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Surface mount electronic components

Electronics is that branch of science and technology which makes use of the controlled motion of electrons through different media and vacuum. The ability to control electron flow is usually applied to information handling or device control. Electronics is distinct from electrical science and technology, which deals with the generation, distribution, control and application of electrical power. This distinction started around 1906 with the invention by Lee De Forest of the triode, which made electrical amplification possible with a non-mechanical device. Until 1950 this field was called "radio technology" because its principal application was the design and theory of radio transmitters, receivers and vacuum tubes.

Most electronic devices today use semiconductor components to perform electron control. The study of semiconductor devices and related technology is considered a branch of physics, whereas the design and construction of electronic circuits to solve practical problems come under electronics engineering. This article focuses on engineering aspects of electronics.


Electronic devices and components

An electronic component is any physical entity in an electronic system used to affect the electrons or their associated fields in a desired manner consistent with the intended function of the electronic system. Components are generally intended to be connected together, usually by being soldered to a printed circuit board (PCB), to create an electronic circuit with a particular function (for example an amplifier, radio receiver, or oscillator). Components may be packaged singly or in more complex groups as integrated circuits. Some common electronic components are capacitors, resistors, diodes, transistors, etc. Components are often categorized as active (e.g. transistors and thyristors) or passive (e.g. resistors and capacitors).

Types of circuits

Circuits and components can be divided into two groups: analog and digital. A particular device may consist of circuitry that has one or the other or a mix of the two types

Analog circuits

Hitachi J100 adjustable frequency drive chassis.

Most analog electronic appliances, such as radio receivers, are constructed from combinations of a few types of basic circuits. Analog circuits use a continuous range of voltage as opposed to discrete levels as in digital circuits.

The number of different analog circuits so far devised is huge, especially because a 'circuit' can be defined as anything from a single component, to systems containing thousands of components.

Analog circuits are sometimes called linear circuits although many non-linear effects are used in analog circuits such as mixers, modulators, etc. Good examples of analog circuits include vacuum tube and transistor amplifiers, operational amplifiers and oscillators.

One rarely finds modern circuits that are entirely analog. These days analog circuitry may use digital or even microprocessor techniques to improve performance. This type of circuit is usually called "mixed signal" rather than analog or digital.

Sometimes it may be difficult to differentiate between analog and digital circuits as they have elements of both linear and non-linear operation. An example is the comparator which takes in a continuous range of voltage but only outputs one of two levels as in a digital circuit. Similarly, an overdriven transistor amplifier can take on the characteristics of a controlled switch having essentially two levels of output.

Digital circuits

Digital circuits are electric circuits based on a number of discrete voltage levels. Digital circuits are the most common physical representation of Boolean algebra and are the basis of all digital computers. To most engineers, the terms "digital circuit", "digital system" and "logic" are interchangeable in the context of digital circuits. Most digital circuits use two voltage levels labeled "Low"(0) and "High"(1). Often "Low" will be near zero volts and "High" will be at a higher level depending on the supply voltage in use. Ternary (with three states) logic has been studied, and some prototype computers made.

Computers, electronic clocks, and programmable logic controllers (used to control industrial processes) are constructed of digital circuits. Digital Signal Processors are another example.


Highly integrated devices:

Heat dissipation and thermal management

Heat generated by electronic circuitry must be dissipated to prevent immediate failure and improve long term reliability. Techniques for heat dissipation can include heat sinks and fans for air cooling, and other forms of computer cooling such as water cooling. These techniques use convection, conduction, & radiation of heat energy.


Noise is associated with all electronic circuits. Noise is defined[1] as unwanted disturbances superposed on a useful signal that tend to obscure its information content. Noise is not the same as signal distortion caused by a circuit. Noise may be electromagnetically or thermally generated, which can be decreased by lowering the operating temperature of the circuit. Other types of noise, such as shot noise cannot be removed as they are due to limitations in physical properties.

Electronics theory

Mathematical methods are integral to the study of electronics. To become proficient in electronics it is also necessary to become proficient in the mathematics of circuit analysis.

Circuit analysis is the study of methods of solving generally linear systems for unknown variables such as the voltage at a certain node or the current through a certain branch of a network. A common analytical tool for this is the SPICE circuit simulator.

Also important to electronics is the study and understanding of electromagnetic field theory.

Computer aided design (CAD)

Today's electronics engineers have the ability to design circuits using premanufactured building blocks such as power supplies, semiconductors (such as transistors), and integrated circuits. Electronic design automation software programs include schematic capture programs and printed circuit board design programs. Popular names in the EDA software world are NI Multisim, Cadence (ORCAD), Eagle PCB and Schematic, Mentor (PADS PCB and LOGIC Schematic), Altium (Protel), LabCentre Electronics (Proteus) and many others.

