Read on for the full interview!
How did you get started in electronics?
I’ve always been fascinated by how to build things. I grew up with computers, and I taught myself programming by looking at examples. As I grew older I got more and more curious about how computers worked. They seemed so advanced. But I had this idea that if I only understood how to blink a light, maybe one day I’d understand how computers worked.
So I asked my dad how it was possible to blink a light. And he showed me how to do that with a relay and a light-bulb. It was a simple and very practical explanation, and later I built it in our basement. It was such an amazing feeling seeing the light blink, and it was my first step into electronics.
Since then I continued to find circuit diagrams online and build them using scavenged parts from old electronics. I tried reading up on electronics at the local library, but the books used such difficult words and definitions of everything. So for a long time, I was just building basic circuits without really knowing why things were working (or not working).
Where did you learn to build electronics?
I’ve learned a lot on my own, experimenting. But I also studied at the University of Oslo.
I got my Masters degree in microelectronics in 2009 after building a UWB radar microchip. Then I started a company together with my friend Elias. We continued with the radar technology to build sensors that could see through walls. It was very cool! Here’s a video of a prototype: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qI3hpX3BjA
That was a lot of fun and we learned a lot about building electronics. But unfortunately we ran out of money before we could make it into a sustainable business. During this time we also discovered Seeed Studio’s Fusion PCB service and created most of our prototypes through it. And I’ve recommended your service ever since!
Why did you start Build-Electronic-Circuits.com?
After our failed startup and with no money, I had to decide on what to do next.
I’ve never really wanted a “real” job. And I had this urge to get out of Norway to go on an adventure. Therefore I started my blog Build Electronic Circuits (www.build-electronic-circuits.com) to teach electronics in a simple way, and I bought a ticket to Mexico. I was lucky and found some jobs I could do part-time online. So I was able to travel and continue teaching electronics through my blog.
Since then my blog has grown to more than 100.000 visitors a month, and more than 30.000 people subscribing to my newsletter. I’ve been able to travel the world teaching workshops, writing articles, making videos, speaking at conferences and building lots of electronics.
I’ve also written several books about electronics like Electronics For Kids (https://www.nostarch.com/electronicsforkids). And last year I launched Ohmify (https://ohmify.com), which is a place where you can learn electronics even if you have no experience from before.
What’s special about Ohmify?
Ohmify is for those who want to build real things with electronics.
It makes electronics accessible for even non-technical people like artists, engineers, retirees and beginners. As a member of Ohmify you get straight-forward explanations of how things work as well as a lot of practical task where you get to build cool things like a robot or your own music-player.
Ohmify has both video-based and text-based courses to help you build your own inventions with electronics even if you’re a complete beginner. People are different and like to learn in different ways. But if you like how I teach on my blog, you’re going to like Ohmify.
Learn more about Ohmify here: https://ohmify.com/join/
Why did you get into teaching?
For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to work with hobbyists and people who are curious about electronics. I’ve always felt that electronics was taught in a very non-practical way. I wanted to teach the world electronics in a practical way. So when our startup failed in 2012, I decided to give teaching a go by creating my blog.
My idea was to focus on teaching electronics the way I learned it. For example the transistor: I saw many explanations on how the transistor worked that made no sense to me. Until one day I realized that if you put some current into this part, you get current flowing from there to there… Aha!
And now, both my video and my article on how transistors work are in the top results on YouTube and Google: https://youtu.be/MVAqfj9RTPA
What’s the coolest project you’ve done?
One time I built a recycling machine for a music festival in Norway together with a group of people. The purpose of the machine was to make recycling fun. It had lots of lights, music and a ball going here and there. I was in charge of the electronics. It was such a huge machine, so it was really cool to see it come to life!
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I’ll continue to develop courses and learning material for Ohmify. I want to write more books. And I want to do more workshops around the world.
I’m invited to do a workshop in an orphanage in Mexico this autumn. I’m paying all expenses and will be donating kits to the kids. I’d love to do more things like that, but it costs money. So if you join Ohmify, you’ll be supporting me doing more things like that. I’ll also make videos from the workshops that I’ll post on Ohmify so that those who support me get something back too.
In 5-10 years I hope I can do workshops like that on a regular basis.
Do you have any tips for beginners who want to learn to build things with electronics?
I recommend learning the basics like current, voltage and resistance. Then learning how resistors, LEDs, transistors and capacitors work. If you learn only this, you will have a good basis. And you can learn this quickly if you find the right teaching material. Then move on to practice by building a lot of circuits. If you’re committed, you can join Ohmify (https://ohmify.com/join/) to get the courses and the help you need to reach your goal fast.