Electricity & electronics - Robotics, learn by building
4.6 (3,049 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
20,454 students enrolled

Electricity & electronics - Robotics, learn by building

Over 14,700 enrolled! Open career opportunities and have fun learning electronics focused on building robots/automation!
4.6 (3,049 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
20,451 students enrolled
Created by Ian Juby
Last updated 8/2020
English, French [Auto], 7 more
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Current price: $69.99 Original price: $99.99 Discount: 30% off
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This course includes
  • 10.5 hours on-demand video
  • 1 article
  • 34 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • develop and build analog electronics circuits
  • you will build multiple circuits from sound buzzers to bionics where we actually control a servo motor by reading signals from your muscles
  • Basic math skills, as well as some basic tools and electronic parts (parts & tools list is in the first lesson)

You can open all kinds of doors for advancement in so many careers with a basic understanding of electronics. Think of all of the fields and hobbies that involve electronics to some degree! This "Robotics: Learn by building" series of courses focuses on robotics - which itself is a very diverse field that has application in everything from industry, manufacturing, laboratory work, or military, even in home automation. 

Updated January 1, 2020

With over 17,000 students enrolled and more than 1,300 five star ratings, students aged 8 to 60+ have enjoyed the course and projects.

In this module 1 course, you will build electronic circuits, actually make some electronic components from scratch and use them in your circuits, learn about electricity, soldering skills, and basic analog electronics.  You'll need some basic math skills and that's it! No prior knowledge of electricity of electronics is required, and yet by the end of this course you'll have built functioning electronic circuits like light flashers, sound effects, and controlling the robotics engineer's best friend, the servo motor which is a motor that turns to a specific direction at your command. You will have even connected that servo motor up to read electrical impulses from the muscles in your arm to control the motor bionically. All courses have captions for the hearing impaired.

Start through the lessons today to begin your personal education journey towards your goals - a horizon now filled with so many more opportunities because of your new-found knowledge.

Course materials:

You will need electronic parts and a breadboard, which you can purchase as an accompanying kit (the Analog Electronics Kit) or provide your own.

The first section of the course (available for free preview) explains what the tools and parts are and what you will need if you are supplying your own electronic parts. 

Tools needed: a multimeter, soldering iron and solder, wire,

This course is the prerequisite for the module II course which is digital electronics where you will work with a computer-on-a-chip and hook that computer up to the real world.  In module III you'll learn robotic drive systems and physics, and gain a wide variety of skills in prototyping so you can actually build your own robots and manufacture your own parts.  In module IV, you'll culminate all you've learned so far as you build a 3D printer from scratch, hook it up to a desktop computer and make your own plastic parts.  The 3D printer is, in effect, a robot which you can then use to make parts for your other robot designs. In module V you can take your robot design and construction skills to the next level with a hands-on approach to autonomous robotic systems: learning about various sensors to know where you are and what your robot is doing, GPS navigation, basic artificial intelligence, powerful microchips known as FPGA's where you literally design a custom circuit on the chip, vision systems and more.

Who this course is for:
  • Intended for beginners and those with some experience in electronics and hobby robotics
Course content
Expand 57 lectures 10:20:32
+ Even basic electricity can be complicated and fun
57 lectures 10:20:33

Let's go over materials and tools you'll need for this course.

Preview 19:10

Let's start from zero: Just what IS electricity and electronics anyway? We'll discuss electrical safety and DC electricity.

DC electricity

Let's now move on to AC electricity and how it's different than DC. We'll talk more about electrical safety as well as AC voltages tend to be far higher than DC.

AC electricity

We take a short segue to hopefully stem some confusion about AC and DC currents.

Bonus lesson - AC with DC voltages

Continuing to learn the basics of voltage/resistance/current, we'll now show what Ohm's law is (along with really bad puns), how to use it and easily remember it.

Ohm's law and power

Student's requested a short lesson on how to use the multimeter. So, here it is!

Using multimeters

So what good is a "resistor" anyway? And what happens if we hook them up in different ways? We find out in this lesson.


Schematic diagrams are simply drawings which are like blueprints for electrical/electronic circuits. Here we start learning the basics of schematic drawings so we can build a circuit from any schematic we can get.

Schematic diagrams and resistors in parallel

Variable resistors are a very useful part, but are mysterious in how they work. in this lesson we remove the mystery by opening one up and then making one for ourselves from scratch.

Variable resistors

What is a capacitor? We remove the mystery by actually scratch-making one for use later on in a circuit, and then discuss just how these very simple components work.


