Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Dennis Walter, Jan 31, 2006.

1. ### Dennis WalterGuest

I am not necessarily new to the hobby, i build a lot of pre-made
schematics and kits and such. Now i am looking for an electronics book
that tells me exactly what a component does, without going into all of
the math and extraneous material, i have enough books that do that. For
example, i want a book that says what a resistor does, and why you would
need that to be done, not necessarily how it does it, frankly i don't
care at this stage of my hobbying. Does that make sense? Most books or
tutorials i have read are not vague, but not written in the right
context for what i want.

2. ### Bob MonsenGuest

Look at the "Forrest Mims" circuit scrapbook series. They can be had new
on amazon.com.

--
Regards,
Bob Monsen

"My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grinding general
laws out of large collections of facts."
-- Charles Darwin

3. ### John PopelishGuest

I am pretty much self taught in electronics (before I got frustrated
with no one taking me seriously, and went back to school and got my
degree), so I think I know what you are talking about. So many text
books go straight for the descriptive equation, without taking a
paragraph of 3 to try to get you to imagine generally what a component
is for and how it acts, in a strictly conversational way. It is only
after they wade into all the math that the discussion of all the
limitations, approximations and exceptions where the equations do not
apply, exactly, that you start to find out the real "personality" of
the various parts.

I taught electronics in the Army in the late 60's and picked up
classes full of people who had spent a half a year in practical
training, and still didn't feel comfortable thinking about resistors,
transistors and capacitors, even though they had passed many tests
about them to get to that point. I had to swing back through the
basics, and try to get their imaginations inside the parts, so they
could look at a schematic and imagine what was going on in the
circuit, in a general way, for troubleshooting purposes, as if they
were a detective observing a room full of interacting people, looking
for clues of someone who was acting out of character.

Unfortunately, I have not seen a text book that approaches things
quite that way. They all get into at least simple algebra before a
chapter has passed.

However, since this is the basics discussion group, there is no
a component and we will see if we can get inside your head and help
you make progress.

4. ### Noway2Guest

I really like The Art of Electronics.

It does contain a little bit of math, but the main focus of the book is
this is "This is what you need to know to apply the device" and "This
works 9 times out of 10 and if it doesn't then go back to the more
mathematical model."

5. ### Charles SchulerGuest

"Electricity: Principles and Applications" by Richard Fowler as just one
example.

As to the math, you cannot understand what a resistor does without Ohm's Law
.... sorry, that's just the way it is.

6. ### PuckdropperGuest

*snip*
Changes electrical energy into heat energy, right? Voltage drops as a
result. Where's Ohm's Law in that?

To put it in a circuit, you'll either have to experiment (and risk
letting the smoke out) or use Ohm's Law, but the above description at
least solves the "what in the world do I use here?"

Puckdropper
--
www.uncreativelabs.net

Old computers are getting to be a lost art. Here at Uncreative Labs, we
still enjoy using the old computers. Sometimes we want to see how far a
particular system can go, other times we use a stock system to remind
ourselves of what we once had.

To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm

7. ### Dennis WalterGuest

My level of math is not what is holding me back, the last class i
completed in college was calculus II and i have had physics classes, the
ability to do the math is not what i lack. All i want is something that
says exactly what a carbon film resistor does as compared to any other
type, and how to apply each one. I have taken the higher level maths and
physics classes but they do not explain the components in a simple,
straight forward type writing. I'll give an example of the type of
answer i want based on my loose knowledge of electronics.

Example: A ________ (component) works by converting/changing
volts/amps/etc. into ______. The effect this component has on a circuit
is ________ (prepares the current for an IC for example). It is widely
used as a _________ to create ________. Application of the component in
a circuit is ________. It is better suited for ____ as opposed to
_______ (other like components)

Then it can go into all of the mathematical explanations the author
wants to. i am just looking for that line above, maybe with some
schematic exaples that explains what is going on around it. That sort of
thing.

8. ### Dennis WalterGuest

You taught electronics in the army? Where could i get a hold of some
training manuals they might be written in the language i am looking for.
I was in the Air Force and seem to remember the language being simple
and straightforward.

9. ### Dennis WalterGuest

wow that is exactly what i was looking for. I looked at the few pages

Thanks

10. ### Pooh BearGuest

I have to agree with these sentiments.

