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'[OT] EE for CsE'
2007\05\10@131739 by Joshua Shriver

picon face
Greetings again,

     A while back several people gave me some good recommendations
for books to start out in EE.  Thought I'd restate my request with an
alteration in meaning.

I'm a computer programmer, and while I respect EE, at it's purest form
it's really not for me. I have some nifty ideas for devices I would
like to implement, but since I lack the EE knowledge to do so, thought
I'd try and get a basic understanding of EE.

If everything had to be done with transistors, resistors and various
other low-level parts I'd probably not have started. What makes me
interested in EE from a programmer point of view is that today we have
a lot of nice hardware that abstracts the lower level "physical" layer
of EE.  Pics being a good point.

As I browse Circuit Cellar or websites, I see a lot of nifty little
components that do specific things. Like a chip that is a self
contained wifi container, a single chip GPS container, etc, etc.

So where I'm learning toward is learning just enough so I can buy
these kind of containers/chips/IC's and use them just as I would in a
program.  From a logic point of view they are the same thing as a
function/procedure/object.  It takes in input and gives an output.

Just with EE, you have more things to take into consideration.
Functions don't care about power usage in fear of frying the component
the in's and out's are defined.

So I'm wondering am I out of luck, or do I really have to spend the
time learning everything from the principles of physics to programming
a PIC/FPGA/etc, or is there a quicker "if you just want to know how to
connect various things together and make them work".  Besides it seems
most of these components use a serial interface, and not sure how an
i/o line works exactly. Is that the same thing as a parallel/serial
ports data pin for i/o?

Thanks for listening,
Josh

2007\05\10@142138 by piclist

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NOTE: this message includes ASCII art, you may want to view this
message with a
font like courier new or similar.

I wish it were all strictly logic as you describe.  While a lot of the
microcontroler world can be dealt mostly with just logic, you'd still have to
know the basics for things like decoupling caps, or the caps you need to use
with a crystal, and more complicated things like crossover talk in parallel
cables.

You don't really have to know physics to do EE, but it sure does help, a lot.

A lot of those chips/modules you talk about still have datasheets with
specifications of input/output loads and a miriad of other things you may have
to pay attention to, and without knowing the basics you'll always run into
trouble here and there.

Even in the strictly logic world there are problems too.  Check this out:

          -->-->-------------- output a
          |
input ----+
          |
          -->-->-->-->-->-->-- output b


In the above each of the ">" is a simple inverter gate and if the input
is low,
the output will be low, if the input is high, the output will be high.  
But the
input change appears at output b much later than at output a.  There are a few
reasons for this, but mostly due to the fact that it takes a little bit
of time
for each of those gates to do it's work. Again, this is part of the basics.

By the way, I'm pretty bad at designing analog circuits (my EE is all
hobby, no
schooling in it) as I only read enough about it to get by with the
other stuff,
but if nothing else, knowing just enough to get buy does make a huge
difference
when you need to ask a question and understand the answers receive.

Good luck.


-Mario




Quoting Joshua Shriver <spam_OUTjshriverTakeThisOuTspamgmail.com>:

{Quote hidden}

> -

2007\05\10@142739 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> So I'm wondering am I out of luck, or do I really have to
> spend the time learning everything from the principles of
> physics to programming a PIC/FPGA/etc, or is there a quicker
> "if you just want to know how to connect various things
> together and make them work".  Besides it seems most of these
> components use a serial interface, and not sure how an i/o
> line works exactly. Is that the same thing as a
> parallel/serial ports data pin for i/o?

It is a bit like traveling in a new country. If youy stick to the main
roads, eat in the Mac's and sleep in the world-wide-chain hotels you
don't need to know much about the country. The more you wander of from
the main roads, eat local food, sleep in local inns, etc, the more you
need to know about the country.

You can get a long way using microcntrollers and FPGAs, thinking of IO
pins as wires carrying 1 or 0, and copying known-good circuits for
interfacing switches, LEDs, relays, etc. But if you want to design your
own thing, especially if it is analog or fast (which is in a sense the
same) you will have to know more.

I would suggest that you buy a Horowitz & Hill and use it for bedtime
reading the next few months.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\05\10@142830 by John Chung

picon face
> So where I'm learning toward is learning just enough
> so I can buy
> these kind of containers/chips/IC's and use them
> just as I would in a
> program.  From a logic point of view they are the
> same thing as a
> function/procedure/object.  It takes in input and
> gives an output.
>
 Yes and no. In order to understand the
manufacturer's datasheet you need to learn about
electronics. Skimping through the tutorials out there
won't help. You really need to sit down and study.


> Just with EE, you have more things to take into
> consideration.
> Functions don't care about power usage in fear of
> frying the component
> the in's and out's are defined.
>
 Development boards are what you are looking for but
the thing about them is that they are VERY VERY
limited. You can't build a board based on your designs
without understanding electronics.

{Quote hidden}

 As a programmer I know where you are driving at. You
just can't take a circuit and just implement it in
your own design without understanding the implication
of the integration. Still I enjoy the fact that this
has to
be created to match my needs.

 In terms of I/O yes. There are other protocols like
SPI , I2C and etc. The protocols are usually used to
communicate between circuits. Wiring a MCU to other
ICs out there is not too much of a problem but it
really depends on the complexity of the circuit.
Flashing LEDS is pretty good start which does involve
minimal electronics knowledge.

  FPGA does look COOL to play with but you still need
to learn about electronics, well at least in the
digital world*NAND and XOR gates*....... The main
problem with FPGA is the creation of the solution
board which is a nightmare thanks to the IC packaging.
PIC and AVR are usually easier to implement thanks to
PDIP packaging.

