Making your own DIY electronic device to solve a particular problem you face can be a fun, rewarding, and inexpensive project. With just a few common components and basic skills, you can build gadgets tailored exactly for your needs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything I need to know to create a custom electronic solution on a budget under $20.

Determining the Specific Problem to Solve

The first step is identifying exactly what issue I want to resolve. Being as specific as possible about the problem will make it easier to come up with an electronic device to address it. Here are some questions to ask myself:

Really honing in on the core problem will provide direction for this project. I may even want to make a list of issues I encounter and pick the most irritating one to tackle first.

Researching Electronic Solutions

Once I've determined the specific dilemma to address, the next step is researching what kinds of electronic devices and components could be part of the solution.

Some great resources to educate myself include:

I may want to seek out projects similar to what I have in mind to get an idea of the types of components and builds that could work. Taking notes on my research will help inform my own design.

Selecting the Key Components

The core electronic components I'll need will depend on the specific problem I'm looking to solve. Here are some that commonly form the foundation of DIY electronic devices:

I can often find these basic parts bundled in inexpensive kits online at electronics retailers. Thrift stores are another great source for cheap components salvaged from old devices.

Prototyping the Circuit

With my key components selected, it's time to build the circuit that will form the guts of my DIY device. Using a breadboard and jumper wires, I can connect up my inputs, logic control, and outputs without soldering.

This lets me test different arrangements until my circuit performs as intended. I may have to tweak components values (like resistor size) to get desired results. Taking thorough notes on my breadboard connections will allow me to replicate the circuit permanently later.

Helpful tips for prototyping include:

Having patience in the prototyping phase prevents headaches down the road.

Constructing the Enclosure

With the guts of my project worked out on a breadboard, it's time to build a permanent enclosure to house the electronics. The type of case depends on my specific project, but here are some options:

No matter the material, I'll want to cut precise openings for controls, displays, and access to interior components. taking measurements from my breadboarded circuit will allow me to plan out all needed cutouts and holes.

Securing the components neatly inside the finished enclosure gives my DIY gadget a polished, professional appearance.

Programming the Logic

For projects involving a microcontroller board, I will need to write and upload code that gives my gadget its smart, automated functionality. The program defines the logic for reading inputs, controlling outputs, decision making, user interface, and more.

I can write code from scratch using languages like C++, Python, and Arduino IDE. Or I may be able to modify existing open-source code from similar projects to fit my needs.

Good programming practices like adding comments, testing incrementally, and having a systematic approach will help my DIY device operate reliably. And troubleshooting any bugs or unexpected behavior is easier with clean, well-organized code.

Testing and Enhancements

With my electronic device fully constructed and programmed, the last step is thoroughly testing it to confirm the gadget performs its intended function and successfully solves my original problem.

I may need to iterate and refine certain aspects of the project:

After this final polish, I'll have a custom DIY electronic device tailored specifically to make my life easier by resolving that frustrating issue that originally sparked the idea for this project!


Building my own electronic gadget from scratch to solve an annoying personal problem can be a fun, fulfilling, and budget-friendly pursuit. This guide provides me with a solid roadmap that covers all the key steps I'll need to take - from initially determining my core issue, to researching solutions, prototyping circuits, constructing enclosures, programming logic, and testing the final device. Armed with a methodical approach and the foundational electronics knowledge outlined here, I can successfully create custom DIY devices tailored exactly to my needs for under $20. So it's time to start brainstorming problems that could use my own electronic fix!