some of the upsetters we have are archaic. I did a lighting survey within the first week of taking the job and the results were atrocious. Average of the entire plant was around 120 lux. Fork truck aisles were insane. Im talking 17-50 lux. ANSI recommends 500-1000 lux for the work enviroment. I had to goto the regional manager to get capital.

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Old 12-04-2018, 12:42 PM   #19
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I just did a small cheap SCADA system using the Click PLC and wireless network. It pops up information on PM's and greasing and brush checks for the motors. It used to be Point of view from automation direct now it is indusoft. Demo software is free, get one and play then show them real world how it will help them.
I will look into that. Would you have any reference material?
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Old 12-04-2018, 12:51 PM   #20
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Upsetter machine...FWIW...
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