The study of electronics is a very interesting and rewarding occupation for either the hobbyist or aspiring engineer.
Even the most casual hobbyist has easy access to thousands of low cost components, allowing anyone to take up the pursuit of electronics and advance it to any level of sophistication that he or she might desire – including as a rewarding career.
Back in the 70’s and 80’s, it would typically cost thousands of dollars to get started in the development of products that used a microprocessor – meaning that only large businesses could afford to do it. The use of a microprocessor also usually required the use of a number of support IC’s such as timers, port expanders, memory, and communication IC’s. The end result tended to be complicated and difficult to breadboard for testing purposes.
Today, just the opposite is true. Hundreds of low cost microcontrollers are available from a number of different manufacturers. For about ten dollars or so, one can purchase a complete development board that has an on board programmer and debugger and along with a free complete development environment (IDE) that can be downloaded to any laptop. (Some are code limited, but usually a generous limit.)
Sure, you would need to learn to program in assembly or C and also need a basic understanding of digital logic. However, the easy availability of the internet, for most people, allows the access to all kinds of electronics information, including electronic forums where you can ask others for help and even find complete programming examples to help you get started. Also, complete datasheets on practically any component you can imagine is usually just a few clicks away.
That said, it is always a good idea to have on hand a few reference books that pertain to your area of study.
In my opinion, one of the best must have books available for general electronics is:
The Art of Electronics (Third Edition) by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill.
This book, of about 1200 pages, contains an extensive amount of information on the basics of voltage, current, and resistance. Also, the theory behind and the use of components such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, diodes, bipolar and mosfet transistors, op-amps, voltage regulators, logic devices and much, much more.
The book also has numerous pictures and circuit examples that can be considered building blocks for your own projects. Most examples are simple and use components that are inexpensive and easily obtained. This allows one to breadboard and test the examples, providing an excellent way to learn and experiment with circuit theory.
All in all this is an excellent book for both the beginner and expert alike.
One Final Thought:
There seems to be a number of counterfeit and poorly produced copies of this book being sold, mostly online and at suspiciously low prices.
Please respect the enormous amount of effort over many years that the authors have put into creating this series of books starting with the first edition in the early 1980’s by purchasing only authorized and official versions.