Books & other publications

This is the place for any magazine-related discussions that don't fit in any of the column discussion boards below.
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jwax
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Post by jwax » Tue Feb 05, 2008 4:24 pm

Nothing wrong about the technology evolving. I find mounting a 10 mil pitch SMT device quite challenging. And there was a time I could take "video" from a camera or VCR and put it anywhere. Now my webcamera produces a stream of code that only its intended mate can decode and display.
Troubleshooting electronics was the gateway to learning how things work. That art is dead. You have to know code. Somebody's code.
I'm mostly put off by having to learn something other than science to learn science.
And the words "computer" and "technology", just don't fit. Computers and accounting is more like it.
What you have there is a collection of arcane symbols arranged by the head arranger that the rest of us has to figure out. That's not technology.
I'd buy a copy Dean!
End rant.

Bigglez
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Post by Bigglez » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:19 pm

Greetings John,
jwax wrote: Troubleshooting electronics was the gateway to learning how things work.
Did you mean to say how electronic things work? Knowing Ohm's law
or resistor colour codes won't help anyone understand
why the sky is blue, or why a boomerang returns in flight.
jwax wrote:That art is dead. You have to know code. Somebody's code.
Modern cars rely on firmware, but if the engine
dies the first round of troubleshooting is reasoning based
on how a car should work.
jwax wrote:I'm mostly put off by having to learn something other than science to learn science.
I'd like to see an example or two.
Gravity, time, conservation of energy, inertia,
momentum, refraction, and on and on, are school room
science which has not changed, AFAIK.
jwax wrote:And the words "computer" and "technology", just don't fit. Computers and accounting is more like it.
You have lost me...
jwax wrote:What you have there is a collection of arcane symbols arranged by the head arranger that the rest of us has to figure out.
Please clarify, what symbols? Who is the head arranger?
If you're referring to symbolic notation found in source
code for programming, how is that different from an
electrical circuit diagram (schematic) for a first
generation radio or television?

Wouldn't someone with, say, mechanical tinkering
skills (to keep a farm tractor running) have faced
the same feeling when they saw a wireless radio?
What if they were used to repairing things by intuition
(or trial and error), and took the back off a 1950s
television for the first time?

Comments Welcome!

Dean Huster
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Post by Dean Huster » Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:52 am

Well, Peter, they still manage to sell mags like Glass Audio for those audiophools who think that the only way to Sonic Nirvana is though a tube amp, so nitche magazines will sell. Even if the material seems arcane or just not what experimenters are supposedly doing today, that doesn't mean that others aren't interested. You still have to interface the analog world to that bitstream. Yes, TTL is passe. When I teach digital electronics, I use TTL chips. I don't teach TTL. I teach DIGITAL LOGIC. And what better platform than TTL, around since the early 1970s and with more logic functions available than any other logic family. And talk about robust! Wire up power in reverse, heat the puppy up, and it'll probably still work if you didn't totally parboil its innards. Try that with other logic families. As I mentioned, I use TTL because I have lots of it. I even have a few NEW 74100 chips. Can you find that data on that one?
I really don't miss the chassis-bashing! There are CNC machine shops that turn out much prettier front panels from my CAD files, than I could do on the kitchen table.
And right there, in a nutshell is what I see as a very major problem with this "trend" in electronics hobbying today, to wit -----

1. I buy my little processors. $?????

2. I buy the hardware and software for programming the processor.

3. I buy the simulator package and try my design out on the computer and find that it's perfect. $?????

4. I buy the schematic capture and autorouting program. $?????

5. I send my netlist (or whatever they call it) off to the custom one-off PCB manufacturer. $?????

6. I buy my CAD program and design my front panel and enclosure. $?????

7. I send my CAD drawing/data to the machine shop and have them make me a pretty front panel and enclosure. $?????

8. I put it all together and show my mommy what I built all by myself and she will pat me on the head and say, "What a smart little boy you are!"



No, thanks. I'll stick with my TTL and CMOS selection, thru-hole parts, semiconductors and capacitors that were salvaged from junk boards and build my stuff. By the way, as far as building, I pride myself in the construction and final appearance. When I was working for Tektronix, I made an instrument that allowed me to monitor and discharge the 1106 battery packs that were used with the Option 07 portable scopes. When the Dallas Service Center saw it, no one believed that it hadn't been made by the folks at Service Support in Beaverton. Yeah, dang it! I'm THAT GOOD! No brag, just fact*.

Dean


*Will Sonnett
Dean Huster, Electronics Curmudgeon
Contributing Editor emeritus, "Q & A", of the former "Poptronics" magazine (formerly "Popular Electronics" and "Electronics Now" magazines).

