Picking classes - Digital Electronics vs. DC Circuit Analysis

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by sheepsimulator, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. sheepsimulator

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jun 30, 2009
    3
    0
    Hi, I'm a young software engineer working in a small company that builds embedded computers for automotive applications.

    Most of my background is in software, mainly PC application software written in VB/VB.NET, C/C++, etc. However, I've always been interested in electronics:

    • I got a amateur radio license in '99 and had to learn a bit of electronics for that (Ohm's Law).
    • I worked on an undergraduate research project with a physics professor that involved writing computer programs to control various lab instruments. I wrote a VB.NET program which controlled some lab multimeters and power supplies over the GPIB / IEEE-488 bus, and to control a bath circulator over RS-232, so I have some interfacing experience.
    • I also helped the professor develop a stepper motor unit for a class, that involved using a PC digital I/O board that drove a motor through a simple ULN2003 transistor driver that I pieced together from a Parallax datasheet. However, after I built the circuit I couldn't explain how/why it worked, and promptly spent the rest of the afternoon trying to determine how the non-PC portion of the circuit worked.
    • I've done a little bit of experimentation of my own. I used to be confused about how ground worked, until I built a small line-level volume control pot-in-a-box for a stereo I had (if you don't reference voltages to ground, the stereo volume won't change). I learned a lot about how impedances worked when I tried to design a small RC low-pass filter to remove some noise that I heard on a channel of a DTV converter box I got for my TV before the digital conversion. I built a one-note MIDI touch keyboard with a capacitance sensor using a BASIC Stamp, and I got that to work just fine following a couple Parallax application notes.
    • My new job provides lots of opportunities to work with electronics. We have a product that integrates a PC-104 SBC with some microcontrollers and other electronics on a motherboard, and I've had to spend time learning/troubleshooting some code that depended upon an understanding of how the circuitry worked on that motherboard.
    Basically, my take on the above is that I know just enough to find my way around, but there are so many gaps in my knowledge I know that I simply must go back to school and take some EE courses. While in undergrad two years ago, I took Calc 1-3, Linear Algebra, and Discrete Mathematics in my math minor, so I suspect I'd be fine with a course that required those topics.

    For my first semester, I have an option of taking either Digital Electronics or DC Circuit Analysis (I'd take both, but I'm not in a good position to take them both concurrently right now financially and work-load wise) at a local tech school. I'm not sure which would be best to take first. I'm thinking more DC Circuit Analysis, as Digital Electronics assumes a lot of that as a foundation. Digital Electronics are essentially DC circuits with special semiconductors.

    Any advice?
     
  2. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
    1,584
    435
    Read the post for the last couple days,there was a post where this
    member got no credit for course work because of acceridation of school.
    Get good Info before you sign up.
     
  3. studiot

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 9, 2007
    5,005
    513
    Not on your nelly mate it's not.

    Loosewire's advice is good. Take it.

    You may be able to pick up enough DC circuit theory to add to what you already know to proceed with the Digital stuff.

    Good luck with your studies.
     
  4. sheepsimulator

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jun 30, 2009
    3
    0
    Thanks for the heads-up.

    I've done my homework on this and I know what I'm dealing with here. The school I've chosen is Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee, WI, part of the state-run Wisconsin Technical College system in the USA. For the area in which I live, they are accredited and have transfer programs that are honored by major universities in the area. The classes I'd be taking are classes which would eventually transfer to a four-year university's bachelor's degree to a major university in my area.
     
  5. sheepsimulator

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jun 30, 2009
    3
    0
    That's why I need classes! :rolleyes:
     
  6. studiot

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 9, 2007
    5,005
    513
    Sounds like you're a practical type. You'll soon pick it up.
     
Loading...