In this lesson we are introduced to our very first semiconductor, the diode. We then move on to Light Emitting Diodes which are now extremely common.

Diodes & LED's

Give your new found knowledge a run for its money. Test your knowledge with this quiz.

Test your skillz - Quiz #1: Electricity & basic electronic components
21 questions

In this lesson we remove the mystery of the "breadboard" which is an actual, professional tool used by electronics engineers to design and prototype electronic circuits. We actually crack one open so you can see how they work, and then use one to build up our first simple circuit.

Breadboarding and hooking up LED's and diodes

Now that we've used a breadboard, we'll get introduced to our first microchip and put it to use in making a simple, flashing LED circuit with the ever popular 555 timer microchip.

Microchips, and introduction to the 555 timer

Uh oh! Our 555 timer circuit didn't work! Why not? This is common when building circuits, so let's go through the troubleshooting list to see if we can figure out what happened.


In this lesson, I explain the answer to a frequently asked question regarding calculating the resistor value when used as a current limiter for diodes.

Bonus lesson: Selecting a resistor to use with a diode

Using the 555 timer and breadboard, we'll make a tone generator and discuss the theory behind what it's doing.

555 astable mode tone generator

Using the circuit we built in the previous lesson, we'll now put our scratch-made electronic components to use, using them in an actual circuit.

Preview 05:08

Soldering electronic circuits is a bit of an art. A little bit of knowledge and practice will go a long way in helping you to make permanent, good quality electronic circuits.

Preview 19:55

Voltage dividers are a simple, yet essential part of electronic circuits. In this lesson we learn what a voltage divider is, where it's used and why, and then built a Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO) which has a miriad of uses. Please note: April 2018, an error was pointed out to me. In the original video lesson and in the original schematics, I had written that an increase in voltage on pin 5 increased the frequency. This is wrong. An increase in the voltage decreases the frequency and a decrease in voltage increases the frequency. I have updated the downloadable schematics with the correction.

Voltage dividers & Voltage Controlled Oscillators

VCO's are very versatile, and we'll make use of one here to make a police car siren circuit.

555 Siren circuit

In this lesson we'll learn what an inductor is by first making one. We'll then learn where we find them, how they work and learn of some of the things we have to watch out for when we use one.


Now that we've learned a raft of simple electronic components, we want to be careful not to inadvertently destroy them. In this lesson we learn about how they are rated and why, and how to protect them from damage.

Important ratings of resistors, capacitors and inductors

Switches and relays may seem simple at first, but when you pick up a simple switch that has 8 wires coming out of the back of it, it suddenly doesn't seem so simple anymore. They are, and in this lesson we learn the different types of switches and relays and how to use them. We then build an LED flasher and relay control circuit to use our relay.

Switches and relays

In this lesson we learn first of all what a transistor is and how to use it for switching, followed by building a circuit which switches with a transistor.

Transistors: An introduction

You've probably heard the term "heat sink" and may not even understand what it is. This lesson explains this very simple, but important part.

Heat sinks

In robotics, MOSFET transistors are very useful. They operate very different from bipolar transistors and so in this lesson we learn how to use them, and then put that knowledge to use by building a circuit with them.

MOSFET transistors

Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) is a very versatile and effective way of controlling motors and lights by altering the electrical signal. It's also used in a few other, not-so-obvious ways like controlling servo motors. Here we learn what PWM is, and build a circuit to speed control a DC motor.  Please note: I actually made a mistake in the circuit build for the filming. For some mysterious reason, the circuit worked anyway!  So the downloadable schematic for the circuit is correct.  I also made an alteration to the original circuit: R5, a 4.7k resistor was swapped out for a 3.3k resistor to remove those beat notes I referred to in the video lesson.

Preview 09:55

Hobby Servo motors are the roboticist's best friend. Cheap and readily available, they are super simple to use BUT, require a pretty sophisticated circuit to control them. Here we use a PWM circuit specifically designed for controlling servo motors, and hook it up to a servo motor.

Servo motors & controller circuit

Taking a servo control circuit a step further, we use some of our variable resistors - like a temperature controlled resistor, to control a servo motor. Useful in things like environmental control and automated/robotic systems.

Servos with variable resistors

In robotics, we use electric motors incessantly. But, even small DC motors take a surprising amount of power. In this lesson we learn how to control the direction of a motor using an "H-Bridge".

