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How much Electronics Knowledge

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Phil, Feb 25, 2005.

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  1. Phil

    Phil Guest

    Hi all,

    I have been a computer programmer for the past 16 years of my life.
    Mostly, I have done database type of work. I am now working as an
    automation engineer designing PLC ladder logic applications, firmware
    for the PIC microcontrollers, and HMI/SCADA applications.

    Here is my question. Even though I have been doing electronics
    programming for the past 5 years, I don't know a whole lot about
    electronics. I basically only know atomic-theory and how to read/write
    schematics and datasheets. How much do I really need to know,
    theoretically, to be able to go to another company doing firmware? I do
    have a degree but it is Computer Network Administration. Should I
    concentrate my efforts in one field, thereby "pigeon-holing" myself, or
    should I concentrate on a more "general" knowledge. I am no stranger to
    doing research and very much enjoy it. However, I do not want to really
    be a design engineer so to speak.

    Any help, advice would be greatly appreciated!


  2. Bob Eldred

    Bob Eldred Guest

    It kind of depends on what jobs and opportunities are available in your
    field. It sounds like you have already wandered away from your original
    field of IT or computer admin. towards microprocessor programming. Needless
    to say you don't need to know electronics to do either. However, the closer
    you are to the circuitry as you are working with PICs the more you may be
    expected to know about the underlying electronics. I feel that a generalist
    has more opportunities than a specialist but the specialist may get the
    better job if that job is available. A generalist can do anything even sweep
    the floor if needed and therfore will probably keep a job when his work is
    shipped to India. The more you know the better and the more chances you have
    of finding work you can do, especially the way thing are changing these
    days. On the other hand, becoming a degreed engineer is a long road to hoe
    and may not pay off given the way things are changing. If I were you I would
    try to learn some electronics so I could converse intelligently about how
    thw PIC's an other circuits are hooked up but I probably would not go all
    the way into Engineering.
  3. Kitchen Man

    Kitchen Man Guest

    I agree with Bob. (I misread your post at first, thought you said you
    "really do want" to be a design engineer, in which case an EE is
    essential.) Hang around with the firmware people at the place you want
    to go, if you know them. You're already doing firmware and logic
    programming, so you may already meet their qualifications. If not, you
    can find out what they want.
  4. Phil

    Phil Guest

    Thanks to both of you for your suggestions. I was originally hired at
    my current company to do the VB programming to communicate with PLCs in
    projects that currently existed. However, my supervisor taught me a lot
    about PLCs and PICs. Since he left, I have been maintaining old
    firmware and creating new firmware. The programming is done mostly in
    Assembly and Ladder Logic, which is the easy part.

    I do appreciate the comments and will continue to learn electronics,
    taking a more "generalist" approach.
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