Tag Archives: Circuits

Tim Williams: The Circuit Designer’s Companion

The Circuit Designer's Companion

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.

SVG Circuit Symbol Library

SVG Circuit Symbols

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.

Matthew says:

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.

SVG Circuit Symbols :: mbeckler.org

(via Make:)

Forrest Mims Engineer’s Mini-Notebooks

Engineer's Mini-Notebook

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
  • Communications Projects
  • Digital Logic Circuits
  • Environmental Projects
  • Formulas, Tables, and Basic Circuits
  • Magnet and Sensor Projects
  • Op-amp IC Circuits
  • Optoelectronic Circuits
  • Schematic Symbols, Device Packages, Design and Testing
  • Science Projects
  • Sensor Projects
  • 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.