Tips: 4 Simple Steps That Will Help You Build Better Circuits

One of the most important steps of building electronic projects is not soldering. It is not drawing a schematic. And it is not debugging you circuit…

The most important step is the step that comes before all those steps. And it’s a step that is easy to skip, because you want to start building. At least I have on several occasions.

Planning the development of a 7-segment display circuit

But you can drastically reduce the time you need to build electronic projects, if you invest a little bit of time in planning. It will also drastically increase your chances of finishing the circuit.

How will planning the design process help you?

  • If you know what you’re aiming for, it is easier to make fast decisions
  • If you have a plan, you can do what you are supposed to do right away instead of wasting time on deciding what to do

Planning your circuit – step-by-step

1. Idea generation

If you don’t know what you want to make, then browse through a few electronic blogs or search YouTube to find cool ideas. Also check out some of the free schematics websites.

I have also written about 5 cool circuit ideas that you should have a look at.

If you already have an idea you are psyched about then go ahead to the next step. But sometimes it is useful to do a brainstorming around your idea just to see if anything new pops out. Check out some brainstorming techniques to get started.

2. Goal setting

If you don’t know what your goal is, then you don’t know when to celebrate the completion of your electronic circuit design process. The best goals are motivating and it’s easy to tell if you have reached them. A SMART goal is a useful method to define your goal. Read more about setting SMART goals here.

Do you know what your goal is? Then write it down on a piece of paper and hang it somewhere where you will see it daily. This way, you will always be reminded of what you are trying to do.

It’s useful to decide on a prize for yourself when you reach your goal, and a penalty if you don’t reach it. For example, if you reach your goal you will treat yourself with an expensive beer in the couch while listening to your favorite music. Or if you fail, you will have to walk around with your underwear on top of your clothes for a whole day :p

Another exercise is to close your eyes and visualize reaching your goal. Pretend that you have just reached your goal and are enjoying the prize you set for yourself. Add as many details as possible. Where are you? What are you doing? What are you feeling?

3. The action plan

You decide for yourself what kind of plans you like to develop. For advanced electronic circuit design it is useful to start with a functional block diagram, then write down the main steps involved in finishing your project.

If your goal is to create a simple amplifier in a box that can take input from a computer and output into two 20W speakers, then the main steps might be:

  • find schematics
  • draw pcb design
  • order pcb, components and box
  • solder and troubleshoot circuit
  • mount electronics in box

With the main steps planned out, you should try to estimate the time you need for each step. Use the time estimate to plan and figure out a suitable deadline for your project depending on how much time you have free to work on it.

4. Take persistent action

You have created a goal from your idea and an action plan to reach your goal. All that matters now is ACTION!

Work persistently with your action plan. Usually it takes a lot more time to finish a project than originally planned. Don’t get discouraged by this. Keep on working until you reach your goal. Build electronic projects!

Electronics Project Example


  • If you fail to keep your schedule, it’s ok. Just take the time to rethink the estimated time for each step and set a new realistic deadline.
  • If you lose interest in the project or find a much more interesting project, make a conscious choice about dumping the project or not. Don’t let the project just fade away.
  • To build electronic projects is fun!

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6 thoughts on “Tips: 4 Simple Steps That Will Help You Build Better Circuits”

  1. MY name is Roger and I am 70 years old and had a stroke a few
    months ago and live by myself and always love electronic and there
    is so much I only wished I knew I would like to finish off a Tesla coil
    that I started last summer I did not know what I was getting into
    I just ordered a special type of motor to make a rotary spark gap
    now I stuck in the mud, I am not sure If I have enough capacitors
    I have 12 caps at 2000 volts 0.15 mf per cap sorry i have to go my
    brain is not doing that good some day
    Regards Roger.

    • Roger, my name is Otis and I am 52 years old. My family and others tell me I’m crazy for taking up electronics in my 50s. I wish they would talk to real people like you. You are 70 years old and you had a stroke, but you still have a passion to build electronics. I admire you and I respect you. It is people like you who let me know that my passion to build electronics is not going away until I pass away. Keep building electronics Sir and show the young people they don’t have to give up unless they want to give up! By the way, I’m going to tackle that Tesla Coil myself when I’ve gained enough building experience.

      • Roger I am 79 and just taking baby steps to grasp the basics. I am trying to familiarise with the components which I purchased as a beginners kit. I have always been a diy enthusiast and determined not to be a failure. I am not much of a TV or a Sports fan, so have that time. Also purchased ‘Electronics for Dummies’ for reference, but realised it was not for absolute beginners. Good luck Roger.

  2. I am just at 80 years and professionally a mechanical engineer. With my age now I can’t handle heavy things.
    Therefore I decided to learn electronic which I have some basic knowledge. I am diy person. After reading the above letters now I understand I am not along.


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