R.I.P.

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MrAl
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Post by MrAl » Wed Feb 06, 2008 8:31 am

Hi,

Im not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but another possibility
is if the OP wanted to build something particular perhaps someone
who visits this board can design it and post a prototype schematic.
The OP can build it and it would be the responsibility of the designer
to help them get it up and running via PM's or even post replies.

This might not be that hard with the simpler circuits that dont use
advanced ic chips. I guess the OP will have to get back to us with
ideas they would like to see come to schematics.
LEDs vs Bulbs, LEDs are winning.

Bigglez
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Post by Bigglez » Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:29 am

Greeting Mrai,
MrAl wrote:Im not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but another possibility
is if the OP wanted to build something particular perhaps someone
who visits this board can design it and post a prototype schematic.
The OP can build it and it would be the responsibility of the designer
to help them get it up and running via PM's or even post replies.
I think that offer was already made by someone...
Bigglez wrote:Greetings Carl,
carlgarcia wrote:I've been searching for any pub that talks about regular electronics, not computer info. N & V is good but I'd l;ike more hard wired stuff. Any suggestions?
Can you give us an idea of the projects you'd like to see?

Another avenue is to sign up to one or more forum's that
address constructor's questions and follow the discussion.
Not only that you will you have access to the authors,
who will more than likely want to help you learn their tricks.

Comments Welcome!
Comments Welcome!

Bigglez
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Post by Bigglez » Wed Feb 06, 2008 10:10 am

Greetings Dean,
Dean Huster wrote: 1. I buy my little processors. $?????
MM74HC00N 0.45
ATTINY11L-2SI 0.54
PIC12F508-I/SN 1.13
Dean Huster wrote: 2. I buy the hardware and software for programming the processor.
Or, spend a cosy weekend downloading shareware and
building a Pony Prog out of the junk parts bin (for about a dollar).
Dean Huster wrote: 3. I buy the simulator package and try my design out on the computer and find that it's perfect. $?????
Or, download the freeware AVR Studio and docs and dig right in.
Dean Huster wrote: 4. I buy the schematic capture and autorouting program. $?????
Or, download thetrial version of EAGLE for free and put another useful tool under yer belt.
Dean Huster wrote: 5. I send my netlist (or whatever they call it) off to the custom one-off PCB manufacturer. $?????
Yes, and many board houses offer student pricing for prototypes.
One very popular service (BatchPCB) offers professionally made boards for
$2.50 per square inch plus $10 plus shipping.
Dean Huster wrote: 6. I buy my CAD program and design my front panel and enclosure. $?????
Or, download the free, easy to use, Front Panel Designer CAD software.
....
Dean Huster wrote: 7. I send my CAD drawing/data to the machine shop and have them make me a pretty front panel and enclosure. $?????
Yes!
Dean Huster wrote: 8. I put it all together and show my mommy what I built all by myself and she will pat me on the head and say, "What a smart little boy you are!"
I would hope your mother would appreaciate your talents,
skills, and good use of your free time.
If she's smart she'll also see that you have developed
contemorary skills that will pay back in the workplace,
where tool chains, internet commerce, and accomplished
computer activity separate the winning players from the
girls and boys.

Comments Welcome!

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Dave Dixon
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Post by Dave Dixon » Wed Feb 06, 2008 10:57 am

I can see both sides of Dean and Bigglez thoughts on this. I use EagleCad on a regular basis. I even admit to using the autorouter to help get me started - although I end up redoing almost all of the traces after the fact. I have access to an end mill for my panels, and use board houses or an in-house board router to make my PCBs. I am still more proud of the prototypes that I built in the past using tape, and etching with the sun - (praying for no clouds!), perfectly square panel holes made from a round hole and a good miniature flat file, and perfectly straight legends pressed on one letter at a time - rather than silk-screened from the dial shop! For work, some of those processes are not an option. For fun and a sense of accomplishment - the "hard way" can't be beat! Respectfully, Dave

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jwax
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Post by jwax » Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:25 am

Seems a like a difference in the "analog" thinking and the "digital" thinking here. Guess I'm an analog guy!
Glad there are digital folks- stuff bores me to tears. :grin:

Robert Reed
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Post by Robert Reed » Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:30 am

