Electronic systems rule our modern world, bridging the gap between software and physical reality. From communication to industrial process control to transportation to entertainment, the field of electronics continues to grow in reach and complexity. A working knowledge of basic electrical engineering concepts is now a powerful tool in many fields, and this value is likely to grow in the coming decades.
The motto of this book is “one level deeper.” I’ve watched thousands of students of electronics struggle to build an intuition for the topic because they couldn’t connect the math, the physics, and the practical implications. In this book, I’ll attempt to change that by presenting an integrated approach, offering insight that is “one level deeper” than the immediate topic at hand. For example, have you considered:
- how electron collisions lead to Ohm’s Law‘s linearity
- how one complex number represents an entire sinusoidal signal
- how the electrical concept of ground is just a consequence of Kirchhoff’s Voltage Law
- how voltage dividers and Thevenin equivalent circuits are recursively related
This is just a small taste of the kind of richly layered understanding that electronics experts have, but it’s rarely found all in one place.
Let’s fix that.
And let’s do it with hundreds of interactive schematics that you can load, simulate, change, and simulate again, like this one:
Exercise Click the circuit above.
When you click, the CircuitLab software opens in a new tab in your browser. You can run a simulation of the circuit pictured, and then you can modify the circuit and run it again.
While simulation can never completely replace hands-on electronics experimentation, it’s a handy tool to make learning electronics faster and easier.
Studying electronics goes hand-in-hand with calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and classical physics (including thermodynamics, electricity, and magnetism). These are complementary. Studying electronics will enhance your understanding of calculus as much as studying calculus will enhance your understanding of electronics.
For online resources in these topics, we recommend these courses which provide excellent written lecture notes and/or video lectures:
- MIT 18.01 - Single Variable Calculus
- MIT 18.02 - Multivariable Calculus
- MIT 18.03 - Differential Equations
- MIT 18.06 - Linear Algebra
- MIT 8.01SC - Physics I: Classical Mechanics
- MIT 8.02T - Physics II: Electricity & Magnetism
- MIT 8.022 - Physics II: Electricity & Magnetism (Advanced)
Michael F. Robbins holds the S.B. in Electrical Science and Engineering and the M.Eng. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science degrees both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mike is the co-founder of CircuitLab, Inc. and developer of the CircuitLab circuit simulation software used by universities, hobbyists, and practicing engineers in 196 countries.
In the next section, Schematics & Simulations Tutorial, we’ll briefly introduce how to use the schematic capture and circuit simulation features built into this interactive book.