I recently picked up a copy of Tim Williams’ Circuit Designer’s Companion after I noticed it on my Amazon recommendations list (which seems to know my tastes a little too well these days.)
This is a fun and useful book. The emphasis is on practical information that is useful to working engineers, not PhD students. This means that there are a lot fewer equations in this book than The Art of Electronics and it’s a lot less intimidating for someone without a degree in Electrical Engineering. The book’s roughly 400 pages include topics such grounding and shielding sensitive circuits, some basic tips for routing PCBs, why it’s usually better to buy a switching power supply than build your own, some comparisons of batteries, and how to pick a fuse. (Sadly, the latest microcontrollers and Lithium battery technologies are missing – not surprising, since the 2nd edition was released in 2005. Time for an update?)
I like Williams’ writing style, and usually pick this book up first to see if he has a quick solution to the problem at hand before diving into one of my more dense engineering texts. While this book isn’t a replacement for my other (heavier) reference books, it’s a welcome addition to my desk. I keep it within easy reach.
Matthew Beckler has released a library of electronic component symbols in SVG format, which will make it easy for anyone with the vector drawing program Inkscape to create schematic diagrams quickly and easily. I have been meaning to learn Inkscape for the sole purpose of making prettier schematics, so this library will definitely come in handy.
Sometimes you need to create a circuit schematic, but don’t need or want to take the time to do it Right, using a real schematic capture program like OrCad, Eagle, or Kicad. In those situations, I like to use Inkscape to draw circuit schematics. I have collected and standardized the symbols shown below in high-quality SVG format. The components are standardized to have lines 1 pixel wide, 12 pt text, and 50 pixels in length. The IC symbol has pin label text that is easy to customize.
I previously posted about Forrest M. Mims III’s Getting Started in Electronics, one of the best books out there for someone who wants a thorough, yet unintimidating introduction to electronic components and circuits.
From the mid-1980’s through the late 1990’s, Forrest Mims also published several mini-notebooks, each dedicated to a specific topic in electronics. Each mini-notebook contains 50 pages of circuits, electronic concepts, and project ideas.
The complete set includes:
555 Timer Circuits
Basic Semiconductor Circuits
Digital Logic Circuits
Formulas, Tables, and Basic Circuits
Magnet and Sensor Projects
Op-amp IC Circuits
Schematic Symbols, Device Packages, Design and Testing
Solar Cell Projects
I had a few of the originals when I was growing up and wish I had kept more of them. I specially remember reading the Optoelectronics Circuits Mini-Notebook in High School. I attempted to build the optical communicator entirely with parts from Radio Shack, which was very difficult 15 years ago, and would be pretty much impossible today!
Updated/compiled versions of the notebooks are available on Forrest Mims’ website, but many of the originals can be found used for less than a few bucks each on amazon.com.