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Electronics Concepts and Theory

All electronics design is rooted in an understanding of the theory and concepts of electrical engineering. Follow these links to explore the areas that you're seeking, from basic circuit theory to communication protocols and PCB design.

Introduction to Learning Electronics
Learning electronics is very tough. Figure out what to learn first and how to learn electronics and the first few steps will be much easier.

Electric Current
The basics of electric current. Use the analogy of flowing water in pipes and ignore the historical blunder made by Benjamin Franklin reversing the polarity of the charge the moves in electric current.

Voltage is a core concept in electronics and can be easily visualized and understood through an analogy with water.

Electrical resistance is a fundamental concept of electricity and invaluable to understand when working with electronics.

Transistors are the most important active component in electronics. In this article we provide an overview of transistors before we dive deeper in later articles.

Basic Circuit Laws
Understanding these basic rules is critical for anyone designing a circuit, electronics, or an electrical system.

Field Effect Transistors
Field effect transistors are some of the most important types of transistors today. They operate very much like BJT transistors with only a few key differences.

Getting Started In Electronics
Getting started with electronics can be a daunting task for the beginner with lots of technical jargon, complex explanations, and a sharp learning curve. Luckily there are a few great resources for the beginner that explains even the most complex topics without jargon and with easy to understand analogies.

Getting Started In Electronics - Resources
Getting started with electronics can be a daunting task for the beginner with lots of technical jargon, complex explanations, and a sharp learning curve. Luckily there are a few great resources for digging in to topics, finding help, and designing projects.

Electrostatic Discharge Overview
ESD, or electrostatic discharge, is a major problem that impacts the reliability of electronics and can destroy components. ESD has caused problems in industry since the beginning of black powder manufacturing where a small ESD event or spark can cause significant safety issues. While ESD does not cause as many direct safety issues in the...

ESD Failures
ESD failures never happen right? While it is hard to directly tie failures to ESD without extensive and expensive investigation, ESD does happen and can be catastrophic.

How Electronics Work
All electronics start with semiconductor devices and understanding how these devices work is essential for any electronics design or troubleshooting.

Kirchoff's Law
The basics of analyzing electronic circuits starts with Kirchoff's Laws and understanding how voltage and current behave in circuits.

Programmable Logic Controller Overview
When building a large complex system with lots of inputs and outputs you can either start from scratch and build everything or leverage advanced modular architectures that make building a large system much faster. Programmable Logic Controllers, PLCs, are one of the more flexible platforms and are commonly used for industrial automation tasks.

Overview of I2C
Developed by Philips in the 1980's, I2C has become one of the most common serial communication protocols in electronics. I2C enables communication between electronic components or IC to IC, whether the components are on the same PCB or connected via a cable. The key feature of I2C is the ability to have a vast number of components on a single communication bus with only two wires which makes I2C perfect for applications that demand simplicity and low cost over speed.

The Speed of Digital Logic
Exactly how fast is digital logic? For most applications it is fast enough. For the more demanding applications, finding out how fast the digital logic chip is becomes as big a challenge as finding one that is fast enough.

Selecting Between I2C and SPI
Choosing between I2C and SPI, the two main serial communication options, can be quite a challenge and have a significant impact on the design of a project, especially if the wrong communication protocol is used. Both SPI and I2C bring their own advantages and limitations as communication protocols which make them each suited for specific applications.

SPI Overview
The SPI communication protocol is one of two major serial communication protocols used in electronics. Developed by Motorola, SPI offers low power operation, multiple devices on the same communication lines, and high speed data transmission.

How Components Behave in the Real World
The ideal world of electronics, schematics, simulations, and circuit diagrams have one fatal flaw; no electronic device is ideal. Resistors have capacitance and often inductance, inductors have resistance and capacitance, capacitor leads are inductive and they are not perfect insulators, and even wire and PCB traces have inductance and...

Energy Harvesting Basics
Energy harvesting is a way to generate electrical energy from the ambient environment. For example, ambient light, radio waves, and temperature differences can be directly converted in to electricity with solid state components. Energy harvesting techniques are a great option for low power applications as a replacement for batteries. The...

DAC Fundamentals - Accuracy
It is very easy to assume that the output of a circuit should be correct because you built it to the specification and the datasheet says it will be accurate. Often the difference between ‘designed’ and reality are quite stark. This article dives in to the question, how accurate is your DAC?

Preventing ESD
Electrostatic Discharge, ESD, is a serious reliability issue with electronics, reducing the life of products and destroying electronic components. Preventing ESD begins in the laboratory with methods to reduce the chance for static to build up and to allow static charges to be dissipated safely, rather than through sensitive electronics.

Digital Logic Basics
Digital Logic - the stream of one's and zero's represented by high and low voltage signals that is the underlying language of all digital electronics. Digital signals can control the state of a device, transmit complex information, and be encoded in a number of formats that provide discrete advantages like error checking, fault tolerance, addressing, and flexible data handling.

Electronic Resonance
Like mechanical resonance, electrical resonance can be very useful if desired and very destructive if it appears unintentionally in a circuit.

Electrical Circuit Network
Every circuit is an electrical network made of components, connections, and return loops. Learn about the various type of networks and rules that apply to all networks in this article.

Converting digital to analog signals with a DAC is incredibly easy and very accurate. For some applications the question of the timing of the digital to analog conversion and how quickly the output signal settles to the correct output level is essential. This article looks at the timing of DACs and their limitations.

Basic Electric Circuit Concepts
A collection of articles and topics covering the basics of electronics and electrical engineering.

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