Construction methods

Many different methods of connecting components have been used over the years. For instance, early electronics often used point to point wiring with components attached to wooden breadboards to construct circuits. Cordwood construction and wire wraps were other methods used. Most modern day electronics now use printed circuit boards made of materials such as FR4, or the cheaper (and less hard-wearing) Synthetic Resin Bonded Paper (SRBP, also known as Paxoline/Paxolin (trade marks) and FR2) - characterised by its light yellow-to-brown colour. Health and environmental concerns associated with electronics assembly have gained increased attention in recent years, especially for products destined to the European Union, with its Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), which went into force in July 2006.

See also


  1. ^ IEEE Dictionary of Electrical and Electronics Terms ISBN 978-0-471-42806-0

Further reading

  • The Art of Electronics ISBN 978-0-521-37095-0

External links

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity


Basic Electronic Elements

DC Circuit Analysis

AC Circuit Analysis


Integrated Circuits

External links


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Electronics | Foreword | Basic Electronics | Complex Electronics | Electricity | Machines | History of Electronics | Appendix | edit


  1. Aim of This Textbook
  2. Prerequisites
  3. Preface

Chapter 1: DC Circuits

  1. Charge and Coulomb's Law Development stage: 75% (as of June 12, 2005)
  2. Voltage, Current, and Power Development stage: 75% (as of May 2009)
  3. Basic Concepts Development stage: 25% (as of June 12, 2005)
  4. Cells Development stage: 25% (as of June 12, 2005)
  5. Resistors Development stage: 100% (as of June 12, 2005)
  6. Capacitors Development stage: 75% (as of June 18, 2005)
  7. Inductors Development stage: 75% (as of June 18, 2005)
  8. Other Components Development stage: 50% (as of June 12, 2005)
  9. DC Voltage and Current Laws Development stage: 50% (as of June 12, 2005)
  10. Nodal Analysis Development stage: 25% (as of June 12, 2005)
  11. Mesh Analysis Development stage: 25% (as of June 12, 2005)
  12. Thevenin and Norton Equivalent Circuits Development stage: 50% (as of June 12, 2005)
  13. Superposition Development stage: 50% (as of June 18, 2005)
  14. Diagnostic Equipment Development stage: 25% (as of June 12, 2005)
  15. DC Circuit Analysis Development stage: 25% (as of June 12, 2005)
  16. Measuring Instruments Development stage: 25% (as of June 12, 2005)
  17. Noise in electronic circuits Development stage: 00% (as of June 12, 2005)

Chapter 2: AC Circuits

  1. AC Circuits Development stage: 25% (as of June 12, 2005)
  2. Phasors Development stage: 25% (as of June 12, 2005)
  3. Impedance Development stage: 25% (as of June 12, 2005)
  4. Steady State Development stage: 25% (as of June 12, 2005)

Chapter 3: Transient Analysis

  1. RC Circuits Development stage: 50% (as of June 12, 2005)
  2. RL Circuits Development stage: 00% (as of )
  3. LC Circuits Development stage: 00% (as of )
  4. RCL Circuits Development stage: 50% (as of June 12, 2005)

Chapter 4: Analog Circuits

  1. Analog Circuits Development stage: 00% (as of June 12, 2005)
  2. Vacuum Tubes Development stage: 25% (as of June 12, 2005)
  3. Diodes Development stage: 50% (as of June 12, 2005)
  4. Transistors Development stage: 50% (as of June 12, 2005)
  5. Amplifiers Development stage: 50% (as of June 12, 2005)
  6. Operational amplifiers Development stage: 50% (as of June 12, 2005)
  7. Analog multipliers Development stage: 50% (as of July 19, 2006)

Chapter 5: Digital Circuits

  1. Digital Circuits
  2. Boolean Algebra
  3. TTL
  4. CMOS
  5. Integrated Circuits

Elements of Digital Circuits

  1. Transistors
  2. Basic gates
  3. Latches and Flip Flops
  4. Counters
  5. Adders
  6. Decoders and Encoders
  7. Multiplexers

Computer Architecture

  1. RAM and ROM
  2. Registers
  3. ALU
  4. Control Unit
  5. I/O
  6. RTN

Analog-to-Digital and Digital-to-Analog Converters

  1. Analog to Digital Converters
  2. Sequential Approximation Registers
  3. Digital to Analog Converters

Radio engineering

  1. Frequency Spectrum
  2. Gallery of VLF-signals
  3. VLF-reception with the PC
  4. Reception of DRM-transmitters
  5. Transmitter design


  1. Definitions Development stage: 50% (as of June 12, 2005)
  2. Formulas
  3. Circuit Symbols (Editors should also look at Template)
  4. Identifying Components and Values25%.png
  5. Laplace Transform pairs25%.png
  6. Design Basics: Tools and Equipment
  7. Electro-Mechanical Analogies
  8. Expanded Edition

Resources: (When adding links make sure to fill out the Permission Form)

  1. Discuss this book
  2. GCSE Science/Electricity
  3. Wikipedia's Electronics
  4. Wikipedia's List of electronics topics

Resources that are not yet covered by the Permission Form

  1. Tony R. Kuphaldt's Lessons in Electric Circuits
  2. American Home Electronics
  3. An eBook resource site with related topics to RF, DSP and Electronics

Simple English

Electronics is the study and use of electrical components and circuits to achieve a design goal.

