So most electronics books seem to deal with Digital...however messing around with the Arduino and such theirs been a few Analog projects and such......and I don't really know much about Analog (besides the conversions)......How much analog would someone "really" need to know. And are there any "Basic" Electronics books that cover it? or is that more of an advanced thing...

If it is a more advanced thing, maybe are there some specific Analog topics someone Like me would find useful? (Trying to Advance my embedded knowledge mainly).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The question in it's current form can't be answered. Perhaps a question about what one should know to complete a specific project in it's entirety would be answerable, though not definitively as one can never know enough... \$\endgroup\$
    – tyblu
    Mar 20, 2012 at 3:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ When issues of signal propagation, purity and timing are settled, and voltages become 1's and 0's, and you're dealing only with logic, it's no longer really electronics. You don't care which voltage is 0 and which is 1. You don't care whether it's switched by relays, vacuum tubes or transistors, or even whether it is electricity, light, gears or water pipes. If you don't care whether electricity or something else is making the logic work, it can't be electronics. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kaz
    Oct 9, 2012 at 5:39

2 Answers 2


When it comes to electronics, there is no such thing as pure digital. What I mean by that is a "digital signal" is still an analog signal at the most fundamental level. Only in very basic systems can you ignore the analog-ness of those digital signals.

Here's a short list of things that a "digital guy" needs to know about analog stuff. This isn't a complete list, but is a start. They are roughly in decreasing order of importance:

  1. Ohms Law. Super important. Related: know resistors inside and out.
  2. Know the general properties of caps and inductors. You don't need to know every property or every formula, but a general knowledge is good.
  3. Know diodes. The important things to understand are breakdown voltage, forward voltage, and power ratings.
  4. Have a passing knowledge of signal integrity. This includes trace/wire impedance, signal termination, decoupling caps, AC signal return paths, and overshoot/undershoot. Again, you don't need to know the formulas by memory, but have a passing understanding of the things involved.
  5. Know linear voltage regulators. You need to understand things like dropout voltage, converter efficiency, and power dissipation
  6. Have a passing understanding of a switching regulator. Have a passing understanding of the standard buck and boost topologies.
  7. Know various digital signaling standards. Things like TTL and CMOS signaling at a variety of voltages. Open-collector signals. Differential signals like LVDS. Etc.
  8. Know how to read datasheets, especially the stuff about power levels and signal levels.

For #2, 4, 6, 7 the goal of a "passing understanding" is to know enough to be able to Google for more information when the situation comes up. Meaning that you know the terms and roughly where this stuff is used enough to know when and what to Google for.

For the others you should know quite a bit before you need to Google.

I don't have a book to recommend (every one I've read has been terrible). Sorry.

Edit: Someone edited my answer to say along with #1, "Also Kirchhoff's Laws: KVL (Kirchhoff's Voltage Law) and KCL (Kirchhoff's Current Law)." I actually disagree with this slightly. This falls into the category of you need a passing knowledge so you can Google it if it becomes important. I've worked professionally as an Electrical Engineer for 20+ years and I've only had to use the voltage law once, and never the current law. I un-edited my post to remove this.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I would add a special case to #3 for LEDs \$\endgroup\$
    – clabacchio
    Mar 20, 2012 at 7:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Understand current limiting (from I/O pins). And understand that a single chip cannot drive all its outputs at max rating, but that is pretty much in #8 the datasheet. Understand current sourcing and current sinking and not mixing them up (not sinking current into a HIGH output from a higer voltage power rail). Understanding output impedance. The ghost of dead LED's connected in parallel. \$\endgroup\$
    – jippie
    Mar 20, 2012 at 8:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ David, sorry but I don't believe you when you say you never use KVL. IMO you use it all the time, so much so that you're not even aware of it anymore. If you need a series resistor to control the current through a LED you apply KVL: the sum of the voltage across the resistor + the voltage across the LED = your power supply voltage. \$\endgroup\$
    – stevenvh
    Mar 20, 2012 at 12:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry to sound stupid......but like I didn't realize Transistors.....Diodes and all that would be in the "Analog" realm? shows how newb I am...lol \$\endgroup\$
    – user3073
    Mar 20, 2012 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @stevenvh You're right, of course. But there is a huge difference between your example (current limiting of an LED) and the full Kirchhoff's laws. Kinda like teaching someone how to make a PB&J sandwich vs. being a top-notch chef at a fancy restaurant. Calculating the current limiting resistor is so simple that I wouldn't put it in the same category as Kirchhoff's laws. \$\endgroup\$
    – user3624
    Mar 20, 2012 at 14:29

Nice list from David, just add some points (I'll use a different enumeration to avoid conflicts :D):

  1. Know how to read datasheets, especially the stuff about power levels and signal levels. I know, I copied from David's list, but this point is really important if you want to deal with electronics and many of the informations that you will look for will be in the datasheet;

  2. Learn how a transistor (Bipolar and MOS) works; you don't need to go to semiconductor physics, but just how to drive it properly to get a decent output; it's inside all digital circuits, so understanding it will help you at least with Input-Output interfaces, and if you need you can create a driver for things that require more power than Arduino can provide. Plus it's a valuable knowledge in any case;

  3. Understand how an Op-Amp works - it's a powerful and very widely used component, and it works in a way that looks magic to the most, but when you get to know it, you will be able to use it in many context and also you will understand a lot more of schematics;

  4. Learn the basics of A/D and D/A conversion: digital electronics is awesome, but the world is analog and you will often have to convert an analog signal; plus, Digital Signal Processing is stealing a lot of work to analog circuits; you will find integrated ADCs and DACs, but knowing the difference between a Flash converter and a Double ramp integration can help in choosing the one.

  5. Learn how to arrange a schematic: it will help you to have an overview of the circuits, and to get help from other people.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 A/D and D/A conversion. Getting the analogue domain into the digital domain is subtle and full of traps for the unwary. It becomes important, even at a low number of bits. For example, 12-bits is 4096 levels, which is about 1.2mV for a 5V supply. Is your analogue front-end accurate to 1.2mV? \$\endgroup\$
    – Damien
    Jun 15, 2014 at 11:00

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