I am also largely self-taught ( a lot in my teens ).

I happened to come across some US Army ? books that taught me the basics - as
has been said in a 'conversational way' that didn't make one shy away from the
masses of equations straight off that's all that some textbooks offer.

Likewise, a short series of articles in the UK magazine 'Wireless World'
explained perfectly the operation of basic transistor circuits that a year at
University College London couldn't remotely begin to compete with !

Graham

11. ### John PopelishGuest

I can't help you, there. I didn't even get to use them when I was in
the Army. I tested out of the first 18 weeks of my E.I.T. It gave me
18 days of extra leave time and, of course, an extra 16 weeks or so of
enlistment left to spend in Vietnam.

By the way, a good word to add to any subject search on Google is
[tutorial].

12. ### Jasen BettsGuest

it's not that simple,

like in a car the clutch pedal makes it slow, or speed-up depending on
what the rest of the system is doing. resistors which are probably the simplest
component after plain wires, can also do many different things.

if you're wanting to get a feel for the different ways the components behave
read a few hobby magazines at the same time as referring to a textbook.

Bye.
Jasen

13. ### Noway2Guest

Jasen, you absolutely hit the nail on the head when you said, "its not
that simple".

Dennis, the concept that you appear to be after is deep in the relm of
electrical engineering and not even in the sense of what is taught in
school. In engineering school you will learn a lot of the math behind
the different categories of components, such as reistors, capacitors,
etc and also learn how to apply principles such as feedback to control
systems, but a description like the one you give above is more art than
science. This type of understanding takes years of experience to
develop and can't be distilled into a text book.

Take for example, a resistor. While its basic, text book, function is
to restrict current flow the number ways one can apply the resistor are
as infinite as the human imagination. On top of that, there are a
number of various types of resistors. While the dominant properties of
the different types (i.e. material composition) can be expressed in
written form, the usefullness of these properties with regards to an
unspecified application can't.

14. ### John Jardine.Guest

Ditto.
Considering the vast number of well intentioned but truly worthless,
electronics books and informations out there, I find it staggering how just
a few pages of well written words can offer such a vast learning
resource.
My own road-to-Damascus conversion was via Practical Electronics and a short
series by an A.P. Stevenson, titled "First steps in circuit design".
I'd been near to throwing up at college due to the rote and force-feeding
of heinous, brutish items, such as Amplidynes, synchros, Ward-Leonards etc.
Those few critical pages in PE offered an exceedingly powerful realisation
that design could in fact be fun.
Motivational keys based on people's different 'learning styles' do in
reality truly exist and is one of the few things that the executive
training and team building industry can speak the truth of.
It's way past time that the legions of self serving 'authors' of electronics
introductory level (and higher) text books humble themselves (more then
just a tad) and take lessons in looking for the essential knowledge
imparting factors that the OP is talking about.
How many worthy kids have packed the subject in and joined marketing 'cos
they never found their own keys?.
Sadly, as a nation of consumers we're now inevitably walking on (very) thin
industrial ice. With much willingness and some revisionist thinking, good
can yet still be done.

Subsequent to A.P. Stevenson, I must now have scanned many hundreds of text
books forlornly looking and hoping (unsucessfully!) for that true guide to
the next level of truth and understanding and everything . In the
meanwhile I've willingly paid cash for maybe just 3 fair to decent books.
John

15. ### Rich GriseGuest

Not true - you may need math to _quantify_ it, but not to understand that
more resistance => less flow, and more pressure => more flow.

Cheers!
Rich

16. ### Dennis WalterGuest

Well I do understand that, but to be able to use your imagination to try
to apply a new use for an old component, you must first get a previously
applied scope of what has been done with them and what they are
typically used for. Maybe what the world needs is a little more art in
engineering then just straight applied math. Back in the roman times all
of their great engineering feats were not without their majestic beauty,
they realized that to be functional is one thing, but to lure someone in
to use it or build upon it, the object must also be art, both
aesthetically and logically. I don't want to reinvent the wheel here,
and I don't want to have to wade through twenty pages of differential
equations just to find out that a transformer either increases or
decreases different aspects of an electrical force. I have been to many
college engineering courses (my first choice of major was mechanical
engineering) and they get too bogged down with the theoretical
applications of an object. We must remember that theory and reality do
not always coincide, if they did we would never have had a Chernobyl or
Three Mile Island incident among other things. I understand the math,
but with all respect to the teachers that taught it to me, those classes
did not do a damn thing for my understanding of the real world applications.