The H-bridge

Student feedback showed a surprisingly strong interest in very high power control, like mobile tank robots and electric cars. In this lesson we'll learn what doesn't work, and what does work for controlling very large power with many MOSFET transistors.

Preview 13:24

In a previous lesson we learned how to control a hobby servo motor. In this lesson we'll get into the guts of a servo motor to see exactly how they work and so be able to figure out how to build our own of any size we want.

How servos work/Building your own servos

In this lesson we actually take apart a hobby servo motor and show how it can be hacked into a speed controlled, reversible drive motor for robots.

Continuous rotation servos - hacking servo motors

Alright, let's run your newfound knowledge through its paces over what you've learned in this last section.

Test your skillz - Quiz #2: Electricity & basic electronic components
16 questions

In this lesson we learn about power supplies which provide multiple power sources, and explain in detail this mysterious "ground" connection we always hear about.

Dual power supplies and that mysterious ground

Previously we used transistors for switching. Amplifying with transistors is much more tricky, and we discuss the theory behind simple transistor amplifiers.

Transistor amplifiers, Part I

Learning more about transistor amplifiers, we look at dual-supply amps and show what the "perfect" amplifier would be and why.

Transistor amplifiers, Part II: The "perfect" amplifier

After learning about the "perfect" amplifier, we now introduce the closest thing to the perfect amplifier: the Operational Amplifier. Op Amps are very versatile and we're going to use them for very sophisticated jobs in robotics.

Operational Amplifiers: Introduction

The LM386 is a microchip, a type of Op Amp with a high power output for audio circuits. Dead simple to use, we go over multiple, simple circuits we can build to make use of this chip.

LM386 Audio amplifier

After discussing what "bionics" is, we dive into this exciting field of robotics which is a melding of the human and robot. We start by making our own homemade sensors for reading signals from the human muscle.

Preview 14:46

In order to effectively read the extremely small electrical signals from human muscles, we'll need to use differential and instrumentation amplifiers. This lesson shows just what those are, why and how they work.

Differential and instrumentation amplifiers - bionics

The bionic servo circuit is large and complicated. This lesson is devoted to troubleshooting potential problems in your circuit.

Muscle sensing & controlling servos with your muscles - troubleshooting

Op Amps generally require dual power supplies. Sometimes you just don't have one. So let's talk about how and when you can use a single power supply.

Single supplies for Op-amps

This fun project uses op amps to listen to the sounds in the room, and light up different coloured LED's according to the frequency of sound. A little dance-party light.

Frequency Amplification/Colour Organ

Red-Green-Blue (RGB) LED's are very common now and quite useful. We experiment with one in this lesson.

RGB LED's and colour sensing

Electronics involving light are common and fun. Here we learn what optoelectronics are and how to use them.


A special kind of diode, the zener is useful in power supplies and some scientific research. Here we learn what they are and how to use them.

Zener Diodes

Before we look at building our own power supplies, we'll look at getting parts for those power supplies by scavenging from scrap electronics. This presents a great way to get FREE electronic parts.

Salvaging electronics

No, we're not talking about autobots (even though this is a robotics course). The lowly transformer has a miriad of uses, but especially in power supplies. Here we learn what they are and how to calculate their output.

Transformers: More than meets the aye!

In this lesson we'll learn about a modification to transformers called the center tap. We'll also learn how all of this fits together in household power systems.

Center tapped transformers

Some students may have already experimented with converting AC to DC and discovered that the voltages are quite different. In this lesson, we explain why, and how to calculate what the voltages will be.


In this lesson we'll go over the basics of building power supplies, including using voltage regulators. We then briefly discuss where you can get pre-built power supplies, often for dirt cheap or free.

Power supplies: Building and hacking

In robotics, we'll often have to deal with high power, like drive motor power and electric vehicle power. In this lesson we discuss why the electrical grid boosts their voltages so high and directly relate it to the design and construction of our robotic systems.

Preview 14:04
Bonus: response to student questions about motor speed and power

At the request of many students, this lesson explains how to calculate resistor and capacitor values on 555 timer circuits, and how to customize the chip to get it to do what you want.

Preview 15:37

In this bonus lesson, we look at the RC constant (Resistor-Capacitor constant), what it is and where we might use it. Oh, we also cover the maths. We then take a look at using capacitors (and in particular, supercapacitors) as power supplies. This is an area of research for use in devices such as cellular phones because of the incredible charge rates of capacitors over batteries.

Preview 10:22

In response to a couple of student questions, we'll explore the world of comparators and their use in robotics.

Preview 07:41