Connect with us

Straight Forward Answers

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

Scroll to continue with content
  1. 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 Monsen

    Bob Monsen Guest

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

    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. 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
    electronics question too basic to be discussed. Ask a question about
    a component and we will see if we can get inside your head and help
    you make progress.
  4. Noway2

    Noway2 Guest

    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. Gee, there are hundreds of readable books out there. Google for
    "Electricity: Principles and Applications" by Richard Fowler as just one

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

    Puckdropper Guest

    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?"


    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)

  7. 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

  8. 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. wow that is exactly what i was looking for. I looked at the few pages
    amazon had uploaded and it is what i need.

  10. Pooh Bear

    Pooh Bear Guest

    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 !

  11. 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
  12. Jasen Betts

    Jasen Betts Guest

    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.

  13. Noway2

    Noway2 Guest

    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. 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
    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.
  15. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

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

  16. 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. Noway2

    Noway2 Guest

    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. Bart

    Bart Guest

    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
  19. PeteS

    PeteS Guest

    See the insightful (and amusing) AN73 from Linear tech (available at,C1,C1003,C1142,C1114,P1134,D4162)

    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 ;)



  20. 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.

Ask a Question
Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?
You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.
Electronics Point Logo
Continue to site
Quote of the day