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Circuit analysis and general study tips

Circuit analysis and general study tips

(OP)
The more work I do in the field of EE, the more I realizing that my general circuit analysis skills are usually the root of my confusion and could use improvement. Even after putting on my break-a-big-problem-into-smaller-pieces hat, I still find myself confused about the relationships between parts (especially when multiple parts share a net).

I'm sure that years of experience down the road will eventually provide this, but I'd like to create a solid foundation sooner than later (and hopefully avoid a lot of the frustration and embarrassment I'm already dealing with).

That being said, my main question is this: what advice would you have for a focused, targeted studying approach for quickly becoming fluent in circuit analysis?

I've known people who are similarly aged as me (young) who can cruise through analysis in no time at all, and I too want to work toward having this superpower. Should I start at a modular level and fully understand each component type (i.e. Make's Encyclopedia of Electronics) before moving forward? Should I slowly wade through the newly revised tome of EE? Should I dive into certain types of circuits (e.g. current mirrors, voltage regulators, etc.) to better understand topologies? Is there a resource that compiles a large number of circuit problems that start out very simple and increase in difficulty, accompanied with thorough explanations (sort of like a Khan Academy approach)? I have nearly a dozen books, but most just offer the answer and lack elaborate explanation, so even when I get the answer right I'm still unsure of many aspects.

Another way to look at it: if an arbitrary/tight time limit of, say, 25 hours, was imposed what circuit analysis topics and best practice approaches to studying them would you use?

Thanks for any help with this! My head's spinning and feeling overburdened, so any clarity would be greatly appreciated. (It'll also help alleviate me burdening this forum with a laundry list of questions :) )

RE: Circuit analysis and general study tips

So, mostly analog, then? I've always been told that Horowitz' "Art of Electronics" was a good reference for this sort of thing. I don't really do electronics anymore, particularly analog, so it's just sitting on my bookshelf now. Some of your concerns are not answerable, since that's just the fundamental difference between schoolbooks and real life.

In general, however, most modern circuits are not particularly amenable to anything less than just dumping it into Spice. The stuff I learned in college for doing circuit analysis almost seems quaint now, since the complexity of even a 741 is beyond what you can really do by hand, which is all the more amazing that guys like Widlar and Wilson were able to produce products that are still usable 4 decades after they were designed, with mostly hand calculations.

TTFN
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Of course I can. I can do anything. I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
There is a homework forum hosted by engineering.com: http://www.engineering.com/AskForum/aff/32.aspx

RE: Circuit analysis and general study tips

I loved AoE when I was studying. At that time one of my hobbies was building amplifiers and the like, and I did a lot of sideline work fixing gear for local bands. It is still my 'go-to' book for the odd times I find myself doing electronics work, which sadly is with decreasing frequency in my current job. It looks dated these days because the equipment and many of the ICs are now obsolete, but the principles are still wholly valid and it's very readable. I haven't found anything I want to replace it with, which has been a good yardstick to measure tools, books, cars and girlfriends against over the years.

RE: Circuit analysis and general study tips

"I haven't found anything I want to replace it with, which has been a good yardstick to measure tools, books, cars and girlfriends "

Does that apply to SWMBOs too? winky smile

TTFN
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[IMG http://tinyurl.com/7ofakss]
Need help writing a question or understanding a reply? forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers


Of course I can. I can do anything. I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert!
There is a homework forum hosted by engineering.com: http://www.engineering.com/AskForum/aff/32.aspx

RE: Circuit analysis and general study tips

You guys are lucky to have the Fifth Amendment. winky smile

RE: Circuit analysis and general study tips

Back in the days before the internet, all components had to be selected from databooks. In addition to information on the individual ICs, transistors, and diodes, there would be example application circuits. Design engineers would have bookcases filled with data books for reference and browsing. Some manufacturers had special application databooks with a compilation of the various circuits, application notes, designs, etc. National Semiconductor published a three-volume set of circuits. Analog devices had several also. All of the manufacturers, Motorola (now Freescale and ON Semiconductor), TI, National, Analog Devices, Burr Brown, Unitrode, Linear Technology, Micrel, etc would present seminars, and have thick application notes and design guides that they would hand out for the seminars. These can still be found for sale on eBay. My own set of references has condensed to these seminar handbooks and design guides, and they still fill a large bookcase. I long ago disposed of the individual parts databooks.

Or, in today's world you can visit these manufacturers sites and download the application notes and design guides. Very few of the seminar books can be found online. Browsing these references is an excellent way to learn and quickly recognize the various circuit function-blocks that make up a design. Another way is to study schematics of equipment, and have to repair and maintain it. Better yet, reverse-engineer competitors designs to the point you have detailed and formal schematics, however sometimes designs are compromises of time, resources, and internal company politics, so some parts of a design may not be real good. You know you've got a knack for it when you can look at a design, can quick estimate what time period it was designed by the approach and components used, and can quickly estimate how good the engineer who did the design was, and what goal or limitations he was under when he did the design (cost, reliability, time, space, etc).

RE: Circuit analysis and general study tips

Your buzzwords caused a quick jump in this thread to analog. There are a lot of ICs that do non-analog (i.e. digital) tasks. As Comcokid said, Application Notes are a great place to start. They tell you how to use the IC without a full understanding of how it works.

25 hours - google "555 timer". If you can get your hands on one and a few capacitors and resistors and a battery you can have hours of fun seeing how that IC uses analog circuitry to make a 'digital' outputs.

Are you really interested in learning circuitry (analog, digital, the low level stuff) or more into systems (computers, networks, cable modems, power systems, etc.)? There are a lot of different fields within Electrical Engineering.

Z

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