December 18, 2015 at 9:58 am #1357
Down my back shed is a pile of electronic textbooks that I have never read and, I now realize, never will.
This is because they are totally inscrutable – full of theory and mathematics but totally useless when you are pining for inspiration to solve a difficult real-world circuit problem.
Yet there is one text book that all working electronics engineers should own – The Art of Electronics – by Horowitz and Hill of Harvard University.
The 3rd Edition has just arrived after a wait of 25 years since the 2nd edition. It is a massive text (1192 pages) and broad in scope.
Its humorous folksy style is full of great tips and the sort of comments you’d hope a senior engineer would pass along to you. Did you know that resistor-diode logic is also called M2L? (Mickey-Mouse Logic)
There are working circuits and digestible explanations and clear description of all those things you didn’t understand back in the day, but have been afraid to ask about ever since. What is the advantage of a Sallen-Key filter over a Butterworth? What is current noise? What’s the proper way to draw schematic diagrams?
Check out their lists of favourite components. The text accomplishing many schematics directs one to real components that one might not have come across in any other way, such as the TLE2426 rail-splitter, or the TLC3501 rail-to-rail comparator.
The part I enjoyed the most was the tear-down of the Agilent 34420A 7.5-digit Nanovolt/MicroOhm Meter, with its sub-nanovolt readings. The front-end uses really ugly – but very quiet – massive JFETS to get the gain of 10000, with all its flaws tweaked out by internal microcontroller-driven calibrations. Even the JFET leakage currents and ground-plane voltage drops are compensated.
This is a fun book to read. No need to start at page 1 and work forwards – just dip into it and enjoy that sense of wonder that comes when the light of understanding finally dawns on some obscure corner of our electronics world.
January 8, 2016 at 7:23 am #1368
I recently added this book to my cart on Amazon so next time I order some books it will be included.
Occasionally some exceptional books come by. But not often.
I still refer to my copy of Terman (Electronic and radio engineering (McGraw-Hill electrical and electronic engineering series)) occasionally. If you want to know the capacitance of an object in free space or the optimal aspect ratio for a air core inductor or the inductance of a square coil this is the book. Sadly you have to work in imperial units. Also this valuable hard to find stuff was removed after the first edition. So check the edition you plan to buy. From memory mine is 1934. Its not a fun read but often has bits nothing else has.
For fun and educational reads I can recommend “Planar Microwave Engineering: A Practical Guide to Theory, Measurement, and Circuits” by Thomas H Lee. Don’t let the planar part put you off – its not really about IC design.
Another standout for me is a book on connectors published by Wurth (they make parts and publish only 3 books I think). There is so much folklore about connectors and they give so much problem but when did you last read through an authoritative reference on the subject. This it it. Very approachable.
Finally Noise (Prentice-Hall electrical engineering series), Aldert Van der Ziel, Publ. Prentice-Hall (1954). Noise is often the missed piece in peoples design. This wont make it easy but it will make it possible.
- This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by Donald Kay.
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