I have used Front Panel Express many times to make up panel layouts (for machining) and then completed the escuctheon panel with labeled photographs. Then adhered to the front panel and given two coats of Krylon clear spray. The results are outstanding. I have also ordered several panels direct from Frt. Pan. Express for those "extra special" projects.The panels were beautiful, but at nearly $100 a pop, some one would have to be very rich (or very crazy) to just buy one for any 'run of the mill' project. Prior to using this program, i used rub on lettering over stainless steel front panels and followed up with the spray - very professional- but the new program gives me the flexibility of moving labels and covering mistakes, with but a couple of keystrokes.
As to "chassis bashing", anyone incapable of producing decent metal work probably should not be attempting this in the first place - especially on the kitchen table!
I take geat pride and enjoyment in the metal work involved in my projects and this is neccesary for that finished and professional appearance.
As to tiny surface mount, etc. - I do mostly original design and a lot of that is in high frequencies up thru VHF with stringent restictions on widebandwidth vs. very flat response. I may have to go thru 2 or 3 protos before a finshed board can be started. The one thing about this type of layout is once you start, you have committed that board to that design and it is difficult to make changes without starting over due to the nature of the layout involved. I just find it much easier to rework thru hole boards more times before it has to be scrapped for a fresh start.

Bigglez
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Post by Bigglez » Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:39 am

Greetings John,
jwax wrote:Seems a like a difference in the "analog" thinking and the "digital" thinking here. Guess I'm an analog guy!
Glad there are digital folks- stuff bores me to tears.
I'm analog by training and analog by motivation. I'm
also unaffraid of the digital world and enjoy both.

Putting simplistic labels on people is not helpful.

Dean presented a digital rebuttal (TTL logic) to the
digital tool chain argument. Dave Dixon has also explored
both sides of the discussion.

BTW, I didn't see your response to my earlier comments.
You may answer in the "analog" or the "digital" persona,
I'm interested to understand your earlier statements.

Comments Welcome!

Bigglez
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Post by Bigglez » Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:52 am

Greetings Robert,
Robert Reed wrote: As to "chassis bashing", anyone incapable of producing decent metal work probably should not be attempting this in the first place - especially on the kitchen table!
I think you are missing an important point, and I appologise
if I made a weak argument.

A contemporary student project can draw on the resources
of others (PCB, CNC machining, modules and trainers) by
mastering computer skills. These are universal and of great
value in a career or to enhance a hobby interest.

Prior art required developing different skills with different
tools (metal forming hand tools at a minimum).

Given the same starting point - the kitchen table - the
two paths deliver similar satisfaction but by very different
methodology.

As technology has matured the barriers and cost of entry
have fallen, and perhaps more importantly, the ability
to tackle complex multi-disciplined projects is open to
a lot more people. How can this not be good for society?

The niche of a hardware electronics magazine with a
monthly publication frequency will yield to other
channels, such as this and similar forums, which draw on
common practice skills. For example, typing at a keyboard,
basic human verbal and written interaction skills, and
effectively using Wikipedia or search engines.

Comments Welcome!

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philba
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Post by philba » Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:55 pm

this is a reply to the question brought by the original poster.

While progress can be considered good or bad, the arrival of the internet has opened a near infinite possibility of projects for the electronics hobbyist. Imagine something and then search for it. I would be surprised if you can't find something that is close and more likely than not you will find numerous hits that are spot on. Frankly, for at least half of the construction projects I see in magazines these days, I can find a better one on the internet.

The magazines played a role in teaching as it exposed one to new ideas however, I believe the forums (like this, electrotech, sparkfun) meet that need fairly well. You have to work a little harder to get the information but it's all out there. and you can ask questions...

So, everything you want is right under your nose!

I, for one, think the world we live in now is a much richer place than the one we came from. Just so you all know I'm not some kid who never saw vinyl, I build a crystal radio in 1965 and a VTVM about a year later.

Bigglez
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Post by Bigglez » Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:15 pm

Greetings philba,
philba wrote:this is a reply to the question brought by the original poster.
Which prompted me to go back and reread that post:
carlgarcia wrote:I've been searching for any pub that talks about regular electronics, not computer info. N & V is good but I'd l;ike more hard wired stuff. Any suggestions?
The Op seems to be aware and capable of searching the
internet, but has not explained "regular electronics".

Perhaps the request is for assistance in interpretation (of
search results or forum lurking) rather than how and where
to search?

Hopefully, the OP will return to clear up a few things for us.

(Philba, your other points where well articulated and presented).

Comments Welcome!

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jwax
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Post by jwax » Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:05 pm

Congratulations on your interest in both of my simplistic definitions of analog and digital. Most hobbyists have a preference.
Just because I visit Greece, I don't prefer to learn the language, but may learn enough to just get by. I don't have an interest in programming.
Before you quote this post into little pieces in your reply, lets bear in mind the nature of this forum is technical. Nobody is running for office here. Sorry if I contributed to the diversion.

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