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Subject: Re: how to master electronics, use of transistor, op amp...?
Date: Fri, 01 Nov 2002 20:23:56 GMT
NNTP-Posting-Date: Fri, 01 Nov 2002 15:23:56 EST
Organization: Road Runner
Please don't confuse skill with talent. Skill is acquired over time,
and involves much work and effort, while talent is there from the very
beginning. However, lets not get tied up with semantics. I suppose I
should have also pointed out my obsession with electronics. Even before
I could walk, I was so drawn to it that I would crawl up to outlets and
experiment with anything I could get my hands on (and of course was
repeatedly picked up and moved by those pesky things known as
'parents'). When I finally got hold of the right objects (hair pins),
the sparks flew, and so did I (more of a convulsive bounce, really).
This ignited (pun intended) my imagination and I could NOT be stopped. I
was driven, and will always be.
I cannot explain why, nor can I explain why my brother can paint
portraits and entire landscapes with astonishing perfection, while I
can't get my hands to draw anything past a stick figure. He always had
this ability. Of course, learning to tap into the talent evolved over
time, but it came with little more than just "letting it out". He was
drawing accurate, detailed pictures of various aircraft at about 3 years
old. There is some price to pay for him as well though, as electronics
and computers baffle him completely (he's the guy looking for the 'any'
I would have to say that since Stephen William Hawking concerns
himself with theoretical physics and such, he may not be an appropriate
example of someone who would (or could) design an electronic circuit in
his head. Besides, it's not a matter of mathematics, or some enormous
number of calculations. Rather it is something which I actually find
difficult to put into words. I just do it. Indeed, you would probably
get a similar response from talented musicians. Of course, you have to
know how to design a circuit in the first place. Also, I'm not talking
about the computer core of the Starship Enterprise. Although I don't
have trouble understanding digital technology, my main focus is on
analog circuits. My last creation entailed a bit over 400 components,
both analog and digital, and I actually haven't gotten around to drawing
a schematic for it yet. I designed the PCB with occasional glances at
the mess of breadboards.
To give an example, and to address your "simplicity" argument, I
once met with someone (who shall remain nameless) who was given the task
of coming up with a solution for a particular problem. After five months
of government funding, super computers, charts, graphs, calculations and
theory, he asked me for assistance. I'm sure he also wasted as much time
as possible with acquisition forms and such, but with the pile of notes
I was handed, someone had obviously done at least something. Anyway,
this engineer was certainly able to prove the theory behind the whole
thing, and kept insisting on pursuing what was obviously a dead end. The
components just didn't behave like that. Furthermore, the end result was
supposed to be a small, simple to use device, requiring only basic
knowledge to operate (he intended to "scale it down later"). Much to the
dissatisfaction of said engineer, I handed him his notes and told him I
would try something different. Two days later, I handed the physical
specs for my prototype to the fabrication facility, which they then sat
on for a day, and only finished after I stood behind the guy and told
him where to drill. On the fourth day, I handed the engineer my working
prototype, theory of operation, and instructions on its use. The circuit
required nothing more than a single op-amp, and a formula similar in
complexity to ohm's law would provide the user with meaningful results.
His first reaction was shear delight, followed by something along the
lines of "This is too simple. Do you know how this makes me look?"
At any rate, the bottom line is that if it does not come easy, it
most likely is not within you, and you will not excel. However, you can
probably get by if enough effort is applied. This approach would, in my
opinion, yield an unsatisfying vocation. This is not to say that there
are only two extremes. There are varying degrees of talent in each of
us, and for different things. The key is knowing what your natural
talents are before getting caught up in all that the world offers us.
Sadly, most people never find out, or by the time they do, it has become
latent, stagnant, and hard to recognize and kindle.
One last thing: Nobody can "master" electronics, or anything else
for that matter. You will always be improving, and there will always be
someone who is better at it than you.
Kevin Aylward wrote:
> "Wafer" wrote in message
>> Being self taught, I certainly have a bias that would saturate any
>>transistor, but for me, all the book knowledge I have turns pale in
>>comparison to actuall hands-on experience. If you ask me, it depends
>>whether you want to write about theory, or actually build stuff. I
>>to design entirely functional devices without ever drawing a schematic
>>or picking up a calculator.
> This is novel. I am certainly sceptical that you design significant
> circuits without a schematic. Very, few of us have the mental process
> such as Steven Hawking that allows 100 pages calculations entirely in
> their heads.
>>I usually only draw a schematic to aid in
>>the design of the PCB itself (and to save the design for later use).
>>Seeing it on paper, colleagues tend to get quite frustrated because
>>can't explain why it works, no matter how much math they put into it.
> Usually, a circuit that cannot be understood with a reasonable over
> look, is a poor circuit. A good design is always simple, and easily
>>Note that I have tried designing on paper first many times. However,
>>is not nearly as much fun, nor does it (hardly ever) yeild a result
>>which will hold up under actual tests.
> I agree, a pure in depth mathematical design is usually not possible for
> complicated circuits, however, again, other then for the likes of Steven
> Hawking, I simple don't believe any expert can design a competent
> circuit without at last sketching out the main blocks.
>>I find it only useful up to a
>>certain point. Eventually, there comes the time to "just do it", as
>>sneaker company slogan states.
>> Theory is, after all, just theory. Nothing is perfect.
> Correct theory already *includes* the fact that components are not
> perfect, and that there are often unknowns. The reality is, is that, for
> example, i.c. design, first pass success on complicated analogue
> circuits are not at all unknown by the use of correct simulation
> techniques and models.
>>always a better way to accomplish something, and those who can think
>>outside the box have the best chance at innovation. After all,
>>innovation is, by definition, something new. You don't get that by
>>following the "textbook examples".
>> I should also point out that aptitude plays an important role
>>If you don't "have it", you ain't gonna get it. You can't learn to
>>talent for something.
> I disagree. Talent is for the large part, hard work and introduction of
> the discipline at an earlier age.
> Its all waffle, for example, to suggest that there is such a dubious
> quality as "Star Quality", for the most part, anyone can be a good
>>Fortunately, genetics *usually* insures that we
>>enjoy what we are good at. Hence the saying: 'Do what you love, and
>>what you do'.
>>**awaiting many flames**
> Kevin Aylward
> SuperSpice, a very affordable Mixed-Mode
> Windows Simulator with Schematic Capture,
> Waveform Display, FFT's and Filter Design.