Practical Electronics for Inventors
Inventors in the field of electronics are individuals who possess the knowledge, intuition, creativity, and technical know-how to turn their ideas into real-life electrical gadgets. We hope that this book will provide you with an intuitive understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of electronics in a way that fuels your creativity.
This book is designed to help beginning inventors invent. It assumes little to no prior knowledge of electronics. Therefore, educators, students, and aspiring hobbyists will find this book a good initial text. At the same time, technicians and more advanced hobbyists may find this book a useful resource.
Perhaps the most common predicament newcomers face when learning electronics is figuring out exactly what it is they must learn. What topics are worth covering, and in which general order should they be covered? A good starting point for answering these questions is the flowchart presented in Fig. 1.1. This chart provides an overview of the basic elements that go into designing practical electrical gadgets and represents the information you will find in this book. This chapter introduces these basic elements.
At the top of the chart comes the theory. This involves learning about voltage, current, resistance, capacitance, inductance, and various laws and theorems that help predict the size and direction of voltages and currents within circuits. As you learn the basic theory, you will be introduced to basic passive components such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, and transformers.
Next down the line are discrete passive circuits. Discrete passive circuits include current-limiting networks, voltage dividers, filter circuits, attenuators, and so on.
These simple circuits, by themselves, are not very interesting, but they are vital ingredients in more complex circuits.
After you have learned about passive components and circuits, you move on to discrete active devices, which are built from semiconductor materials. These devices consist mainly of diodes (one-way current-flow gates) and transistors (electrically controlled switches/amplifiers).
Once you have covered the discrete active devices, you get to discrete active/passive circuits. Some of these circuits include rectifiers (ac-to-dc converters), amplifiers, oscillators, modulators, mixers, and voltage regulators. This is where things start getting interesting.
Throughout your study of electronics, you will learn about various input/output (I/O) devices (transducers). Input devices (sensors) convert physical signals, such as sound, light, and pressure, into electrical signals that circuits can use. These devices include microphones, phototransistors, switches, keyboards, thermistors, strain gauges, generators, and antennas. Output devices convert electrical signals into physical signals. Output devices include lamps, LED and LCD displays, speakers, buzzers, motors (dc, servo, and stepper), solenoids, and antennas. These I/O devices allow humans and circuits to communicate with one another.
Paul Scherz, Simon Monk
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