John

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2007\05\10@154820 by James Salisbury

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face
Hi,

You might like to take a look at Bebop To the Boolean Boogie
http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=72-9780750675437-0  and
Op Amps for Everyone
www.amazon.com/Op-Amps-Everyone-Ron-Mancini/dp/0750677015
{Original Message removed}

2007\05\10@162301 by Alex Harford

face picon face
I second the vote for Bebop.  My dad got me that book for Christmas
when I was in grade 8.  I devoured that book, and first year digital
logic classes in University were a breeze.  I think Bebop covered more
stuff actually.

Alex

On 5/10/07, James Salisbury <.....piclistKILLspamspam@spam@jsalisbury.clara.co.uk> wrote:
> Hi,
>
> You might like to take a look at Bebop To the Boolean Boogie
> http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?inkey=72-9780750675437-0  and
> Op Amps for Everyone
> www.amazon.com/Op-Amps-Everyone-Ron-Mancini/dp/0750677015
> {Original Message removed}

2007\05\10@164846 by Vitaliy

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face
Josh,

The other posters offered good advice, but the best thing you can do, is
just dive in. It's easy if you have a specific project in mind. Just figure
things out as you go.

Of course, start small, lest you become discouraged. Read relevant books
when you can't work on the project. I read a great number of my books, while
sitting in the bathtub.

Vitaliy

2007\05\10@170433 by Joshua Shriver

picon face
Well I have two relatively small *hope so at least* projects in mind.
I bought a decent GPS locator that connects to a serial port.  Though
I dont have a laptop or portable computer to use it with. Thought if I
could use a PIC chip to read off of the serial i/o line, provide power
to the power pin, the PIC could parse the data, then have some kind of
storage device attached (SD?) for storing the data. End goal is to
have a really small and relatively inexpensive device that can record
where I'm going (trips, parks, trails etc). The other is a RDS
decoder. I've found the schematics online and it doesnt look too
complex, just dont know how to read the symbols. Hoping I'm not trying
something too hard. I can see the GPS project being hard because of
trying to interface with a SD card, or some kind of RAM drive.

-Josh

On 5/10/07, Vitaliy <spamspamKILLspammaksimov.org> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2007\05\10@173102 by Alex Harford

face picon face
That project looks doable with patience.  SD cards can be a bit tricky though.
Looks like there are code samples out there that talk about
interfacing to an MMC:
http://www.microchipc.com/sourcecode/

Here's how I would do it:

- get a pic programmer and a devel board that has some peripherals on
it... LCD etc.
- write the code to output 'Hello, world' on the LCD
- write the code to take output from a serial port and echo it on to the LCD
- hook up the GPS and get the coords displayed on the LCD
- hook up the SD card and test writing to it... are there low level
routines available for SD card reading on the PC or do they expect to
have a filesystem on there?  Not sure about that one.
- get them working together

The above stuff would probably take me about 6 months to do in my
spare time... :D

Once you have the code working on the devel board, then look into
building the circuit and dealing with all the finicky analog stuff.

On 5/10/07, Joshua Shriver <.....jshriverKILLspamspam.....gmail.com> wrote:
> Well I have two relatively small *hope so at least* projects in mind.
> I bought a decent GPS locator that connects to a serial port.  Though
> I dont have a laptop or portable computer to use it with. Thought if I
> could use a PIC chip to read off of the serial i/o line, provide power
> to the power pin, the PIC could parse the data, then have some kind of
> storage device attached (SD?) for storing the data.

2007\05\10@180140 by James Salisbury

flavicon
face
How much data are you wanting to store??? Useing some 1M bit I2C memories
would be a lot easier.



{Original Message removed}

2007\05\10@225655 by Robert Rolf

picon face

> On 5/10/07, Joshua Shriver <EraseMEjshriverspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTgmail.com> wrote:
>
>>Well I have two relatively small *hope so at least* projects in mind.
>>I bought a decent GPS locator that connects to a serial port.  Though
>>I dont have a laptop or portable computer to use it with. Thought if I
>>could use a PIC chip to read off of the serial i/o line, provide power
>>to the power pin, the PIC could parse the data, then have some kind of
>>storage device attached (SD?) for storing the data.

Sony already makes such a device, with the GPS built in. Uses SD card.
Has USB interface.
About $100 US. What's your time worth?

R

2007\05\11@092526 by Joshua Shriver

picon face
Good point, I'll have to look into that, then I can just do the RDS
project as an intro. Perhaps a lirc device for Linux :)

Thanks everyone, it's been a lot of help.
-Josh

On 5/10/07, Robert Rolf <Robert.Rolfspamspam_OUTualberta.ca> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

2007\05\12@135930 by Tony Smith

picon face
> >>Well I have two relatively small *hope so at least*
> projects in mind.
> >>I bought a decent GPS locator that connects to a serial
> port.  Though
> >>I dont have a laptop or portable computer to use it with.
> Thought if I
> >>could use a PIC chip to read off of the serial i/o line,
> provide power
> >>to the power pin, the PIC could parse the data, then have
> some kind of
> >>storage device attached (SD?) for storing the data.
>
> Sony already makes such a device, with the GPS built in. Uses SD card.
> Has USB interface.
> About $100 US. What's your time worth?
>
> R


Hmmm, that would be the GPS-CS1,
<ohgizmo.com/2006/08/03/sonys-gps-cs1-device-will-geotag-your-pics/>,
neat!  No SD card mentioned (and wouldn't Sony use a memory stick?).  Says
it records every 15 seconds (fixed?) and has 32MB.  No display, no altitude,
AA battery, 15 hours usage, USB (with cable), 55 grams.  At that price it
beats buying a USB puck thingy and rolling your own.

I notice Garmin have similar things, aimed at joggers etc.  Their ones have
display, heartrate monitors etc (and are more expensive).

Tony

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