I really want to be comfortable with electronics, but a problem I have had in the past when trying to learn is that I get discouraged at the number of roadblocks that come up when trying to do something that I thought would be simple. Since Im determined to learn, I decided to do something that I think many people my age might feel embarrassed to do, which is to use a childs toy to start to learn. The projects are extremely easy, but my goal is to develop a habit of spending time with electronics. My hope is that this ingrained habit will be enough to carry me through the frustration Ill encounter when I try more complicated projects.
Im also learning some valuable lessons: 1) By doing something every day you get faster and faster. When I first started with these projects it took me much longer to set up and put away all of the components. After doing it for a week in a row I was able to do it significantly faster. 2) Limiting the amount of time I spend with the activity to ten minutes makes it much easier to put in the time every day, even if Im exhausted. A year or two ago I had tried to use Elencos 130-in-1 electronics kit but would end up spending 2 hours on each project, which would make me feel reluctant to start a new one in the future (because my gut was convinced that it would take 2 hours). This reminds me of a piece of advice from Arnold Schwarzenegger on bodybuilding: he said to always leave the gym before you feel done, that is, feeling a little hungry to do more. Its a way of motivating yourself to come back the next day. I see the same thing happening here. 3) Having a cheap camera permanently set up to take video from a certain angle is totally worth the money if it cuts the set-up time by even just 30 seconds per session. Minimizing the set-up time is VERY important for staying motivated. Ill need to keep that in mind when I move on to Arduino projects.
Im actually thinking of trying to encourage my friends /.cousins / nieces / nephews to do the same thing, maybe offering them $5 per completed video. I think an important factor would be the speed with which they got paid. One electronics project Id be interested in is setting up a coin dispenser that I could control via the internet; that way I could have 5 $1 coins drop out in front of them every time they upload a new video to YouTube (with me confirming that they had actually done the project before authorizing the money to come out).
One of the things Ive read over and over again from successful engineers is that they often spent a lot of time taking things apart when they were just starting out. For example, heres a quote from Larry Page from an interview with the Academy of Achievement: ~~My brother taught me how to take things apart, and I took apart everything in the house.~~
I try to copy habits that I think will lead me to success, and I want to be able to create new consumer electronics, so Im going to try to take things apart too. Im going to try to record videos of me doing it as a way of motivating myself to keep going. Thats actually following another bit of advice I read: Arnold Schwarzenegger said that keeping a log of your workouts was extremely important for staying motivated when bodybuilding, and most other bodybuilders whose advice Ive read seem to agree with him.