Circuit Design?

I am an EE student and I feel a bit confused right now, thus far I've only taken circuit analysis (nodal/mesh/thevenin/transformers/phasors etc) and one semester of E&M.

I was taking a look at this http://www.ledsales.com.au/kits/nixie_supply.pdf and I know that is explains the function of the circuit in the document, but it's like I would have no idea how to do this if I had to start from scratch. And, I have an old Radio Shack electronics kit and most of the projects in it make me feel really stupid, I would have no idea how to design a circuit from scratch that has the same functionality.

Is there anything I could do to improve my knowledge of circuit design and figure out how circuits actually work? Like in that nixie power supply, if I were just given it and had to determine what it did, I would have no idea what to do.

I have access to the Art of Electronics and Sedra/Smith and a circuit analysis book, but I don't know where to start.
 

berkeman

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I am an EE student and I feel a bit confused right now, thus far I've only taken circuit analysis (nodal/mesh/thevenin/transformers/phasors etc) and one semester of E&M.

I was taking a look at this http://www.ledsales.com.au/kits/nixie_supply.pdf and I know that is explains the function of the circuit in the document, but it's like I would have no idea how to do this if I had to start from scratch. And, I have an old Radio Shack electronics kit and most of the projects in it make me feel really stupid, I would have no idea how to design a circuit from scratch that has the same functionality.

Is there anything I could do to improve my knowledge of circuit design and figure out how circuits actually work? Like in that nixie power supply, if I were just given it and had to determine what it did, I would have no idea what to do.

I have access to the Art of Electronics and Sedra/Smith and a circuit analysis book, but I don't know where to start.

How far have you read into the AofE? If you have read it cover-to-cover, you should have a pretty good idea of where to start. You can also check out magazines and websites that have a lot of hobbyist and technical content, like the Circuit Cellar.

http://www.circuitcellar.com/

Start by designing and building simple circuits that do something handy for you, like a clock or a simple audio amp. Opamps are very useful building blocks for analog circuits, so be sure to understand the AofE sections on opamps, and maybe pick up a book on opamp projects and build a couple.

Also, check out the Application Notes sections of websites like National Semi, Linear Technology, TI, Maxim, etc. The Application Notes are great ways to see how basic building block components can be put together for different functions.

http://www.maxim-ic.com/appnotes10.cfm/filter/category
 
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I took a course called System Design Lab and it was a project based course. I learned a TON about everything, in that course! Not only about circuit design, but also about hardware/software interface, power distribution/layout in a basic circuit, etc.
 
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You've just covered circuit analysis. I don't think anyone could design that circuit by taking that class so don't be so hard on yourself. If you love electronics then read alot of books on the subject on your own, especially the Art of Electronics.

One thing that I did, and was hooked on was studying schematics of electronic test equipment made by prestigious companies such as HP or Tektronix. Sometimes they are hard to come by, but you can find many schematics online of a 20 year old oscilloscope, or a voltmeter and all kinds of cool equipment in general. I used to look at segments of various schematics, and tried to calculate voltage in different places, or understand why the engineer did it the way it is. It is an enlightening learning experience.
 

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