All Questions

302
votes
6answers
64k views

Why is there so much fear surrounding LiPo batteries?

I've been trying to design a charging system for a small robot powered by a 2S 20C lithium polymer (LiPo) battery. Were I to trust everything I read online, I would believe that the LiPo will kill me ...
275
votes
38answers
107k views

Basic Electronics Book [closed]

I need basic electronics books (diodes,transistors,current.. etc) as I am just starting out with electronics and want to have something to read over the holiday. Any suggestions of good beginners' ...
270
votes
8answers
249k views

What is the difference between \$V_{CC}\$, \$V_{DD}\$, \$V_{EE}\$, \$V_{SS}\$

I've seen lots of schematics use \$V_{CC}\$ and \$V_{DD}\$ interchangeably. I know \$V_{CC}\$ and \$V_{DD}\$ are for positive voltage, and \$V_{SS}\$ and \$V_{EE}\$ are for ground, but what is the ...
269
votes
5answers
117k views

Rules and guidelines for drawing good schematics

There are a lot of poorly drawn schematics here. A few times people have actually asked for critiques of their schematics. This question is intended as a single repository on schematic drawing rules ...
264
votes
5answers
342k views

Choosing power supply, how to get the voltage and current ratings?

Power supplies are available in a wide range of voltage and current ratings. If I have a device that has specific voltage and current ratings, how do those relate to the power ratings I need to ...
257
votes
3answers
35k views

What is it that strips vocals from audio when a 1/8" audio jack is partially unplugged?

Every once in a while, my eighth-inch audio jack will slip loose and I'll seemingly lose only the voice part of a track -- leaving somewhat of a "karaoke" version. What I would guess about how audio ...
219
votes
28answers
89k views

Good tools for drawing schematics [closed]

I was going to add a bit of information to my post on a previous day using schematics and some instructions. What programs are being employed for this purpose? I mostly want to see what others are ...
217
votes
9answers
71k views

Decoupling caps, PCB layout

I guess I've been somewhat ignorant when it comes to the finer details of pcb layout. Lately I've read a couple of books that try their best to lead me on the straight and narrow. Here is a couple of ...
186
votes
17answers
156k views

What is a decoupling capacitor and how do I know if I need one?

What is a decoupling capacitor (or smoothing capacitor as referred to in the link below)? How do I know if I need one and if so, what size and where it needs to go? This question mentions many ...
185
votes
13answers
244k views

What's the difference between a microcontroller and a microprocessor?

What's the difference between a microcontroller and a microprocessor?
183
votes
8answers
31k views

Why does USB have 4 lines instead of 3?

USB specifies 4 pins: 1. VBUS +5V 2. D- Data- 3. D+ Data+ 4. GND Ground Why is this not 3? Could the Data and Power not share a common ...
166
votes
16answers
80k views

Is C++ suitable for embedded systems?

A common question, here and elsewhere. Is C++ suitable for embedded systems? Microcontrollers? RTOSes? Toasters? Embedded PCs? Is OOP useful on microcontrollers? Does C++ remove the programmer too ...
160
votes
7answers
143k views

Why was Mini USB deprecated in favor of Micro USB?

Mini USB connectors were standardized as part of USB 2.0 in 2000. In 2007, the USB Implemeters Forum standardized Micro USB connectors, deprecating Mini USB connectors four months later. Why? What ...
158
votes
4answers
215k views

USART, UART, RS232, USB, SPI, I2C, TTL, etc. what are all of these and how do they relate to each other?

As a novice electronics hobbyist, I have heard these terms and more being thrown around everywhere. At its root, I understand that they are all based on communication between devices, computers, ...
156
votes
12answers
12k views

How does the current know how much to flow, before having seen the resistor?

With the following circuits as examples : and How will the current I know how much to flow? Would any other wave travel first in the circuit and then come back ...
153
votes
10answers
82k views

How much does it cost to have a custom ASIC made?

I have browsed several ASIC manufacturer's webs, but I haven't found an actual number. I assume there would be a fixed cost associated with creating masks and such and then there will be a cost per ...
148
votes
6answers
17k views

What is the reason that the value “47” is so popular in electrical engineering?

