This year’s top Idea for Design, “Use A DAC To Bias Your Varactor Diode” by Jefferay Lawton, calls to mind an injunction ascribed to Albert Einstein to “make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.” The great scientist was warning us to avoid cluttering our thinking with unnecessary complexity without sacrificing accuracy and essence.
Lawton’s IFD achieves this balancing act. It is a simple presentation on how to use a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) to bias varactor diodes. The schematic shows only five components and looks like something from the first few days in a basic electronics course. But the tips provided in the text reflect hard-won experience.
In just a few paragraphs, Lawton describes what varactor diodes are, a convenient way of using them, what kinds of problems might arise, and how to address those problems. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated. When you’re done reading the IFD you might even think to yourself that it was obvious.
That’s the drawback to Einstein’s injunction. Once expressed in the right level of simplicity, an idea becomes so clear that you can easily forget it was something you did not already know. From there it is a short step to wondering why someone bothered to explain it in the first place.
Happily, ED’s readers recognize the value of what appears at second glance to be simple. The value is in the learning that occurs during the first glance. It is this opportunity to learn that makes Ideas for Design one of ED’s enduringly popular features, and this year’s Best IFD winner is a fine example.