Introduction to Basic Electronics

What are electronics?:

When we get right down to it, electronics are the use of the electrical charge to serve some function.

 

Why should be care?:

Electronics are in use all around us in applications big and small. According to the US Department of Labor, there were more than 300,000 electrical and electronics engineers employed within the United States alone in 2012. According to Statista, the global electronics industry is worth more than $4.5 trillion annually. Electronics are used in just about any other industry that you can think of. Automotive, agriculture, aerospace, appliances, military, and of course consumer electronics all make use of electronics.

 

Examples:Circuit board from Maytag refrigerator

Smart phones, computers, and televisions are a few examples of where electronics are used that you are already aware of, but there are other less obvious examples as well. Unless its an antique, your refrigerator probably more than one circuit board inside as does almost any other appliance you have in your home. Figure 1 shows 1 of 2 circuit boards that is in a popular brand of refrigerators. This one has a PIC18 microprocessor from Microchip on board. The brakes on your car are probably connected to a circuit board as is the furnace in your home. The list goes on and on.

 

Electronics Engineering vs Electrical Engineering:

There is a difference between traditional electrical engineering and electronics engineering. So much so, there are completely separate handbooks and college degrees. Both fields have a basic foundation in electricity and the laws that govern how it is used. However, there are some differences that make them their own distinct fields.

 

Traditional Electrical Engineering:

Traditional electrical engineering deals mostly with the design of electronic components. This is where the rubber meets the road where the road is electricity and the rubber is the application. Designing a transformer, an electric motor, or a computer chip might be good examples of traditional electrical engineering. If a electronic device or system were a puzzle, electrical engineers design the pieces of the puzzle.

 

Electronics Engineering:

Electronics engineering deals with the application of electronic components into systems that serve some function. Designing a circuit board or interfacing multiple circuit boards together into a system are examples of what an electronics engineering might do. If a electronic device or system were a puzzle, electronics engineers put the puzzle together.  Since you are probably not going to be making your own microprocessors in your basement at home, most of the tutorials on this site are going to be dealing with electronics engineering rather than electrical engineering.

Figure 1 - Refrigerator Controller Board

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