We often see component values of 4.7K Ohm, 470uF, or 0.47uH. For example, digikey has millions of 4.7uF ceramic capacitors, and not a single 4.8uF or 4.6uF and only 1 listed for 4.5uF (specialty ...
135
votes
7answers
13k views

Designing a Santa alarm (honestly)

You read the title and that's what I am trying to do. Synopsis: I have a young son who is determined to catch Santa (to what ends I don't know). He even dreamed up using some kind of pressure plate ...
129
votes
4answers
60k views

How can I efficiently drive an LED?

I understand that I can not connect an LED directly to a battery because it will draw too much current. Thus, there must be something else in the circuit to limit the current. What options are there? ...
123
votes
5answers
18k views

Why does Samsung include useless capacitors? [closed]

I do component-level repair of tablet mainboards, and I have seen this puzzling situation on two different models of Samsung tablet mainboards so far (SM-T210, SM-T818A). There are ceramic chip ...
120
votes
6answers
82k views

Why exactly can't a single resistor be used for many parallel LEDs?

Why can't you use a single resistor for a number of LEDs in parallel instead of one each?
117
votes
7answers
20k views

What measures should I take to protect the USB ports of my PC during development of a USB device?

I'm going to start developing a USB 1.1 device using a PIC microcontroller. I'm going to keep one of the USB ports of my PC connected to a bread board during this process. I don't want to destroy my ...
114
votes
8answers
119k views

Tradeoffs when considering SPI or I2C?

What tradeoffs should I consider when deciding to use an SPI or I2C interface? This accelerometer/gyro breakout board is available in two models, one for each interface. Would either one be easier ...
110
votes
8answers
35k views

Best One-Off DIY PCB Creation Technique

I have finally built up a lab to design electronics in. I have quite a few designs I would like to test. I have tried the printer toner/iron technique a few times but have found that I cannot create ...
108
votes
10answers
126k views

Are solder fumes bad for me?

I do a fair bit of soldering (lead-free). Is breathing in solder/flux/paste fumes actually going to harm me? Are cheap fume extractors worth buying?
103
votes
13answers
25k views

Measuring feline capacitance

When I pet my cat, and then touch her on the nose, I get a little shock. Sometimes, when she walks up to something, her nose sparks and she jumps back and puffs out. I was wondering how I might go ...
102
votes
7answers
52k views

What limits CPU speed?

I've recently talked with a friend about LaTeX compilation. LaTeX can use only one core to compile. So for the speed of LaTeX compiliation, the clock speed of the CPU is most important (see Tips for ...
100
votes
6answers
60k views

My linear voltage regulator is overheating very fast

I'm using a 5 V / 2 A voltage regulator (L78S05) without a heatsink. I'm testing the circuit with a microcontroller (PIC18FXXXX), a few LEDs and a 1 mA piezzo buzzer. The input voltage is aprox. 24 ...
100
votes
6answers
42k views

Should chassis ground be attached to digital ground?

I'm working on a PCB that has shielded RJ45 (ethernet), RS232, and USB connectors, and is powered by a 12V AC/DC brick power adapter (I do the 5V and 3.3V step down on board). The entire design is ...
99
votes
4answers
52k views

Why Are Ethernet/RJ45 Sockets Magnetically Coupled?

As the title says really, why do ethernet sockets need to be mag-coupled? I have a basic understanding of electronics, but mostly, I can't figure out the right search terms to google this properly.
97
votes
5answers
8k views

Can microcontrollers be run at arbitrarily low clock frequencies?

The datasheet for the ATTiny13A, for instance, lists Min frequency of 0 MHz. Does this mean the clock can be run at any arbitrarily low frequency with no ill effects? I'm assuming it draws lower ...
96
votes
6answers
30k views

Are tantalum capacitors safe for use in new designs?

I've heard it suggested that "solid tantalum" capacitors are dangerous and may cause fire, may fail short circuit and are fatally sensitive to even very short over voltage spikes. Are tantalum ...
95
votes
8answers
83k views

Why does a resistor need to be on the anode of an LED?

