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'[EE]Re: Software engineer was: (no subject)'
2002\09\13@151925 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 07:37 PM 9/13/02 +0200, you wrote:
>Hi,
>  I'm a software engineer and have just over 10 years of experience behind me
>some of it very low level (device driver and control etc). I have just
>joined the list as I am about to embark on a project using a PIC as the brains
>behind the thing. I guess you can all see my problem, I do not have very much
>hardware knowledge.

Depending on the project, this may not be much of a big deal, or it may be
everything. All you need is Ohm's law (and to be able to read a data sheet),
to work out LED resistor but for signal conditioning and other more
sophisticated things, you need much, much more that isn't that easy to
pick up by osmosis, as it's pretty hard slogging the first time through.

>  I'm hoping to get a PIC up and running and have it flash some LEDs this
>weekend and am planning on heading to Radio Shack to pick up components this
>afternoon. Besides the PIC itself and the components to build a programmer
>I was
>wondering if  you guys could tell me what other components I should buy
>while I'm there?

Avoid Radio Shack, at least use companies (assuming you are in the US or
Canada) such as Digikey, Mouser, and distributors such as Avnet, Pioneer,
Wyle, Newark, etc. If you are in Europe, there's Farnell an dothers.
You'll need crystals and basic passive components. Just for general
breadboarding, I keep around  every value of 5% resistor from 10 ohm
to 10M, and others from 1 ohm to 33M, at least 50 of each, in through-hole
and about half now in SMT, many HCMOS, transistors, MOSFETs, IGBTs,
specialized ICs, MPUs from half a dozen manufacturers etc. etc. Anything I
don't have gets overnighted from Digikey or another supplier.

>  What would make up the perfect beginners electronics tool box?

Depends, sorry. For hardware, a 100MHz or better oscilloscope and a couple
of meters, one of them a true-RMS Fluke, a signal generator and a few other
things.
You won't need them all at once, but when you need them, you REALLY
need them.

>  Also does anyone have any links where I could get a basic grounding in
>electronics quickly? ie. I know if I connect an LED to an output on the
>PIC and
>to GND without a resistor I will probably burn out the PIC due to excess
>current, but why? and how do I know how much resitance to put between the
>LED and
>GND??

You can buy (or borrow from the Library) Horowitz and Hill's _Art of
Electronics_.
A third edition is long overdue, and it's getting dated but there is useful
information in there for you. I don't own a copy (actually I just ordered one
to have on the bookshelf), it came after I learned EE and doesn't have much new
for me. Win Hill, anyway, is a physicist not an EE, and he takes a cookbook
type approach without a lot of rigorous math. It works for many and will
definitely increase your abilities. There really isn't a quick route to learn
this stuff deeply. If you have an engineering degree you have some of the
basics,
the rest is the usual years of experience. (and good engineers often, not
always,
started as children). If you only know programming and have no true
engineering
background, you'd best get help from a qualified professional with your
project,
as your present knowledge level is almost nil, most hobbyists in this list
know
a lot more. Chances are quite good this will come back to bite you hard in the
nether regions if this is a serious project, designing is a lot more than just
getting the prototype to work, particularly when you venture into the analog
domain.

Best regards,


Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
spam_OUTspeffTakeThisOuTspaminterlog.com             Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog  Info for designers:  http://www.speff.com
Microchip registered Consultant

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2002\09\13@160549 by Dave King

flavicon
face
>>  Also does anyone have any links where I could get a basic grounding in
>>electronics quickly? ie. I know if I connect an LED to an output on the
>>PIC and
>>to GND without a resistor I will probably burn out the PIC due to excess
>>current, but why? and how do I know how much resitance to put between the
>>LED and
>>GND??
>
>You can buy (or borrow from the Library) Horowitz and Hill's _Art of
>Electronics_.

Probably showing my age but RTL and CMOS cookbooks were pretty
good for reference.

I'd also consider something like "Electronic Workbench" software so
you can virtually build almost anything and see what it does before
you buy one part or heat up the iron. There was a shareware program
out a while ago that let you drag a pic and other parts onto a virtual
breadboard then run and load your program and see the results, like
mplab but much more basic. They did a "upgrade" and ruined it but I'd
think there were others that would get you playing quick.

Unless RatShack is your only option, try and find a wholesaler or distributor
or retail store that has the parts. It will be a lot cheaper.  Or learn how to
desolder and go to garage sales ;-]

Dave

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