17. ### Noway2Guest

I understand the math,
You have just hit upon what I referred to in a post about 3 months ago
as the big let down of engineering school; That is does not teach you
how to design things. Unfortunately, the only way that I know of that
the ability to design can learned is through experience.

While I would say that I would have agreed with your sentiments about
math not helping you to understand real world applications around time
time that I first got out of school, experience has changed my
thinking. A lot of what I have implemented as real world equipment
started out as nothing more than an equation on paper, though when I
was fresh out of school there would have been no way in hell that I
could have seen how to go from one to the other.

Alot of the problem, in my own humble opinion, is the failure of
schooling up through high school and how a college education is almost
half stuff that should have been learned in high school. Consequently,
very little time is left for true studies and what inevitably gets left
out are the parts that tie everything together.

18. ### BartGuest

Does anyone else approach it as simple hydraulics or plumbing? I'm
somewhat teaching myself and I think in those terms, current being
the flow of water and voltage being water pressure. A resistor is
like a constrictive valve (bending a garden hose), a capacitor is like
a water tower, a diode is like a butterfly valve, a transistor is like a
faucet, etc. This type of thinking has its downfalls but has worked
enough to keep me from giving up. I'll read the chapter on transistors
in five different books and they all sound like rocket science. I'll finally
be in the company of someone with a working knowledge of transistors
and he can explain it in 10 minutes. Now why can't any of the expert
authors do that? This group has been VERY helpful to me several times,
members patient with my "dumb" questions and DO give straight answers.
A best seller would be a collaborative book authored by
sci.electronics.basics!
Bart

19. ### PeteSGuest

See the insightful (and amusing) AN73 from Linear tech (available at

A resistor is
As to the original questions, I started on my own as well and had the
same issues - my first formal education in electronics being provided
at the Air Engineering school, Royal Navy. By then I had successfully
built many a hobby project, but it was quite an epiphany to see the
details of those parts I had used revealed properly. I would note,
however, that the explanation was by way not merely of the books issued
to us, but also the instructors taking the time to explain things in a
synonymous but functional way.

I have used many textbooks when teaching in the U.S. and I have yet to
find one designed for that purpose that truly explained components and
their properties in a non-technical way; yet a student is non-technical
until trained. That's why we had to do our own lesson guides (I still
have all of mine from a decade of teaching) to explain what the
textbook was actually speaking of.

That notwithstanding, there are some great guides that do explain
things in an intuitive way, although the best way is usually to talk to
someone who understands the component.

So - what is a resistor? It's a device that limits current (from one
perspective) or it is used to get a specific voltage across it's
terminals (from another perspective). It is both of these (and more).
The key is to understand what you are trying to achieve with the
component - and there ohm's law (or more properly the algebraic
statement that is a result of ohm's law as G.S.Ohm makes no mention of
the word resistance) is the device that makes it clear. Ignore the
units - rearrange the equaation and see what the result can be.

If you use some method of forcing a current somewhere and there is a
voltage across some device in that current path, it could easily be
called an equivalent resistor (and often is), even though there may be
no resistor in sight (at that part of the circuit, anyway).

Certainly I understand the desire to see a component described without
mathematics, and that is certainly useful. One should remember that
mathematics is a language - so describing things mathematically is
merely using a different language for the description, albeit a
language that can be somewhat arcane and non-intuitive

Cheers

PeteS

20. ### Dennis WalterGuest

Ok so there i was at a Half Price books, looking at the engineering
books, (that's where they classify the electronics books) and i happen
upon a book put out in the late eighties called "Mastering Electronics"

It's part of a series called Intuitive IC Electronics by publisher
McGraw Hill. Anyway, it uses the perfect mix of technical terms and
light mathematics along with narrative that explains why it works and
how the mathematical formula applies. Not to mention great examples of
how it was used and what it evolved from. I suggest this book to anyone
looking for what i was talking about in the subject of this thread.

Denny