Please be kind, I am an electronics nub. This is in reference to getting an LED to emit photons. From what I read (Getting Started in Electronics - Forrest Mims III and Make: Electronics) electrons ...
95
votes
3answers
77k views

How do I calculate the required value for a pull-up resistor?

There are many tutorials that use a pull-up or pull-down resistor in conjunction with a switch to avoid a floating ground, e.g. http://www.arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/button Many of these projects use ...
94
votes
10answers
29k views

Why are there no 256-bit or 512-bit microprocessors?

In an 8-bit microprocessor its data bus consists of 8 data lines. In a 16-bit microprocessor its data bus consists of 16 data lines and so on. Why is there neither a 256-bit microprocessor nor a 512-...
92
votes
6answers
312k views

What’s the proper soldering iron temperature for standard .031" 60/40 solder?

I recently purchased a Weller WES51 soldering iron as my first temperature controlled iron and I'm looking for recommendations on the best default temperature to use when soldering. I'm using mainly ....
92
votes
4answers
341k views

What are the different types of solder used for?

How do I know when to use lead, flux-core, lead-free, or any other kind of solder out there? Do you have any tips on solder gauge for specific applications?
91
votes
10answers
212k views

What is negative voltage?

Just a general electronics question: What is negative voltage, like -5 Volt? From my basic knowledge, power is generated by electrons wandering from the minus to the plus side of the power source (...
89
votes
11answers
89k views

VHDL or Verilog? [closed]

VHDL and Verilog are the HDLs of the day. What are the advantages of either for someone who has no experience with HDLs at all?
89
votes
6answers
161k views

Why does micro USB 2.0 have 5 pins, when the A-type only has 4?

What is the extra, 5th, pin on micro usb 2.0 adapters for? Here is an image with the different connectors. Most of them have 5 pins, but the A-type host only has four. (source: wikimedia.org)
88
votes
29answers
81k views

What's the best way to store and categorise resistors/capacitors/ICs/etc?

I did a big cleanup of my collection of parts today and I now have a big pile of parts on my desk (the majority of which is resistors). My previous method of finding the resistor value I wanted was to ...
87
votes
5answers
233k views

Why are there 3 pins on some batteries?

Lots of new batteries (for mobile devices, MP3 players, etc) have connectors with 3 pins. I would like to know what is the purpose of this and how should I use these three pins? They are usually ...
85
votes
18answers
23k views

How do I prove to my physics teacher that adding a battery in parallel doesn't double the current?

simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab My physics teacher said that the current through the resistor is 4A because each battery has a current of 2A if hooked up to the ...
83
votes
9answers
143k views

How to get more than 100mA from a USB port

I heard that the current limit for a USB port is 100mA. However, I also heard that some devices can get up to 1.8A from a port. How do you get past the 100mA limit?
83
votes
6answers
47k views

What is the difference between a DSP and a standard microcontroller?

I understand that a DSP is optimized for digital signal processing, but I'm not sure how that impacts to the task of choosing an IC. Almost everything I do with a microcontroller involves the ...
81
votes
10answers
273k views

Why does a Tesla car use an AC motor instead of a DC one?

I was just watching a mega factory video and wondered why they use an AC motor which requires a power inverter instead of DC which may be powered directly from their DC battery? Introducing an ...
80
votes
6answers
14k views

Why does smartphone GPS find its position much faster than a GPS module?

When I'm using the arduino GPS module it usually takes a couple of minutes for it to start sending data. And it seems that it's usually the case with all GPS modules since they need to "listen" to the ...
78
votes
10answers
29k views

Batteries. Why use 9V?

With all the technology available today with being able to boost voltage efficiently using SMPS, why do we still use 9V batteries? Is there some secret advantage with them that I am unaware of? If ...
77
votes
11answers
26k views

Where does electricity go after being used?

For a very long time I have been wondering, where does electricity go after being used? When I use my tablet it runs from a battery. Where does the power go?
77
votes
11answers
13k views

What's the cheapest way to link a few microcontrollers wirelessly at low speeds over short distances

What's the cheapest way to link a few microcontrollers wirelessly at low speeds over short distances. I'm looking to keep it ultra-cheap, use common discrete parts and keep it physically small. I don'...

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