The main parts, or electronic components, used in electronics are resistors, capacitors, coils of wire called inductors, integrated circuits, connection wires and circuit boards. Older electronics used glass or metal vacuum tubes to control the flow of electrons. By the late 1960's and early 1970's the transistor, a semiconductor, began replacing vacuum tubes as control parts. At about the same time, integrated circuits (miniature semiconductor circuits containing large numbers of very small transistors put on on very thin slices of silicon) came into general use. Integrated circuits not only made it possible to significantly reduce the number of components needed to make electronic products, but also made them much more reliable and at a lower cost.

People interested in physics often study how and why these electronic components work. By their studies they are able to discover, invent, or improve electronic components. Other people design and construct electronic circuits, using these components, to solve practical problems. These people are a part of electrical, electronics and computer engineering field.

Most electronic systems fall into one of these two categories:

  • Processing and distribution of information. These are communications systems.
  • Conversion and distribution of energy. These are control systems.

One way of looking at an electronic system is to separate it into three parts:

  1. Inputs - Electrical or mechanical sensors (or transducers), which take signals (in the form of temperature, pressure, etc.) from the physical world and convert them into current and voltage signals.
  2. Signal processing circuits - These consist of electronic components connected together to manipulate, interpret and transform the information contained in the signals.
  3. Outputs - Actuators or other devices (also transducers) that transform current and voltage signals back into useful physical form.

Take as an example a television set. A television set's input is a broadcast signal received from an antenna, or a wire cable provided by a cable television vendor. Signal processing circuits inside the television set use the brightness, colour, and sound information contained in the received signal to control the television set's output devices. The display output device may be a cathode ray tube (CRT) or a plasma or liquid crystal display screen. The audio output device might be a magnetically driven audio speaker. The display output devices convert the signal processing circuits' brightness and colour information into the visible image displayed on a screen. The audio output device converts the processed sound information into sounds that can be heard by listeners.

Analysis of a circuit/network involves knowing the input and the signal processing circuit, and finding out the output. Knowing the input and output and finding out or designing the signal processing part is called as synthesis.


Analog circuits

Analog circuits are used for signals that have a range of amplitudes.  In general, analog circuits measure or control the amplitude of signals.  In the early days of electronics, all electronic devices used analog circuits.  The frequency of the analog circuit is often measured or controlled in analog signal processing.  Even though digital circuits are used more often, analog circuits will always be necessary.

Pulse circuits

Pulse circuits are used for signals that require rapid pulses of energy.  For example, aircraft and ground radar equipment work by using pulse circuits to create and send high powered bursts of radio energy from radar transmitters.  Special antennas (called "beam" or "dish" antennas because of their shape) are used to send ("transmit") the high powered bursts in the direction the beam or dish antenna is pointed.

The radar transmitter's pulses or bursts of radio energy hit and bounce back (they are "reflected") from hard and metallic objects.  Hard objects are things like buildings, hills, and mountains.  Metallic objects are anything made of metal, like aircraft, bridges, satellites, or even objects in space.  The reflected radar energy is detected by radar pulse receivers which use both pulse and digital circuits together.  The pulse and digital circuits in radar pulse receivers are used to show the location and distance of objects which have reflected the radar transmitter's high powered pulses.

By controlling how often the rapid pulses of radar energy are sent out by a radar transmitter (called the transmitter's "pulse timing"), and how long it takes for the reflected pulse energy to come back to the radar receiver, one can tell not only where objects are, but also how far away they are.   Digital circuits in a radar receiver calculate the distance to an object by knowing the time interval between energy pulses.   The radar receiver's digital circuits count how long it takes between pulses for an object's reflected energy to be detected by the radar receiver.  Since radar pulses are sent and received at approximately the speed of light, the distance to an object can easily be calculated.  This is done in digital circuits by dividing the speed of light by the time it takes to receive the radar energy reflected back from an object.

The time between pulses (often called "pulse rate time", or PRT) sets the limit on how far away an object can be detected.  That distance is called the "range" of a radar transmitter and receiver.  Radar transmitters and receivers use long PRT's to find the distance to objects that are far away.  Long PRT's makes it possible to accurately determine the distance to the moon, for example.  Fast PRT's are used to detect objects that are much closer, like ships at sea, high flying aircraft, or to determine the speed of fast moving automobiles on highways.

Digital circuits

[[File:|thumb|A resistor]] Digital circuits are used for signals that repeatedly turn on and off.  Active components in digital circuits typically have a constant amplitude when turned on, and zero amplitude when turned off.  In general, digital circuits count the number of times a component is switched on and off.  Computers and electronic clocks are examples of electronic devices that are made up of mostly digital circuits.

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