Design and Troubleshooting

by admin on October 19, 2017

Most people believe that troubleshooting an electronic circuit is a simple matter of connecting an oscilloscope or multimeter to a circuit and then fixing something. Let me tell you it’s not quite that easy. I think circuit design and troubleshooting are very similar in a lot of respects. In troubleshooting a circuit, you have to discern what a circuit is supposed to do. Once you know that you may or may not be able to tell if it’s broken. You try to change a parameter on the input side of the circuit and see if the output changes correspondingly.

In circuit design you take an idea of what you want a circuit to do for a given set of inputs and try to set up your circuit to do that. You pick a starting point and complete a design. Ideally you would then breadboard that piece and verify that it works. For several years now, there are software circuit simulation packages that can alleviate some of the breadboard step. Once that piece is verified, you build upon that. Often the design starts at the input and works towards the output. It could just as easily start at the output and work back towards the input. An additional possibility would be to start in the middle because you have a requirement to use a particular component because of cost or performance issues. In that case, you start with the component and work towards the input or output.

When I do a design, if I’m starting in the middle because of a performance issue or other constraint, I work towards the side of the circuit I feel is going to be more difficult. The reason I do that is I want to do the hard part first.


I have both of the books above and can highly recommend them both. The troubleshooting book is by Robert Pease. He has a plethora of analog knowledge and has been a senior staff engineer at National Semiconductor for a long time. His experience is not only in design but application. If a customer had an issue with a circuit design and called NS it would not be uncommon for them to get to speak with Bob. But don’t just take my word for it. Currently over 75% of the reviews on Amazon are 5 star. Over 90% of the reviews are 4 star or better.
There are NO bad reviews.

The design book, Art of Electronics, is also a great book. I wish I had the book when I was taking my EE coursework back in college. It is in an excellent reference from the standpoint that just about any information you would ever want about electronic design is in the book. However, the index in the book is not very well done. So if you ask where is “X” or “Y” you probably won’t be able to find it. Even so this is an outstanding book. While reading it, I recommend that you have a tablet or notepad that you can note the topic and page number.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jaundalynn April 23, 2011 at 14:22

YMMD with that answer! TX


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