Basics of Electronic Components

Jan. 2, 2013
Want to know the details about a specific electronic component?

Want to know the details about a specific electronic component? “Encyclopedia of Electronic Components Volume 1” is the first book of a three-volume set that contains key information on electronics parts--complete with photographs, schematics, and diagrams. You’ll learn what each one does, how it works, why it’s useful, and what variants exist. In fact, author Charles Platt, notes that the encyclopedia serves two categories of readers: “the informed and the not-yet-informed.”

“Encyclopedia of Electronic Components Volume 1” puts reliable, fact-checked information right at your fingertips--whether you’re refreshing your memory or exploring a component for the first time. Beginners will quickly grasp important concepts, and more experienced users will find the specific details their projects require.

For example, the first section is Battery:

  • What it does
  • How it works
  • Variants
  • Values
  • How to use it
  • What can go wrong

A similar format is used for other components from Switches to Field Effect Transistors in 264 pages.

No matter how much you can remember about a component, you’ll find details you’ve probably forgotten. Remember the unijunction transistor? A schematic and the associated text describe how to use it. And, under “What can Go Wrong” it points out an incorrect bias and overload.

Engineers still use bipolar transistors, which are included in the book. The book notes that, “A bipolar NPN transistor consists of a thin central P-type layer sandwiched between two thicker N-type layers. The three layers are referred to as collector, base, and emitter, with a wire or contact attached to each of them.” Under “What Can Go Wrong,” it points out in a detailed explanation:

  • Wrong Connections on a Bipolar Transistor
  • Wrong Connections on a Darlington Pair chip
  • Soldering Damage
  • Excessive Current or Voltage
  • Excessive leakage

A subject that readers of Power Electronics Technology should be familiar with is Voltage Regulators. The book covers only linear regulators. Under “What Can Go Wrong” are:

  • Inadequate Heat Management
  • Transient Response
  • Misidentified Parts
  • Misidentified Pins
  • Dropout Caused by Low Battery
  • Inaccurate Delivered Voltage

Other types of power supplies are described in sections under “AC-DC Power Supply” and “DC-DC Converter.” For AC-DC Power Supply,” What can Go Wrong” includes:

  • High Voltage Shock
  • Capacitor Failure
  • Electrical Noise
  • Peak Inrush

For DC-DC Converter, “What Can Go Wrong” lists the details of:

  • Electrical Noise in the Output
  • Excess Heat with No Load
  • Inaccurate Voltage Output with No Load

I’m sure that many readers of Power Electronics Technology could add several other possibilities to “What Can Go Wrong.” However, the format that Charles Platt uses is a good one and he uses it throughout the book.

If you have a child who wants to become an electronics engineer, this would be a good book to read. Also, there is information in the book that you probably won’t find in any university courses.

At the end of the book is a three-page listing of schematic symbols followed by a detailed 10-page index.

Price of Volume 1 of the Encyclopedia is $24.99 (US) and $26.99 (Canada). Volume 1 covers power, electromagnetism and discrete semiconductors. Volume 2 will include integrated circuits and light and sound sources. Volume 3 will cover a range of sensing devices.

About the Author

Sam Davis

Sam Davis was the editor-in-chief of Power Electronics Technology magazine and website that is now part of Electronic Design. He has 18 years experience in electronic engineering design and management, six years in public relations and 25 years as a trade press editor. He holds a BSEE from Case-Western Reserve University, and did graduate work at the same school and UCLA. Sam was the editor for PCIM, the predecessor to Power Electronics Technology, from 1984 to 2004. His engineering experience includes circuit and system design for Litton Systems, Bunker-Ramo, Rocketdyne, and Clevite Corporation.. Design tasks included analog circuits, display systems, power supplies, underwater ordnance systems, and test systems. He also served as a program manager for a Litton Systems Navy program.

Sam is the author of Computer Data Displays, a book published by Prentice-Hall in the U.S. and Japan in 1969. He is also a recipient of the Jesse Neal Award for trade press editorial excellence, and has one patent for naval ship construction that simplifies electronic system integration.

You can also check out his Power Electronics blog

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