For electronics novices
Revised 17 February 2023
MERG generally makes an effort to provide learning opportunities to those coming new to Model Railway Electronics, whether Young members or adult novices. These are provided through a variety of methods as follows:
The book, "Electronics for Model Railways" written by member Davy Dick provides 28 chapters covering almost all aspects from basic electronic theory through kit construction and use to the application of many of the MERG systems to layouts. Its not expected that it would be read straight through but rather used as a reference as needed. Each chapter can be downloaded when required. See E-book
Our regular Journal carries a wide variety of articles and most issues have something of interest to anybody but the editor does make special efforts to include something in every issue for Young members and for other novices.
Area Groups & VAG
The MERG area groups as described here, are always pleased to welcome new members and will do their best to help novices to electronics. For those who do not have access to an area group we also have the Virtual Area Group (VAG) which meets on line via Zoom and provides as much of the benefits of an area group as is possible on line. The VAG activities have included presentations aimed especially at novices. NB. Many of the area groups had to use Zoom to keep in touch during the pandemic and, although face to face meetings have resumed are still using Zoom where appropriate.
Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
The advent of the VAG has spurred the introduction of a number of Special Interest Groups, described and listed here, also using Zoom for meetings. Examples of SIGs are: 3D, Arduino, Automation, CBUS-ANZ, JAL. Whilst not specifically aimed at beginners they will help anyone interested in their specific subjects.
There are also Special Interest Groups where more experienced members create training materials appropriate for helping those less experienced develop their skills. The Electronics 101 SIG concentrates on material for beginners while the Electronic Guidance Group prepares user guides for MERG kits and systems that are easily understood by those without an electronics background. The Education SIG provides guidance on the learning needs of the membership.
Pocket Money Projects (PMPs)
MERG now has a selection of more than 25 PMPs designed to serve as a learning excercise for novices to electronics while providing something useful to use on the layout. These are really low cost and allow novices to practice soldering and kit assembly very cheaply while obtaining useful items. The PMPs range from a logic probe (PMP 5) at £0.32 to Ezy-points (PMK 18) at £5.00 The range includes a variety of train detectors, servo drivers, speed controllers, shuttle controllers, etc. Some of these now have dedicated printed circuit boards and have consequently been relabelled as kits (PMKs).
The knowledgebase is the MERG term for the Wiki pages on our website where a huge amount of material related to the MERG kits and to members' projects is kept, The knowledgebase includes a MERG TV section with video recordings of many of the meetings, both actual and virtual are available as well as video tutorials on many aspects of model railway control, for example on building the CBUS beginners kits and for many uses of the Arduino. The knowledge base also includes a specific page known as the 'Beginners Portal' to guide newcomers where to find items of interest. There is also a Grand Tour on video to help newcomers find their way around the knowledgebase.
MERG organises, or contributes tutors to, a number of courses, ranging from those arranged over Zoom to residential courses at Missenden Abbey. Of special interest to those starting out maybe:
This is a series of Zoom based courses that started in the Spring of 2020 and to begin with focussed on giving beginners an introduction to some of the fundamental components used in electronics. As the series progressed, it diversified into more complex devices and the tools and techniques needed to build successful kits. The sessions were recorded and for each topic a page was produced providing a link to the recording and any other related materials.
More details of currently planned courses are available here
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The use or misuse for the sale, design, supply, process, installation, delivery, test, repair, servicing, and alteration of the designs, instructions, computer code, photographs, circuits, and any other information that appear on this web site is entirely at the risk of the user or visitor to the web site. The information is made available in good faith without warranty of any kind strictly on the basis that no liability will attach to the Model Electronic Railway Group (MERG), its officers and members.